Wild idea of graveyard at somebody’s backyard
The deferred mass burial of Kuki-Zo people killed in the ongoing violent crisis at Torbung will surely be a litmus test for the Government of India. Official records have already shown that the area chosen for the mass burial belongs to the State. The arrogance behind the plan to bury the deceased Kuki-Zo people at Torbung has unmistakably gone beyond the limit. Turning the backyard of those people who houses have been burnt down and razed to ground into a graveyard or more precisely a memorial complex of the aggressors will surely be an antithesis to all peace initiatives. On the contrary, if the planned, now deferred, mass burial goes ahead with the blessing of New Delhi, we are afraid violence will only escalate to an unprecedented level. Such a graveyard or memorial complex on Government land at the backyard of the victims will unfailingly serve as a symbol of sheer injustice. It will also serve as a constant reminder of how a large number of unsuspecting people were driven out of their homes and victimised under the barrel of gun. By choosing Torbung for the mass burial, the Kuki-Zo leaders have revealed their expansionist policy. The way Kuki-Zo militants invaded Meitei villages, drove out villagers, built bunkers and kept these areas under their occupation is quite akin to the 19th or early 20th century warfare tactics of invasion, occupation and domination. Just because the particular area is currently under their occupation, they cannot claim ownership of the area. This will certainly invite eviction from the Government in the future, if not now. In nutshell, the plan to bury the dead Kuki-Zo people on Government land is simply preposterous and outrageous. It is not only illegal but also highly provocative. Any attempt to turn Torbung into a graveyard of Kuki-Zo people, we fear, will run into the stiffest opposition. Such attempts will only aggravate the situation and shut out all avenues of reconciliation and resolution of the crisis.
It was indeed a great relief that the High Court of Manipur and the Ministry of Home Affairs made timely interventions to stall the planned mass burial on August 3. But the preposterous and outrageous plan has not been dropped yet, it has been only deferred. Media reports say that Union Home Minister Amit Shah would hold a meeting with ITLF leaders on August 8 at New Delhi. We hope Amit Shah can instill sense and persuade the ITLF leaders to drop the plan of burying their dead people on Government land at Torbung. The Centre needs to talk straight that the plan is illegal and impermissible. The Government of India need not follow any appeasement policy with the exponents of such wild and highly provocative ideas. The Supreme Court has noted that there is complete breakdown of law and order and total anarchy in Manipur. If we are not mistaken, the apex Court was referring to both the valley and hill districts of Manipur. No doubt, law and order is a sine qua non for restoration of peace and normalcy in the State. But enforcement of law and order should be applied throughout the State, without any discrimination based on topography or ethnicity. Application of laws in only one part of the State will only breed more injustice. Just as many rioters and perpetrators of other unlawful activities have been pulled up in the valley, similar actions ought to be initiated in the hill districts too. Robbery of arms and ammunition from State armoury should be dealt with a strong hand. At the same time, there should be complete and effective disarmament on the other side too. But this is not happening as of now. The situation is really grave and the Centre needs to handle the situation with a firm hand. Following an inexplicable appeasement policy with respect to one group and dealing with the other with iron hand will only complicate the crisis.