By: Dipak Kurmi
The recent eruption of violence in Manipur, just three weeks after a devastating wave of conflict, has once again plunged the region into turmoil. What began as protests against a court order seeking inclusion of the Meitei community into the State’s Scheduled Tribe list has taken a dangerous turn, with representatives of the KukiZomi community, including BJP MLAs, demanding a “separate administration.” The deteriorating hill-valley relations and the failure of the government to curb violence have underscored the urgent need for action. It is imperative for the State government, with assistance from the central authorities, to restore normalcy, foster intercommunity harmony, and prevent extremist elements from hijacking the future of Manipur.
Challenges faced and causes of violence:
The current situation is partly a consequence of the State government’s inability to rise above biases and act impartially toward different communities. The government’s anti-poppy cultivation drives, perceived as targeting the Kuki Zomi hill dwellers, fueled resentment among the affected population. Furthermore, the High Court’s ill-thought-out order, violating a previous Constitution Bench judgment, aggravated tensions. Regrettably, the government’s response has been inadequate, allowing violence to spiral out of control in Churachandpur and Imphal, indicating the administration’s incompetence.
Road to reconciliation:
To restore peace and stability, the State government must collaborate with the central authorities to implement several crucial measures. Firstly, increased patrolling of paramilitary and police forces in the areas affected by riots is necessary to instill a sense of security among the populace. Secondly, providing relief and support to the displaced people is essential for their well-being and rehabilitation. Additionally, the government must take decisive steps to curtail the influence of militant factions and prevent their exploitation of the ongoing unrest.
A long-term plan must be formulated, with the assistance of security forces, to facilitate the safe return of the displaced individuals to their homes. This initiative should prioritize rebuilding trust and promoting intercommunity dialogue, with the goal of fostering a civic consciousness that transcends ethnic identities. The unity and coexistence of the various communities in Manipur are crucial for the region’s long-term stability and prosperity.
The role of civil society and national support:
While the responsibility primarily falls on the government, civil society members both within and outside Manipur must also play a vital role in rebuilding intercommunity ties. They should actively engage in initiatives that promote dialogue, understanding, and tolerance among different ethnic groups. By taking up the cause of reconciliation, civil society can ensure that chauvinist and militant groups do not hijack the representation of the communities, exacerbating divisions.
Furthermore, the Union government cannot remain indifferent to the unfolding events in Manipur. It is imperative for them to acknowledge the gravity of the situation and extend support to the State government in restoring peace. Manipur, like other northeastern states, requires concerted efforts to cultivate a civic consciousness that emphasizes unity and commonalities rather than divisions.
The recent resurgence of violence in Manipur demands immediate action to prevent further deterioration of intercommunity relations and the escalation of conflict. The State government, in collaboration with the central authorities, must prioritize efforts to restore normalcy, ensure the safety of the populace, and address the root causes of the unrest. Simultaneously, civil society members must actively work towards rebuilding intercommunity ties and preventing extremist elements from exploiting the situation. Through collective determination and inclusive measures, Manipur can pave the way for a peaceful and harmonious future, transcending ethnic identities for the betterment of all its citizens. (The writer is a journalist and commentator based in Guwahati, can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org)