Wednesday, January 23, 2008


Tragic Truck Accident in Manipur claimed 20 innocent lives and injured 34 others.

A tragic Truck Accident took place on 17th January 2008 when the Bridge over the Ngasuan River collapsed under the weight of the Truck. The Ngasuan River is located near Behiang Village in Singngat Sub-Division of Churachandpur District, Manipur. In this accident 20 innocent lives were lost and 34 others sustained serious injuries. The death and the injured include Women and Children. It is reported that the condition of some of those injured and presently hospitalized are very critical.

In order to condole the death and share the pain and grief of the bereaved family members, a Joint Condolence Meeting was held on 18th January, 2008 at Manipur Tikendrajit House, Chanakyapuri, New Delhi under the auspices of the Zou Organization Delhi. The Meeting was attended by hundreds of mourners from various Delhi based organizations from Manipur such as the Zomi Christian Fellowship (ZCF), Kuki Worship Service (KWS), New Testament Baptist Church (NTBC), Mary Grace Children Home (MGCH), Delhi Hmar Welfare Association (DHWA), Tiddim Chin Development Society (TCDS), Young Paite Association Jt. HQ. Delhi(YPA), Zou Sangnaupang Pawlpi (ZSP), Siamsinpawlpi Jt. HQ. Delhi(SSPP), Kuki Students Organization (KSO), Hmar Students Association Jt. HQ. Delhi(HSA), and Khangthah Zuun Pawl (KZP).

One Minute Silence was observed by all the mourners as a mark of respect to the departed souls and expression of heartfelt sympathy to all those who sustained injuries.

Speaking on the occasion, representatives of all the above organizations pointed out that the bridge was newly constructed which was inaugurated as recently as in November 2007. They were agitated to point out that the bridge was constructed by using substandard material, not fit even for making household items, let alone a bridge over the only national highway of the area. The quality of wood used for construction of the bridge was so dismal that it could be torn apart with naked hand. To that extend, all the Speakers strongly condemned the callous attitude of the Government of Manipur. The Government of Manipur is solely responsible for the tragedy and therefore the entire mourners very strongly demand that the following action be taken immediately:

1. The Government of Manipur must accept its responsibility for the tragedy since the Bridge collapsed as it was constructed by using dismal quality of wood that could be torn apart with the naked hand and as such it was unable to withstand the weight of a single loaded Truck;

2. The Government of Manipur must institute a Judicial Enquiry to thoroughly investigate the circumstances under which the bridge collapsed from every possible aspect, fixed responsibility and recommend corrective measures that should be taken to avoid recurrence of similar tragedy in future;

3. The Government of Manipur must take suitable punitive action against the guilty;

4. The Government of Manipur must pay ex-gratia to the families of those killed at the rate of Rs. 5 lakhs per victim;

5. The Government of Manipur must also pay compensation at the rate Rs. 2 lakhs each to those who sustained injuries apart from providing free treatment and medicines.

Publicity Wing,
Zou Organisation Delhi

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Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Two Days, Aizawl and Me

By David Buhril

Technology delivers us with amazing speed to distance and diverse spaces. Places actually. One of my New Year resolutions was to make more people, places, faces and issues as my subjects. Everything has become more interesting than before. This is celebration. And I am doing it everyday. There are many things that strike me on my recent visit to Aizawl.

I landed on the lively city again on January 10, 2008. Except for the heavy weary head that the journey has lodged within me, I was trying hard to wake up to the setting evening where I was transferred after all those plastic smiles and compelled etiquettes by those air hostesses with their rainbow like faces spoilt by chemical makeup. I sometimes felt like asking them why they have to colour their faces like a clown. A little would have made them look naturally beautiful. But they would be so brittle with the idea of that little. I thought to myself that they must have earned enough to indulged with colours to enhance their ignorance of beauty culture. But fortunate lot that they did not die of the overdose makeup that has layered their most treasured parts of their body. Diwali like colourful faces equipped with that smile was not very welcoming. They negate the image of hospitality, which they desperately try to deliver. I don’t know if it was the sleepless night that did not help me see the layered beauty that they deliberately hide. I don’t think so. But they are just colourful than beautiful.

