AA Edit | Sack Biren Singh govt in Manipur, start healing

The Asian Age.

Opinion, Edit

The recent attack on Manipur's chief minister unveils a broader crisis rooted in political inefficiency, and escalating violence

Manipur Chief Minister N Biren Singh comes out after attending the NDA parliamentary party meeting at Samvidhan Sadan, in New Delhi, Friday, June 7, 2024. (PTI Photo/Manvender Vashist Lav)

The ambush of the advance security convoy of Manipur chief minister N. Biren Singh by Kuki tribal militants on Monday points to everything that has gone wrong in Manipur in the last one year: An inefficient but vengeful political establishment that can neither foresee the smoke billowing out of persistent disenchantment in a multi-cultural society nor put out the fire that has the potential to destabilise it; an apathetic government establishment which wants to wish away real issues or even side with one party during a conflict, an alienated population which would take to arms after losing faith in the system and a security mechanism which is in a shambles.

The chief minister was to visit the border district of Jiribam where mobs attacked and burnt houses, government offices and even police posts last week following the recovery of the body of a man on June 6. Violence has erupted twice since. People in their hundreds fled their homes for Assam’s Cachar district in the last five days, fearing further violence. It may be noticed that those taking shelter elsewhere include both Kuki and Meitei groups, and their number has crossed 2,000. The state police had airlifted a commando contingent to Jiribam on Saturday from Imphal but it did not help as there was a bout of violence on Sunday, too.

That there was an exchange of fire between the security team which went ahead of the chief minister’s visit and the militants who stayed put in the hilltops, points to the fact that the militants have entrenched themselves in their strongholds and are able to challenge the state’s agencies.

It is a shame on the state administration that it has not been able to prove yet that it is equal to the task of restoring peace in a state which has witnessed violence on a massive scale for the last one year. Instead of trying to address the issues in a way that behoves a democratic government, the political leadership in the state has acted in a partisan manner. Justice is not a priority for it. It has not yet realised that the protection of life and property of the people under its authority is its primary responsibility.  

It is equally unacceptable that the Union government has kept an arm’s length from the happenings in the border state despite their sensitivity with respect to national security. Even the Supreme Court’s curt observation that the constitutional machinery had broken down in the state has not moved the South Block from looking at the developments from a national perspective. It defies logic that the Centre has even let the state administration put spokes in the working of the Central agencies which attempted to ensure a sense of fairness in their dealings with various sections of people in the state.

India has suffered enough from militancy that had their genesis in a sense of unfair treatment at the hands of the mighty by a section of people. The country has lost too many lives in its attempts to bring peace back to trouble-torn villages and towns. It is time the Union government acted with a sense of alacrity, sent the Biren Singh government packing, took over the administration and put in place a mechanism that will go deep into the causes of friction and start the process of healing.