I get up to speak on a troublesome moment in the history of India that has never happened, called the tragedy of Manipur, which is sought to be silenced by the government. And it is an irony that such an important matter, which is sought to be silenced, gets an opportunity as the midnight hour approaches.

This reminds me of the fact that people in my home state, the time is two hours ahead of Delhi and we have been dancing to the tune of Delhi, and the time that is supposed to be approaching 12 at the moment. People like Janu Barua and others have demanded for years that Northeast should have a separate time zone.

Only then you will be able to live with dignity and a sense of well-being. The kind of priority that I can sense, is this moment that I get a chance to speak. Mr. Speaker, sir, I am just trying to, Mr. Chairman, I am drawing your attention to the absence of Manipur in the President's address.

This is not a simple absence. It is a reminder of a ‘rashtrachetna’, which excludes people. You must realise that more than 60,000 people are languishing in relief camps in wretched conditions for the last one year.

If anybody [has studied] the great Partition of this subcontinent, which I have done, I was associated with a research project. We have interviewed more than 1,500 survivors of the Partition of 1947 and you are witnessing the same thing.

People are living in wretched conditions that I cannot even mention here, 60,000 people homeless is not a joke. Two hundred plus people died and there has been a civil war like situation where people are armed to the teeth and roaming around and fighting each other, defending their villages, and the Indian state is a mute spectator to this tragedy for one year.

I must remind this house that each and every square centimeter of Manipur is covered by a central armed force. It is one of the most militarised areas in this country, where you have more armed policemen than the civil police besides the armed forces of the Union.

Despite this, how is it that 60,000 people were rendered homeless and villages in thousands were destroyed, and yet our Prime Minister remained mute? Not even a word, and the Presidential address did not even mention that. And I said that this silence is not normal.

It is a reminder of the fact, which many scholars have said that there is a continuity between colonial and the post-colonial period. Today we are observing a day where we begin new criminal laws seemingly discarding the colonial heritage.

But as Ashish Nandy says, colonialism is a state of mind. It is a psychological phenomenon. It is an outlook, the way you look at the people, the way you look at the world.

And the fact that this continuity is shown by neglecting the tragedy of a state which is the 19th state of the Union. It is amazing to see that I get an opportunity as the midnight hour approaches to resist this anguish and this hurt of the denial that this country has met it out to its own citizens in the state of Manipur.

I must ask these questions to the House, is this silence communicating to the people of the Northeast and Manipur in particular that you don't matter in the Indian state scheme of things?

Major Lysham Jotin who was awarded Ashok Chakra while grappling with suicide bomber was a Manipuri who was awarded Ashok Chakra. You are dishonoring his own state.

Major Nagom Joy Dutta who was awarded Vir Chakra while fighting for this country and doing his duty as a part of the peacekeeping force in Sri Lanka in 1987. You are dishonoring this man. You are dishonoring the likes of the youths who hold the tricolour in international platforms.

The likes of Mary Kom, Sarita, Kunjarani and Mirabai Chanu. You are saying that you don't matter in this country. Your state doesn't matter in this country.

You are also saying that the likes of Ratan Tiam, the icon of the culture of this country, or even Shyam Sharma don't matter in this country. If you have an iota of concern for this state, there would not have been a silence. There would not have been a silence in this house nor in the presidential address.

This must be resisted. If you wanted to doubt the nationality and the nationalism of the people of that state, you must realise that these people have fought for the country. These people have brought laurels to this country.

We are talking about the exclusion of Northeast history after 75 years. That's a classic exclusion. India was an anthropological subject, not a historical subject in the eyes of the colonial forces. And today, the Northeast remains outside of the history of the Indian history textbook.

That is why you treat them as the other. And that's the silence. And the silence on the Manipur tragedy is not unique.

It is a reflection of this general continuity of the colonial in the post-colonial. It is sad to see a nationalist party like the BJP will feel comfortable with this silence on the tragedy of Manipur.

Keep your hands on your heart and think about the 60,000 people who are linguistic in relief camps. And those mothers, those widows, think of them. And then you talk about nationalism. Only then we will understand what this tragedy means.

And Mr. Chairman, the hurt, the anger has thrown a nobody like me to be part of this temple of democracy. Being the BJP Cabinet minister, think about the pain. If you hear an anxiety, anguish, and a pain in my voice, please go back and see those 60,000 people languishing in the relief camp.

Don't talk about Partition remembrance. I would keep quiet the moment the Prime Minister opens his mouth and a nationalist party says that Manipur is part of India and we care for the people of that state. Only then I will accept what is Nationalism in our face.

Thank you Mr. Chairman

Angomcha Bimol Akoijam is Indian academic, filmmaker and politician, from Imphal Valley, Manipur. He is an associate professor at the Jawaharlal Nehru University's School of Social Sciences, and a public intellectual.He has been elected to the Lok Sabha as a Member of Parliament from Manipur.

Above is the transcription of the speech he delivered in the House on June 2, 2004