social movements

Topics: Manipur, Nagaland, 1980 Pages: 5 (2250 words) Published: January 6, 2015
One can trace back the history of today’s Miera Paibis to the days of the Nupi Lan or women’s war in 1904 and 1939. Beginning as a protest against price rise, the demand extended over to administrative reforms against the oppressive economic and administrative policies ruled by the Manipur Maharaja and the Political Agent—Mr Gimson—of the British Government. Women’s role in public sphere is not new to Manipur. Meitei women have enjoyed a significant space outside household spheres. Traces of this can be found from the existence of certain institutions or systems that have pushed the women to take part in family economy and one such institution was Lallup-Kaba. This is some kind of forced labour which prevailed in Manipur in the 1800s. This institution has a very ancient origin in Manipur. The general system of Lallup was based on the assumption that every male between the age of 17 and 60 must place his services at the disposal of the state, without remuneration, for a certain number of days. The male of the family remained out of the house for a long period and women were compelled to get into buying and selling for maintenance of the family. Consequently, a section of the trade came under the hands of women in the form of Women’s Market today known as Ima Keithel or Ima Market. The British administered the state of Manipur directly from 1891 till 1907 after they defeated Manipur in 1891 (Lokendra 1998). The Maharaja signed the Merger Agreement with India on September 21, 1949. Even today the circumstances under which the former princely state merged into India are contentious. (S. S. Hanjabam, 2007) Since the merger of Manipur, there have been numerous democratic movements in Manipur wherein the Meitei women have been a significant part. Historically speaking, the Meira Paibis were preceded by the Nisha Bandis who came into force in the 1970s. During that time, Manipur was flooded with drugs, narcotics, alcohol as a result of which young boys and men succumbed to addiction. This gave rise to numerous crimes, public disorder, wife-beating and other forms of gendered violence. Traditionally having a role in controlling the social ills of the society, Meitei women took upon themselves the responsibility to control the rising disorder in the society. Ordinary women started forming groups and doing night vigils/ patrols in their respective leikais (locality) to prevent the drunken men from creating menace. If found drunk, the man would be beaten by a mob of women and publicly humiliated. Consequently, these women’s groups started seizing locally brewed liquor from the distributors and doing mass scale destruction publicly. They were thus called the “Nisha Bandis”. The efforts of the Nisha Bandis resulted in Manipur being declared a dry State. But the reality is that even after a long struggle to prohibit alcohol which found resonance in Morarji Desai’s interest in the 1970s, alcohol is still very much a part of Manipuri society. Moving on further, in the third week of May 1980, two CRPF jawans were killed in their camp on a hillock by the PREPAK soldiers in Langjing (a village in west Imphal with 1000-2000 population). In retaliation, the CRPF jawans came down to the village and started a combing operation. People were pulled out from their houses and search was conducted to nab down the PREPAK soldiers. Men were made to stand with their hands up for the whole day and in the scuffle a woman was killed. The AFSPA was unknown to the people of valley. In order to tackle the situation, Manipur was declared a disturbed area and the Armed Forces [Special Powers] Act (AFSPA) 1958, was imposed in September 1980 which legitimised full-scale military operations, permitting even a non- commissioned officer to kill anyone on mere suspicion with guaranteed immunity. In December 1980 Ibom Shah from Hairangoithong Maibam Leikai was captured by the Army as a suspected insurgent. The Nisha Bandis at night used firewood on bamboo sticks as...
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