Dragging on for nearly 180 days No answer at hand
For nearly six months or for nearly 180 days, everything has centred around the ongoing ethnic clash. The commentary in this column has also centred around the clash since the evening of May 3 and there is nothing pleasant about it. Readers must already be sick of it but more important is the fact that Manipur is sick of it. Taking the reality into consideration, it is then no wonder that many see any period of calm as the proverbial lull before the storm and Manipur has not fallen short of this observation. After an appreciable period of calm, save for the sporadic firing at the foothills, came the Moreh bombshell or rather the Moreh assassination. Swift and strong protest followed the killing of the Sub-Divisional Police Officer of Moreh police station and in less than 12 hours, the battle ground shifted to the social media with either side putting on their thinking cap and going full blast against each other. The immediate subject for the war of words on the social media may change with each new development, but the central point remains the same and it has been like this since the evening of May 3. Social commentators, pen pushers from some dingy room in the office of a publication office, fly by night operators who parachute into Manipur to get a story to fit into their pre-conceived frame etc have since been deciding how the story is told to the audience across the world and this is how it has been since the ethnic clash erupted in all its ugliness in the evening of May 3 at Churachandpur and soon spread to Moreh, Kangpokpi and Imphal and the valley districts. In all the stories or over 90 percent of the stories filed, nothing has ever been said about the false premise on which the Tribal Solidarity March of May 3 was staged. Selective amnesia seems to strike many pen pushers making them overlook the fact that the rally turned violent only at Churachandpur and not at the Naga dominated districts of Senapati, Chandel, Ukhrul and Tamenglong. Making things worse was the observation of the Editors’ Guild of India which mistook the incidents leading to the May 3 rally at Churachandpur as ‘tension running high between the Kukis and the Meiteis.’ Churachandpur was already in a tense mood leading to the Tribal Solidarity March, but to equate this tension as one between the Kukis and the Meiteis would be missing the trees for the woods. To many, particularly The Sangai Express, it was seen as the Kukis protesting against the policies and programmes of the State Government and not against the Meiteis. This is why repeated questions have been raised on who struck the first match stick at Torbung and Churachandpur on May 3?
The ghost of May 3 is yet to be exorcised and no one knows how long it would drag on and there is nothing to suggest that the Government has anything up its sleeves which would be acceptable to people on either side of the clash divide. Who stands to win and lose in the face of the prolonged state of unrest ? The answer should be obvious to all and the very question should also answer the question of who had an agenda in starting the clash. This answer should also negate the victim story which has been lapped up with so much sympathy by some pen pushers and who have stopped at nothing to champion to false narrative that has been sold to the outside world. This is where it becomes very important for Manipur not to provide any leeway to bolster the false narrative. Remember the ongoing unrest is being fought at different levels and any step guided by a false sense of bravado and misplaced priority can have a devastating impact. Manipur is already reeling under the negative coverage in the initial days and it would be plain foolhardiness to repeat the mistakes of the past at this juncture. The focus should now be on the number of immigrants who have been detected in recent days and this is where questions should be raised on what the force responsible for guarding the border was doing all these days. Who gave the freeway to the Myanmarese to enter Manipur ?