As the cricket mania has reached a feverish pitch here after the victory of India in the World Cup that culminated recently, with obvious display of joy in a country that has huge cricket following among many ordinary Indians, where cricketers are treated next only to God (which is reflective of the skewed & unequal social relationship that characterize the country). But what is inexcusable is the blatant exploitation of this sentiment by the ruling class & its mouthpiece capitalist media that has created this unheard of frenzy bordering on patriotism & nationalism as if the entire nation was on a war path.
An incident that took place in Manipur recently involving the notorious Assam Rifles demonstrates the dangers of this sort of hype & media frenzy that could have on sensitive areas like the North East with a history of conflict with Indian state on the question of nationality. Personnel of the 15 Assam Rifles posted at Tomching hillock, Thoubal in Manipur celebrating the victory of India winning World Cup fired several rounds of ammunitions resulting one of the stray bullet hitting an old woman (Waikhom Mani Devi ) sleeping inside her residence and killing her. The Assam Rifles allegedly fired for about half an hour non stop after the world cup match.
The sheer careless of the army personnel notwithstanding, the incident demonstrates the sort of powers the army wields in this area, which in fact is the de facto ruler of Manipur. The people of Thoubal have reacted strongly to this incident by holding protest demonstration on NH 39 (national highway) & demanding a judicial enquiry, the removal of the 15 Assam Rifles post in the area & dismissal of the guilty personnel from the army. While official version has mainly denied the whole incident claiming that this was only a case of accidental misfire, the talks between the protestors & state officials including with the chief minister on meeting their demands has remained inconclusive.
While we stand completely in solidarity with the people of Thoubal in meeting their demands, it is apt to remember that this is not some stray incident that can be merely brushed aside with the two sides living happily ever after. It has much larger implication once again raising the question of nationality, the Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA), exploitation of Manipur by the Indian state & much more!