Response to “Who Oppressed Who” of Mr. Angomcha Santosh
We are grateful to Angomcha Santosh, Secretary General, Manipur Young Forum for his passionate, albeit futile, defense for maintaining the status quo of Meetei hegemony and parochialism in which he has indulged in unsubstantiated diatribe against the tribals in Manipur. Mr. Angomcha’s diatribe is at best an asinine attempt that falls into its own argumentative trap which makes it hard to take it with any seriousness.
Mr. Angomch, points himself out as an unsuccessful frustrated desperado when he so very strongly maintains that “paper war is the last resort for the frustrated desperados who are not successful in their practical activities”. It would be hard to conclude otherwise; after all, his acidic remarks directed against the tribals in Manipur is nothing short of resorting to paper war. Be that as it may, there are no tribal press’ in Manipur waging a paper war, and nobody hears or listen to the tribals.
It would also be a reasonable assumption that the main duty of Mr. Angomcha as the “Secretary General” of the Manipur Young Forum (which no one has heard of before) is to monitor “literary writing competition” (sic) since he seems to know the outcome of such competitions (if they happened at all). If he is so concerned about “white crane” becoming black, at least he should also recognise and accept the fact that calling a spade a spade is not wrong, even if such are termed as “mud-slinging”.
Tribals recognise and respect the fact that most Meiteis who are not associated with the government and its corrupt machineries, guns and their power, armed groups and extortion, are truthful, honest and hardworking. However, Manipur and the many clubs/organisations/lups that exist in every nook and corner of Imphal Valley, and who all claim to represent the “interest” of the people in Manipur, are not ran by such truthful, honest and hardworking individuals. If they did, much of the presently existing issues would not have arisen in the first place. Further, they would surely recognise the fact that bandhs and blockades in Imphal Valley are more frequent than anywhere else in Manipur; it would not be an exaggeration to say that it occurs every alternate days in one part of Imphal Valley or the other called by one of the many clubs/organisations/lups. Further, they would also surely point out the fact that most offices in Imphal Valley function only from 11 AM to 2 PM, and anything, even obtaining a simple form, would require a small “gift” to the officer for having “tea”. Is Mr. Angomcha oblivious to these? If he is aware, he will surely know who is oppressing whom.
You stated “holy Nagas in some hill areas attempt to hijack the very right of people of Manipur” and called for teaching “lesson that should be worth remembering throughout their life”. Well Mr. Angomcha, 50 years of teaching corruption and diversion of funds is quite enough for a lifetime! We do not want any more of such lessons. No, thank you very much! If you had taken the pains to check, you would find that the percentage of wastage (unaccounted loss) of public funds in Manipur is as high as 70%. Maybe, instead of accusing the hill people of attempting to hijack the right of people of Manipur, you should ask who is responsible for this.
Mr. Angomcha, you as the Secretary General of, presumably, a large organisation need to get some correct perspective. It will make your arguments more persuasive. While we do not condone the effects of bandhs, its effect pales in comparison to the unannounced economic-blockade of 50 years imposed by the Government of Manipur (GOM) upon the tribal population of Manipur. If you take the time to do some basic research on how funds and schemes meant for the hill areas have been diverted to Imphal Valley, you will understand what the tribal people are talking about.
Either you did not conduct any proper research or you are intentionally concealing the following facts which tells a very different side of the story:
1. The Census of 2001, which revealed that the population of Schedule Tribes in Manipur was almost 40% of the total state population was ignored by the GOM to specifically prevent the legally mandated creation of more hill constituencies, which would reduce the constituencies in Imphal Valley, claiming it to be manipulated.
2. Officers in the Indian Allied Services in Manipur are certainly not selected because of the benevolence of the Manipur state or the MPSC. If not for the just and fair treatment of the UPSC, and if selection is left to the GOM and its MPSC, only few STs would be IAS.
3 & 4. If the GOM had been fair and followed the rule of law, there will be even more tribals as MCS and MPS officers.
