Friday, August 27, 2010

Sweet and bitter

It would have been a block buster or we would have been more than willing to give the five star ratings to Chief Minister O Ibobi for hitting out at the right platform amid the right audience and in the right time. However true to his characteristics, the Chief Minister did not just stop at the point that would have earned him laurels from all quarters, but went off track and in the process, his speech or address which otherwise was bang on target, received that dose of poli-speak, to coin a term, which had no relevance to the time or occasion but only had the potential to expose a confused mindset. Chief Minister O Ibobi did the right thing in going ahead and meeting the parents and family members of the late Major Jyotin, who engaged a fully armed terrorist with his bare hands to a scuffle and managed to save the lives of a number of his colleagues, before being blown apart by the vest bomb which the terrorist wore and triggered off on realising that it was a losing battle. Both died, but both will not and cannot receive the same due respect and homage due to a departed soul, as per the universal understanding of who is a protector and who is a terrorist. That the heroic deed that we are talking occurred on one of the most important dates in the history of India, January 26, Republic Day, 2010 during a terror strike at the Indian Embassy in Kabul, adds to the significance of the legacy of the late Major, the first from the Medical Corp of the Indian Army to be conferred the Ashok Chakra posthumously. The Chief Minister's visit to the natal home of the late Major at Nambol was perfectly in line with what was expected from the leader of the people of Manipur and so was the ex-gratia of Rs 2 lakhs, though in the ultimate estimation, the ex-gratia will not amount to much, whether in terms of its monetary values in the market or when put on the measuring scale with the sacrifice of Major Jyotin. It is also extremely important and significant that the Chief Minister took the opportunity to come out hammer and tongs against all the women activists, the Ima and Ibens. The Chief Minister's poser to them was direct and without malice, for pointing out the facts cannot be termed malicious in the civilised world. A dharna here and there against the threats on the civil population, such as planting bombs, gifting bullets or even firing at the residence of an official, a contractor or a trader, all for money, does not in any way reflect genuine concern of the situation. In fact such token acts of solidarity or protest exposes nothing but the hypocrisy of the people and we are not at all surprised by this if we care to recollect some instances of the past. What happened the day after the bomb attack at ISKCON during Krishna Janma in 2006, which claimed a number of innocent lives, tells a significant story. We remember correctly, the next day passed off as if everything was hunky dory, with just some token show of protest or solidarity that such terror activities will not be tolerated. That this was the reaction of the people in a land, where a hue and cry is raised even over the most of trivial issues is surprising and shocking !
The few examples we have cited will help us in getting a better understanding of the points that we are going to enumerate now. Yes, the Chief Minister was absolutely right in asking where all the Ima-Ibens have disappeared amid the rising trend of bomb attacks at the residences of anyone who has some deposits in the bank or who is perceived to belong to the moneyed class or when bullets are delivered as gifts to get the message across or when houses are fired upon. This is a question which has been doing the round amongst the people, but which has not been articulated on public platforms, for reasons we do not need to elaborate here. However question we must, oppose we must and realise we must of the fact that the man holding the gun and pointing the barrel at us could be anyone, a security personnel, a self appointed son of the soil who dons the mask of the highly romantic sounding term, revolutionaries or some goons. The romance of insurrection or taking up the gun and leading the life of a fugitive in revolt against the ruling elite, under a well defined ideology, has been muddied by some crooks, and perhaps we can say that this tryst with the romance of revolution died when Che Guevera was executed by the Bolivian army many decades back. The only living figure from such an era is Fidel Castro of Cuba, but here too, he is today no longer seen as a man waging a battle from the jungles, but more of a statesman. It is amid this historical reality that Manipur is experiencing one of its most turbulent times, with everyone free to float an outfit or two, pick up an alias, that sounds distinctly ‘ferocious‘ and radical, and then take the journey of terror to earn money by using some hand grenades and hand guns to open fire at the intended target. The Chief Minister was again bang on target in questioning where all the champions of human rights have disappeared in the face of all these acts of violence, nay terror, that are enacted in the name of the Motherland. The flip side however is, it would have been perfect or a score 9.9 out of ten if Mr Ibobi Singh had stuck to this, but in his over enthusiasm, he in a way threatened the people with the reimposition of AFSPA in the seven Assembly segments of Imphal Municipal Council. This is not only foolhardy but betrays an acute lack of understanding of the sentiments of the people. The public should not be taken as fools that the Government think that it can play around. The epitaph of the carrots and sticks policy has been written a long time back. Our advice is give the toffees to the toddlers to silence them, but do not attempt this on an adult audience. In short, the CM's address was a well served meal, but with the dessert spoiling it all in the end.

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