War on people in Manipur

Statement delivered by Malem Ningthouja,
on behalf of Campaign for Peace & Democracy (Manipur)
at the Convention Against War on People on 4 December 2009
in New Delhi.

Most of us are concerned about the escalating scale of war on people perpetrated by the state mercenaries in several parts of the present day Indian subcontinent. Under the aegis of the bourgeoning Indian capitalist rulers who are in control of the state and the media, war crimes are being perpetrated with impunity everywhere and wherever democratic movements towards durable peace, development and democracy become prominent. On this occasion of the Convention Against War on People I would like to draw your attention towards the prevailing war on people in Manipur.

Historical Background

(1) Present India is a post 1947 political invention under the vested capitalist initiative of the Indian ruling class by overriding the national interests of several ethnic and political communities. The principle of voluntary unionism has not been followed.

(2) The history of war on people may be traced as early as the year 1948 when several Mao Nagas of Senapati District and Hmar in the Tipaimukh regions who had asserted for local self-determination were suppressed and some were killed for their democratic aspiration by the then Manipur government under the instruction of the Indian rulers. In the valley there was a heavy repression upon the attempted communist revolution under the leadership of Comrade Irabot during 1948-1951. Since the early 1960s several Naga peasants have been facing the brunt of military occupation leading to physical assaults and restriction of free movement in search for sources of livelihood. From 1980 to 2004 Manipur as a whole was physically, economically and psychologically affected by military rampages under the provisions of the Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA). There are still several other repressive and suppressive acts as well to curb democratic movements.

State of War since 1949

The present state of war on people in Manipur is illustrative in terms of its character manifested in the crisscrossing tactical and structural arrangements.

Tactical collusion:

(1) The Indian rulers (industrialists, compradors, and business establishments) have capitalist interests, dubbed as geo-strategic exigencies in Manipur. Manipur serves as a market, a source of raw materials and a military base for the expansion of Indian capitalism in Manipur and in other Southeast Asian regions.

(2) The bulk of Manipur’s upper class cutting across community affiliations has a class interest of retaining political power in its hands, for which its members at times clubbed together with various political, regional and communal interests in election campaigns and other sectarian assertions. They have emerged as the rulers of Manipur, supporting Indian rulers, so that the Indian state would serve their interest.

(3) The Indian rulers have found a reliable ally in Manipur’s upper class and have erected puppet governments in successive terms who in their turn mortgaged Manipur to capitalist enterprises and perpetuated a class order in the region. Communal and armed agents are being reproduced, if not recruited from amongst the Manipuri people to defend Indian capitalism and fight against the democratic forces. Several misguided youth lured by the prospect of private property or disillusioned by the relative weakness of revolutionary propaganda have either joined the rank and file of the imperialist mercenaries in waging war on the people or have became effective tools of carrying out communal politics.

Structural arrangement:

(1) Firstly, the armed forces (including the union paramilitary forces) are carrying out an unrestrained war on people with impunity under the provisions of the Armed Forces Special Powers Act 1958.

(2) Secondly, the police forces (particularly the Manipur Police Commando) lured by money and the prospect for promotion are carrying out massive looting and fake encounters.

(3) Thirdly, the underpaid auxiliary forces recruited on contract basis such as the Village Volunteer Forces in hill districts and Special Police Officers or Village Defense Forces in the valley districts are the camp followers of the regular forces in carrying out widespread hunt for democratic activists.

(4) Fourthly, gangsters in the guise of revolutionaries who are operating either from inside the state jail or under the command of the security forces are carrying out rampant looting, killing and psychological propaganda to confuse the people between gangsters and democratic activists.

(5) Fifthly, communal warlords and conservative reactionaries are being sponsored to divide the people vertically along communal lines and to divert the focus of the democratic movement.

(6) Sixthly, several undercover secret agents, both regular and part time informers are operating as watchdogs upon democratic activities and to advance psychological warfare in order to misguide the oppressed and the exploited people, diverting them from the democratic movement towards personal interest and sectarianism.

(7) Seventhly, the war on people is being covered up through official jargons such as ‘war on terrorism,’ ‘counter insurgency,’ and ‘law and order problem’ and so on. A wrong picture about the democratic movement in Manipur is being presented and widely published across the Indian subcontinent and beyond by imperialist media.

What are the impacts of war on people?

(1) Politically, since the 15th October 1949 the political community of Manipur as a whole has not been able to exercise their right to political self determination (including the right of accession or secession).

(2) Structurally, bourgeois democracy in Manipur is governed by a puppet regime composed of Manipur’s upper class under the strict surveillance of a Governor instituted by the Indian state. At the grassroots the backbone of the government is provided by a bulk of the forces mentioned above.

(3) Economically, while Indian capitalism (a mixture of market expansion and finance imperialism) installed upon a semi-tribal cum agro-based backward economy has drained the wealth of the people and reduced Manipur to dependency, on imports for food and other consumer goods; displacement, marginalization and pauperization have increased because of the ‘development’ projects undertaken under the protection of security forces such as forcible construction of capitalist dams, power projects, offices and institutional buildings.

(4) Physically and psychologically, increasing militarization has created a reign of terror leading to insurmountable human rights violations and a long lasting psychological effect or war hysteria among the affected population.

(5) Constitutionally, the right to life and other democratic rights are being denied. The space for democratic assertion of civil, political and economic rights has been shrinking. There has been a heavy crackdown upon civil society organizations for exposing state terrorism. The number of persons convicted, tortured and jailed or killed for their democratic ideas and initiatives has been increasing. For fear of state repression and brutality several of the war affected persons are forced to submit to the class rule against their own democratic conscience.

(6) Finally, under the patronage of the Indian rulers, sectarianism and communalism continue to play a divisive role by addressing the fundamental question of democracy from sectarian and communal perspectives. As a result no unified democratic force under a common banner capable of overthrowing the class rule could be developed.

Fundamental question

(1) The war on people does not distinguish people along communal or regional lines and the war impact is being felt similarly by the affected people. No particular community or region is responsible for the rampant capitalist onslaught in the name of security and counter-terrorism.

(2) If the class rulers are united for common purpose there can be no reason why the organizations representing the oppressed and the exploited peoples should remain divided in their just struggle against the common enemy.

(3) We need to contextualize the war paradigms of the ruling class and accordingly carry out an all encompassing ideological propaganda and political assertion for a democratic society free from any form of suppression and exploitation. And the emancipated peoples should enjoy the right to either voluntary unionism or secession based on common consent to be drawn out of the objective material conditions.

Down with war on people
Long live democracy


  1. Sivasegaram says:

    A highly educational piece.
    I think that the cause of oppressed peoples like those of Manipur and Nagaland should draw greater attention from all progressive and fair minded people. What chance do these peiople’s struggles have when even the formal left dubs the Kasmiri people’s struggle as ‘terrorist’?
    People who readily see injustices outside India, especially the formal left, should look more closely at the situation at home.

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