TODAY -

Feeling The Heat?

Robert Lanky *



After long time one of my lousy morning in Manipur, I was unexpectedly stricken with a fear known to all journalists: Did I come all the way (having travelled on non-existing NH-39 from Mao Gate to Imphal) in search of a story (Insurgents Feeling Heat)? A news items published in one of the local news papers under heading: "RPF castigates Police/ Military Duplicity" has expressed everything itself.

The Publication houses in Manipur seems to be under some hidden heat, may be because of the same 'diktat'. As we all know that scenario in the state is not conducive and the job before the media has never been easy. At one end it has to come to terms with the immediate law and order fallouts, which include covert and overt intimidation from various insurgent groups to forgo the right to edict of people.

On the other, despite these hurdles, the need still remains to tread carefully so as not to end up being blind to the finer undercurrents and dynamics of the society, which drive insurgency. There is also the other danger of the state coming down on the media if it is seen to have crossed the limits of the law in doing things and putting them in fine balance.

Despite knowing that, It is indeed a tightrope walk for Journalists operating in the regions of insurgency, I tried to do the retrospection of situation in the state and had put my best efforts to find out trends emerging in last three months in relations to insurgency related fatalities, damage to insurgent groups, pain suffered by the people of the state and stake of security forces (Military, Paramilitary and Police).

Militarization of state and society has been the main cause of worry for every citizen, even for military itself. One of my friends has mentioned (as data also available) that more than 50,000 troop are deployed (other than police and commandos) in the state to eliminate or bring the existing 44 insurgents groups to the negotiating table. The ratio of Manipur police has 627 policemen per 100,000 population a ratio that is dramatically higher than Assam (176) and the national average, at 125.

Nevertheless the State Government plans to recruit more Policemen and induct 1600 more Police Commandos in addition to the existing strength. Despite the augmenting availability of Police in the state and reduction in violence during 2009, it remains the case that the State lacks the political will to confront the insurgents on a sustained basis.

Due to the pressure from Army, Assam Rifles and Police Commandos, groups active in populated areas are on the run. Earlier commandos were deployed in the district headquarters but now in a small team attached to every Police Station. They, inconjunction with other (Military and Para Military) forces are trying to push insurgents away from the populated areas. Recent success, in last three months: killing of two top PLA cadres, arrest of financial secretary of RPF, arrest of Self Style Commander-in-Chief of KYKL from & Shillong has given the important blow to these organisations.

As per information available, in this year-2010 hundreds of cadres from UNLF, PLA & KYKL have deserted their camps. Reasons :could be the monetary assistance by UGs group to the family of cadres not being paid as promised. Hardship faced by them in Jungle because of the restricted moments towards populated areas for logistic support. Recent buzz in the air about 'parallel operations against rebel in Myanmar' as reported by media is also being visualized as one of cause of desertion.

Who is feeling the heat: It could be the matter of endless debate but a common man is definitely feeling the heat. The need of the hour is peace, development and of course the good governance. People in the state are having many questions with them so as I:

When will all this end?

When can the common man's primary worry be only to provide his or her children a good education and a future and not when or where the next trouble spot will be?

When will the state see the good governance?

When will these politicians be taking the moral responsibility for the dignity and development of the state?

When this mindless bloodshed will come to an end?

When will our 'fourth state' in Manipur be able to function fearlessly?

When will these violent insurgent groups stop passing diktat & demand notes and stop killing the very poor Non-Manipuris?

All these above questions may have been asked a thousand times before and have now become redundant because nobody seems really interested in the answers not even those who regularly ask them. Manipur is already in the midst of deep crisis. The administration has lost its core value and has faded away gradually and there is neither law nor order.

Anybody and everybody hold the state to ransom as many times as they want. 44 violent insurgent groups continue to further their insidious agenda. The highways are infested with 'goons and guns' and unsafe even during the day. Of course in last three months there have been some improvement in situation but not that, you can start imagining that 'peace is back' in the state.

Recently in Delhi, a seminar of all media persons from the country and Northeast was conducted. Seminar hall was jam packed with renowned and budding Journalists. The most important question for me in that seminar was that: why North Eastern States are out of the Map of the Media?

After lots of debate the answer we could mull out that: It is because there are no big business houses and national or multinational companies existing in the region who could sponsor and afford the big electronic and print media houses. It was also mentioned later in various news dailies in the region that the region holds 4% of total populations of the country and 7% of total land of India but coverage is much lower than it should have.

Morale of the story is that where there is violence, non existence of good governance, no development, diktats, ransom kidnapping & mindless killings no companies or firms are interested. Since no production houses and companies are interested here the job opportunities have also vanished and our young generation is forced to leave for jobs or those who couldn't even educate themselves have turned towards the Jungles and have joined non state actors.

Having stayed in constant touch with common people, youths and other walks of the society of Manipur one could reach to the conclusion that heat have been felt by insurgent group temporarily but it's the people of the state who are constantly 'feeling the heat' of insecurity and uncertain future for themselves and for their next generations to come.




* Robert Lanky (freelancer based in North East) contributes regularly to e-pao.net. The writer can be reached at robertlanky(at)gmail(dot)com
This article was webcasted on April 26th, 2009.


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