The next day was January 11. It is observed as “Missionary Day” in Mizoram. Churches across the state observed the 113th Missionary Day with revered spirits. As if to coincide the observation, I was lodged at Mission Veng. Reaping what the two missionaries, FW Savidge and JH Lorrain, sowed in the year 1894, Mizos flocked to their churches on the day. Worth a holiday as the missionaries introduced the alphabet and laid the foundation of education that empowers them for a humane march and progress. The missionaries were also appointed the Honorary Inspectors of schools for the schools that they opened. Lushai Hills, Mizoram today, got its first school on April 1, 1894. It is interesting to note that from April 1,1904 till 1952 educational administration in Mizoram administered by the church. “Zosap”, the two missionaries, also introduced sanitation and hygiene to the Mizos. Besides, the two pioneer missionaries took up the task of reducing the Duhlian dialect to writing by choosing the Roman script with a phonetic form of spelling based on the Hunterian system of transliteration. The Hunterian system for the writing of proper names was developed in the 1860s by William Wilson Hunter, Director-General of Statistics for India, and published in Hunter’s Guide to the Orthography of Indian Proper Names (Calcutta, 1871). The Government of India accepted the system with some modifications in 1872, and it was used in the official Imperial Gazetteer of India (1881 onwards; 24 volumes), a work initiated by Hunter.

The Duhlian dialect has grown to become a popular language for the Mizo people. Today, even the language is called Mizo.

It was a relief to drive around Aizawl on Missionary Day. The observation immensely reduced traffic flow. Besides, everyone were in their best Sunday dress on that Friday. Besides the rest, the seeds of education, hygiene and sanitation have made the people wiser, cleaner and beautiful. I remember a lady, aged around 40, from the heart of Manipur’s Imphal, who once told me that her mother in law would never allow her to cook or enter the kitchen during her monthly periods. She also told me that she would be served in a separate plate during that inevitable cycle. No one introduced that hygiene or sanitation to them while the catching-up was a sluggish one. I realised how fortunate we are. Small things deconstruct bigger things of all their negativities. Otherwise, another hundred years may not even empower reasonable faculties, as it is evident with others today.

On Missionary day, I got the detail report of the mysterious death of Reverend Chanchinmawi who died on October 1, 2007. His bloody body was found inside his house around seven in the morning. The report was made public by the public prosecutor of the special investigation team, SL Thansang. The report concluded that the reverend killed himself after causing multiple injuries – four cut above his right ear (25mm each), one cut injury stab wound on his throat (40mm wide and 25mm depth), two big cut injury on his left chest (both measuring 50mm and 25mm), three small cut injury on his left chest, nine cut mark on his abdomen and one small cut injury mark on his left elbow. The report also said that the pastor used one kitchen knife, one bread knife and a hammer to kill himself. The report is out, but I wonder if the truth is out. The report, however, doesn’t seem to hush up the views from the other sides. May his soul rest in peace.

It is interesting to note that the late Reverend, besides his service in the Church (Presbyterian Synod), was also the chairman of Mizoram People Front (MPF). MPF worked for a free and fair election in Mizoram. Moreover, the forum is strongly against the prevalent corruption in the State. I was told the forum has a good following.

The report also stated that in early part of the year 2007, the late reverend has been threatened several times over the phone for his mission to sweep Mizoram politics clean. The reverend was earlier accused by one fictitious writer in one of the local newspaper of his intention to join active politics, and to the extent of becoming Mizoram Chief Minister after his retirement. The former soul reaper’s death compelled the investigating team to look at various angles too. But they ruled out all of them. Some of them are seriously interesting, though. Some believed that his wife, Rohmingliani, who never live up to a pastor’s wife life, must be behind the reverend’s death. The report said the late pastor’s wife smokes, chewed tobacco and gamble at times. The report also exhumed the other side of the late pastor’s wife that says that she used to make and sell alcohol earlier. The report also said that their marriage life was not a healthy one. Besides, the report said that Chanchinmawi was living with severe financial problem that must have pushed him to take his life. He was also believed to be living with depression, which made him to attempt on his life earlier. Despite everything else, the axe fell on him. The soul reaper has been made to become his own life reaper.

