TODAY -

Is it the end of Kuki-AR honeymoon period?
- The People's Chronicle Editorial :: February 12, 2024 -



NOTWITHSTANDING the rebuttals issued from time to time by authorities concerned against allegations of the Assam Rifles showing bias towards the Kuki-Chin in the over nine months long ethnic conflict with the Meitei/Meetei in Manipur, there have been many viral video recordings floating on the internet wherein the personnel of the oldest paramilitary force in the country were seen interacting with armed Kuki-Chin people in a rather more chummy manner than one would expect.

The allegations of being soft in dealing with armed Kuki-Chin people are not confined to the Assam Rifles alone.

In fact, common men and women on both sides of the clash divide who have suffered long enough and are now yearning for the return of peace and normalcy in the strife-torn state feel that the large number of central security forces that have been sent in for deployment since the outbreak of ethnic conflict on May 3 last year has not been of any help in controlling the violence taking place unabatedly for more than nine months now.

Public disappointment over the alleged inaction of central security forces is such that even Manipur chief minister N Biren Singh had expressed dissatisfaction with the approach of central forces in addressing the crisis.

Speaking on the occasion of 52nd Statehood Day parade on January 21 last, Biren angrily said, "You (Central forces) are not invited to observe what is going on. You are invited to protect the integrity of the state and life and properties of the innocent people. We are Indians".

Coming it from the chief minister, who himself had requisitioned the central government for sending in additional forces for deployment in adjoining areas of the hill and valley districts where clashes normally took place, this outburst vindicates the growing public demand for withdrawal of Assam Rifles and other central security forces which are remaining as mere spectators to the unfolding humanitarian crisis.

Against this backdrop, a couple of videos showing a tense stand-off between a convoy of Assam Rifles and a group of armed Kuki-Chin men in Manipur's border town Moreh that are doing the round on social media have raised some serious questions that are hard to brush aside.

Apart from the obvious first reaction of how could a few armed men stop the security forces from moving around in the troubled border town which is located just a stone's throw away from conflict-hit Myanmar, there are many people who have seen the distressing viral videos wondering why the Assam Rifles did not give a befitting reply to such unwarranted obstruction caused to performing their duty instead of just meekly reversing their mine-protected Casspir vehicles.

But to the dispassionate viewers with probing minds, there is more to these video clips than eyes could see and ears could hear.

The stand-off reportedly took place on January 17 last, the day two Manipur Police commandos were killed in action while engaging in firefight with armed Kuki militants.

There had already been a viral video of the same incident which some media channels picked up and given focus in their discussion programmes.

But that video released from the side of Kuki-Chin revealed nothing much other than showing a couple of armed men shooing away the armoured vehicles and giving us the impression that it may have knocked down a woman who was seen with injuries on one of her legs.

This time, the videos have come from the side of Assam Rifles.

Taken from inside two mine-protected Casspir vehicles that were part of the convoy, the videos have been able to capture the entire stand-off with armed Kuki-Chin men surrounding the armoured vehicles and waving off the soldiers while pointing their assault rifles and setting up to fire two crude rocket launchers right in the middle of the road.

The frustration and disappointment of Assam Rifles soldiers, both male and female, who were inside the armoured vehicles over the conduct of the armed aggressors, could also been known from their conservations heard in the videos.

After seeing these videos, one question uppermost in the mind of everyone today, especially in the light of approaching February 29 when the SoO agreement signed with a score of Kuki militant groups would expire, is - does this mean the honeymoon period between the Kuki-Chin and Assam Rifles is going to be over?



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