It’s a cold winter night in Delhi.
Thokchom Veewon the former president and current advisor of the Manipur student’s Association Delhi, was arrested by the Delhi police yesterday from his rented residence without any charges by the policemen dressed in plain clothes. His family and friends still do not know his whereabouts. His fault? Allegedly, speaking against the Citizenship Amendment Bill that would drastically change the demography of the indigenous community in the north east of India. The CAB protest is not the first instance that Thokchom Veewon has been vocal against the policies of the government. He has been vocal against the atrocities of the Indian army in Manipur, the bogus policies of the Manipur government, Arrest of journalist Kishorchandra Wangkhemthe under NSA, de facto colonization of the North-East by the Indian state and has supported people’s right to self-determination.
The Indian state functions like a rich boy from a Brahmin household, anxious over losing his privileges and holding on to what he can, by clenching his fists in a heap of sand. The Brahmin boy is anxious; its civilizing mission is slipping out of his hands. Its narrative of civilizing the savages by bringing in Hinduism hasn’t worked this time. The savages have won this time, taking away what he thinks is rightfully his. The Brahmin boy is angry and is in an urgent need to vent out his anger and feel his masculinity. Sources state that Thockchom Veewon was dragged out of his Delhi residence and not even allowed to wear his slippers.
Thokchom Veewon still remains in custody of the Delhi police special cell. The Delhi court has now granted a transit remand to a team of Manipur police to present Thokchom Veewon before the court of the Imphal East District Chief Judicial mlMagistrate by February 19th. He has been charged under Sedition (section 124A of the IPC) and Promotion of enmity; and ‘assault of criminal forces to deter public servant from discharge of his duty’ (Section 153A/353).
The wrath of the state power is felt differently by those who lie at the fringes. Election season means waiting to see what the state wants us to adjust to this time; what we may need to demand, and what we need to resist. It’s the same cycle, year after year. Due-process hasn’t worked. Constitution is still “trying” to accommodate the border area natives, and the brown colonists come and go in their various avatars as – the brown saviours, the brown philosophers, the brown activists, the brown vegans.
Thokchom Veewon’s cause belongs to all of us coming from areas far away from the heartland, physically and psychologically. The assault on Kashmiri students in Dehradun and Kashmiri employees in Jammu in a display of Hindutva nationalism is our cause too. It’s the cause of every person living in this nation state with a conflicted and an imposed sense of identity. The state apparatus is against our very existence and that is clear from the way the local court in Delhi easily granted the police remand to take him back to Manipur- a homeland that has seen so much violence over the past 70 years. Let’s not forget that Thockchom knew what was at stake when he decided to speak against the government policies having grown up in a place where the traffic control is done by army men carrying loaded rifles and AK47. He knew what the consequences could be, yet till the very end he stood firm on ground. On 12th February, two days before being arrested, he had posted on social media that the police had visited his house in Manipur and threatened his parents.
On this cold winter night in Delhi, my thoughts go out to my comrade who must have been through terrible hours of intense interrogation, racial slurs and torture. A process Veewon having grown up in a conflict zone, facing the Indian army every day, is not new to. It’s a cold winter night in Delhi and the Indian state is quivering more than ever. Thokchom Veewon, the historian, Thokchom Veewon, the story teller, Thokchom Veewon the leader, calm in his resilience and composed in his struggle; Thokchom Veewon who at this hour lies in an undisclosed location. His stories, too frightening for those who sit at the altar of a planned racial stampede, his voice too powerful for those armed with bigotry.