Mobkillings of Manipuri Muslims : State and Media Silent

Md Shafikul Haque

The author is pursuing MA in Politics with Specialization in International Relations School of International Studies, JNU and can be reached at shafitabu@gmail.com

Senseless brutal assaults meted out by some miscreants to six boys coming to join “Thabal Chongba”; also mob-killing of two boys and injuring one boy while coming to visit Yangbi Garden, both in the name of being “thieves”; and a communal rioting at Mayang Imphal Konchak

In Manipur the target on Pangals (ethnic name of Manipuri Muslims, a minority community in Manipur) have been on the rise. On 25thMarch 2016, six young boys were brutally targeted at Iramsiphai while they were on the way to attend Thabal Chongba. On 07th April 2016, two out of three Pangal boys succumbed to brutal target at Mayang Imphal Yangbi Garden. In these incidents, the State and the law enforcing forces have failed to respond positively. Justice is being denied as the culprits have not been booked. While protesting to get justice delivered, a situation of communal rioting again occurred on 11th April 2016 at Mayang Imphal Konchak aggravating further the incidents of communal targeting of Pangals. Pangals in Manipur have increasingly become targets these days to quench criminal feelings of section of the communal Meeteis/Meiteis (the majority community in Manipur). The interplay of the communal target and police irresponsiveness has made the lives of Pangals vulnerable and subjected to perpetual fear, humiliation and suspicions.

Assaults through communal stereotyping

While India as a whole witnesses rising communal tensions with the government seemingly trying to not stop anything that results into communalism, certain sections of the people in Manipur are following the same as well, as if it will take Manipur to the Moon! Having said that, it is also necessary to understand that the communalism in Manipur, which is growing in certain areas of the state cannot necessarily be treated as identical to that happening in other parts of India. Manipur faces Meetei Chauvinism or Meeteism while in other parts of India, it is Hinduism or Hinduisation. However, it’s undeniably true that communalism spreads across India unstoppably in recent days, and incorporating with it is the idea of secularism as defined by a particular group of people, who unfortunately are self-proclaimed peace-keepers of the nation!

When we are desperately trying hard to fight and overcome such loads of fringe elements of the nation, who are trying to deconstruct and reconstruct everything with what they consider is appropriate, in the way attacking everything which do not endorse them, be it individuals or groups; social, religious or educational institutes; etc, thereby promoting communalism and atrocities between communities, the recent incidents at Iramsiphai amidst joyful Yaoshang (Holi) celebration and at Mayang Imphal Yangbi have added to further awfulness. In both the cases, Pangal boys were assaulted brutally by some Meetei criminals by alleging them as “thieves”. The allegations which cannot be proven have been refuted by large sections of people as being made up to get away of their criminality. Pangals have increasingly become targets for some of the criminal Meeteis to quench their interests. Pangals have been stereotyped as thieves to justify their brutality.

For long, Pangals have been stereotyped by sections of Meeteis as the most uncivilized in the state. In recent years many hatred and criminal attacks to Pangals and mob-killing are done by alleging them as “petty thieves”. There has been increasingly trying to cover up such atrocities by spreading such communal stereotyping by the Meeteis. Such stereotyping has now been so institutionalized that it is increasingly used as tools to justify any mob-killing or mob-justice in the state. Such an institutionalization seems to have resulted from self-justified insecurity being felt by these sections of Meeteis upon the Pangals- be it of limited resource sharing, of immediate neighbours to pour out their frustrations and so on. Such stereotyping is associated with the conceptualization of the “ideas” of sections of Meeteis as an identity who increasingly question the aboriginality of Pangals. This stereotyped mob-culture is again helped to grow because of the silenced mode of the government and civil society organizations (CSOs).

These institutionalized senseless communal criminality interplayed with the growing mob-culture, have created vulnerable sections, particularly the Pangals. From the perspectives of rights, there is total insecurity. Anyone could be branded and targeted for being Pangals. From the perspective of minority community, the situation is more pathetic and humiliated. Such situation has made to develop a state of perpetual fear and suspicion among Pangals.

