TODAY -

IED blasts and fate of the state

R S Jassal *

Army patrolling after a bomb blast on the road median of Tiddim Road near Tidim Ground, Imphal on September 08 2012
Army patrolling after a bomb blast on the road median of Tiddim Road near Tidim Ground, Imphal on September 08 2012 :: Pix - David M Mayum



Of late, use of IEDs (Improvised Explosive Devices) is again on the increase by most of the VBIGs (Valley Based Insurgent Groups) in Manipur. May be it is recharged tactical inspiration from Mao-ists communist operations in Chhatisgarh and Jharkhand or it is the easiest pattern of action against SAs ( State Actors) where NSAs are unable to move in organized strength.

The IED operation does not need large number of persons to be used in execution of the devastatious action. Three to four are enough to assist in planting and activating the explosion specially when done so in crowded places like it was done in Delhi on the festive occasion of Dipawali when citizenry were engaged in purchase of crackers, sweets and connected purchases.

In Manipur NSAs did so in large scale in hill areas of Parbung-Lagthulien of Tipaimukh and Thanlon sub Divisions plus in Khengjoi, Sajik Tampak ranges of the Chandel District and some hard trials were undertaken in Moreh town too. It went unabated till TH.Sangliana, IPS turned MP of Loksabha raised point in the Parliament during 2004/2005.

I also held two seminars at State Guest House Imphal independently and we could touch 'the other man' in 'the man' of NSAs against this deadly device. Deadly it is because it has no foolproof control like AP (anti personal) mines. IED has no eyes no brains no identification skills to hit the target intended for. Rather in most of the cases, it every time leaves its lasting impact on innocents, weak, unarmed who are least concerned with the conflict. Due to pressure from various quarters the use of IED had scaled down considerably may be then UG leadership had listened to our plea.

Manipur till 2004 had 65 affected civilians in the hills of which I had conducted field survey under the aegis of Indian Institute of Peace Disarmament & Environmental Protection Nagpur. I had also attended 5th conference held by IIPED Nagpur, Army HQs New Delhi, and Governments of Canada & Indian Council of Red Cross Society at Shalimar Gardens South Delhi during 23-24 Apr 2008. Prior to that I was invited by Geneva call to Geneva to attend a workshop for five days.

I strongly advocated the idea that IEDs were more dangerous than the landmines. NSCN (IM) & KSO had signed the agreement with Geneva call which is a trustee organisation of the UN (UNSESCO), HPC (D) Chief of the Army Staff Mr Puia had written to me that he was also willing to sign the agreement when contacted through a mediator Thereafter I made Geneva call -Nagpur & HPC (D) to have direct involvement as I had got some other engagements with me.

So whether they have signed or not is not known but known is that they have never used any IED. So in present day context in Manipur only VBIG-specially PLA/RPF and Cor-Com groups are using it and since recent Panchayat elections the use of this rogue device is comparatively much higher on the scale which does not augur well for the people of the State. The earlier blasts in ISKON, ALLOO Gali PAOREBI & so on. No one can tell us quantum of damages IED can incur. The casualty rate on the unarmed civilians is much more than suffered by the State Actors against whom the blasts were intended.

To me this is also true uncontentedly; use of IEDs by the UGs against civilian is not wished by them as it is not conducive to their goals, but at the same time more than 250 have lost limbs/lives and a score of NSAs lost lives/limbs themselves while transporting, storing, under training and while planting IEDs in past one decade. Over all in the past three decades, confrontation between NSAs-SAs have left hundreds of families shattered physically and psychologically, thus a situation of psycho fear is felt alround, forcing many to leave Manipur& settle away from their own home land. It is seriously affecting mental health of the societies only next to the ill in heritage from HIV/AIDS.

To recall since 1992 humanitarian organisations, particularly the international Campaign to Ban Landmines (ICBL) and the ICRC, campaigned tirelessly against AP mines. In 1997, these efforts culminated in the adoption of the Convention on the prohibition of the use, stockpiling, production and transfer of anti personnel mines and on their destruction, informally referred to as the mine ban treaty (MBT).

NSAs world over have posed a major problem by resorting to the use of IED Its compositions are full of highly destructive & combustible materials of all sorts reinforced by heavy dose of hate and contempt. Iraq, Afghanistan & Pakistan are ready example. Manipur also lost its bright upcoming young man Jupiter Yambem in Twin Tower Blast which was actually not meant for him. It happened in 2001 (USA) though a bit different from IED improvised further version as that was suicidal air bomb attack Most armed conflicts today are intra-state and involve one or more armed non-state actors (NSAs) fighting government forces or each other.

The term NSA, as used by Geneva Call, refers to any armed actor operating outside control that uses force to achieve its political/ quasi-political objective include, among other names, armed groups, rebels, guerrillas, insurgent groups, liberation movements and government not officially recognised by the international community.

Many of them use, manufacture and stockpile AP mines; there are more NSAs using AP mines today than government forces. The NSAs have their wings to evolve innovative methods to fabricate IEDs, human bombs inclusive.

o To emphasize again, AP mines and IED's are those devices which effectively explode by the presence, proximity or contact of a person, including other victims activated explosive devices and anti vehicle mines with the same effect whether with or without anti handling devices. These include commercially manufactured AP mines, victims activated improvised devices (IEDs) and anti vehicle mines that can be triggered by the weight of a person. They are all antihuman

o Communities in NSA- controlled areas are often left without the assistance afforded to others.

o NSAs influence the mine policies of the state in which they operate: some governments cite NSA mine use as reasons for not joining the MBT: other claim they are not in a position to fulfil their obligations as State parties because they do not fully control the national territory.

For these reasons the engagement of NSAs is essential to address the problem of landmines and use of IEDs. All over the world 36 NSA groups including three from NE have signed with Geneva Call not to use IEDs, NSAs are part of the landmines equation: they are the problem; they must be part of the solution.

Finally, in view of above &especially in light of Rohingiyas being driven away from Burmese Rakhine Province making forays into North East by land and sea routes, If our state forces police & Paramilitary moves to border areas to counter them are thwarted by IEDs, it will be playing fervidly to own nation in existence or nation perceived in revolutionary agenda.

In a democratic country like ours the intra state conflicts are negotiable so I fervently approach the UG leadership to pause and consider drop of use of IEDs amongst own people/state forces on humanitarian grounds regardless the tactical need of revolutionary agenda. No Army/AR Unit operating on internal security duties in the NE states is allowed to carry High trajectory weapon and any type of landmines despite the fact VBIG's have been using Lathod guns against SFs.

They are used in certain specially restricted areas touching International Borders decided at Army Command level. So why NSAs should think it compulsory to use IEDs. Negotiations to settle intra state conflicts on table are the best way of settling the affairs. My appeal may please be considered in overall interest of the State.


* R S Jassal wrote this article for Hueiyen Lanpao (English Edition)
This article was posted on October 20, 2012.



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