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E-Pao! Opinion :: Armed Conflict, a case study of Manipur

Armed Conflict, A Case Study of Manipur
- Part 1 -


Seram Rojesh (Kumar) *


Definition of Armed Conflict:

Armed conflict is defined by the Uppsala conflict data Project as a contested incompatibility which concerns government and/or territory where the use of armed forces between two parties of while at least one is the government of a state, results in at least 25 battle-related deaths.

The separate elements of the definition are operationalised as follows:

  1. Use of armed force: Use of armed in order to promote the parties’ general position in the conflict resulting deaths.
    • Arms: Any material means, eg. Manufactured weapons but also sticks stones, fire, water, etc.
  2. 25 death: A minimum of 25 battle related death per year and per incompatibility.
  3. Party: A government of a state or any opposition organization or alliance of opposition or organization.
    • Government: The party controlling the capital of the state.
    • Opposition organization: Any non-governmental group of people having announced a name for their group and using armed force.
  4. State: A state is:
    • An Internationally recognized sovereign government controlling a specified territory or
    • An internationally unrecognized sovereign government controlling a specified Territory whose sovereignty is not disputed by another internationally recognized sovereign government previously controlling the same territory.
  5. Incompatibility concerning government and /or territory the incompatibility as stated by the parties, must concerned government and /or territory.
    • incompatibility: the state generally in compatible position.
    • Incompatibility concerning government: change of its composition.
    • incompatibility concerning territory: incompatibility concerning the status of territory, e.g. change of the state is control of a certain erritory (interstate conflict) succession autonomy (interstate conflict)


There are three categories of armed conflict: they are
1) Minor armed conflict
2) Intermediate armed conflict
3) and major armed conflict.

Minor armed conflict: It is considered where the no of battle –related death during the courser of the conflict is at least 25 but below 1000 related deaths during the course of action.

Intermediate armed conflict: with more than 1000 battle related deaths recorded during the course of the conflict fewer than 1000 per year.

Major armed conflict: that is intermediate armed conflict and war.

Discourse of Armed conflict and terrorism

“Terrorism is understood as actions that inject fear and sentiments of humiliation and demand counter action. Terrorism is directed against civilian and symbolic societal target as opposed to government targets.

Terror is part of armed conflict, as any armed conflict includes a form of terrorization of the population and of the opponent that is built into the use of weapons and form part of the strategy. However this is not the same as terrorism.

In the armed conflict, the warring parties are not explicitly targeting civilian. Rather armed conflict is directed at legitimate military target and not primarily at the civilian population. Much of the guerrilla warfare theory points to the importance of mobilizing a population for rival purposes not terrorizing it.”[02]

Manipur in India after 1949

“Manipur has Nagaland to its North, Mizoram to its South, Upper Myanmar to its east, and Cachar district of Assam to its west. The total area of the state is 22,327 Es km, out of which more than 27 per cent constitution forests.

The total population of the state is 23.88 lakh-12.07 lakes males and 11.81 lake females. The rate of growth of population during 1991-2001 was 30.02 per cent. The literacy rate of the state (2001 census) was 68.87 percent, with female literacy of 59.70 per cent and male literacy of 77.87 per cent. The sex ratio in the state is 978 females per 100 males. The population density is 107 per Sq. km” [03]

Manipur, literally meaning “A Jeweled land” nestle deep within a lush green corner of North east India. It seems much like on exquisite work of art executed by superb hands of nature and is indeed a state of exquisite natural beauty and indeed a state of exquisite natural beauty and splendor, the beauty of which once inspired Mrs. Clair Grimwood discredit as “A Pretty Place more beautiful than many other place of the world.”

The terrain in the state is predominantly hilly, except a broad central valley extending to about 18,00 Sq. Km. The average attitude of the hilly region is up to 3,000m.” [04]

Manipur, a land of vitality and sports which posses rich material culture and tradition. The game of polo is accepted world wide to have been conceived out of the mud of state.

