The Salaried Beggars of Modern Manipur

When power is misused, chaos becomes the norm of a society. In our society, sad but true, power is misused in each and every sector. It is too obvious to come across many incidents that testify this bitter truth in Manipur. The oppressors enjoy oppressing the oppressed; and those who are luckily out of the league of the oppressed, enjoy the show as mute spectators.

For long we have stopped questioning ourselves, implying our society is getting defunct. Our logic has ceased to work. Isn’t it bitterer than power being misused?

Among the oppressing lots, those who are supposed to protect us from lawbreakers are the scariest ones. I am, of course, referring to the security personnel a.k.a as the ‘Salaried beggars of modern Manipur’, because many a time they are on the other side of the law. They have a job in hand, alright. But all they need is an excuse to beg money from civilians and they are shameless about it. Admit it.

It is quite ridiculous for the sake of earning a ‘side income’, they are ready to cross any limit. We feel pity for the beggars and urchins in metropolitan cities. I feel pity for these well-dressed, authorised personnel licensed to beg money on the street. All in all, I feel sorrier for these personnel who have to do so despite having a job in hand and earning a monthly income. Possibly there are reasons better known to them.

The jokes are on them. Annoyingly some would say, ‘Thabak changbada pijakhiba paisa hanjinaba tourini’. I am amused by this plain joke in which the ugly truth is always brushed under the carpet. I have also come across many funny incidents and cases of security personnel adding more glory to their democratic power.

In one of the incidents, one of my cousins was halted and checked, all for twenty rupees by a VDF cop, on the way to Wangkhei from Porompat. My cousin was guilty as charged when he was stopped for frisking at a traffic-less location because he had no helmet and so his punishment was to shell out 20 rupees.

When have the VDFs replaced the role of traffic policemen? It has been going around for sometime. I know not yet it is also a newly implemented rule to carry at least 20 rupees when you are driving around the shanty Imphal town. Otherwise, you could get a slap or an unasked threat from the commando or VDFs who loiter around the streets. Forget that traffic police exists. Mind you everything is possible in Manipur. All you need is to believe in the motto: Might is right.

If you have this false notion that they are supposed to maintain law and order in our society, feel sorry for yourself. The absurd reality is that they need to be educated about what exactly is law and order. They need to be officially tutored on what are the roles of security personnel in a society. They need to be acknowledged that ‘khonda waoba’, ‘mee usitaba’, ‘paisa neeba’ etc. are not a part of their duties; and their discipline needs not be compromised to call themselves cops.

I know they do not understand the meaning of discipline or politeness. They should at least try to spell it correctly if not follow it. I envy, however, two traits about them — their enduring capability and gutsy mannerism. They know that most of us hate and curse them; still they sure can tolerate to overcome our judgment about them and theirs about us. Quite courageous.

I don’t understand what the heck they consider themselves. Away from the familiar streets, stray dogs who loiter around the keithel do not even bark at the ema-eben but these trained, human-looking creatures can cross their limit, any time of the day.

I am also quite confused about their origin. I feel sorry especially for their families who have to share a kind of relationship with them. They are the licensed law offenders. They do no have any civic sense. They are supposed to protect us but on the contrary, their presence around our leikai or leirak khulak is synonymous with fear and anxiety.

Ladies and gentlemen, look forward to come across them anywhere in the valley. If there is a long queue at the ATM, they have every right to break the queue and offer themselves the privilege because they are the cops. People have to spend long hours in a queue for every commodity — from ATM to petrol pumps — but they don’t belong to the people and can have their own way. They can scare you and do and finish whatever they want.

Needless to say it will be hard to admit that these semi-educated men of law and order are serving the state. But it is unsurprising from the first day of their honourable career; because they would start with an offering of 10 to 20 lakh and more to their contacts. Bribe? No, it’s just returning a favour. The biggest lesson we can learn from them is to pay an amount and get ourselves what we want.

Much to our dismay, they have the license to bend the law and oppress the civilians, who are already bugged down by a fear psychosis that runs in the vein of every Manipuri. But as mentioned earlier, without money or contacts, we would find ourselves behind the bars. If we have a bit of them, well, life goes on.

All the crimes have a price in Manipur, just like there is a cost for every available job. Those arrested for Gooli or from a liquor vendor means 500 or 1,000 rupees, while for naharol case, it’s a bigger amount of some 50 thousand or more. Money talks. All said and done, I cannot understand why they have to act like moral police frisking at the vendors or leirak khulak, besides being a multitasking traffic controller. Is it the so called norm, ‘Sabina mama noknaba?’ Despite this, I know not how they can smell and endure their own craps.

Pity their lives. I extremely feel sorry for the many curses that people are used to swear on their name. Dear God, please grant them the wisdom and inner peace. They badly need them. Dear you, ‘Get well soon’. You have the key for the destiny of a group of people and your sickness is adding salt to the wounds. How true: power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely!

This article was published on 4 Nov 2012
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