TODAY -

Set the priorities right
- The People's Chronicle Editorial :: June 20, 2024 -



ALTHOUGH the news reports carried by most media houses, including those in Manipur, about the high-level meeting chaired by Union Home Minister Amit Shah to review the security situation in ethnic conflict-hit Manipur on Monday had given a general idea about the things that had been discussed, none of the news reports had been able to offer a deeper insight into the finer points of the discussion done in the said meeting as these news reports were mainly based on the press handout issued by the Press Information Bureau (PIB).

As a result, most editorial comments and observations made too had been general, centring around the obvious error of judgement in not inviting the chief minister of Manipur to the meeting as any discussion or review of the security situation in the state, which has been reeling under the impact of a debilitating ethnic conflict for more than one year now, without the presence of the executive head of a democratically elected government is ludicrous.

Of course, the chief secretary, the director general of police (DGP) and the security advisor to government of Manipur may be present in the meeting, but giving a snub to the chief minister, who is also in charge of the portfolio of Home in Manipur and when the law and order is a state subject as defined under the Seventh Schedule to the Constitution of India is a matter of concern.

As a report in Swarajya has rightly pointed out, "The glaring omission from this list (the list of attendees in the meeting) was Manipur Chief Minister Nongthombam Biren Singh.

Or, for that matter, any Manipuri.

A meeting on Manipur in which no Manipuri - Meitei, Kuki, Naga or Pangal - was present, obviously because no Manipuri was invited, underlines the basic problem with the Union government's approach to solving the raging ethnic conflict in the northeastern state".

Even as the debate over why chief minister N Biren Singh has been cold shouldered by Union home minister Amit Shah after proclaiming on the floor of Indian Parliament itself that "the need to change a CM arises when he does not cooperate.

But this CM is cooperating" may continue to rage on, the point raised in the report of Swarajya about the failure of the Ministry of Home Affairs to understand the crisis in Manipur is "not just a law-and-order issue, but a much deeper one with multiple players, some of them based outside India, involved in a sinister, high-stakes game" needs to be taken into perspective, and accordingly change the approach for tackling the crisis that has so far not only led to loss of hundreds of precious human lives and displacement of thousands of families but also come to pose threat to the national security of the county.

Given this fact, another report appeared in the The-Print which says that "effective crackdown to recover more than 3,500 looted weapons and calibrated action against Meira Paibis (Meitei women who have taken on role of vigilantes)" are the two key takeaways from the high-level meeting called by Union home minister Amit Shah to review the security situation in ethnic conflict-hit Manipur has shown that the Ministry of Home Affairs is yet to learn any lesson from its failure of curbing the violence for more than a year now.

The report quoted a source in the security establishment as saying, "These are two challenges that need to be tackled at the earliest to restore normalcy in the state."

It's true that Manipur has become a highly weaponised society today and the activities of Meira Paibis both in the valley and hills have increasingly caused hindrances to the security forces in performing their duty.

So, effective crackdown to recover the weapons looted from police armouries both in the hills and the valley and restraining the activities of women vigilantes are essential.

But prioritising energy and resources on tackling these two challenges, while letting the militants armed with more sophisticated weapons to roam around freely and unleash a reign of terror everywhere is not going to help in bringing peace and normalcy in Manipur at all.

The Ministry of Home Affairs certainly needs to set its priorities right.



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