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Manipur: Stateless society, state of darkness


The Supreme Court of India stated that there was an absolute breakdown of constitutional machinery in Manipur. If it is so, where is the central government? Why do they let the violence last for more than 5 months?

By Ningthoujam Bigyachandra Meitei

Do we live in a stateless society? Before we discuss anything, first of all, we have to understand what a state is. According to the constitution of India, in Part III of the Fundamental Rights Article 12, the state includes the government and parliament of India, the government and the legislature of each of the states and all local authorities within the territory of India or under the control of the government of India. Apart from that, in a state, governance is one of the key aspects that we have dealt with.
“Governance has been defined to refer to political governance, structures, and processes that are designed to ensure accountability, transparency, responsiveness, rule of law, stability, equity and inclusiveness, empowerment, and broad base participation. But the question is, doesn’t it apply in the state of Manipur?
In this befallen, wreaking havoc scenario of Manipur, do we really feel or consider that we have a state? In this preplanned and engineered May 3rd, 2023 Mayhem, more than 181 people died, 4700+ houses were vandalised and burned down, and more than 60,000 people were displaced. Who is going to take whole responsibility for these irreplaceable losses? The state and the central governments are responsible for protecting the lives of the people, property, and maintaining law and order situation but in the context of Manipur, this is very much quite contradictory. Instead of protecting life and property and maintaining law and order, the state let the people come out on the street, arming, fighting, and killing each other to defend themselves. Is it a sign of an existing state? Due to the malfunction of the state let by the irresponsible elected MLAs and Ministers, the people pay the price for that. This is very unfortunate, especially in the largest democratic country in the world like India.
Chief Minister N.Biren Singh himself stated that the ongoing Manipur Mayhem since May 3rd, 2023, is between the state government and a group of people who want to bifurcate the integrity of Manipur. If it is so, why does the state government let the Meitei/Meetei community become a victim who wants to protect the territorial integrity of Manipur? On the other side, why did Union Home Minister Amit Shah say “Control the Ema Meira Paibis (women torchbearers); don’t let them hinder the movement of troops; I will end the crisis within 10 days”? Instead of appreciating the Maira Paibis, the union home minister doubted the prime role played by the Maira Paibis in protecting the territorial integrity of Union and its Manipur. This is very unfortunate. At least he must acknowledge, the role played by the Meira Paibi in the History of Manipur.
Moreover, more than 40,000 central forces have been deploying in Manipur to control the ongoing violence. But the question is, did they control the wreak mayhem of Manipur? In lieu of controlling the mayhem situation and protecting the lives and property of the people, they use excessive power towards civilians and unarmed student protesters in the name of controlling the livid mob. And they are biassed when performing their duties. On May 22, 2023, the JAT Regiment and other central forces assaulted three journalists who were covering the violent incident at New Checkon. And on May 26, 2023, night, a group of individuals, including 3 (three) RAF personnel, attacked a beef shop in the New Checkon area and attempted to set fire to it. And on 13th June, 2023, RAF personnel were caught on camera vandalising private vehicles and the windows of residential houses in Imphal. And on June 16th, RAF personnel arrested and assaulted numerous unarmed and layman civilians.

One Ningombam Sunil, a resident of Brahmapur Lalji Lakpa Leikai was reportedly assaulted at his residence without any provocation or inquiry by RAF personnel. And an ambulance of the Indian Red Cross Society, Manipur Branch, was prevented from reaching Yaingangpokpi in Imphal east by the Indian Army, violating international humanitarian law and its protocols in 24th June 2023. Many such incidents have been happening in Manipur. Even the government has already acknowledged such unprecedented violence incidents, but they have not responded nothing. Still, they hold up sitting and twisting their legs like a mute spectators. In the name of controlling the mob, the paramilitary forces, RAF, and state forces used tear gas, smoke bombs, and even live rounds and pellet guns towards the unarmed and democratic protesters. Is this
truly a sign of an existing state?
Furthermore, I would like to draw the attention of the people here that the state government, along with the central government, compromised more than 181 lives of people with 10 lakhs each. Is it fear? Where is the profound value of life? Is life worthless and bargainous? Is this some kind of joke? Do we need to think state government exists? This is very unfortunate to happen in the largest democratic country in the world.

