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E-Pao! David Buhril - Wrestling Insecurity

Wrestling Insecurity

By:- David Buhril *



The fire fighting game that followed the recent mayhem in Chandel’s Moreh ought to raise collective concern. Despite the heavy militarisation of the state and the small border town, the authorities still cry of “security lapses.” The lapses must be like a big black hole. The state of security is faced with inescapable questions once again. But who will answer? Bob Dylan would say that it blows in the wind. While the Assam Rifles were accused of inaction, the irate IRB, on the other hand, came close to revolting as they were severely restrained from resorting to retaliate with available resources to counter the invading militants. The IRB were then compelled to vacate their post even when residents belonging to a particular community were displaced to Myanmar. Did their superior or numb political muscles deliberately create the abject wait for orders? The Assam Rifles would be facing a magisterial inquiry for the alleged inaction. It will have to be proved if there was slack, negligent or biased approach that allowed the situation to grow when it could have been nipped in the bud. Whatever is, we have successfully moved from individual aberrations to a more generalised and dangerous institutional collapse.

The plights of the people who experienced the “lapses” was only saved by, call it the hands of god, which otherwise could have escalated with grimmer gravity. The magisterial inquiry would only, if it works, resulted in checking the loopholes, but what reason would it inculcate to explain or justify the irreparable damage. Despite the vulnerability, the communal fire not spreading outside the border town is evidence of the surge of popular sentiment for reconciliation and peaceful co-existence. It also showed the fatigue that everyone bears in the mad race.

That saved us from the spiral of justifying a killing by citing the killing that preceded the last one. The positive development should not be allowed to escape unconsciously. Rather it should be read as Manipur’s collective stand to question the seemingly inevitable forces of illogical sink in communalism or ethnicity. There should be a greater movement towards empowering that compartment. The response succinctly delivered the desire to freeze the usually hot winds of hostility that has gnawed into our peace and security bank. Even though the layers and tracks of diplomacy were not pursued, situations limp back to normalcy, though under tense expectations. The whole development is a telling fact that we, who celebrates the dwell in amazing diversity, are victims of the vulnerable veil of the same plurality.

In Manipur’s context the thin thread could be exploited more easily than anywhere else. But it should never be misread because this inevitable diversity is not a threat. It has acted as the bond towards understanding the complex ingredients that accompany the diversity and its differences. That bond remains the instrument for peace building. It is only when the actors, State as well as non-State armed actors, supposedly representing our rights, peace, security, dignity, identity and freedom toys with the complex fabric that we are sacrifice at its bloody altar with all that we have. Otherwise, we are peaceniks and not communal beast compelled by the push and pull factors into unwanted crossroad.

Our situation is only deteriorating under the menace of the same actors. With the big global village behind us, we are equal victims of widespread deprivation, drastic economic cleavages, corrupted system, rapacious elites, decreasing human security and misplaced law and order. One of the threats in the midst of this diversity would be to uphold the destructive idea of the winnability for greater power or superior identity in the sea that could show up anytime with its divide and differences. The civil society should also avoid itself from bandwagoning with the various strains outside its own sphere. Otherwise we are not left with much to choose. Either it would be to quest for peace or tread the path of chaos, insecurity and militarisation. Worst, we could descend into the abyss to realise ourselves lesser than our belonging to a community and ethnicity. The civil society in Manipur is, today, faced with a greater challenge to influence public policy by activating new avenues of reason for long-term interdependence. We cannot allow ourselves to fail and blame on the “lapses”, which otherwise we ought to occupy as our obligations and our own space.

Despite the odds, Moreh’s experience is a lesson for the plural constituents as well as for the authorities who are increasingly strengthening the presence of security forces in the State. Moreh’s mayhem has been grafted on to this peace less structural setting, transfiguring it, making it more violent and repressive, and multiplying the suffering of the already suffering people. The State should not fail anymore. It cannot afford to fail in the face of intense and expensive militarisation. If it is already facing a dead end, send the boys home and build school, playground, roads, trade and business centre, hospital and all that is missing.

Besides, lay bare the table for dialogue unconditionally, instead of sacrificing our peace, lives, rights, dignity, freedom, future and generations by sticking to stale conditions. In its attempt to stop militancy, the State has also become a repressive militant actor. The only unexplored potential lies with the people of Manipur. Reclaiming that power to carve a space for our peace and welfare is the biggest challenge before us. Stability and durable peace can only be achieved if the security operation includes an economic, educational and cultural dimension including human rights, democratic values and fundamental freedoms. It is true that the dominant militarist, statist and masculinist theory and regime of “national security” or “international security” should be replaced by one that is de-militarised, peace loving, feminist, universal, and people-centred. Otherwise it will be a different survival game for us where the winner would continue to wrestle a vain myth.


David Buhril, a research scholar in JNU, contributes regularly to e-pao.net. The writer can be contacted at davidbuhril(AT)yahoo(dot)com.
This article was webcasted on June 23rd, 2007


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