Perturbed about the future of Manipur
We have lost many lives; several people got injured including security personnel. Almost all the districts were affected and six were badly impacted.
More than thirty thousand people were displaced, many houses were torched, and numerous vehicles had been destroyed. There was complete chaos and distrust - we were absolutely topsy-turvy.
Some MLAs have started demanding a ‘separate administration’ for their people. Perhaps they have no option and they are under tremendous pressure from their people. This is a very unfortunate state of affairs. These riots and violence are aberrations.
These should be handled strongly and carefully. Trifurcation or bifurcation may not be the solution – the solution lies in peaceful co-existence. Despite all odds, I am still optimistic.
Public figures must refrain from using dangerous jargon like ethnic cleansing or religious war. The overwhelming violence was indeed sparked by action and reaction syndrome based on some sporadic unfortunate incidents. The majority, Meiteis should have behaved more responsibly. This is a very sad and tragic moment in our history.
People have suffered. Many people are still in the relief camps inside and outside the State. Let us not allow anyone to fish in the troubled water. It is a very unfortunate humanitarian crisis. This must be dealt with a humane touch without any bias.
Let us concentrate on relief and rehabilitation. Let us stop the blame game.
Burning of Churches and Temples is being cited as an example of a communal flare-up. This is untrue. Mobs burn and destroy everything on their way.
It was largely due to spontaneous madness caused by irresponsible videos and social media rumors. It was extremely difficult for the local police to control the rioters until the Army intervened. In fact, it was a clash between the two communities triggered by mindless souls.
Asking ST status by the Meitei community in a peaceful manner should not be a problem. Again a peaceful protest by the tribal against this move should not be an issue. Six Schedule demand was never a problem. Democratic peaceful demands of the people should never be a problem. The problem starts with violence. Violence begets violence.
If some vested interest wants the dismemberment of the land through heinous crimes, such plans should never be made successful. They can’t bluff the Union Government by putting up such a game plan. Sacrificing innocent human lives to achieve a political agenda is unethical and undesirable. To work out for a peaceful co-existence must be the solution.
We want to live in peace with all the ethnic groups or communities. The harmonious relation among the ethnic groups is often violated by the leaders for getting their political ends. Myopic politicians often play with the lives and emotions of the common people. They may not understand the long-term implications of their selfish goals. For their short-term political gains, they sometimes use objectionable means or even indulge in hate-mongering. They have done enough damage to society. Their tactics trigger unimaginable losses. Such leaders must be rejected and condemned.
After the Anglo-Manipuri War of 1891 – the valley administration was with the Maharaja and the hill administration was practically with the British through the Durbar or Political Agent. As I said earlier a psychological gap was being created. Even after the merger, Constitutional (ST & Fifth Schedule, etc.) provisions made the barrier bigger. Generations were bound to think that we belong to different categories. Again religion separates us further. It is high time to do away with these mechanical divisions; the entire population may be treated as one – without any distinction of hill inhabitants or valley people – in the pattern of Himachal Pradesh.
Whether it is about ‘Separate administration demand’, Meitei ST demand, NRC, redefining forest land, an alternative to the poppy plantation, illegal immigration and settlement, power sharing, defunct tribal councils, lethargic development in the hills, insurgency or militancy, expanding ‘Golden Triangle’ and many more - all can be sorted out amicably. Peaceful solutions are possible only when we sit together and discuss across the table – of course under the aegis of the Centre (suggested earlier too).
The Manipur Government has announced some relief and compensation for the victims. These are so meager; the State has financial constraints. The Union Government may kindly provide financial aid to enable the State to reconstruct or compensate for the buildings/houses /vehicles destroyed by the irrational mobs. Restoration of homes and extending maximum care to the families of the deceased must be given top priority.
Army and Central forces must be stationed in all sensitive areas, in every nook and corner of the State for quite some time - because restoration of normalcy will take time, and healing the wounds will take much longer.
The peace process and confidence-building measures among the communities must be initiated at all levels. Peaceful co-existence is the only way for a tiny multi-ethnic society like ours. Please remember Manipur and its people (Nagas, Kukis, Meiteis, Pagans, and others ) became part of India in 1949. Hope it remains intact despite all odds.
The situation is limping back to normalcy; it is extremely difficult to move on when the trust deficit is at its nadir.
Wishing for immediate initiative from the Union Government for an urgent dialogue. Let’s pray… Am I hoping against hope ?