The campaign for a ‘native chief secretary’ in Manipur is reflective of the forlorn scenario of the state as a whole.
Agreed, there may not be such a thing as a ‘native chief secretary’ in the rule book, but given the manner in which the state of affairs manifest in Manipur, such demand made by student organisations, both from the hills and the valley, for the top bureaucratic post in the State is not irrelevant.
Interestingly, the ongoing movement on the ‘native chief secretary’ issue is also seen as a reproach to the cynical politics of the successive State Governments of Manipur where a smokescreen policy has been the standard measure.
In other words, the present campaign of the student organisations conveys a clear message that “enough is enough;” that the acts of discrimination by successive governments – unchallenged at all realms till date – have gone too far.
A conscious attempt, indeed, by the student organisations to tell the powers-that-be that the sufferings of the people are not illusions, but real; they are telling stories of their lived experiences.
The ongoing campaign for the ‘native chief secretary’ is spearheaded by Democratic Students’ Alliance of Manipur (DESAM), All Tribal Students’ Union, Manipur (ATSUM) and Apunba Ireipakki Maheiroi Sinpanglup (AIMS). ATSUM is made up of All Naga Student Association, Manipur (ANSAM) and Kuki Student Organisation-General Headquarters (KSO-GHQ).
The student organisations have been claiming that there are three ‘native officers’ (IAS) who are much senior to the incumbent ‘non-native’ chief secretary of Manipur.
The reasons for the State Government of Manipur to ignore or undermine the ‘deserving native officers’ remains unknown at this point of time. However, the larger concern at hand is also the unnerving experience of bypassing and undermining not only the three ‘deserving native officers’ but the whole community of potential ‘native officers’ and the people of the State as a whole.
On April 17, ATSUM, DESAM and AIMS, in their joint memorandum to the Chief Minister of Manipur, had stated that “the historic union of student bodies of the hills and valley on the issue of the chief secretary is a movement against the legacy of the neo-colonialism and discrimination.” This memorandum was submitted to the authority just after a mammoth rally in Imphal. Earlier on April 7, the student organizations also carried out a day-long sit-in protest in the state capital on the issue.
But much to the chagrin of the people, the State Government has remained indifferent to the demands and continues to maintain a stoic silence on the issue. This has only added a further dose of discontentment to the whole affair.
The campaign launched by the student organizations will strike even deeper and wider chords unless the State Government takes urgent corrective measures.