5. You need to do thorough research to substantiate what you are saying instead of using hearsay as the basis of your point. If you had done any research, you would have found out that there are more Grade III and IV Tribal employees than Grade I and II tribal employees in Manipur. The reason is that there is now no Class II posts in some Departments like PWD, PHED, IFCD, Electricity, etc, since they have all been upgraded to Class I posts by lowering the Pay Scale but not upgrading the status. Entry to Class I is restricted by upgrading Class II to Class I. Further Class I to Class I promotion is prevented by following a 1974 order that has been overruled by both Office Memoranda of the Department of Personnel and Training, New Delhi and Manipur Act 1 of 1977. To work around this technicality, Manipur enacted the Reservation Amendment Act of 2006 precisely to revert to the 1974 status. Thus the Manipur Reservation (Amendment) Act of 2006 is to remove reservation in much the same way the Autonomous District Council Act (ADC) is to remove Autonomy! And that too after leaving the Acts in the cold storage for decades!
Further, out of 65,000 Manipur Government employees (according to MGEL/CPIS), tribals compose of only 16,000. This is about 25%. At no point of time has the percentage ever exceeded 25% although the prescribed percentage is 31% for tribals. There is still a shortfall of 6% or about 4,000.
Mr. Angomcha, the reason for the everyday killings in Imphal committed by your own Commandos is because you let them go on behaving like that. In the hills, as evidenced by the recent events in Mao Gate, people are killed because they have the guts to stand up and protest against the excesses committed by the Commandos and other forces because they believe such excesses are against the rights of any individual.
There are very cogent reasons why your “tribal brethrens” are “not well acquainted in rocket and science things” (sic). It is because the GOM considers Meitei Mayek more important than posting Science and Math teachers in the Hills, and in ensuring that they actually stay and teach in the hills. If Meitei doctors, engineers, and teachers are posted in the hills, they stay at their homes in Imphal Valley and simply draw their salary without performing their duty. And such practices are actively encouraged by Meitei government officers because they receive bribes from these corrupt, unethical Meitei employees.
And this is the reason why tribals are forced to come down to Imphal Valley to get access to even basic medical treatment. And of course, we pay for it; we do not get free treatment. Further, you should know that tribals are ordinarily denied PG in RIMS to do specialization despite doing well in their academics.
Of course, it is a known fact that Meiteis are the best in some fields and they have received many gold medals in various fields including sports, films, entertainment, academics, etc, but all of these is doing little to stem the sky high corruption, the utter lack of civic sense and services in Imphal Valley, the endemic bandhs, the proliferation of 35 UGs (and counting) and a host of others that make Manipur way behind other tribal States of Tripura, Meghalaya, Arunachal Pradesh, Mizoram, Sikkim in performance.
6. You are right that Tribal Development & Welfare Ministry (TD) has been instituted since Manipur attained statehood, unfortunately tribals do not run the TD. It is overrun with Meiteis like in every other departments, and of course, corruption is endemic in the department. A prominent Meitei woman did not attend office for 3 years and she got “Outstanding” remarks in her ACR and she edged out another tribal Deputy Director to get the promotion she did not deserve.
7. Incomplete history can be very convenient powerful tools in the hands of individuals intent on doing mischief. It is a known chronicled (by your own Meitei scholars) that during the Burmese incursion generally known as the Seven Year Devastation, the tribals protected the Meitei people. Your own Meitei Maharajah and his Royal Forces were fed and clothed by the hands of the tribals. And for this kindness, tribals received enslavement and servitude in return.
“Time immemorial” is a misnomer. The “long history” of Manipur is a myth, Manipur as a term did not even exist until recently. The Valley was a lake (just consider the geography and writings by your own Meitei authors) and it was only recently when the Valley came to be inhabited at Keng-la, a Rongmei word for Kangla which means, “dry raised ground”. Not very long ago (till British times) waterways connected the present Imphal Post Office to the Loktak Lake. The shrinking of the lake continues till today as remote sensing pictures show over the years.
8. If you researched the appointment laws and rules for ADC primary teachers, you would find that the recent intrusion of non-tribals into what is otherwise reserved for tribals is illegal. Many representations were made in this regard by various tribal organisations only to have them conveniently ignored by the Government. Further, this picture is offset by Government’s raising of twice the number of para military force personnel exclusively of non-STs.
9. In pointing out the election of a tribal as leader of one political party, you failed to mention that this is an exception and not the rule. Further, it is just a ploy to project a semblance of fairness so as to gain legitimacy. Further, if the spirit of Meitei chauvinism has not influenced the government, how do you know all three parliamentary representatives would not be tribals?
Yes indeed “man is rational being that is why he is distinguished from other beings.” The question then from your irrational arguments is, are you?
Tribal Peoples Forum Manipur