Insurgency is not new to the north-eastern state of Manipur. Insurgency, Arson, Agitations and Excesses of Armed forces has been an integral part of the life in this tiny hilly state. Infact, it boasts an unique record of having largest number of insurgents groups in the region. According to most conservative estimates, the state has more than three dozens such active groups. But in recent times the state and its people are reeling under a new problem-Bane of Ban. In this state, any group can dictate ban on anything and everything. Such bans are not forced in the other insurgency-prone states of the region.
Let us talk about the latest ban in the state. An organization has banned the use of two-wheelers by students to high schools and colleges. Riding two-wheelers to coaching classes has also been `banned’, much in the manner of militants outfits that keep issuing decrees on social do’s and don’ts. Democratic student’s alliance of Manipur (DSAM) last week ordered all boys and girls going to schools and colleges to stop using their two-wheelers from December one. Dam general secretary L.C.Santosh says, “Motorcycles and scooters corrupt the boys and girls past puberty. They induce the young to zoom about aimlessly and make them more interested in romance than studies.” He says that the organization was compelled to impose the ban as the new culture was affecting the career of students and the economy of a number of families and the state. Effectively enforce the ban. Apparently, all roads for motorcycle-borne boys and girls led to drug dens and liquor joints in capital Imphal.
It has become a fashion among parents to buy two-wheelers whenever their wards cleared the class 10 examinations. The organization has said that existing laws prohibits aged below 18 to possess driving licences but school-going students are issued lecences in Manipur. Two-wheeler dealers in the north-east admit that their customers are mostly teenagers. Many of them are below the official age for acquiring a driving licence. But DSAM leaders on the other hand claims that this move would help bring students to the right path. Mr. Santosh says that the ban would save many students from untimely deaths due to rash driving. More than 50 percent road mishaps in Manipur involved teenagers riding two-wheelers.
The word Ban is not new to this state. Earlier all the rebel groups had jointly Banned the screening of Hindi films in the state. Then the groups had argued that the Hindi films from Bombay were undermining the cultural values of the state and were unacceptable to its people.
The group has successfully enforced a total ban on drugs, alcohol and pornography in Manipur. The insurgent groups had branded Hindi films as obscene and said they portrayed feudal values typical of India's Hindi heartland. They say that the screening of these films undermined Manipuri cultural values. A prominent separatist organisation in Manipur, the Revolutionary Peoples Front or RPF had threatened to bomb any cinema hall screening Hindi movies.
Their guerrillas have also attacked drug barons and peddlers, destroying drugs consignments worth millions of dollars. Some of those acting in pornographic films and those marketing them in the state have also been shot.
And if every organization,overground or underground is going for ban, can the government be far behind? So, in keeping in tune the state government has also banned holding of any anti-government seminars, functions or conferences in official buildings.
Officials said the circular was issued in the wake of the use of government buildings or halls by several social organisations in recent months for holding seminars, conferences or exhibitions on human rights violations in Manipur under the Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act.
These seminars, conferences or exhibitions criticised the government and security forces for allegedly violating human rights and killing innocent citizens in the name of tracking insurgents, they said.
The circular signed by Chief Secretary Jarnail Singh asked heads of all offices and institutions to ensure proper scrutiny of organisers and theme or content of conferences or seminars before permitting them to use government buildings. Opposition parties in Manipur have condemned this move, describing it as a threat to democracy.
Manipur People's Party spokesman G Joykumar Sharma said the circular was more dangerous than the Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act, which is in force in manipur and gives sweeping powers to security forces. BJP's Manipur unit president H Borobabu said the move was anti-people and demonstrated the all-round failure of the state government.
RJD's state president and former chief minister W Nipamacha Singh asked, "Would opposition MLAs staying in government quarters be evicted for criticising the government?"
The circular was apparently issued to prevent seminars or meetings on human rights violations or killing of innocent citizens under the AFSPA, they explained.
And last but not the least, an insurgent group Peoples Revolutionary Party of kangliepak had banned use of birth control measures in local tribal population last month. The argument behind this ban was that the outsiders will swap the local peoples and make them minority. Who knows what comes next in the series of Bans!!!