Silent Chaos

First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Socialist.
Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Trade Unionist.
Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Jew.
Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak for me.
Martin Niemöller

Ibobi and his gang always talk of life as perfectly normal in the state. Even the ringmaster—the governor earlier this year—remarked, ‘The state police have been able to keep the law and order situation under control while maintaining public orders despite working in an extremely sensitive security environment.’ The chief minister added, ironically, the AFSPA will be repealed when the law and order situation is under control. Still, everything is fine, according to them, despite the record number of bomb blasts, murders, extortion cases and our collective decadence from bad to the worst. As always, multiple tragedies have made us mere zombies, delighting ourselves in orgies from the never-ending festivals and other private indulgences. Regardless of this free-willed madness, it is impossible to unhinge the currents of our time.

The most recent insanities are those of extralegal ban of some schools in the valley by student organisations. Whether it is justifiable, supportable or inevitable is another story but the effects are not something we would see in a sane society, neither extralegal does not mean it is more legal. It has even become a cliché that the mass suffers from selective amnesia—read protesting against the state and army but ignoring those destruction caused by the armed rebels and other frontal organisations. Some of us would say that the rebels have declared war against the state and they are in any case, out of the ambit of the law of the land. This is entirely different when it is the agencies of the state, which enjoys the privilege of legal powers and has the strength to label the existing condition as a mere law and order problem. This is despite the fact that they are already going all out with terror tactics, no less than those of war times, to subdue the people in the name of counterinsurgency ops and hence the protests.      

Would you support the banning of school? The answer is ambiguous as always the things are in the state. As a society there is supposed to be some sanity—but are we so dumb to even have a consensus. Many of us like to believe that we are suffering from selective amnesia. This mainly concerns with the view that people always protested against the state but remained mute when the perpetrators are non-state actors. First, it makes complete sense, though ironically, because the state has the impunity from its legal bearing unlike the other parties, read the armed rebels. Second, we are not suffering from selective amnesia but are expressing the sickly syndromes of a silent generation. This is most evident in our periodical sociopolitical outbursts.

If you do not believe it, who has spoken out against the daylight robbery of government officials? The latest is from the department of art and culture, whose director is allegedly waist-deep in swindling and shitty black money looted from the state exchequer. Alternatively, who has protested the recent highhandedness of the Assam Rifles morons in Tamenglong, where these legal gunmen brutally assaulted the people but not before making some ridiculous comments about declaring war? The madness is no different from screaming in silence. At the end of the day, the state has AFSPA and thousands of servile foot soldiers, while the parallel government has thousands of unwritten rules. We are ever crushed between the deep shit and the hassle.

Of course, the sporadic street demonstrations and sit-in protests are exceptions. And if we take a step back, we can see many of these grievances are directed against both the state and non-state actors. Check those placards with the bloody coconuts and bananas around. If we have to compete with the government over hopelessness, we might draw a tie—maybe, a penalty shootout is all we need. The silence is just deafening. On one hand, the student organisations—which are deaf and dumb on fake teacher appointments and unscrupulous teachers who are hell bent on career advancement using fake degrees—could simply ban a school or two. However on the other, and what is worse is that never has been the government of the day spoken out against this kind of insanity. Whether they speak or not, it clearly shows their motives and incompetence. No wonder the rule of law is no different from that of a jungle’s out here. Who has ever felt safe that there is a legal protector in place? Any natives will admit the police and army are creating more fear psychosis than doing what they are paid for.

For the authority, if the government ever speaks out, it is mostly about funds and grants from New Delhi that run the province. A few days ago, the Economic Times reported: ‘Manipur Chief Minister Okram Ibobi expressed concern over cut in funds allocated to the North Eastern Council by more than Rs 190 crore.’ He further whined: ‘Special category states lose out on normal central assistance, special central assistance, special plan assistance on which the NE states and Manipur in particular, heavily depend on the meet the fiscal deficit and finance state matching share.’

If we talk about Ibobi, we cannot help but mention the pitiable condition of the civil society. Like a naughty kid who is so used to beating and scolding from his parents that he longer care about it, the civil society has become so used to the collective degradation, so much so that it has become resistant to the tragedies, except in some selective cases—and yes, it is not selective amnesia. If at all it acts, most of the responses are reactive and knee jerk that only add insults to the injury. Some of the proactive measures are taken in obscure corners like the university teachers, with their trademark wooden expressions, and they are self-satisfied inside their classrooms. Frontal organisations are just happy preaching about the great land and the great people.

We have lost our collective strength; and the only force we have from time to time seems to be in building more decadence all around. In any event, there are the gracious presence of ‘learned’ intellectuals, academicians, this-and-that activist, civil society representatives and leaders, religious heads, student leaders and so on but the condition is too clear to see. From the top to the bottom of the society, it is a dog-eat-dog world. The government has no control over the territory and we can see it from yesteryears onwards. It is a herculean task, if not impossible, for the administrators to make any collective decisions. Public services are only as good as nonexistent. The list goes on endlessly.

‘The silence depressed me,’ Sylvia Plath wrote in the Bell Jar. She added, ‘It wasn’t the silence of silence.  It was my own silence.’ Sometimes our defeatist, pessimistic and fatalistic outlook makes it probable that some day we will have a sort of Pol Pot personality to clear off the mess. The Indian democracy is already down the drain with the massive militarisation of the region and the futilities of the regular elections. In this bleak condition, a bit of some more proactive measures will count a lot, along with the building of an active civil society and an informed public sphere would not be a bad idea.




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