On the same day, I also attended the 40 days and 40 nights fasting prayer organised by the Mizoram Berampute Convention at Durtlang’s Agape Centre. It was a soul touching and searching session for me as well. The mass prayer seeks for His forgiveness. While the Salvation Army Territorial Band performed a song without the vocals, Carolyn sang Ka Trongtraina Hla in Hmar without any musical instrument. It hit me like nothing ever did. I met Him through the song. I was in peace. The joy spill over my face. I couldn’t help much, but smile. Sometimes there’s no need of tears. Not even words. I met Upa Rokamlo and Lala Khawbung too.

The day after the missionary day was deliberately spent on a lighter route. In pursuit of my desire to document Aizawl, I tried seeing more places and people. I photograph some. My friend Saplientawn Varte took me to Millenium Centre, which has become the pride of Aizawl. Expensive stores spruced up with infectious dignity that has become the identity of Mizoram’s capitalist. There were popular branded stores too. I was told everything is too expensive in Aizawl. If the materialistic mad race and the uncontrolled pace continue it would fail to be friendly to its larger struggling population who are far from the tower of the power structure and State treasury. I witnessed that Mizoram business is run by its women, which I like. They are everywhere from the biggest stores to the smallest one. They are not only empowering themselves but also the State. It is surprising that none of them were elected as people’s representatives. I did not doubt that they would make better leaders and politicians. They were not given any chance in the patriarchal reigned ring. I asked my friend what the men folk does. He told me they are either driving taxis or zipping around the clogged roads on their bikes and cars. Of course they are also the politicians and church leaders too. Whatever, the Christian state is moving towards becoming a citadel of glitz and glamour. Few decades back, the iconic images of the city were of grim faces in breadlines and heroes from the jungle. Now billboards scream Nike, Reebok, Adidas, UCB and showcase expensive clothes to the many window shoppers. The big show does not seem to lure much. The supposed boom time is a privilege of the few. There are also billboards that warns and caution about AIDS and safe sex. Moreover, Mizoram, the epicenter of the gregarious flowering of bamboo, is confronting the threat of famine. Aizawl, however, is no place to see the grim reality of those distressed Mizo farmers and populace. People in Aizawl did not really know what is happening outside the State capital. The city that sits on the edge is a big fair where local celebrities are generated and fashion fluctuates to prick pockets. This time, I was told, Korean movies are moving Mizos to tears. Earlier they were hooked to the Hindi serial, Kasauti. This time Korean movies were shown on cable TV with Mizo sub-titles. That’s not all. I read on January 12 that Mami Varte’s fans have established “Mami Varte Kohran” in Aizawl. Another idol to worship. Aizawl is a city of small gods. It is also moving with ambitious energy that is inclined towards increasingly expensive ways of life and plastic superstructure culture.

In the evening I met Atea (Boomarang’s vocalist) when I was on my way to Aizawl Post office. He introduced me to Victor (ex-Magdalene guitarist), LRa and Tawia. Victor told me about his newly formed band, Scavengers Project with LRa on vocals and Tawia on drums. Victor invited me to his house for tea. We had a long discussion on music, culture and identity. Victor had a cosy small home studio- Scavenger Records. They interest me a lot as they are seriously digressing to find a new sound, a different one for themselves. The boys are also bringing out a purely music magazine, R.O.A.R., with Victor as the chief editor. I was surprised to find my picture of Boomarang on the cover. There were many pictures of mine inside too. No courtesy though. That’s called sharing. I was invited for dinner by one of Aizawl’s most eligible bachelor, a lady lawyer, Mawite. It was another Eve’s ambrosia. The night sparkles again to make the city look like a Christmas tree. I am homely here, I said to myself. But I made it second for me. HSA Delhi Weekly

Monday, January 21, 2008

Abuse of Justice

By Elf Hmar

Two years is a very long time. But what would it be for those who are living with severe traumatised past? Even a single day would have stretched like a millennium. Ugly memories of rape, molestation, loss, shame, helplessness, forced upon them still haunts their everyday lives to numb them. But this, unfortunately, is the fate of the 27 Hmar sisters in Tipaimukh who were unmercifully molested sexually and raped by the cadres of the UNLF and KCP armed outfits in January 2006.

