TODAY -

The resolve of 35 legislators
- The People's Chronicle Editorial :: January 24, 2024 -



With the theatre of conflict shifted to Moreh, where the Manipur police commandos and personnel of other central security forces deployed in the border town for maintaining law and order are coming under increasing attacks from Kuki militants who are backed by Myanmar-based People's Democratic Front (PDF); the demands for abrogation of the Suspension of Operation (SoO) agreement signed with various armed Kuki militant groups and replacement of the Assam Rifles from being deployed in the strife-torn Manipur by some non-partisan forces that have "the ability to act by returning suppressive fire" have gained momentum once again.

What is significant this time is that the demands have been raised by as many as 35 legislators belonging to the ruling parties in the state.

After a joint meeting held on Sunday, these 35 legislators which include seven from Naga tribes who have remained neutral in the conflict between the Meitei and Kuki-Chin communities that has been going on since May 3 last year, submitted their resolutions to the Government of India asking categorically to stop the Myanmar-based militants from attacking unarmed civilians and security forces on Indian soil and abrogate the SoO agreement signed with Kuki militant groups.

They have also taken note of the fact that "the Suspension of Operation (SoO) agreements with the armed militant groups, and the immunity it provides to these groups from a firm reaction from central forces, is the main cause of the never-ending cycle of violence.

Thus, Suspension of Operation with militants who indulge in killing of innocent civilians and violation of ground rules should be abrogated".

Furthermore, the35 legislators made it clear that "the SoO agreement with other militant groups who also indulge in anti-state activities should not be extended beyond its expiry date of 29/2/2024".

Regarding the growing public demand for withdrawal or replacement of the Assam Rifles from continued deployment in Manipur, the resolution adopted by the 35 legislators stated in no uncertain terms that, "in many of the sensitive areas, Assam Rifles are not responsive and remain mute spectators when unarmed civilians (particularly farmers) are being indiscriminately fired upon frequently.

The claim that their deployment is providing security to the communities residing in these areas has been questioned.

These forces and their leaderships (chain of command) need to give strict instruction and be held accountable and replaced with forces that have the ability to act by returning suppressive fife when they observe that unarmed civilians are being fired upon, to enable civilians to get to cover and safety.

Such a reaction, which is wholly appropriate to safeguard the lives of civilians underfire, has been non-existent, which is why the public's faith and trust in the forces presently deployed at places such as Moreh, Bishnupur, Imphal West, Kakching, etc., has been shattered."

How the Government of India is going to react to the resolutions adopted and submitted by the 35 legislators is yet to be known.

But the resolute stand of the 35 legislators "to take appropriate action in consultation with the public" if the Government of India is unable to take any positive action to their demands at the earliest is a clear indication of the desperate situation in which the people of Manipur have been living for nearly nine months now with no solution in sight to a crisis, which many experts, including defence analysts, have time and again pointed out could have been resolved within days of the outbreak if there was political will and commitment to do so.

Perhaps, it's time for the Government of India to do the needful before it is too late.

As the 35 legislators have pointed out, "it will be to the detriment of the prestige of the Republic of India" if the Government of India cannot stop the aggression of the SoO-bound Kuki militants, who are being backed by external forces, on Indian soil and keep its oldest paramilitary force away from being accused of partisanship, perceived or otherwise.



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