The state is of unique distinction for having the Meetei Vaishnavites, the Meeteis Sanamahi, Meetei Pangal, along with the ethnically distinctive 33 recognized scheduled tribes and many other in the Category of unspecified list. These ethnic tribes are categories into two groups known as Manipuri Nagas and Manipuri Kukies. No, doubt, there are non-Naga or non-kuki tribes” [05]

Territory as honor and Identity

“Territorial consciousness was the psychological imputes derive from prevailing social notion of land or territory as community identity and honor, consciousness that at times came up with theoretical proposition that territory fully represented the ‘nation’ many are imbues with the assumption that territory had become an universal fusion for nation, a dress code signifying the real existence of a nation, or a marker that distinguished itself from other nation , each of which was found expressed with a definite size shape and location. Therefore, while not denying territory as one of the preconditions for the nation to base itself on and its economic importance for a nation to survive, it was also perceived as a source of identity an honor of the community of peoples who constituted it”. [06]

Historical Background:

Manipur was one of the old independent Kingdoms in South-east Asia which had her own Civilization, Tradition and Cultural heritage. Even though a pre-historic and proto-historic period of Manipur was recorded, written history has been recorded from the 33 AD, when Ningthouja clan King Nongda leiren Pakhangba founded the Meitei Kingdom with the help of Angom Pureiromba and Luwang Longmiba and ascended the thrown of ‘Kangla’ in 33 AD. [11]

It had been continued the 1891 when Manipur was defeated by British Imperial forces in Anglo Manipur war of 1891, which British declared war against Manipur and attacked from three direction and Manipur lost her in dependence. [12]

About the history of people of Manipur, according to the eminent archaeologist O. Kumar Singh states that, who have conducted a series of archaeological excavations in Manipur in the studies of “the stone Age Men of Manipur”, on the basis of the review of the finding, Stone Age Manipur is divided into three cultural sequences as Paleolithic , Hoobintion and Neolithic.[06]

Manipur became an independent state with the passing of the Indian Independence Act, 1947 in the parliament of United Kingdom, on 14th August under the provision of clause7(1)(b). [07]

History of armed conflict in Manipur

Insurgency, termed by the government, has been defined to be the efforts to obtain political goals by an organized group using protected, irregular warfare and allied political techniques.

It is an attempt by military inferior faction (insurgency) aspirating within a geo-political system by the use of guerrilla warfare and population control measures to usurp the contrast if system from military faction (defects govt.)

Further insurgency is the techniques of revolution which combines irregular warfare, political and psychological motivation of the popular, guerrilla Tactics and exploitation of the deteriorating social and economic conditions. Insurgency has been both military and political components. [08]

According to the observation of Dr. Dhanabir Laishram, it is said that because of the strategic location, provides proximity, Economics Hardships, Physiographic Constraints, Geographical Isolation, Cultural Diversity and their Historical Legacy and its importance the North eastern area has been becoming the hub of insurgent’s activates.

He further observes that, Insurgency is not a Law and Order problem and it should not be conceived that it is due to unemployment and that is misleading of all. It is the distorted perception, of official projections of the government and a handful of intellectuals.

It is a contradictory of re-colonization and decolonization by having deep organizational class structure of the oppressed people. As a consequence, there is a class struggle in between the oppressed and oppressor. It is being sustained by historical legacy and its importance. Historical evidence is that Manipur and Tripura had been annexed to the India independence,

About the situation of armed conflict, in the North East, Prafulla Mishra gives his views in favor of federal structure, to resolve the ongoing situation of armed conflict in the North East, Prof. N. Sanajaoba, an eminent scholar subscribes that, it has been misconceived as "Law and order" or at most "internal security issue", whereas it bears the intrinsic essence of de-colonization and national liberation war euphemistically, known as secessionism.

The issue is very deep and the fault lines are profound. The suspense of the issue for the more than four decades indicates itself that human rights violation and the twisted Perceptions are merely symptoms of the malaise.” [09]

‘The British-created India has been a deliberate political creation, unlike the homogenous Indian nation, based on Aryabrata. the issue i.e., therefore, not secession, but about fixing the region to India by Hammer and Tong. In short, major insurgency groups in North East is associated with political discourse of de-colonization. [37]

Genesis of Insurgency in Manipur

Heijam Irawat Singh formed Manipur Red Guard Army to fight for and Independent Socialist Republic of Manipur. During 1949, the Red Guards were active and carried out a few ambushes and killing a police personnel.

The objective and carried out a few ambushes and killing of police personnel. The death of Irawat Singh in 1951 due to ill health put paid to the Red Guard Army military.

Military claimed that Manipur was an un-occupied territory of India and deploying security forces of India was named as 'occupying forces'. They considered it as a hidden war of India against the Manipuris by snatching their sovereignty, waging war against India means war against war. It means that they are compelled to launch armed resistance in order to restore the lost sovereignty of Manipur.

According to B.S Butola, it is said that “the emergence of regional political parties and a large number of insurgent movements, too indicate the underlying resentment of the people against such approaches of development, defense of India’s sovereignty and national integration).

Further he states “It is therefore, imperative to understand the feeling of the people of the region with human consideration and it will be fallacious to call the troubles in the region as a more law and order problem or the handiwork of the foreign and Indian forces” [12]

There are more than 29 militant organization are operating in Manipur. The nature of the conflict is very much associated with the Idea of armed conflict.

