When the victims became the perpetrators and the perpetrators became the victims can best describe the event and its aftermath that took place on 24th October, 2016 in connection with the visit of the CM of Manipur, Mr. Ibobi Singh, Deputy CM and few cabinet ministers at Ukhrul. The people of Ukhrul have been the victim of the state government’s corruption, inability and negligence to provide basic and proper infrastructures and also of the state’s brute security forces. The people of Ukhrul have the right to express their discontentment in a democratic and peaceful ways when they feel that the government is not doing the right thing. The public curfew and the boycott called to protest against the inauguration of the incomplete projects by the CM and his team was the best and possible peaceful and democratic means available to the people. The CM and his team, if they were real representatives of the people, should have listened to the voice of the people and took cognizance of the concern raised by the people. But instead they chose to come and forcibly tried to do their wish but go against the wish and demand of the people. Perhaps, the CM and his team decided not to listen rather seized the opportunity to display their might or to show who the boss is and what they can do. It is nothing but a blatant abuse of power and a wrongly intended message at a very wrong time. One wonders why and how it was so difficult for the CM to understand the demand of the people. The people of Ukhrul would have no problem and would not have boycotted the state’s CM and his ministers had they come to inaugurate completed projects. In fact, the people would have appreciated and welcomed them.
Who on earth can or will inaugurates an incomplete project? It can be done only by those who are trying or stands to gains something out of it. It can be done by those who are corrupt both in power and money. It can be done by only those who want to take the credit and get their names engraved on stones. One cannot help to ask the question as to why the CM and his team were in a rush to inaugurate. Did he and his team take the people of Ukhrul as fools or for granted? Was it a gimmick in view of the upcoming election? Was it done intentionally because they foresaw a chance to once again play the victim card? Regarding the third questions, note how the state’s version of the event provided to the media completely silenced the people’s voices, made them invisible and projected it as a terrorist act. A specific organization was targeted and blamed. This particular organization has been the favourite punching bag of the state government and a major factor in bringing the present government to power. Could it be an attempt by Mr. Ibobi and his party to bank their hopes of being elected again by playing victims to this particular organization? Even though there were incidents of firing and bomb blasts there are no evidences to point a finger to anyone. A video that was circulated on social networks which showed the security forces running in a frantic manner as if they were under heavy attack looks funny and suspicious.
If the CM and his team has genuine concern and cares for the people of Ukhrul, they should in first place, see to it that the projects they came to inaugurate should be completed with all the required and necessary infrastructure, facilities and staffs. They should provide and also see to it that the amount sanctioned by the central or state government is being properly used by the contractors who should also be strictly instructed and monitored to produce a quality results. I dare the CM and his team to do this. To do it, they will need a heart. What they have done was from their mind. The people of Ukhrul knew and were well aware of what will become of the projects once it is inaugurated without completion. The people prevented the projects from becoming a waste or just another government building- deserted, uncared and useless. In fact, people saved the government from a major embarrassment and saved the CM and his team’s face. In fact, the people’s protest was a corrective measure offered to the government for better governance by telling them to do their job well.
Unfortunately, without even trying to understand the sentiments and demands of the people, the CM and his team came to Ukhrul. The people’s democratic protest was perceived as an act of defiance to the state. When their grand plan failed (or worked), the CM made use of all the available state machineries to project himself and his team as victims in front of the world. Much to the disappointment of the people of Ukhrul, the media-state and national-reported the state’s version of the event and hijacked the people’s movement. The manipulated and distorted version made national headlines. Hungry for news and wonderful in sensationalizing, the media lapped it up without even trying to ascertain the facts. May be it is too far for them to come and find out the truth. May be it is not profitable for them to report about a place and people of whom their viewers and readers have no idea about or care for. The biasness of the media is not new, it is neither the first nor it will be the last. This way, the people of Ukhrul was doubly victimized-by their government and by the media.
After the fateful event of 24th October, many people express fear about the possible repercussions by the state government. The fact that the people expected their own CM to take revenge or strike back for trying to correct a wrong and for their democratic protest speaks loudly of the kind of relationship the CM and his government has with the people. As such, it will be of no surprise if the government decides to carry out various measures through the state forces to target and harass innocent people of a particular community and incite fear, terror and panic. Already, combing operations are being carried out in and around Imphal areas where a particular community lives in large numbers. Witch hunting has begun under the authority of the CM. Innocent people are being arrested and falsely implicated on dubious charges. Even slightest and insignificant things are being used to brand the innocent people as militants or having links with them. There are now no innocents in the eyes of the state forces. They are now going to decide and define who is innocent and who is not. This is very dangerous for any democratic society as no one is safe now. It is for this very reason that Irom Sharmila has been fighting for more than a decade. Her voice stood to safeguard the innocent people and their rights from the tyranny of the security forces. In her own home, her mighty voice has no weight against the might of the government and its security forces. They will do what they want. The life of an innocent citizen is less valuable than their hurt ego and pride. And by the way, what bravery and honour is there for the men in uniforms to arrest innocent people, implicated them on false charges and parade them in front of the media as if something remarkable and commendable feats have been achieved. If by witch hunting, the CM and his government is trying to send out a strong message to the people to fear them and playing mind games, then it is crystal clear that the CM have not listened and understood the demand of the people of Ukhrul. They did not come to inaugurate the projects so that it will serve the need of the people but they came with hidden agendas. This should be noted, known and questioned by all the right thinking people of the state. Is it wrong for the people to demand and tell the CM to complete the projects first and then inaugurate? It is right for the CM and his team to disrespect the voice of people raised for the right concern? The action initiated by the CM after the fall out by targeting innocent people will only further alienate and aggravate the already broken relationship between the people and the government. The blatant abuse and denial of human rights by the state government is highly deplorable and condemnable. Therefore, the CM should immediately put a stop to this systematic persecution of the innocent people and release them at once without any harm and instead he and his ministers should focus on how best they can under their power complete the projects without any further delay and in a satisfactory way.
by Charles K