TODAY -

Questions on sticking to SoO : The political equations
- The Sangai Express Editorial :: November 23 2023 -



Did the violence of May 3 start because the demand for a Separate Administration was raised or did the Separate Administration demand come after the violence erupted in all its ugliness on May 3 ? Everyone knows the answer to this, including people on either side of the clash divide.

And which group first started torching houses at Torbung and Churachandpur just because the houses belonged to people of a community different from the Kuki-Zo community ?

Why did the violence spread quickly to Kangpokpi and Moreh ? Again everyone knows the answer.

Imphal and the valley retaliated only late in the evening and the very fact that a Kuki gentleman visited the office of The Sangai Express late in the evening of May 3 should underline the fact that Imphal reacted only late in the evening.

Violence erupting at Churachandpur after the Tribal Solidarity March of May 3, ostensibly staged against the demand that the Meteis be included in the ST list and the directive of the High Court of Manipur to the Government of Manipur to send the report which had been gathering dust since 2013, quickly spreading to Kangpokpi and Moreh while the rally wound up without a hitch at the Naga dominated districts of Senapati, Ukhrul and Tamenglong should negate the very purpose for which the rally was staged.

This in brief was how the ongoing clash started and just a few days earlier, everything that could go wrong had gone wrong at Churachandpur, with a Forest beat office set on fire and an open gym scheduled to be inaugurated by the Chief Minister himself burnt.

These are just some examples that come to mind at the moment and to get a better understanding of the ongoing conflict in Manipur, one will need to go beyond the mere rhetoric of dubbing it as a political problem and question why the Suspension of Operation pact with Kuki militants was signed in the first place ?

Were the SoO outfits waging any sort of war against the Indian Nation that a pact was necessary to engage them in talks ?

Under whose counsel was the pact signed and why did Imphal held back for three years before it was ‘convinced’ to get on board the SoO wagon ?

This question is important in the face of the geo-political reality of the North East region, which is home to a number of armed groups, including the NSCN (IM), the conglomerates CoRCOM, ASUK etc with a politically unstable Myanmar as the next door neighbour.

That the Kuki-Zos have many kindred tribes in Myanmar rounds up the reality in the ongoing clash in Manipur.

It is this very reality that was referred to by Union Home Minister Amit Shah on the floor of Parliament not so long back and which rubbed the recently floated Indigenous Tribal Leaders Forum (ITLF) of Churachandpur as well as the Kangpokpi based Committee on Tribal Unity (CoTU) the wrong way, so much so that they went to press crying foul over the statement of the Union Home Minister.

Again it was in line with what the Union Home Minister said on the floor of Parliament that External Affairs Minister S Jaishanker talked about large scale infiltration in Manipur as being one of the reasons for the ongoing clash.

All these facts fall in the political realm, no doubt about that, but this should be seen beyond being a political problem.

Acknowledge the fact, admit it and accordingly proceed to see how the problem may be tackled at the political level.

Military approach is not the solution is a derivative that may be understood in the observation of Lt General RP Kalita who held that the issue in Manipur is a political problem but the question of bigger import is how willing or ready is New Delhi to acknowledge the facts ?

It was political calculation which necessitated SoO with armed groups, which have never been hostile to the Indian armed forces and given the fact that political equations can and do change with the passage of time, what are the political gains that New Delhi hopes to gain out of continuing with the SoO pact ?

There will be no one line answer, but the very fact that these questions have become significant should say so many things.



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