Whatever post-traumatic treatments, if they were given any, the victims underwent to heal the pains they were forcefully made to endure; the scars will live with them and their families throughout their lives. If only one can turn back the hands of time to save them from the ordeals those savages made them to bear forever. But we can do nothing about it now, can we?

Instead of giving them solace, security and what is owed to them, we continue to deny them their rightful rights, dignity and justice which are only how we can assist them. Instead, the greedy and unaccounted lots even grasp those away from them because they are no lesser than those savages who committed the unpardonable crime. Without any remorse, they dare to stand along with those who committed the crime.

And some of those are so obsessed to cross-examine those unfortunate sisters; they failed to reason that what they are doing increases the injustice done to them. They assume their obsession to be legally binding and right for a just deliverance of justice. Relentlessly, they think they are right but they are all wrong in whatever sense and in whatever stand they take.

The Rajkhowa Commission was instituted on March 18, 2006 by the Govt. of Manipur under the Commissions of Inquiry Act, 1952 to investigate the authenticity of the € ¦’±alleged€ ¦’² molestation and rape of Hmar girls and women in Tipaimukh. The judicial commission is neither a trial court nor is the case a trial case. In such a scenario, how is it possible that the accused and the victims are regarded as undertrials who are to be cross-examined? Is not the testimony of those distressed rape victims enough? Why has there been no demand for the accused to testify? What about cross-examining the accused? Where has the accused vanished? Have all of them been exterminated or concealed to bury the truth?

The fact that Rajkhowa Inquiry Commission is being roughshod by frontal groups of those outfits to which the accused belong, by their demands to cross-examine the victims is not only pathetic but is further evidence of the depth of muddy river Manipur is swimming. This also further undermines the sincerity and effectiveness of the State-instituted Rajkhowa Commission of Inquiry for what it was setup to accomplish. If it cannot act effectively on its own, using the power available at its disposal, how and when can there be the deliverance of justice for the tormented victims? Was the establishment of the Commission merely to whitewash the unlawful wrongs done?

Mention may be made that the Commissions of Inquiry Act does not give the rights to cross-examine victims. There is no mention in any sections of the Act that the victims can be cross-examined. The attempt to cross-examine them is legally not binding. The Rajkhowa Commission should not have bow down to such outrageous demands made by the rapists€ ¦’² representatives, namely the Human Rights Alert (HRA) and Manipur Forward Youth Front (MAFYF).

As if these are not enough, the frequent extensions of the 2-month deadline for the inquiry report and postponement of the supposedly cross-examinations due to some silly excuses is an evidence of how sickening the process of justice is in Manipur, especially for women victims. Justice can never be delivered in this stance. This is a mockery of the judicial system in the country.

The Rajkhowa Commission interviewed and took the testimony of the molested and rape victims at Tipaimukh on April, 2006. When the commission was instituted, the deadline to submit the report was within two months. With a series of postponement since then, the report of the Commission€ ¦’²s inquiry is still pending to be submitted. Who knows, the report may never be submitted or made public.

The coldness of the Ibobi-led Manipur government attitude against the distraught rape victims is very obvious by its failure to organize any trauma counseling for them. Unethically, the state government has never ever stepped forward to help them cope with the traumatic experience they are still going through.

Till today, even the Interim Relief of Rupees 1 lakh each that was promised to those who testified before the Rajkhowa Commission, just before the State General Election in 2007, has never materialized. It is frightfully shameful how much the Government has come down by playing around with victims of rape and molestation.

If it is for the victims of landmines, floods, bomb blasts, accidents, and rape in the valleys, it acts very effectively. Even if relief is provided at all, the biasness of the government against the hill peoples can be differentiated from the amount of relief money given to them against those from the valleys.

The government and the civil society should stop abusing the judicial system in the country and stand up against the same. The raped and molested victims of Tipaimukh should be honoured with their rights and justice without fail and without delay.

Source: KukiForum