Restoring peace - The talk of the town

Laishram Devakumar Singh *

The present ethnic conflict in Manipur is not triggered by ethnic differences but by the greed over political, economic, social, cultural, or territorial matters. All peace-loving people, intellectuals and scholars in Manipur and other parts of the country know that this very conflict is one of the major threats to internal and as well as external security.

Simply the issue cannot be allowed to continue in the state as it is going to affect India’s reputation in the international domain. We have never seen such a magnitude of violence and destruction in Manipur before. During these conflicts, one can witness gross violation of human rights such as killings, crime against humanity, and economic blockade, failure of the state, environmental problems, and refugee flows etc.

Possible causes of the present crisis seem to be due to the long cherished nefarious agenda of the Chin-Kuki Zo terrorists, intellectuals and scholars who hijacks mass media with the intention of portraying Meitei as perpetrators of human right violation. They picked up soft targets wherever they felt it espoused their cause and blamed Meitei for everything that was unfolding.

Politically and administratively established institutions tend to be ineffective and defunct. This violent conflict seems to be fuelled by various vested interest groups in the Chin-Kuki Zo community. The misuse of churches in propagating and fuelling the fire of hatred against the Meitei community should be stopped.

Foreign aid to those who intended to break the territorial integrity of the state, corruption, administrative incompetence, and the inability to promote peaceful coexistence can well be understood from the series of incidents which have been taking place for the last almost four months.

The geographical distribution of settlements with or without the permission of the government, encroachment of forest areas by the illegal infiltrators from across the border and facilitation by the so-called local chiefs furthers the problems and territorial concentration of ethnic groups in pluralistic states like Manipur also contributes to the violent ethnic conflict.

In this conflict what one can see is the high levels of mobilisation of children, youths and women by organization and increased group cohesion and intention to carve out homeland in Manipur by Chin-Kuki-Zo as their political aspiration which is indirectly facilitated by the inaction of the Union government. The tactics used by Chin-Kuki Zo leaders are also incongruous.

Scapegoating, hate speech, and manipulation of the mass media by the Chin-Kuki-Zo are means that have heighten existing discord between ethnic groups. Sabotage, deliberate destruction of properties or slowing down of work with the intention of damaging the business or economic system of the Meitei community and derailing government machinery are the common tactics of these Chin-Kuki-Zo Narco-terrorists.

India has achieved milestone in space race by landing Chandrayaan-3 on the south pole of the moon on 23rd August 2023 and every citizen in the country is jubilant including Meitei community in India because their contributions in the project is noteworthy but soon the memories of violence continue to linger under the shadow of armed Chin-Kuki-Zo narco-terrorists.

Now the question is what is the solution ahead? Will the fear of the violence be put to rest or allowed to continue? How can so much mutual distrust be bridged? What about the core issue of illegal immigrants, deforestation, and poppy cultivation? Who will be responsible for restoring peace and harmony in the society?

The solution seems to be a distant dream because trial and tribulation is so painful and unforgettable. It simply cannot be put to rest. Many people lost their dearest ones and their lost cannot be bought by money. Their trauma and horror still linger in their minds. They’ve lost everything that they have been building for so long for a better future. Yet, human lives cannot continue the same.

Now it’s the time to re-ignite the hope for peace to all communities by arranging a platform where every community in the state must engage in dialogue for a constructive role. Responsibility for restoring peace should be spearheaded by the Union government as a third party by involving the community in the round table conference. It is high time for both the state and union government to find ways and means through which internally displaced people could be resettled and compensated well.

The initiative of the central government is paramount in restoring peace in the state because the issue is not simply ethnic one but the involvement of illegal immigrants who intruded into Indian territories with illegal sophisticated arms. These arms have been used in illegal extortion on National Highways, and as well as from the pockets of Meitei minority settlements across the state in the recent past and targeting the unarmed civilian population.

These arms should be recovered and those guilty should be booked and all arms from the Kuki areas must be recovered and those illegal immigrants with arms must be identified, disarmed, and deported to their country. It is better understood that India is not a signatory to the 1951 Refugee Convention and its 1967 Protocol nor does India have a well-defined national policy on refugees.

