The hilarity of propaganda

Published on May 12, 2005

By Sean Singsit

May 12, 2005: Insurgency thrives on publicity. The insurgent groups have to grab headlines constantly and shock the collective wit and sensibility of the masses and the political establishment alike. So as to remind them of their presence and their ability to strike at will and demonstrate its reach where no other else could. This enables them to survive and to keep it cadres motivated. Also this enable to attain that level of elevation they need to broker for negotiations and talks. Thus they can talk or bargain on their own terms.

In the last 3-4 decades of insurgency, we have seen propaganda in one form or the other. With various insurgents within Manipur only, we had an overdose of propaganda in the local papers and local media and the other forms such as pamphlets etc. Some really showed talent and creativity some were just absurd. The spin doctors of these insurgent groups no doubt worked overtime to evolve the image makeovers that these groups required to keep up with the changing times.

The NSCN proves to be quite adept in evolving with the times. They always come up with new ideas to make their presence felt. Or rather that they never were away. Most of the political coup that Muivah has achieved is thanks to his propaganda machinery.

Let us study some of his propaganda in the not so distant past one by one.forgive me if some of it makes u laugh….(many many puns intended)

1. Tankhuls are real revolutionary patriots and Angamis reactionary traitors

Initially in the post 16 Point Agreement and Shillong Accord days, he released a pamphlet, which he titled it as “The Polarization”. He lambasted the Angamis and called them reactionary traitors and called the Tankhuls real revolutionary patriots. This served its purpose as it garnered support and stabilized his mandate among the tribes of Manipur and the Semas of Nagaland.

2. Tankhuls as epitome of civilization and all else prehistoric nomads.

The NSCN and its intellectuals termed the Kukis as nomads where as they are indigenous people of Manipur. Let us not argue that they are not indigenous. However, if we see all civilizations, man pass through different stages such as food gathering, discovery of fire, later learn cultivation and settle in groups along rivers and fertile lands, these villages give birth to communities and later develop into cities and towns and finally to nation states. In the case of Muivah and his people, God somehow created them in such a way that the Tankhul civilization didn’t pass through the food gathering stage of evolution. Had they been food gatherers at a certain point of time, they would have been going from one place to another in search of food and that would mean they were nomads too.

3. NSCN(I/M) do not kill civilians

Many writers such as Sanjoy Hazarika swear by the early Naga movement under AZ Phizo who respected other cultures and treated them with love and tolerance. The dignity, pride and fairness of early fighters were exemplary; we have facts to support this. But look at the NSCN i.e.after Muivah is at the helm of affairs, the atrocity on Kukis and others who dare defy him. Only the early Naga movement (NNC) could boast of dignity of not shedding innocent blood and no other or those who came later.

4. NSCN do not indulge in Narco-Terrorism

The fight for control of Moreh is fresh in the minds of the people. Why did the NSCN not want to give up Moreh is known to every one. It is a matter of crores of rupees worth conduit of arms from the Khmer Rouge during 1988-1993 or may be even later. The drug route also had been established beyond human doubt.

5. That Kukis massacred them before

Yes, Kuki chiefs were marauders at one point of time and so are the Tankhuls. Before the advent of Christianity and modernity the way of life was such, head hunting and raids on neighboring villages for booty and loot were common everywhere. Tankhuls even attacked each other, but this didn’t find mention with Muivah as it would kill his case or justification of his madness against the Kukis. The recent killings of Kukis in Zoupi was termed as the Nagalim protecting itself. If it was the work of villagers, well assuming if was true, who would have instigated them if not NSCN.

6. 1966 attack on Chawai village

If Monsieur Muivah had read his history book well he would have known that in the 1960s the KUKI-MIZO solidarity was at its height and the Kukis were hounded by the Indian army for joining the MNF, giving shelter, food and safe sanctuary to the fugitives of MNA. So where and how would Kukis go and approach the Indian army to help them forcibly occupy Chawai village?

7. Atrocity against the Tankhul during Kuki War of Independence : 1917-1919

Pache Haokip of Chassad was said to be one of the wisest and bravest of the Kuki chiefs of the era. He never would have wanted to open a second front of the war by attacking Tankhuls, as it is, he was already hard pressed for arms, weapons and men to fight the British Assam Rifles. He attacked Ngahui Tankhul village because he had incriminating evidence that the Tankhuls were informers for the British. Otherwise, all principles of waging war decide against opening a second front against a new enemy while one is fighting a war. The worst king or ruler in history, even Agamemnon would not do that, Mr Muivah, go read your Greek classics. If he said Pache attacked the Tankhul without provocation, he meant to say that Pache didn’t know anything about fighting a war, which was never true.ABSURD!

Conclusion: The truth of the matter is that the Nagas of Manipur were not inclined to even join the Naga movement till late 1950s until they realise they could make much benefit by joining the Naga bandwagon. And even when they tried to talk about Naga movement Phizo and others would tell them not to poke their nose into Naga politics and affairs. We remember how RS SUISA, a Manipur Naga MP (outer) was told to shut his mouth and not interfere in Naga affairs. He resented this and got his chance when the NNC settled under the 16 Point Agreement. Propaganda is one effective tool, but like Abraham (Abe) Lincoln said, “you can fool some people some of the time, some people all the time, all the people some of the time but you can’t fool all the people all the time.” Muivah should learn it now.