Sunday, September 27, 2009

The politics of killing and the nature of death

Whenever we talk or hear about killings in Manipur, basically two weapons pop-up in our mind, AK-47 rifles or 9 mm pistols. These are the two weapons that has denied, been denying and going to deny the existence of many lives in Manipur. How do we perceive the above two weapons? These are the two deadly weapons we saw generally in the streets, market places, educational institutes and government offices of Manipur in the possession of state forces, as well as, in the possession of non-state actors, which are visible in electronic media and print media in most cases when the state force recovered it after every successful military operations or encounters. Our daily existence has been acquainted to the presence of these weapons, which always push us into sense of fear, a fear to lose one’s own and near kins.
It seems these weapons deny human lives. But these weapons do not kill by themselves. Then who kills the people? Does it make any casualty? Of course it does not. These weapons in the possession of states forces in places like Delhi and many other places in India, where too there is ‘law and problem’ does not kill people. But these weapons are killing people in Manipur. So, something is there beyond the statist rhetoric of ‘law and order problem’. What made these weapons kill so many people in Manipur in a regular pattern? We find reports in media, which states state forces kill ‘insurgents’ or unidentified persons kill xyz etc. But beyond these reports there are articulation and illusion to the regular pattern of killing, a glaring manifestation in contemporary Manipur.
The regular processes through which lives are being terminated so abruptly in Manipur go in a linear pattern, as the bullet which hits kills person is fired from a weapon carried by personnel and the same bullet is guided by a political meaning. The weapons and bullets are not killing the people and the personnel holding the weapon is also not killing the people. It is because both are just media of execution. Necessarily, it will be pertinent to subscribe cases where personal objective of the latter reflects. The issue with the objectivity of the later medium is of lesser importance but we find meanings for the lost of its importance within the larger practice defined by a structure and principles which authorize and protect them.
Instead of asking the factors for the killing, we can find meanings and reasons behind it, if we can enquire, ‘what’ kills the people in Manipur. The query, ‘what’ will provide multiple realities behind the known and unknown reasons of death in Manipur. The query ‘what’ is not equivalent to why, how or who because the later mode of enquiries fails to provide the fundamental reasons of the killings. These modes of enquiry fails to underscore the duality about the personnel becoming actor. It fails because it tells us only the actor, factor for a particular event and the way it was staged. For example, in the Sanjit and Rabina episode the failed mode of enquiry once again prevailed where it fails to underscore the personnel becoming actor. Here, the actor as everybody knows is, the Manipur Police commandos. The factor and the staged story is visible in the government and its entire machinery’s interventionist role which left no stone unturned to cover up and protect the actor while passing off the event within the connotation of the typical ‘law and order problem’. The failed mode of enquiry is well answered but the most important question, ‘what’, comprehending all the enquiries mentioned above remain unanswered. What made the personnel not reluctant in killing the people? Why did the government hurriedly and conveniently intervened to rescue the actors and the manifestation of the event? Here, the query ‘what’ can provide the unanswered questions to the killings in Manipur, the practice of government and the failure of the voices staged against the events.
The actor gradually emerged as the focus of the entire killings and it is manifested in the common people’s fear of the actor. But the practice of the government’s intervention which bred the public fright seems not yet captured in the consciousness of the public. One notable phenomenon is underscored; the actor and the practice are viewed isolated. Or, in other word the actor is evolved in an articulation in the public sphere where the governing practice escapes from public attention or wrath, thereby shifting the focus of the entire killing away from the real root cause. The actor relationship with the interventionist position of the government reflects an understanding of the governing practice. The query, ‘what’ must be traced in this very relationship.
If we take into account the pattern of killing in Manipur a very interesting manifestation is visible. Over the dead body of a victim, some issues emerge about the nature and motive of the killing, but the victim’s family often fails to raise their voices over the counter claims of the governing practice as they cannot provide the answer to why, how and who . Rejection of the victim families’ outcry by the counter claims of the governing practice has become a pattern in the last five/six years. This pattern of rejection signifies the denial of voices claiming the truth of the nature of death and the mode of killing. Within this regular pattern we find significance, the emergence of known and unknown deaths. The known are those which get memorized and the unknown are those which disappear from the very public space where both find reflection, though in varying degrees. The known and unknown are determined by the voices of claims. For example, let’s take a period of 5 years where hundreds and hundreds people have been killed. How many cases of these killings do we succeed to capture in our memory and for who long? We can memorize very few. However, we cannot deny accounts of death which we have failed to capture in our memory. The accounts failed by our memory were also reflected in the public space along with memorized accounts. This classification of accounts produced in the public space is shaped by the voices of claims. The known and unknown deaths are only manifestations produced by the claims of the voices and the counter claims of the practice. Beyond these manifestations lies an undeniable truth hidden within the silence of the dead body. The politics behind the silence of the dead body and its articulation by the counter claimant lead us closer to the unveiling of the query, ‘what’.
The answer to the query, ‘what’ gives substantial meanings to the continual killing practice. The politics of killings produces known and unknown death articulated to reflect as illusion. This very illusion is transformed into fear. The transformation of fear from the reflective illusion can be underscored as a governing practice if one makes a careful study of the way how killings are arranged for the governing practice. This very practice is articulated to produce what it is reflecting. The way of articulation and reasons for the articulation becomes the fundamental of contemporary mode of governance where political questions are visible.
The understanding of the people subscribes from the reflection, and made visible to the public space is fear, illusions and sense of alienation. This very reflection is processed and arranged in the governing practice with the articulation on the dead bodies. The emergence of known and unknown killings get caught between the rhetoric of complaining voices and the counter voices of the government manifesting selective memorization about the accounts of entire events of killings in contemporary Manipur. Selective and limited memory of account which is referred to as known body becomes an important issue with the voices raised by the various civil organizations in Manipur. This way of creating known bodies provide meanings to the issues raised in association with every account of killings in Manipur, which the governing practice does not fail to engage. These issues are appropriated in the rhetoric of the state generating a cyclic mode of entrapment to the voices raised against every killing. In addition to the above arrangement, we all are familiar with recent developments of the logic of counter insurgency with central forces operationalised to the civic activity rather than engaging in encounters and military operations, the replacement of Indian forces by the local forces etc. This manifestation is reflected in the public space which will be subscribed by the people in many perceptions. The meanings of the manifestation and how it will be perceive will be purely determined by the voices and approach asserted against the very practices. Voices could be raised against the practice rather against the eventual context. Failing to see the practice, we will witness the continuity of rising voices being muffled and trapped with the manifestation. The manifestation being articulated to sustain the practice should be understood in order to disrupt the continuity of the practice.
This article was posted on The Sangai Express on Sunday, September 27, 2009

1 comment:

  1. Your article reminds me of my high school teachers saying now a days paddy field has turned into a killing field!

    My sincere request to the Police officers of Manipur-- plz command those command(ogs)

    Good post!