By Monika Khangembam,
I have always heard my cousins and guy friends talking about the impromptu search operations that happen in Imphal but finally today I was ‘frisked’. Me and my brother were just coming out of a laptop repair shop and suddenly we realised we were blocked from all directions. Initially we thought some VIP was passing by and we took another route. Then I heard this guy in uniform shouting, “Gari dagi kummo hujikmak. Nupi su loina check taudoine, nupi su loina check taudoine!” (Get down immediately. Even girls will be checked, even girls will be checked!’) I tried telling him we just came to pick up my laptop but he didn’t want to listen and said, “Waa yam nganganu. Tummina leppo aada.” (Don’t talk too much. Stand there quietly).
Me and my brother stood in the long line, me being one of the three ladies in the crowd. It was utter chaos with all of them shouting, trying to look tough and dragging people where to stand. The lady in uniform, who came to search me, apparently knew me and some friends from the press also vouched for me and said I could go now but my brother was still somewhere in the crowd helplessly looking at me. A very tough looking guy came towards me and asked his men, “why is this lady standing alone here. Isn’t she one of the detainees? Or one of you?”(pointing at the press guys). After some interrogation we were asked to leave but not through the main road where our vehicle was parked but through the dark alleys of the adjacent road. (I don’t get the logic behind it).
I asked what is the search about. One of them said they ‘got some info’, another added ‘there are some ‘illegals’ in the area. I still couldn’t figure out. I looked around and saw someone who was very old and someone around 12- 13 who came to buy his school books. What would they have done? Is it that difficult to use their common sense? I am home now safe with my feet tucked under my blanket but the rudeness, the whole air of fear and urgency they created is still in my head. I can tell you it’s not a nice feeling. Leaves a very bitter aftertaste.
What is the validity of these search operations? There is no AFSPA in Imphal area so how can they randomly catch people and frisk as if there is a state of emergency? We take things for granted. Just because there is no fake encounter happening in the next street we fool ourselves “Oh the situation in Manipur is much better now. It is so peaceful.” The fact is there is a silent war happening here. War against it’s own people. To create a fear psychosis, to terrorise them, to keep them suppressed under the barrels of guns.