Tough times call for tough decisions Pressure on resources

Tough times call for tough decisions and this is where one ought to know the difference between ‘tough decisions’ and ‘harsh decisions’. And with 32 MLAs in its kitty, the BJP is comfortably placed to take tough decisions and the decision to call off the Suspension of Operations pact with two outfits, namely the Zomi Revolutionary Army (ZRA) and the Kuki National Army (KNA) may be seen along this line. There was no way the Government could have been influenced to roll back its earlier decision to evict what it terms, ‘new encroachers’ and the setting up of a new village christened K Songjang village at Churachandpur-Khoupum Protected Forest. It was against this eviction drive that mass public rallies were held at Churachandpur, Kangpokpi and Tengnoupal on March 10. The line that runs through the War on Drugs campaign, the crackdown launched on turning numerous hillsides into poppy fields, rallies staged against the eviction drive of the Government and the decision to abrogate the SoO pact with the two armed outfits is unmistakable and this is where the ‘tough decision’ part becomes palpable. Remains to be seen how things pan out in the coming days, but it is more than clear that the Government at Imphal means business and this is what should be noted. It is also significant to note that Chief Minister N Biren in an exclusive interview with Guwahati based North East Live on March 10, minced no words in asserting that the rallies against the eviction in the protected forest were orchestrated under the influence of the KNA and ZRA. The Chief Minister qualified his stand with the assertion that the president or chief of the ZRA is not even an Indian, but a Myanmarese.  Strong words indeed coming from the Chief Minister and this is where it can get interesting to observe later developments. The Government at Imphal, then under the Congress, entered the SoO pact only after some time, on August 27, 2008 to be precise, with Delhi having already inked the pact earlier. How the suspension of the pact with two outfits, namely the KNA and the ZRA, will impact on the ongoing dialogue under the SoO pact is anyone’s guess, but it is not at all a comfortable thought to entertain the idea that a State of India is in a peace dialogue with an outfit whose leader is not an Indian-That is if one goes by what the Chief Minister has had to say.
Delhi should take note of what N Biren has said in the public domain and see what steps it ought to take up. As noted earlier,  a tough decision it was to abrogate the SoO pact with two outfits, but juxtapose this decision against the overall picture of the War on Drugs campaign, the drive against poppy plantations, the need to save protected and reserved forest and one can connect the dots, cross all the Ts and dot the Is. This is where it becomes important for Imphal to reach out to Delhi and convince the Centre that more teeth ought to be given to the War on Drugs campaign. It was with a reason why The Sangai Express has been stressing on the need to unmask the master brains  behind the large scale poppy plantations and go beyond just the task of arresting the actual tiller of the soil but come clean on who can be well placed to market the produce of the poppy plants. In as much as Imphal would need to reach out to Delhi to make it understand the ground reality here, it is also time for all civil society organisations and the people themselves to come to the point that this is now the time for all indigenous folks of the land to join hands and set aside their political differences. Yaoshang is over and the gay abandon of the five day festival should be left behind and attention should now turn to pressing matters such as the pressure mounted on the land and resources of the place.