TODAY -

Attack on fuel tankers & blasting highway bridge: Siege warfare?
- The Sangai Express Editorial :: April 26, 2024 -



With three powerful explosions causing substantial damage to a key bridge on Imphal-Dimapur highway, a new dimension is emerging to the violent conflict which has been raging in the state for almost one full year.

It is quite obvious that the militants who blew up the bridge were determined to cut off Imphal-Dimapur highway, the lifeline of the entire state of Manipur.

Here, one should not miss the fact that militants attacked a convoy of fuel tankers and goods carriers on April 16 on Imphal-Jiribam highway, the second lifeline of the state.

Two tanker drivers sustained injuries and as many as five fuel tankers were also badly damaged.

As news of the attack spread on social media, there was panic buying of petrol and diesel across Imphal.

Public reaction to the attack in the form of panic buying of petroleum products only serves as an undeniable testimony of how vulnerable national highways are in the state.

Extortion on highways by different groups has been going on for quite a long time and now many people have accepted it as a norm, though undesirable.

As indicated by the frequent attacks on trucks and drivers by militants at will, the escort arrangement is as ineffective as it can be which implies drivers have been literally left at the mercy of the militants.

Just a week later, a key bridge on Imphal-Dimapur was blown up in the wee hours of April 24.

These two wicked incidents may be connected or isolated but at least this much is clear that both of them had sinister politico-military and economic motives.

Both these attacks, as testified by their ferocity, had very little to do with monetary demands.

The attack on the convoy of fuel tankers and blasting of the bridge near Sapermaina were lucid cases of politico-military offensive driven by a sinister motive to stop or deter movement of goods carriers (trucks) from national highways.

Keeping off trucks from national highways in a landlocked state like Manipur obviously implies economic blockade or more precisely siege warfare.

Siege warfare, as understood throughout history, is nothing but an offensive politico-military strategy aimed at strangulating an entire population, and ultimately forcing the target population to submit to their unholy political agenda.

It is generally accepted that blockade or siege warfare is an attritional strategy using armed forces or unarmed agents like frontal organisations in the garb of student bodies and civil society organisations or militants in the present context of Manipur, to prevent movement of supplies into the blockaded space, be it an outpost, or a continent or a country or a state or a part of it.

The purpose of blockade or siege warfare is to secure capitulation from the lack of means to continue resistance, historically used by besieging forces that lack either the weapons to bombard or the manpower to invade.

While the classic definition relates to fortified cities or ports, the concept has a much wider application. Since the dawn of military history, blockade or siege warfare has been a popular politico-military strategy employed by adversaries against each other or unilaterally.

As removed from direct invasion, siege warfare is a steady but effective means of bringing the enemies to submission, provided objective conditions are favourable.

While saving the colossal cost of waging an open war, chances of casualty or death on the part of the besieging forces is negligibly low as compared to direct invasion or confrontation.

The two incidents of deadly attack on a convoy of fuel tankers and blasting a highway bridge within a span of just one week or so must be investigated thoroughly and quickly, and see if they are the beginning of a siege warfare.

If it is the beginning of siege warfare, then the conflict is definitely taking a new turn for siege warfare generally targets young and old, men and women, infants and aged, in short, the entire population.



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