Even though more than 29 militant organizations are operating and there has been fighting with the State army and non-state army, in the last 40 years, the Government of India is denying the existing of “Armed conflict” in Manipur.

It is defined as a "Law and order", even though it has been counter by Army not by Civil police.

With the impunity of "The Armed forces Special Power Act' (AFSPA) 1958, there is no solution to the conflict after military engagement in the 5 decades with heavy deployment of Indian army and paramilitary forces.

Civilian are the victims of the armed conflict in Manipur. It is necessary to apply the “International Humanitarian Law” so that the civilian causality could be saved from the activities of State and the none state actor. It is suggested to solve the problem by democratic means.

Selected Bibliography
  • Michael, Welkenning ,Segura, Gary M, All politics are local: local loss and individual attitudes toward the Vietnam War, The Journal of Peace Conflict Resolution, Journal of Peace Science Society, Volume 41, November 5 1997
  • United Nations, New york, 2002, Kofi A Annan, Prevention of Armed Conflict, Report of the Secretary General, Department of public Information, United nation publication, New York,
  • Eriksson Mikael, $ Willensteen, Petter - Armed conflict, 1989-2003, Journal of Peace Research, volume 41 / number5/september 2004
  • Willensteen, Petter, Sollenberg, Margareta - Armed Conflict , 1989-2000, Journal of Peace Research, Volumn38/ number5/ september200I
  • Gleditsch, Nill Petter, Armed conflict and Environmental Critique of literature, Journal of Peace Research, Volume 35 / number3/ September 1998,
  • Eriksson Mikael, Willensteen, Petter, Sollenberg, Margareta, Armed conflict 1989-2000, Journal of Peace Research, Volume 35 / number5 / september 2001
  • Eriksson Mikael, Willensteen, Petter, Sollenberg, Margareta, Armed conflict, 1989-2002 , Journal of Peace Research, Volume40/ number5 / September 2003
  • Willensteen, Petter, Sollenberg, Margareta, After the Cold War: Emerging Pattern of Armed Conflict, 1989-2004, Journal of Peace Research, Volume 32/ number 3 / August 1995
  • Desai, A R, Repression and Resistance in India, Violation Of Democratic Rights of Working Class, Rural Poor, Adivasis and Dalit, Bombay ,
  • Unesco, 1988, International Dimension of Humanitarian law, 114 Rau, de lausana,1202, Geneva, Switjerland. United Nations , Educational Scientific and Cultural Organization
  • Barua, Sanjib, 2005, Durable Disorder, Oxford University Press,
  • UNESCO, Studies on Conflict, 1992 , Peace and Conflict Issues after The cold War, 7, Place de Fontinoy, 75700 Paris
  • Smith, Anthony ,D, 1986, The Ethnic Origin of Nations, Basil blackwell ltd, 108 cowley Road Oxford Ox4 1jf, UK
  • Laishram, Dhanabir, 2006, North East in Bandic Zone., Manipur University Research Club, Print Solution, Paona Bazaar, Imphal, Manipur
  • Dena, Lal ,1991, History of Modern Manipur, Orbit publisher and distributor, Vinita printer, karol Bagh ,New Delhi
  • Tarapot, Phanjoubam, 2005, Bleeding Manipur, Publication PVT LTD, New Delhi,
  • Narahari, N, S(Lt General), 2002, Security threat to the North East India, Manas Publication, New Delhi, Durya Ganj, 110002,
  • Nincic, Djura, 1970, The problem of sovereignty, In the charter of and in the practice of the United Nation,
  • 9)UNESCO, Violence Human of Rights, possible rights of recourse and form of Resistance, United Nations Economic Socio Cultural Organisation,
  • 10) Kanitkar, Satish, International Provision of Human rights, Rajit Publication, New Delhi, 110002,
  • 11)Dev, Bimal J, 2002, Development priorities in North East India, Concept Publishing Company, New Delhi, 110059
  • 12) Aggrawal, kailash, S, 1999, Dynamics of Identity and Intergroup Relations in North East India, Indian Institute of Advance Studies, Rastrapati Nivab, Rajkamal Electric Press, Delhi
  • Mangi Singh, Reaction of the Merger, P.88
  • Manmohan Singh, Hijam Rabbit and political movement in Manipur, P.352.

* Seram Rojesh Kumar ( M.Phil, Delhi School of Economics, Dept of sociology) contributes to e-pao.net regularly . The writer can be contacted at dajes_m(at)yahoo(dot)com . This article was webcasted on 14th January 2008.


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