Henkai Singsit wondered as to why is this government so much “allergic or apprehensive” to public criticism and expression of one’s opinion and views in matters of governance.
TFM Kangpokpi Representative
A day after former All Tribal Students’ Union Manipur (ATSUM) finance secretary Henkai Singsit was released from jail, he explained why he had dubbed the Manipur chief minister N Biren Singh as ‘Judas Iscariot’ in his Facebook account which landed him in Sajiwa jail for a month.
Speaking to media persons at his Motbung residence, the former ATSUM finance secretary Henkai Singsit said, “I was detained on June 24 and then thrown in Sajiwa Jail after four days of detention on July 29, on the grounds and reasons I have not been told till today”.
He continued that he was freed on Tuesday, July 20 after going through traumatic times and harrowing moments because of the extra-constitutional arrest while his families had to go through immense suffering and hardships as well.
Father of two newly born twins while he was in jail, Henkai Singsit admitted, “yes I have spoken out against the chief minister of Manipur in my Facebook for betraying the trust of the tribal people since September 27, 2017, wherein a charter of demand was submitted to the Government of Manipur through the former chief secretary, Suresh Babu which was a comprehensive memorandum identifying the problems and plights of the hill people”.
The government had acknowledged the genuineness of the demands but unfortunately, nothing has been done to translate them into reality even after innumerable talks with the government even with the participation of the chief minister himself, concerned ministers, and department officials, he said before adding that four years have passed yet nothing is seen on the ground.
Henkai Singsit wondered as to why should the government take its own people for a ride after making promises after promises yet never show honesty in fulfilling them and added that the Constitution of India conferred to him and every citizen of this country rights which are sacrosanct and fundamental in nature.
He contended that whatever expression or public utterance is made within the ambit of the Constitution of India and as a free citizen of a free nation and with the intention to remind this government of the promises they have made to the hill people while maintaining “I have not said anything which is detrimental to the sovereignty and territorial integrity of this country neither have I done anything that is prejudicial to the defence of this country or subverts our relations with any foreign country”.
“I have not said anything to incite public hatred, nor spoken out against any religion. Neither have I committed any crime to warrant this outrageous arrest and humiliation”, asserted Henkai Singsit.
He also wondered as to why is this government so “allergic or apprehensive” to public criticism and expression of one’s opinion and views in matters of governance and said “if you don’t want criticism or rebuke do your job well and fulfill the promises made to the people”.
Henkai Singsit continued that one failed to understand why the present government is trying to stifle the voices of dissatisfaction and taking innocuous statements on social media so seriously as criticism and dissent are a part and parcel of liberal democracy and is needed for a healthy democracy.
He opined that if the government is so much allergic to criticism why not come up with an amendment through constitutional processes and remove the right to freedom of speech and expression, after all, the BJP has got a brute majority in the parliament.
“People are angry with the government for its autocratic nature and vindictiveness. They are being arbitrarily arrested, humiliated and thrown to prisons for petty offences which could have been either ignored or let-off after chastening and chastising them and with a stern warning that they will be punished in the event of repetition,” he added.
While reminding the state government that it is the people who have catapulted them to power, Henkai Singsit said that the present government should take it to heart that election is around the corner and that the same people will teach them a lesson if they do not mend their ways.
He further said that the government should understand that there was peace in Manipur because the people had an earnest desire for it and “we the tribal community especially the frontal organisations have immensely contributed to it which the government of Manipur should acknowledge and be grateful to us. But what have we got in return? Nothing”.
The former ATSUM finance secretary pointed out that there are 35 colleges in Manipur — 26 in the main valley and only nine in the hills while adding that three hill districts are without a college whereas every main valley district has at least five to six colleges.
He also said that there is also an uneven distribution of higher secondary schools as 23 higher secondary schools existed in the hills whereas 36 in the main valley.
He said that the demand for up-gradation of more high schools to higher secondary is a non-starter till date while there is not a single government higher secondary school from Motbung to Mao, a distance of around 80 Km.
Recruitment of 42 MIL lecturers and 688 lecturers for higher secondary schools notification was issued on July 6, 2018 for which the appointment orders of 688 lecturers were issued on November 25, 2019 but MIL recruitment process is stalled till today for unknown reasons, he said.
He also pointed out that in connection with up-gradation of IGNTU to a full-fledged autonomous university, CM Biren Singh had promised to take along ATSUM team to meet the former HRD minister, Prakash Javedkar but failed to fulfill it.
He said that with regards to appointments in six ADC’s, notification was issued on February 29, 2020 but no groundwork has been done till date.
He further pointed out that the election of ADCs which was to be held on June 1, 2020 is not done so far after innumerable MoUs were signed for its conduct while adding that even ATSUM had called bandh on March 13, 2021 and imposed office picketing on April, 5 and 6, 2021.
He said that the delimitation of Manipur Assembly Constituencies, 2020 is still in doubt.
He also said that on March 4, 2019 the chief minister while responding to a query by a member said that the Meiteis demand for ST is genuine much to the consternation of the hill people and asked as to why should the chief minister take sides.
The former ATSUM finance secretary said Judas Iscariot, the mysterious disciple betrayed Jesus with a kiss and “I feel the chief minister of Manipur N Biren Singh betrayed the tribal people of the state with unfulfilled promises while adding that for all the above unattended, unfulfilled promises I dubbed the chief minister as Judas Iscariot”.Freed former ATSUM finance secretary, Henkai Singsit