Disturbing writings on the wall Trigger happy elements
The writing on the wall is disturbing and it is eerily reminiscent of those days when news with headlines such as ‘One shot at’, ‘Unidentified man found shot dead,’ ‘House fired upon’ were regular features in the newspapers published from Imphal. If the Government and the people do not wake up and acknowledge the reality now and accordingly take corrective measures, then there is every likelihood of Manipur going back to those days when unidentified gunmen ruled the roost. In one single day or in a span of a few hours, unidentified gunmen made their presence known with a bang, a literal bang, in opening fire at the residence of the Director of Jawaharlal Nehru Institute of Medical Sciences and this was preceded by another round of bullets fired at the residence of the MLA of Mayang Imphal Assembly Constituency as well as at the residence of a contractor. It may have been a co-incidence but a remarkable co-incidence it was for the gunmen who fired at the residence of the MLA and the JNIMS Director all came in the same made car. Adding more twist and terror to the ongoing unrest, which has so far claimed close to 200 lives and reduced hundreds of houses to ashes. Thousands more are presently surviving in the different relief centres set up across the length and breadth of Manipur and many others have made it to the list of ‘missing persons’. No one knows when normalcy would be restored, but what can be said with a degree of certainty is the fact that some elements are out there who seem determined to add more to the misery of the people. Manipur certainly does not need gun toting, trigger happy elements, who are out there to make the said news headlines mentioned at the opening of this commentary a grand come back. A tragedy it would be but Manipur seems to be staring straight in the face of such a possibility. A breakdown in law and order would be the perfect formula to throw the doors wide open for the dreaded Army Act to return in all its glory and this would amount to exactly playing into the hands of the anti-Manipur elements who have on more than one occasion demanded the reimposition of the Armed Forces Special Powers Act in the valley area. Invite AFSPA to return, create such a situation that the popularly elected Government is asked to step down to make way for Central intervention or President’s Rule and presto the script would be ready to make life for all Meiteis all that more miserable.
This is where Chief Minister N Biren and his Council of Ministers would need to strike a clear position and get their act together. Crackdown hard on those throwing their weight around and opening fire at will. The very report that a mentally challenged elderly man was ‘punished’ with a bullet on the ankle just some days back should more than indicate how the gun is being used to throw one’s weight around and in the process brow beat the people into quiet submission. Manipur has seen it all and the worrying part is whether those days of fear and anxiety, the days when silence was seen and preferred as the better part of valour are making a come back or not. The time to act is now and the Government should take the lead. Stop worshipping false Gods and Heroes is another line which the people would do well to take seriously. Manipur has witnessed and lived through days of chaos, anarchy, confusion, anxiety and fear for over six months and no one should be given the leeway to prepare a ground which can extend such a period indefinitely. The Government should also acknowledge that such a situation has come about for it has created the necessary vacuum in failing to dispense with the duty which the people entrusted on them after the 2022 Assembly elections. The BJP would certainly not want to be remembered as the party which lorded over the longest running ethnic clash in Manipur and created the vacuum for gun wielding elements to reemerge in all its ugliness.