Wednesday, September 22, 2010

State sponsored murder with the pen


The arbitrary deletion of names from select tribal districts of Manipur in the census 2011 by none other than the state government is a massacre, only it is done with the pen. The proverbial strength of the pen being mightier than the sword cannot possibly have a better illustration than in this ridiculous act of the government and its district machineries. As if the killings with the muzzle were not enough, tribals are being written off the face of the earth, and for what reason?

It may be understandable if this occurred in communist China where the prescribed norm for one child per couple could perhaps be used to gauge the expected growth based on the number of married couples and the people in the marriageable age. Even that would have been highly inaccurate. The government’s action would also have been more acceptable had the enumeration been carried out by some private entity with vested interests to bloat the population of the tribals. But nay, the census enumerators are all carefully drafted government functionaries in some or other capacity. If the government has to discount their enumeration, they must first dismiss those enumerators from government service for breach of faith, for what the reduction in population figures implies is a total lack of faith on those enumerators. But how would the government prove their suspicion on their employees? Other than a recount, by a third party, there will be no credible evidence for the government to prove their distrust on their enumerators. This was perhaps why they have not chosen to act against their employees.

But that cannot justify the percentage reduction of names of people who live in the land and has, as a citizen of the country, as much right as the District Collector or the Chief Minister himself, helpless as he may appear in the garb of a non-literate tribal in a remote village who would not even be aware of his official murder. None of the DCs, neither the CM nor the cabinet together has the right to deprive any person of their existence and it being recorded in the national census. It also defeats the very purpose of a census if someone in power were to decide the population of an area or district and its growth rate at their whim and fancy.

On the other hand, the affected people must also produce verifiable evidence by way of living persons whose names were deleted from the census figures instead of resorting to hartals and disruptions of public life. The government after all is supposedly one of the people, for the people and by the people. Both sides must refrain from throwing stones in the dark.

If the government has reasons to believe that the census figures have been bloated in certain districts, its duty is to verify the figures, not arbitrarily slash the numbers. The public anger primarily arose perhaps from the denial of the benefits that should have accrued to the tribals through the delimitation exercise based on census 2001, whereby the hill districts stood to gain three additional seats in the state Assembly with the valley losing three. The state political leadership needs to retrospect on the neutrality and bias of their policies towards the tribals of the state for a healthy co-existence in future. And murdering tribals with the pen and annexing tribal land through arbitrary and murky alterations of district boundaries are not exactly reflective of such a benign retrospection to bring about peace and harmony between the tribal and majority non-tribal people of the state.

As for the tribal representatives in the state Assembly and the ADCs, it will be a pleasant surprise if they even understand the issues at stake. Spineless compromises and ignorant representations are what often triggered prolonged strife in society, and it is now that the tribal representatives are required to take a principled stand on the twin issues of tribal land and population, all for a more congenial relationship between the dominant community and the Hill tribals in times to come. If they are found trying to weasel their way out with evasive positions, then they have no business of representing the tribal people.

- courtesy  kukiforum