Give peace a chance

Published on July 11, 2007

By Jesse John

July 12, 2007: “.. Oouf.. had I been born in Europe, I could earn money doing what I enjoy most – playing football..” my elder bother once said, out of the blue. He was a good football player and not bad in studies either, but would have preferred to play given the option. We all know how soccer stars are adored in European nations.

People earn their living and live a respectable to very popular status of life by doing what they enjoy doing – playing football, singing etc. That they don’t have to earn a respectable living necessarily through studies only. That was way back in the good old 80s. Today, the situation has improved a lot even in India. People get paid for playing football too.

Why did my brother wish he was born in Europe? Well, that’s a very natural and a decent desire. I don’t find anything wrong or indecent in that. We said so because there is more opportunity in those countries. I too wish I were born in San Francisco or New York, if not in London or Switzerland or Austria. The list can go on. Nearer home, I wish I were born in Bangalore, if not in Delhi or at the least in Shillong. The point here is: do I have a choice? I really don’t have a choice; no, not even Hobson’s. You cannot choose your parents – so goes a saying.

I am a Manipuri, a child of the Sanaleibak. So are you. And you cannot snatch that title from me, howsoever. Each of us is a child of this beautiful land of ours. Let no single group claim this land of ours as only theirs, howsoever major or minor they are. All of us – majority or minority, valley or hills, north or south district, east or west district – collectively constitute Manipur. Therefore, I urge every community to adopt a policy of peaceful co-existence.

Let’s stop the fighting amongst ourselves and give peace a chance. No Indians will come from outside to rebuild our state. We ourselves – the Meeteis, the Kukis and the Nagas, all of us have to collectively take steps in our own way to develop our land. Think for the progress of the state and most importantly, for the future generations of this land. Live and let live. Let us give peace a chance.  Hingmin-nase not just in mere words! There is no end to all kinds of forceful domination of one by the other.

If the majority valley people – Meetei group think that Manipur is exclusively theirs and tries to dominate the other minority groups, then they are wrong and that will be very costly for all in the future. If they think that they will go all out to achieve their aim of making Manipur the land of the Meeteis only, as it appears now, then they have to remember that, the other minority groups are not going to relent, because the land equally is ours as the Meeteis think as theirs.

Our forefathers were here since time immemorial. I may not provide you a scroll to support that my land is mine. But the land is mine. That is my stand. With due respect to the missionaries and social scientists of the day, I have to say that one cannot just claim our land just because some European sociologists came 100 or 200 odd years back and wrote their views about the land and left. I have to say this because today, we go by the documentary evidence available, and the oldest one of that.

Our forefathers were here before the arrival of these educated Europeans. They only did not know how to document their history and their side of views. They did not foresee that so much of fighting and hatred will be created someday, in the name of a nationalistic ideology. My forefathers lived peacefully with his Meetei neighbors as well as his Naga neighbors. This is not to mean that the Kukis are clean and sinless. But we always want peaceful co-existence with neighbours.

At the same time, our Naga neighbors would better rethink their dream of Nagalim. How much of hardships had been caused in the name of this. Ethnic cleansing started way back in 1992 and the Kukis were mercilessly mowed down in the name of this. How many orphans have the NSCN(I-M) and its Nagalim philosophy created in the Kuki society? Nagas might think that once the Nagalim dream becomes a reality, things will get better. I have my own doubts.

There are lots of disadvantages foreseen associated with this dream land. If you cannot be at peace with your neighbours in Manipur, it is highly doubtful that you will peacefully co-exist with your neighbors in Nagalim. When you come in contact with the other Nagas –the Aos, the Lothas, the Semas, the Angamis, the Chakhesangs who call the Tangkhuls, rather as Tangkhuls and sometimes kuccha Nagas, which will be a big blow to your contribution to the creation of Nagalim. Adding to this is the administrative inconvenience that is to come when the distance of Kohima is farther from Ukhrul than that of Imphal.

May be you have not learnt Meeteilon so well but it already has served as a convenient lingua-franca. That is still better than to develop a new script for Nagamese in Nagalim. To top it all, Indian government does not seem to be very keen on creation of Nagalim and hurt the sentiment of Meeteis. And in case it (Indian government) does so, the magnitude of the trouble that is to come between the Meeteis and the Nagas is unfathomable. The Meeteis will fight tooth and nail to protect their land, our land, the land of the Nagas on the same sentiment.

So, Let us all live peacefully and give peace a chance. This will pave a way for development. For where there is lack of peace, development halts. Live and let live.

Now, while the majority group with its ( valley) insurgents are scared to point any finger to the Nagas and antagonize them, the same group seems to be having and be given a free hand to play havoc with the lives of the Kukis – be it the interior Parbung episode, the Moreh episode. As a civil citizen of Manipur and a Kuki, I plead the UNLF to immediately stop showing its prowess on the Kukis. Unforgettable events in one’s life have a lasting impression on the person and tend to be counter productive.

When a day comes when the Kukis come together as one and decide to retaliate, it will be another costly eventful episode in the history of Manipur. What I wanted to impress upon the civil society is that, there is no end to this chain reaction of action and reaction. This is Newton’s Third Law – and many will agree with me that Newton‘s third law holds true in social attrition too. The action – reaction sequence may take time, but it sure will strike back.

So, let the infightings amongst the children of Manipur stop, henceforth. People are fed up of it. Let us create opportunity for the people and the state. Let us rebuild our state. Let opportunity be there for all – for business, service and industry, which will help generate lots of employment opportunities and ultimately develop the state.

For this, people need peace and initiatives from government and civil organizations – be it NGOs or other government agencies enabling them to grow: definitely not theory of cessation with uncertain future combined with hurdles from the militants/ insurgents who also are very much children of Manipur. Citizens need conducive atmosphere for growth and development.

Let us therefore live peacefully and give peace a chance. This will pave a way for development. For where there is lack of peace, development halts. Live and let live. I would like to end it with the famous quote of our dear Shri Jawaharlal Nehru – “The only alternative to coexistence is co –destruction “.

The writer is an Assistant General Manager in Reserve Bank of India.