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Relocation, Relocation, Relocation

Pic courtesy: All the maps were
downloaded from Google Image 
A fresh approach is possibly needed to study the phenomenon of population transfer in Northeast India, where ethnicity is an identity; and identity is what makes or mars the collective life of an ethnic group

Recently there was an interesting term called the population transfer that popped up in a reading. As the term suggests, it refers to an exodus of a group of people belonging to a particular ethnic group or religion—as directed and dictated by the government or such high authority. All along, the issues have been territorial integrity, ethnic politics, ethno-nationalism and all kinds of anthropological wonders. Then we have these highly probable consequences from population transfer that accentuates the gravity of the above issues.

Present Manipur, a fertile ground for social
unrest and ethnic conflicts
Generally population transfer is coercive and involves between states and nations. It is totally different from migration and occurs usually because of hostility or conflict between groups of people. Behind these simplified definitions, the world has seen several complicated cases of population transfer. The issue is grave and it is evident from certain international agreements like the Geneva Convention having provisions to deal with it; their effectiveness is another issue.

History had been rewritten because of such transfers. Textbooks are filled with stories, about mass exodus, mostly unpleasant. The last century also saw some of the worst transfers in the Middle East, parts of Europe, and closer home in the Indian subcontinent between India and Pakistan. Back in my hometown, one of the shifts occurred after the Seven Years’ Devastation (1826–1826), a Burmese onslaught that resulted in the mass scattering of Manipuris across Northeast India, Burma and Bangladesh. It also happened in the wake of the Naga-Kuki clash in the early Nineties. Genocide and ethnic-cleansing process are the parents of population transfer. The last on the list is the intrusion of outsiders into the volatile areas in recent times. (Earlier this year there was an issue about the Bangladeshis in Assam; it was already a crisis in itself and it further escalated into a mass exodus of Northeasterners from some mainland cities, which manifested like a ripple effect.)

Insurgency, indigenous people, ethnic/minority groups and population transfer

There are three problem areas at hand. The drastic political change in the region after the Indian independence has always been controversial, more aggravated by the birth of an armed movement. In turn, the brunt of insurgency in the last six decades has also changed the entire demographic profile, most apparent in Assam, Manipur, Nagaland, Meghalaya and Tripura. As an inevitable part of the historical process of a land and its inhabitants, a fresh approach is needed to study population transfer.
 
Nagalim was never a country, but has been in
an armed conflict against India. It has now created an
incredible history and is becoming a nation, so far so good
The casual approach of the imperial ruler in creating arbitrary lines and border between nations and people, throughout the world, is an original conflict trademark.  It has been long past the days of the colonial trauma and the wound never heals, thanks to the apathy of the government.

Taking the case study of the ceasefire agreement a.k.a. peace talk between the Indian government and the proscribed NSCN-IM there are a few newer perspectives. If the talk goes as planned, the outcome of population transfer is obvious—though most likely the legal governments of Manipur, Assam and Nagaland which have a stake and the union as well cannot afford to sign the accord, to meet the demands of the rebel group. The reason is again obvious because administration and governance are not entirely in their hands. The matter is now heavily ethnic-centric, again thanks to the Indian approach of containing militancy and its Kautilyan statecraft (marked by a divide-and-rule policy). If there were no India, we can imagine the high conflict quotient of the region, which is nevertheless no less with it ‘being here’.

It is not clear, whether the Indo-Naga peace talk is a means to an end or an end in itself. As the years progress, it is becoming more vague. In this context, population transfer is the judgment of the naysayer. It is in the making. Especially in Manipur, the geography is easily divided into two: a valley and the mountains, much a delight to the interests of those who are hell-bent on pursuing territorial and ethnic politics.

The Kukis, just to be in the game, has marked their territory in green
The numbers of ethnic groups and the tension between them cannot be overlooked. No matter what, how absurd will it be for the posterity when they look back into this part of history? These are the days of other people buying land in the space, for example; and we are monkey-fighting for some claustrophobic space in a forbidden land. So the need of the hour is the redrawing of borders? What exactly is it called—a part of irredentism? Will it help us become more humane? Will it solve the problem of multiple and overlapping conflicts? Will it help to say the government must go kill itself? Would this corner of the globe ever see the light of a progressive and developed society?

In the complex milieu of the Northeast, the phenomenon of political transfer can shed some light on the problems and grievances; much so, seeing the politics of territory. The escalating ethnic hostilities are also fueled by a third party, who must have to pay the price some day or the other.

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Postscript THIS WOULD BE A PEDANTIC ACADEMIC WORK BUT IT WILL BE FINE, AS LONG AS  THE END IS NOT SOME THEORETICAL CRAP THAT ARE DISCUSSED IN UNIVERSITIES AMONGST SOME LEARNED SCHOLARS; RATHER AS A MEANS TO GET RID OF OUR TERRITORIAL PISSING HABITS.

IN THE BATTLE OF THE GREATEST BORING BUMS, THE FIGHT BETWEEN THE ACADEMICIANS AND THE BUREAUCRATS ALWAYS ENDS IN A TIE. THEY KILL ME WITH THEIR EXAGGERATED FORMAL EXPRESSION AND CONFORMITY. SHARING THEIR SHITTINESS EQUALLY IS THE OBSCENELY MANIPULATIVE UNION GOVERNMENT.
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Facts and figures from census2011.co.in 


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1/2 1891

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2/2 1891