The Mirror of Manipur || Fast, Factual and Fearless.

Manipur crisis: Treat the disease, not the symptoms 


Manipur is afflicted with many ailments, but the doctors are treating the symptoms rather than the disease.

By Ngaranmi Shimray 

Firstly, the society in Manipur is fractured; the two warring communities are not living side by side as neighbours after May 2023. They are not inter-mingling in Manipur anymore. The Meitei IDPs (internally displaced persons) from Churachandpur, Kangpokpi, Moreh and foothills adjacent to Imphal valley are in no position to go back to their last place of residence as they also fear for their lives. The Kuki-Zo tribes are also informally banished from Imphal, the state’s capital and their MLAs have not been participating in the proceedings of the Assembly. No Kuki-Zo person dare to step foot in Imphal for fear of being attacked. Likewise the Meiteis will not venture into the stronghold of Kuki-Zo tribes like Churachandpur, Kangpokpi and Moreh.

Secondly, it is believed that about half the looted guns from the police armouries are still with the village volunteers. These guns need to be recovered at all cost for people to feel safe to return to their original place of residence. Likewise, the armed Kuki miscreants needs to be controlled. Normalcy can never return and violence will erupt if the lethal guns are left in the hands of civilians.

Thirdly, the two warring communities i.e. Meiteis and Kuki-Zo are not talking. They are the ones waging an undeclared tit for tat fight turning the conflict into a never ending war. However, we should also note that the NSCN (I-M) had claimed that Assam Rifles, Territorial Army, and Para Regiment, facilitated the Kuki militants with free entry and exit into Manipur hills.

The state government has not taken any initiative for having local level peace committees. Without talks at the community level, there is no opportunity for airing grievances, negotiations and settlement. If talks are not being initiated by the governments, it is no wonder that normalcy has not yet returned. Political settlement through talks with the MHA (Ministry of Home Affairs) is a different matter which should not be mixed up with ironing out the problems of daily existence. Mixing up the two will only prolong misery of the two communities. They need to be separated and tackled individually.

The state government has demanded thousands of houses under PMAY (Prime Minister Aawaz Yojana) for roofs damaged by hail storm and houses destroyed in the ethnic conflict. This is a commendable development, but where will the IDPs construct their houses when they cannot go back to their last place of residence? The Kuki-Zo IDPs may be able to build houses in some of their villages in the hill areas, but the Meitei IDPs may not be allowed to build their houses in their last place of residence namely Churachandpur, Moreh and Kangpokpi as they are still not allowed to return.

Under the above circumstances, the claim by the government that violence is reducing does not mean normalcy is returning in the state. Normalcy can only return when the IDPs can go back to their homes, the guns are recovered and all communities can live in peace without fear. Otherwise, it’s like a doctor treating a patient’s symptoms of fever and aches by giving painkiller while the real disease infecting the vital organs remain untreated. The disease in the mindset of both communities will need to be treated first by the government with sincerity, impartiality and justice.

(Ngaranmi Shimray is a New Delhi-based social activist and tweets @Aran Shimray. Feedback to his views can be sent at [email protected])

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