Sit across the table and talk Cry for rule of law

A dialogue. Sit across the table and talk things over. This is what anyone with a modicum of sensibility would advocate to resolve the ongoing ethnic clash and there cannot be two ways about it. And for anyone to come to the negotiating table, the right atmosphere must be created and this is where the Government must step in. The question is whether Imphal has the trust and confidence of the two communities which are on either side of the clash divide and this is where New Delhi would need to intervene and initiate matters. Perhaps the Government of India may seriously study the possibility and the merit of reaching out to the other major community which has remained neutral so far, the Nagas, to reach out to either side and see how to proceed with the matter. As announced by Chief Minister N Biren, Chairman of the Hill Area Committee, D Gangmei, has started reaching out to the ten Kuki-Zo MLAs but the need to give this a further boost need not be overstressed. There has also been a report of the Naga MLAs holding talks with the 10 Kuki-Zo MLAs at Guwahati some time back and while all these initiatives are noted, perhaps it will help if efforts are made to see if the Government may reach out to the Naga civil society organisations and see what may be done from this angle too. The service of the United Naga Council, the Senapati based Naga People’s Organisation, the Ukhrul based Tangkhul Naga Long,  the Chandel based Chandel Naga People’s Organisation etc may be sought to see if  the first step to talk things with the Kuki-Zo people represented by their CSOs such as the Kuki Inpi Manipur, Indigenous Tribal Leaders’ Forum and Committee on Tribal Unity can be taken. These are all suggestions but it would not hurt to see if the service of the Naga People’s Front can be used to reach out to the Kuki People’s Alliance to talk things over. This is at the level of political parties, but a beginning has to be made, for remember there can be no winner in the ongoing clash. Imphal must also admit that it is in the midst of the crisis that numerous power centres have emerged raising a big question on the understanding of the rule of law. It is in such a situation that the credibility of the Government can get eroded and the Manipur that one sees today comes uncomfortably close to this understanding.
The BJP led Government at Imphal has its task cut out. The first obviously is to resolve the ongoing ethnic clash and the second is to ensure that there is a Government in place and for this to happen, it has to demonstrate that the Government is there to uphold the rule of law. And the first step towards is to demonstrate that the Government sticks by the letter and spirit of the rule of law. Gun and muscle power that seems to be ruling the streets and roads of Manipur must be reined in. No one should come under the impression that they are the law unto themselves and for this to happen the Government should demonstrate that it means business. How are the different business houses operating ? How hard have they been hit by the ongoing clash and the developments thereof ? How free do the people feel about airing their opinion and their stand on any of the issues which keep emerging from time to time ? These are questions which the Government should deal with for the very fact that these questions have been raised should tell so many things. In a short while Manipur, like the rest of the country, will go to polls to elect their two MPs and the run up to the election will be the best time for the different political parties and candidates to raise the questions that have been mentioned. It will  be interesting to see how the Government works itself in a position to answer these questions convincingly and comfortably. One hopes the initiatives taken so far to reach out for a dialogue and resolve the clash bears fruit and the need to give more push to the initiatives already taken up need not be stressed here. One also wonders when Imphal will be able to work itself into a position that it can draw the attention of the Prime Minister to personally address the ethnic clash here. No Act East Policy will be able to address the sense of alienation felt by the people of Manipur due to the silence of the Prime Minister, for it now borders on indifference.