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  Opinion   Edit  20 Jul 2023  AA Edit | Not just the video, tackle root of Manipur conflict

AA Edit | Not just the video, tackle root of Manipur conflict

THE ASIAN AGE.
Published : Jul 21, 2023, 12:05 am IST
Updated : Jul 21, 2023, 12:05 am IST

The problems of Manipur burst into the open in the wake of a court order on the reservation status of a community.

Members of Indigenous Tribal Leaders’ Forum (ITLF) take part in a protest rally as a mark of protest against the harrowing incident that occurred on May 4, in Churachandpur district, Manipur, Thursday, July 20, 2023. (PTI Photo)
 Members of Indigenous Tribal Leaders’ Forum (ITLF) take part in a protest rally as a mark of protest against the harrowing incident that occurred on May 4, in Churachandpur district, Manipur, Thursday, July 20, 2023. (PTI Photo)

It took a video of indescribable bestiality out of Manipur in which men acted against women in a feral manner to wake up a nation, including a slumbering administration. The incident recorded is indeed a national shame and its exposure in the social media caused such an outrage across civil society and the Opposition parties that even Prime Minister Narendra Modi was forced to respond.

In condemning outright the horror inflicted on two women by a mob of men, the Prime Minister did the right thing even if his first pronouncement on the Manipur situation, which was spinning out of control since May 3 with the initial outbreak of violence, engineered by the community with the larger numbers, is way too late.

So too the condemnation of the Chief Justice of India who saw gross constitutional failure in the May 4 incident captured on video, which may have been released at a time convenient to those who took it or those who control them. The Manipur issue came up before the top court some time ago and the wheels of justice may have been grinding slowly even from the start.

Hundreds have already lost their lives.

The refocus on Manipur notwithstanding, the main issues are still being swept under the carpet in the hope that passage of time alone would repair the breakdown of trust between the Meiteis and Kukis, besides the Nagas.

The point is that, in focusing all anger at the video capturing an inhuman event and expounding all the rage in word and deed against the perpetrators, we, as a nation, are only shooting the messenger. What the incident — which may be just one of many barbarous events that took place — symbolises is that there is a deep-rooted problem which, if left unaddressed for longer, would eat away at the vitals of society.

The Indian Army may have been striving manfully to restore peace but stray incidents and deaths are still taking place. The suspicion is that the administration has been compromised because it has taken a partisan view on the demand for Scheduled Tribe status by the Meitei community, at par with the Kukis.

The social fabric of the state has been destroyed by this division over eligibility for benefits. It may not have helped that China may be taking more than a keen interest and adding fuel to the fire.

The video of mob fury is proof of the horrors that took place when the powder keg went off, but it is not the entire story of Manipur. The home minister may even have interceded actively to try and bring peace. What needs to be done now is to gather all the stakeholders together on one platform and encourage an open dialogue so that the enormity of the problem may be understood and true reconciliation attempted. It will not help if an open discussion is not permitted, for whatever reason, in Parliament, which is the forum for the people's representatives to put forth their points of view.

The problems of Manipur burst into the open in the wake of a court order on the reservation status of a community. This is a problem connected to the eternal hunt for benefits that are also inextricably linked to politics. Can’t such measures wait until peace reigns and confidence is restored after such a tragic ethnic conflict in the rule of law?

Tags: manipur violence, prime minister narendra modi, kukis