Coming to the negotiating table The politics of lies

Coming to the negotiating table is the way forward and noted writer Rami Niranjan Desai could not have put it better than this. The clash is now over 130 days, nearly 200 people have been killed, thousands of houses have been razed to the ground and thousands more rendered homeless and are staying put at the numerous shelter homes set up by the Government. Those who are better placed and can afford it have taken flight to places outside Manipur yet normalcy is still a far cry. It is against this backdrop that noted writer Rami Desai has expounded the idea that disarmament, disengagement (from violence) and dialgoue is the only way for Manipur to start walking the road to normalcy. The best tried and tested formula to bring any clash between two groups to a logical conclusion, for it should be more than clear to both on either side of the clash divide that it is only dialogue which can bring some semblance of a normalcy. And any attempt to walk the path to normalcy will first have to contend with the slogan ‘Solution First, Peace Later’ which has gone viral and seems to be guiding the people on whose behalf this slogan was coined and floated. How can solution precede peace or solution precede an atmosphere which will pave the way for a meaningful dialogue is a question that no one has bothered to answer or consider. This is where everyone should take note of the war mongers who are bent on imposing their line of thought on the very set of people they claim to represent. No answer yet at the moment on what is the way forward, but the one line answer that will remain constant under any circumstance is-talk. For over 130 days the war mongers have been occupying the centre stage. It is these elements who set the ball rolling for the two communities to clash. Much before May 3, Churachandpur was in the news for all the wrong reasons. The protest against the eviction drives at Protected Forests, the burning down of a venue which was scheduled to be inaugurated by the Chief Minister, the setting on fire Forest offices and ultimately the Tribal Solidarity March of May 3. Churachandpur was far from normal when ATSUM went ahead with its planned Tribal Solidarity March, but it is extremely important for everyone to recognise that all the disturbances seen at Churachandpur were seen as an expression of angst against the policies and programmes of the Government. This is where it is dangerously mischievous to equate the state of unease and angst at Churachandpur as tension between two communities.
Manipur has seen enough protests against policies and programmes of the Government. Any movement or protest has always been seen and interpreted as a stand against the policies and programmes of the Government in question. Rewind to the ILP demand days and it was a demand raised before the Government. Go back to 2001 and all the incidents were targeted against the Government. Recall the long spell of economic blockades, dating back to 2005 and many more which followed, and all these were taken as stands against the move or decision of the Government. No one ever interpreted these as something against a section of people. This is the bottomline. Things however have not stayed this way. Go back to May 3, 2023 and one can still remember how hordes of angry, armed and battle cry raising elements marched 12 kilometres all the way from Churachandpur town to Torbung and set the houses on fire, forcing many to flee. This set off a chain reaction and Imphal and the valley districts reacted violently later in the evening. A recap of the violence may be in line if one has to take a step or two forward and the look back should be qualified by the term, ‘honestly and sincerely’. The bottomline is, if anyone or any community has any grievance against the move of the Government, the protest should be against the Government and not against any section of the people. For this to happen, the Government of Manipur should not be identified along community line. No one sees the BJP led Government of Narendra Modi as a Gujarati Government. It is the Government of India. This is the bottomline.