Silenced State and Media houses

Horrifying these incidents are the ways our concerned government, the media, Students Organizations and CSOs are. They are just being posterous enough by unusually choosing to be in silent mode! Such insensitiveness to these incidents is because of the power relations between the majoritarian tyranny and the suppressed minorities, the Pangals in these cases. The media houses who work for TRPs do not think they could sell news attacking the powerful majority. The government, being worried of politics does not want to shoulder the price of delivering justice in such cases. The CSOs and other groups do not consider these incidents worth worrying for they, being constituted mainly of the majority, with slogans of unity, solidarity, peace and harmony, think involving herein is like interfering themselves.

Further worrisome is the inaction of our own police department, who fails to investigate and book the culprits. Even after the Joint Action Committee’s report and memorandum providing details of the main culprits of the mob-killing, submitted to the state and its law enforcers, the Officer In-charge of Mayang Imphal Police Station still refuses to register a case against them. All of them remain as mute-spectators while the victims are reeling hard with pains and helplessness. This law of lawlessness has rendered as have been, many culprits to walk away scot-free, thereby inviting more and more crimes and atrocities to come up unchallengeably. Who will shoulder then this increasing lawlessness?

It’s terrifying that the bloodshed has no human to bother with. The concerned authorities are being blind and taking the assault for granted. Forgetting all about community or religious differences, every sensible human would have come out against such atrocities. In such a situation, what is our Government trading by not even uttering a word in such a heinous incident? Is the government’s fear to loose in coming elections not trying to also let the police department to investigate and serve punishment appropriately in time? What have our concerned groups, CSOs, so-called secularist, promoters of togetherness, been doing? When will we wake up and stand always with the truth, irrespective of who is right? Is our police department working to safeguard the “Meeteis” only, forgetting its representation of every community?

The deliberate silences of the state and its law enforcing agents today resulted into a communal rioting on 11th April 2016 at Mayang Imphal Konchak. The state forces instead of controlling aided the Meetei rioters in attacking Pangals of that locality. This led to an ugly turn with the rioters torching many houses and attacking Mosques in the locality. Many shops of Pangals at were also vandalized. The rioting has rendered casualties to both Meeteis and Pangals. The rioting also witnesses more than sixty casualties among Pangals, of whom some are critically injured and around ten among Meeteis and police personnel. The number of casualties is still counting. This shows the state’s favoritism of the majoritarian tyranny suppressing the voice of the unheard. Pangals in whole Manipur are in a state of fear of more tyrannical retaliation by the majority community.

The concerns

It’s very disheartening to see where we- the humans, who claim themselves the most rational being, are. We are no more governed by the rule of law, be it the law of land or the law of being human. While we claim of being highly educated, rational & capable to transcend going for space, the nature of us has taken far towards hell. We live by no rule of law, not even the law of being humans. We are who we think we can, killing at will. Mob justice and mob killings! I wish, we had a machinery to punish all such mobs. May be until the end of this world, such mob-culture will continue, for we never do ourselves favour to learn to give justice, rather than take justice. We only love to criticize others on anything, but never look at the what we perform. We manage to justify for what we do, while we criticize for what others do.

While the law of the land has not shown its readiness to take its course of action upon these incidents of cruelty, the news has spread as wild-fire across the state and beyond, taking along-with it communal colours of different shades. Owing to the situation we have had presently, the communalism starts to infringe walls of metals, inviting more truanches and inhumanism. This wild-fire needs to be checked urgently and appropriately from all its sides and corners, so that it does not spread to completely destroy the forest. The concern authority needs to step-up and resolve these incidents vehemently before the fire gets wider so as to save the ecosystem in time. To drive the process successfully by making the government and the police department act aptly, the concerned pressure groups, CSOs, Student Organizations, Media Houses and so on, have reached already the point wherein to work with pragmatism and truthfulness. We as individuals are required also to come out of our muteness to such issues, and be rather professional than just be mute-spectators.

(The views expressed in this article are personal.)