India is aiming to become a developed nation by the year of 2020. But my questions are – will she become a developed nation if armed conflicts in Jammu and Kashmir or in North East continue to exist? Will she be on top of the world if the oppressed people of the country continue to feel that the British were far better than the present Indian rulers? Will she get a permanent seat in the Security Council if there is continuation of people’s war of Maoist? Will she become a superpower nation if she let her politicians reduced the indigenous peoples of the North East to minority just for vote banks? Will she become a great nation if she continue to turn a blind eye despite the fact that her actions can and will permanently change the demographic structure and composition of North East? Will she become a developed nation if she continues to treat the states in North East like her colony? Will she become a developed nation without Kashmir or North East?
The rising tension among the people of Manipur over the loss of a large chunk of her land to Myanmar, due to faulty border fencing, has become too stark. But New Delhi has been terming the report as malicious and claimed that this border fence does not represent the exact boundary between the two countries, which is a total lie. The state government has also been parroting the same. They are unaware of the fact that a large part of Manipur’s land has been lost to Myanmar due to the faulty border fencing and if it is allowed to continue, then, half of the total area of Moreh will also be lost. But here, what I can’t understand is that why Manipur is losing such a huge territory to Myanmar despite a total of 89 posts of the Assam Rifles and the Army are already set up and their personnel being deployed along the Indo-Myanmar border in Manipur.
It becomes news if Pakistan Army fires a single shot in LoC. Indian Parliament can also be adjourned if Chinese Army intrudes within Indian Territory. Politicians start to yell if Indian Army dies in cross border fire in Kashmir. But what keeps me thinking is that why it didn’t become news for national media when the interest of Assam and her people had been largely sacrificed by the land-swap deal signed between India and Bangladesh? Why there was not even a debate in the Parliament? And now, Manipur is losing a large part of her territory, probably given away, to Myanmar. But the Indian rulers do not want to speak about it since they are too busy with their (dirty) politics for the upcoming Lok Sabha election. If there were 22 Manipuri representatives instead of 2, in the Lok Sabha then the matter may somehow different. Therefore I am of the opinion that, New Delhi will always keep mum even if some territories of states like Mizoram, Arunachal Pradesh, or Nagaland are ceded to Myanmar, in pursuit of her Look East Policy, the dividends of which may not be reaped by the people of Northeast.
The United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples clearly lay down that prior; informed consent of the indigenous people should be obtained before any development work is taken up at places settled by indigenous people. However, these people settled along Manipur sector of Indo-Myanmar border were not given clear information about the ongoing border fencing work. Instead, they were made to believe that it was security fencing, not boundary fencing. So India violates the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples as well as the UN General Assembly Resolution 61/295 by denying the detail information about the border fencing work to these indigenous people. However, whether if New Delhi is intent in selling out the interest of Northeast, particularly Manipur in pursuit of a policy, or if Nyapidaw is taking India for a ride, at the cost of the region, my view is that, the Northeast and her people must not be made to pay the price for a policy that is not even meant for the Northeast.
Every educated person in the North East knows that there is armed conflict in the region. But the Indian State, to trample and repress this voice, and to cover up the process of imprisonment of states like North East and Jammu and Kashmir, has been constantly undertaking the democratization project through the compradors, using any available tools and resources, including the military, funding for modernization of police, imposition of draconian laws and others, influencing new militants, like Ansar-Al-Aseer, to come up against her. Have you ever had a second thought on why North East State’s capitals, except Assam, are not connected with rail lines? Have you ever bothered on why people of North East think the national highways in their states as their lifeline but not simply as highways, like the ones in mainland India? India knows well that if people keep on fighting for bread and butter, then, they can’t even think of their national questions. She learned from the British that if states like the North East, where armed conflict exists, are disintegrated, it will forever remain as a part of India and then, the question of sovereign and independent Nation/Region will automatically vanished permanently.
It has been said that if someone hurts somebody, hundreds and thousands will appear to hurt someone. So, one can be sure that the endangered innocent civilians of these states who are wronged by the name of disturbed area or AFSPA, will live underground someday. A prolong suppression or oppression of an individual, community or population, state or a region or a nation will ultimately be a detrimental scenario in the long run. It will only be a waste of space to explain how India suffered under the British rule till 1947. So what actually is the North East to India?
Ayekpam Basanta Mangang is a writer from Manipur.