The war cry : Solution First, Peace Later Trust : The magic word
Exchange of gun fire has subsided. No reports of direct clash between the two groups of people for quite some time now. But to equate this with the return to normalcy would be missing the trees for the woods. Forget about returning to normalcy, it would be foolhardy to even say that the first step towards normalcy has been taken. Take a hard, serious look at the reality and things should tell its own story. There is not even the slightest hint that the Kuki-Zo folks are willing to come to the negotiating table. The demand for a Separate Administration still stands and no one knows what other cards may be pulled out in connection with this demand. More than 20 people are still missing and the Government is nowhere near locating the whereabouts of the missing persons. In all likelihood the missing persons have been done to death and in the event of their bodies being recovered anytime, no one can say how the people would respond. React may be the more appropriate term here and no one can write off the uncomfortable thought of Imphal and the other districts in the valley area returning to the early days after May 3. Has the State Government thought of any strategy to tackle any unwanted developments in the coming days ? A number of bodies are also reportedly lying in the morgues at Imphal and with the Co-ordinating Committee on Manipur Integrity (COCOMI) making it clear that the bodies will be handed over only when the missing bodies are recovered, things can take an ugly turn any day. It is also on record that in a few days time, Manipur will complete 150 days of uncertainty and unrest. It is this uncertainty which has gone to add that extra dose of tension to the lives of everyone and making things worse is the seeming failure of the Government to come out with a workable formula that would be acceptable to people on either side of the clash divide. The reality is, organisations like the Committee on Tribal Unity (CoTU), Indigenous Tribal Leaders’ Forum (ITLF) and the Kuki Inpi, Manipur continue to live and stick by the slogan ‘Solution First, Peace Later.’ This is nothing but a war cry and it is in the face of this grim reality that the Government will have to work towards finding a formula that would be acceptable to all. It is this reality that the people should also learn to come to terms with and not do anything that can upset the cart, such as the totally unnecessary shooting incident at Khwairakpam Leikai in Imphal West on October 14. This is not the time for goondaism and certainly not the time to pit one set of people against the other, people who all stand by the idea of Manipur.
The focus of the Government should now be on the people who are languishing at different relief centres set up across the State. Constructing pre-fabricated houses is fine but this cannot be the answer. Explore means and ideas on how to relocate the displaced people to their place, which at one point of time, they called home. Tough task, no doubt, and this is where the Government would need to study what course of action may be taken up to dilute or blunt the ’Solution First, Peace Later’ war cry. Trust, perhaps this is the magic word which the Government should be working on to find for it stands that once it is able to instil trust and confidence in the people, then exploring the path to take Manipur to the road of normalcy may not be too tough a task. And this is where Imphal would need to reach out to Delhi. Chief Minister N Biren has been given a clean chit by none less than Union Home Minister Amit Shah on the floor of Parliament some time back and as stated many times in this column, it is confusing to see why the State Government has not done much to capitalise on this. The silence of Prime Minister Narendra Modi could mean so many things, and this is where it becomes crucial for Imphal to feed the correct narrative so that if and when he addresses the Manipur issue, the gain is for Manipur. Imphal may have worked on this, and for the right or correct narrative to be told, the co-operation of the people is paramount. A fact which should register in the consciousness of everyone who believe in the existence of Manipur.