Manipur cannot go on like this Free for all situation
Something has to give. Manipur cannot go on like this forever. Is the Government listening ? Over 160 killed, 60,000 people now homeless, numerous houses razed to the ground and many others missing. It has been like this since violence erupted in the evening of May 3 and yet after more than 115 days, everything suggest that things will continue like it is. Delhi is indifferent, Imphal is confused and the people are angry, though it is not very clear with whom the people are angry. And this cuts both ways. Is the anger directed against the people on the other side of the divide or is the anger directed towards the Government and in the process make the people the collateral ? More than 115 days and things are still as hazy as it was in the initial days of the violence. All reflecting the reality that the Government has failed, miserably failed since the evening of May 3 and there are elements out there who seem more than happy in adding that extra dose of masala to make the situation more ‘colourful’. So even as the demand that the five persons picked up late in the evening of September 16 should be released, it did not stop some key board warriors to punch in their ‘thought provoking’ lines and interpret it as the ongoing clash morphing into an intra-community clash. This is the reality reflecting the total failure of the Government to study and read the situation right. Curfew seems to be the only answer the Government has at the moment to tackle with the situation and so after 48 hours of bandh against the arrest of the 5 persons, followed by the attempts to storm police stations on September 21, the people of Imphal now stare at a 24 hour curfew to restrict their movement. How much such a measure will go on to rein in the situation remains to be seen, but with the Government groping in the dark over what to do next, keeping the people locked inside their houses under a spell of curfew seems to be the only alternative. What is the way forward ? No easy answer here, but one way of takings forward would be for the Government to show that its writ also runs in the hills. When a gathering of people is rudely dispersed using smoke bombs and when village volunteers are arrested on the charge that they were in possession of looted guns, what has stopped the Government from cracking down on those who have been firing incessantly at the villages located at the foothills ? The arms looted from the police armouries in Imphal and elsewhere in the valley districts have been noted, but how about the bullets that continue to rain down on the villages at the foothills ? Where have these guns come from ? How about the seemingly endless rounds of bullets ? A question which has been raised repeatedly by The Sangai Express in this column but with no answer from the authority concerned.
Has the Government done anything concrete to ensure the safe travel of people on the Imphal-Dimapur line ? What are the signs to show that the writ of the Government runs on this route ? Doesn’t it say something significant that it has taken a civil society organisation like the Tangkhul Naga Long to come out and ask Kuki militants to stop threatening passengers along the Imphal-Ukhrul route ? What has happened to the much publicised model of Union Home Minister Amit Shah that the Centre would take the responsibility of ensuring peace in the hills while the State Government should look after the same thing in the valley ? ‘You take care of the valley, I will do the same with the Hills’, was probably the one line statement proffered by the Union Home Minister to the Chief Minister but what does the reality say today ? The failure of Delhi is writ large on the gun wielding elements who continue to stop and search vehicles on the National Highways and on the roads connecting Imphal to other hill districts. Last heard was that even the Meitei Pangals have been given the standing instruction to stop taking the Imphal-Dimapur route by the powers that be at Kangpokpi district headquarters. This is the situation and it is amid this that an audience with the Prime Minister is still something which has not yet materialised. Doubtful if it will materialise at all in the coming days. Says something significant.