Moreover, the Solicitor General of India himself expressed that the unclaimed bodies lying in the mortuary are Myanmar nationals. This indicates that there is some external influence or aggression from other countries, like Myanmar, that instigate the present Manipur wreak havoc in such an assailable way. Even the state and central government have already acknowledged: why do they let the violence continue for more than 5th months and let the people die to defend themselves and arming each other? Isn’t it the duty of the state and central government to protect the lives and property of their citizens? If it is not so, what is the necessary to become a part of India? Still, the state and central government let the Chin-Kuki Narco terrorist group attack the people of Manipur, targeting the Meetei/Meitei community. Is it a sign of an existing state?

Even the Supreme Court of India stated that there was an absolute breakdown of constitutional machinery in Manipur. If it is so, where is the central government? Why do they let the violence last for more than 5 months? If they are genuinely concerned about Manipur, they can control the violence from a long time back. Maintaining law and order is the prime responsibility of the state. Although they are maintaining law and order only in the valley areas and not in the other parts of Manipur, especially in hill areas, we are very reluctant and confused that, in the name of controlling the livid mob, they even used pellet guns and live round towards the unarmed students and civilian protesters in the valley. But only the question is: what about in the hills? Did they even use smoke bombs and tear gas to the so-called civilian protesters who were carrying arms in the so-called peace rally in Churachanpur?

In the hill areas like Churachanpur, Moreh, Kangpokpi etc, central forces and state police personnel become “ZERO” but in the valley areas, they just become “HERO”. Is this a sign of the same law applied both in the hill and valley in the state of Manipur? Even the central and state forces trespassed on the fundamental rights of Article 19, “Right to freedom of speech and expression, right to freedom of assembly, which are given in the Constitution of India, in the name of controlling the irate mob. Such behavior and attitude of the police personnel and central forces, we are very much confused whether the state is existed or not.
On the other hand, out of 60 MLAs, 10 are from the Chin-Kuki community, and some of them are even cabinet ministers. They are demanding the bifurcation of the state and its integrity. As a MLA and Minister, in the oath-taking ceremony, they have taken an oath in the name of the constitution and God that they will bear true faith and allegiance to the constitution of India, as by law established that they will uphold the sovereignty and integrity of India, and it states that they will faithfully and conscientiously discharge their duties as a MLA or Minister for the Union, and it states and that they will do right to all manner of people in accordance with the constitution and the law without fear or favor, affection or ill-will. But instead of abiding, they try to destroy and bifurcate the integrity of Manipur. The conduct of the 10 Chin-Kuki MLAs is unethical and a breach of oath, but still, the government did not take any action against the 10 Chin-Kuki MLAs. Only the question is, where is the state government?

Moreover, the Chin-Kuki narco-terrorist group is still attacking the farmers by using sophisticated weapons from the top of the hills. More than 5,127 hectors are not yet able to cultivate, especially in the peripheral areas of foot hills. Such terrorist act engineered by the Chin-Kuki narco-terrorist group, might cause an artificial famine in the state of Manipur.

One of the vital aspects that I would like to address here is that the Chin-Kuki community is trying to wipe out even the footprints of the Meetei/Meitei community in the Chin-Kuki-dominated hill areas, especially in Churarachpur, Moreh, Kangpokpi, etc. They completely burned down, vandalised, and razed the entire Meitei/Meetei houses and properties, making them entirely been levelled like a playing field. The government has already acknowledged and witnessed such inhumane and barbaric phenomenon’s. But they did not take any appropriate action against them. In such an irresponsible manner of the government, do we need to trust the commitment of the government?

Last but not least, many questions have been raised since May 3rd from different people from different angles about where the state is. Do we live in a state? Is the state government existing? Is this violence a sign of an existing state? Is the state government blind and deaf? Will the state take the whole responsibilities for this state irresponsible violence? Is it an appropriate time for sitting and twisting legs like a mute spectator? Still, we are in a state of darkness.

(Ningthoujam Bigyachandra Meitei is a student pursuing MA (Public Administration)

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