TODAY -

Restraining armed forces vis-ŕ-vis Kuki militants
- The Sangai Express Editorial :: February 19, 2024 -



Overpowering the mighty Indian military by some Kuki militants sounds like an unrealistic joke.

But it is a reality. Video clips of some Kuki militants threatening and forcing Indian military troops to turn back from their operational duty have already gone viral in social media.

This unprecedented and bizarre incident took place in the border town of Moreh on January 17, 2024.

All Kuki militant groups are insignificant in all aspects compared to the Indian military forces.

Yet, the Kuki militants had their way and dictated terms in the border town of Moreh.

Even after Kuki militants have gunned down a number of military and police personnel at Moreh and other places of Manipur since they launched a politico-military offensive in May 2023 to carve out an exclusive political domain for Kuki-Zo people at the cost of the united and pluralistic Manipur, Indian troops have showed no sign to rein in the rampaging militants.

Kuki militants too knew very well the strength of the Indian military yet they flexed their muscles and dictated their terms.

The military troops, on their part, thought it wise not to confront the Kuki militants.

In another word, the Indian military has been dealing with the Kuki militants quite softly.

This policy of handling the Kuki militants with velvet gloves has serious ramifications and repercussions.

As a direct result of this policy or approach, Kuki militants are becoming bolder and bolder.

In addition to attacking and ambushing police personnel repeatedly, Kuki militants laid siege to police camps of Moreh for days.

They are openly challenging the state government, and any challenge to a government duly elected under the constitution of India is a threat to the national security.

The Kuki militants declared war against the state by repeatedly attacking and killing police personnel.

When any militant group declares war against the state, it is not merely a law and order problem but it is a national security issue.

By letting themselves overpowered by a bunch of Kuki militants, the military only discredited themselves.

The particular incident created a very bad impression among the citizens who always look to the military for protection when their lives and security are threatened.

As pointed out by the Coordinating Committee on Manipur Integrity, the visuals of the brave soldiers being openly threatened with guns, rocket launchers and other weapons have never been witnessed before and the incident not only undermines the integrity and authority of the armed forces but also poses a significant threat to the national security.

Perhaps, the troops might have wanted to act but some unseen force or authority has been holding back their hands.

Well armed militants threatening the military cannot be seen as a civil protest.

Of course, there is the infamous Suspension of Operation or SoO agreement.

But SoO agreement does not warrant Kuki militant groups to threaten and obstruct armed forces from performing their duties.

Threatening armed forces is rather blatant violation of not only the ground rules but also the very foundation of the agreement.

Whether the particular Kuki militants are a party to the SoO agreement or not, the armed forces had every reason to act but they did not.

Emboldened by the particular incident of Kuki militants threatening armed forces and dictating terms, some groups even served an ultimatum recently to both the Deputy Commissioner and the Superintendent of Police of Churachandpur to leave all Kuki inhabited areas within 24 hours.

The situation is no longer a law and order problem.

It is now an issue of national security.

In such situations, the military needs to step in.

What is keeping the hands of the military tied?

Is there a political reason for restraining the armed forces?

Perhaps, understanding the politics of restraining armed forces vis-a-vis Kuki militants’ aggression may be the key to resolving the Manipur crisis.



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