Drug cartels and their associates should be arrested and booked according to the Constitutional law of the country and stringent punishment must be pronounced for their anti-social activities like uprooting of future generations by clandestine flooding of drugs in the black markets. These people should be subjected to intense labour work in jail and must be utilized by the government for productive purposes.

Illegal settlements and renaming of historical places and distortion of history should be viewed seriously and immediate stern action should be initiated against such nefarious motives by cornering and arresting them and legal action should be taken against them.

The Kuki community who has been living since the 18th century should renounce the habit of providing haven to those anti-social and anti-national elements for the sake of peaceful co-existence and harmony. Propaganda warfare should be put to rest and truth should be revealed and public apology should be rendered for the crimes which they have been perpetrating since May 2023.

They should also write an apology letter to the European Parliament for misleading the current event in the state of Manipur (India), and to the church for threading fabricated lies to cover their crimes. They should come out clean in every respect.

Destruction and razing of Meitei’s settlements in Khuga Tampak and Khumujamba Leikai in Churachandpur, Torbung Bangla in Bishnupur and Moreh town in Tengnoupal district should be compensated. All looted properties should be returned without any pre-condition. Destruction of public properties and valuable documents of the forests departments, banks, and other government establishments in Churachandpur should be compensated by the Chin-Kuki Zo community in the form of reparations. Apart from these, those who vandalised business establishments of the Meitei community should also be brought to justice.

For restoring peace in the state, Soo (Suspension of Operation) with Kuki militants should be withdrawn, and the dream of Zalengam or Kukiland should be given up. Frequent firing upon the Meitei villages in the peripheries should be stopped by the CSF instead of preventing Village Defence Force from retaliation. Neutrality should be maintained while dispensing their duties.

Meitei should be allowed to go to their respective home in the alleged “Buffer Zone” created by the security forces in the name of maintaining peace and tranquillity. Why such a buffer zone in the own courtyards of the legal owners of the properties. Such imaginary partition should be immediately put to an end for restoring normalcy in the violent hit areas.

All the illegal arms which are in the possession of Chin-Kuki-Zo narco-terrorists should be confiscated by the authority of the state. The community must find out a way to restore the previous ecological environment by planting more trees in the areas where they cultivated poppy earlier and ensure that deforestation is immediately stopped, and afforestation is on the roll. Chin-Kuki-Zo community must affirm and assert that no Chin-Kuki Zo will grow poppy in the hills of Manipur, and they must ensure that the sacred shrines of Meitei will never be desecrated in future.

Government should take up adequate and appropriate measures to resettle the Meitei in Churachandpur, Kangpokpi, Moreh and other areas from where they have been displaced by providing security for safeguarding and protecting the Meitei settlements in these areas. Intense combing operations should be carried out in Churachandpur, Moreh and Kangpokpi to drive out the armed terrorists from the soil of Manipur, India.

Besides, the government should also give a serious thought to the amendment of MLRLR Act and put its efforts to bring equality in all respects regardless of the community by introducing uniform law all over the state to close the gap between artificial barriers of hills and the valley. MLRLR Act is absurd and obsolete and must be nullified and territories in the state of Manipur be declared as Terra Nullius.

Tax reforms should be carried out in the state so that taxes returned in the state are worth the value. Law and order should be established in violent hit hill districts of Manipur by translating measures initiated by the government into practice. Civil laws of the country must be implemented strictly in the hill districts. Posting of security personnel, bureaucrats and other machineries should be arranged in such a way that balance is maintained among the diverse communities of the state.

Above all, informal and formal dialogues between the community should be conducted to sort out differences under the supervision of the government. In a democratic country like India, any legalised community in the country can put up their demands to the government in a democratic manner. For achieving their demand, they must not target any particular community because that will never promote their cause. So, we’d better understand our history and live accordingly. If so, peace will prevail in the state.

* Laishram Devakumar Singh wrote this article for The Sangai Express
This article was webcasted on 30 August 2023.

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