TODAY -

Nine months and counting
- The People's Chronicle Editorial :: February 03, 2024 -



THE ethnic conflict between the Meitei/ Meetei and Kuki-Chin communities in the northeastern Indian state of Manipur which broke out on May 3 last year has completed nine months. But there has been no sign or indication that the conflict may end anytime soon.

In the absence of any serious effort on the part of the Government, both at the Centre and in the state, to initiate dialogues with leaders of the two warning communities, it would be naive to expect that the conflict would get resolved and peace would return in the strife-torn state.

Since the conflict broke out on May 3 last year after a group of armed Kuki-Chin youths clashed with the Meitei/Meetei following a Tribal Solidarity March taken out in protest against the high court directive of sending recommendation to the centre for recognition of the Meitei/Meetei as scheduled tribe, hundreds of lives have been lost and thousands of families on either side of the clash divide rendered homeless, forcing them to seek shelter in different relief camps that have been set up across the length and breadth of the state.

The last time the government had given an official figure on the casualties was in September last year.

That time, the number of people killed in the violent conflict as of September 15, 2023 was said to be 175 with 1,108 injuries and 32 missing while 4,786 houses were burnt and 386 religious structures including temples and churches vandalized.

Since then, there has been no official update on the casualties despite the fact that clashes have been occurring with no sign of the two warring groups getting weary or calling it quits.

Now the situation has come to such a pass that the security personnel deployed in different parts of the state for maintaining law and order have started figuring in the long list of casualties and the general population, who have been enduring untold suffering, have lost count of the lives snuffed out in the senseless violence that has been going on for nine months.

While there have been no two arguments over the failure of the Government, both at the Centre and in the state, to intervene and stop the violence from going but of hand when there was still time; the absence of any serious effort, if not complete lack of interest, towards finding a solution to the crisis by initiating dialogues with leaders of the two warning communities even after nine months is something that has baffled the mind of many people.

An ethnic conflict that initially broke out between people of two communities who have lived side by side sharing the ups and downs of life for many years is today posing a serious threat to the internal security of the country following involvement of external elements.

Yet, the Government of India seems to be remaining complacent and doing nothing precious despite the acknowledgement of this threat by none other than its own home minister on the floor of the Parliament itself, and the external affairs minister at international platform on more than one occasion.

This is a clear indication that the current humanitarian crisis in Manipur is not going to end or be resolved anytime soon.

On the other hand, the presence of some unscrupulous elements who are planning systematically to prolong the crisis and fester the wound is also becoming more pronounced in the absence of government intervention.

The latest instance is the installation of a cross atop the Thangjing hill, which is regarded as the sacred abode of Lord Thangjing by the Meitei/ Meetei, and renaming it as Mt Olive.

This very act of desecrating the religious place of one community by another is surely going to act like pouring oil into an already blazing fire.

But a word of caution here, as every claim made by the Kuki-Chin so far, whether it be about their autochthony or history, could be contested in a law court with documentary evidences, effort should be made to settle the issue of Thangjing hill legally instead of resorting to bloodshed.



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