TODAY -

Calling out AR men from their bunkers : Extraordinary time
- The Sangai Express Editorial :: March 01, 2024 -



Extraordinary times call for extraordinary measures and it is probably along this line that the State Government has decided to call out the Assam Rifles from their bunkers to be deployed at what it says are the sensitive points in at least six districts.

Notifications calling out the Assam Rifles have already been issued under the name and seal of the Deputy Commissioners of Imphal West, Thoubal, Bishnupur, Chura-chandpur, Kangpokpi and Tengnoupal and when contacted even as this commentary is being penned down, The Sangai Express was informed that a similar notification will also be issued for Imphal East later in the night.

Already the net is abuzz with news of the Army or Assam Rifles being called out and pressed into service, leading many to speculate whether this amounts to taking one step closer to leaving the doors wide open for the infamous Army Act, the Armed Forces Special Powers Act to return at its menacing best.

At the moment this sounds a little too presumptuous for this is a situation which the State police cannot handle, but given that police commandos across different districts, primarily in the valley districts, had decided to lay down arms in protest should say something very significant.

And this significance, the part of which has been left unsaid should be clear, very clear to all those out there flexing their muscles and cocking a snook at the rule of law.

It should not be forgotten that there is a legally elected Government in place at Imphal and obviously New Delhi must be watching every development here with a hawk’s eye.

Does not portend well for Manipur and her people and if this is not noted and acknowledged then the real possibility of giving a totally new dimension to the ongoing clash between the Kukis and the Meiteis cannot be written off that easily.

In such an eventuality it is Manipur which stands to lose and all concerned should take note of this.

What has been happening here, particularly at Imphal in the last few days, should be taken into consideration to understand why the Assam Rifles personnel have been called out.

That this particular order of calling out the Assam Rifles just one day after the slogan of ‘Go back Assam Rifles’, ‘Leave Assam Rifles’ filled the evening and night of Imphal and other places in the valley districts should say something very, very significant.

It should also be acknowledged that the very decision of calling out the Assam Rifles could not have been taken without a nod from New Delhi.

A point which Manipur cannot afford to overlook.

This is also the time for the Government at Imphal to admit that several power players have emerged basically because it failed to dispense with its duty of protecting the people and their livelihood.

Rewind to May 3, 2023 and the days that followed and it should be more than clear that the presence of the Government was not felt or understood at all.

Even today, no Meitei would dare to take the National Highway from Imphal to Dimapur passing through Kangpokpi.

No Meitei civilian would dare proceed to Moreh or Churachandpur.

Likewise no Kuki would dare to enter Imphal or any of the valley districts.

And this has been going on for more than nine months now.

In such a situation it is but not surprising to see so many power players emerge all over the place and if it is the words of the Indigenous Tribal Leaders’ Forum (ITLF) that hold sway at Churachandpur, it is the Committee on Tribal Unity (CoTU) at Kangpokpi.

Likewise in the valley districts there are several organisations which have already made their presence felt, with what happened to the residence of the Additional SP of Imphal West police a few days back standing out as a prime example.

The arms laying down protest staged by police commandos should be seen in conjunction with the attack launched at the residence of the said police officer.

As noted in an earlier commentary here, the script seems set to push Manipur into a state of anarchy and the decision to call out the Assam Rifles in at least six districts as of now should be seen in the context of the State Government totally failing to dispense with its duty of maintaining law and order.

A subject which the police should be able to do, but the reality says something else and this is the tragedy of it all.



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