News APP

NewsApp (Free)

Read news as it happens
Download NewsApp

Available on  gplay  » News » 'Who Is In Charge In Manipur?'

'Who Is In Charge In Manipur?'

Last updated on: June 12, 2024 21:17 IST
Get Rediff News in your Inbox:

'I have been asking whether the chief minister (N Biren Singh) is in charge of the situation in Manipur.'

'Law and order is a state subject and chief minister is a Constitutional authority. Why did he follow the diktat, if at all there is a diktat from the Union government?'

IMAGE: Prime Minister Narendra D Modi at the inauguration of developmental projects along with Manipur Chief Minister Nongthombam Biren Singh in Imphal, January 4, 2022. Photograph: ANI Photo

Dr Angomcha Bimol Akoijam, who was elected to the Lok Sabha from the Meitei-dominated Inner Manipur seat, tells Prasanna D Zore/ what the way ahead could be in strife-torn Manipur where its two major communities, the Meiteis and Kukis, have been at the centre of violence that has engulfed the state since May 3, 2023.

The other Lok Sabha seat of Outer Manipur too was won by the Congress's Alfred Kanngam S Arthur.

In 2019, the BJP's Dr Rajkumar Ranjan Singh, the minister of state for external affairs in the previous NDA government, had won the Inner Manipur seat while Outer Manipur was bagged by the Naga People's Front's Lorho S Pfoze.

"As the violence lingers on, people's sense of anger also increases and gets directed towards both the state as well as against each other's community. When I say state it means the Indian State," says Dr Akoijam, a professor at the Jawaharlal Nehru Unuiversity, as he explains the complexities amid the violence that engulfs the north eastern state even today.

Could you tell us about the ground situation as it exists today in Manipur?

A large part of the urban areas in Manipur is relatively peaceful but the peripheries have always been in a state of alert and vulnerable as usual for the last 13 months (since May 3, 2023 when violence first broke out in the state).

Unfortunately, just after the election, the other side, the western side which has not been touched so far (by instances of violence), a place called Jiribam (on June 6, 2024, Soibam Sarat Kumar, a Meitei resident, was allegedly brutally killed by Kuki militants) and it triggered violence in Jiribam which had remained relatively calm since May 3, 2023.

Since then many Meiteis have reportedly fled Jiribam fearing more attacks from Kuki militants), the violence started after the election (results were announced).

The state of affairs (law and order situation in Manipur) remains more or less the same.

Please give us sense of what the people on the ground are feeling -- especially the Meiteis and the Kukis -- about the violence that has gripped the state since May 3, 2023?

Expectedly, people are angry, people are frustrated, a lot of anger is directed especially among the people in the central valley of Manipur, a lot of dissatisfaction is directed towards the state authorities as well as among the communities.

There is lot of mistrust and anger -- between the Kukis and Meiteis -- which the state has been allowing by not containing the cycle of violence.

As the violence lingers on, people's sense of anger also increases and gets directed towards both the (Indian) State as well as against each other's community. That's the kind of a situation we have (now in Manipur).

What's the reason why Manipur voted for the Congress in the Inner Manipur and Outer Manipur Lok Sabha seats?

People of Manipur are dissatisfied with the BJP governments -- both at the Centre and in Manipur. People believe that the (Indian) State has created the violence and failed to end this violence.

It's a miserable administrative failure and erosion of constitutional machinery.

These parties -- the government in Imphal and Delhi -- are responsible (for this state of affairs in Manipur) and that's why people have voted for the Congress.

What efforts can be made for reconciliation between the two communities in Manipur -- the Meiteis and the Kukis?

The (Indian) State must take over, take charge of the situation and assert its authority and, and make sure that the civilians and civil society are brought together.

First and foremost, the (Indian) State must assert itself. We almost look like a stateless society now.

Secondly, they should facilitate the processes to address the hurt and anger as well as the aspirations of the people of different communities of Manipur.

IMAGE: Manipur Chief Minister N Biren Singh inspects the situation in the hills adjoining Bishnupur-Churachandpur, July 2, 2023. Photograph: ANI Photo

What roadblocks do you foresee in the reconciliation of the two communities or having a peaceful solution for the problems of people of Manipur?

The (Indian) State has completely withdrawn from Manipur.

We don't have the sense that there is a State whose authority works. Our being stateless is the biggest stumbling block to any process of peaceful situation in the state.

To get life back to normal, the State must take charge. It must assert its Constitutional authority.

There have been allegations, especially from Kuki MLAs belonging to the BJP, about links between the state government and radical organisations like the Arambai Tenggol?

I am aware of these allegations. People forget that it (the ground situation in Manipur) is singularly loaded by the communal narrative. The fact is that the (Indian) State has failed. When I say state, it means the Indian State and the (central and Manipur) government (which is one of the organs of that state).

I have been asking whether the chief minister (N Biren Singh) is in charge of the situation in Manipur.

Is the DGP (of Manipur) under him (taking orders from the chief minister) or in the hands of the Chairman of the Unified Command which is in charge of the law and order and security in the state?

IMAGE: Women demonstrate over violence in Manipur's Kanto Sabal in Imphal West, June 20, 2023. Photograph: ANI Photo

Do you think dismissing the state government and imposing President's rule could help bring some kind of normalcy back?

That is avoiding the reality.

The question is who appointed the DGP? Who appointed the security advisor (Kuldiep Singh)? Who is in charge of the security situation and law order situation? Is the CM in charge?

This is the question the media should be asking and following up on.

As a CM, if he is not the one who has appointed them, then are these officials working under the diktat of the Union government? In that case why did he (the CM) allow that?

Law and order is a state subject and chief minister of a state is a Constitutional authority. Why did he follow the diktat, if at all there is a diktat from the Union government?

If it is not a diktat (from the Union government) then we must ask why did he (Manipur Chief Minister N Biren Singh) allow these officers to take charge of the law and order situation in Manipur?

If, as he (N Biren Singh) is saying now, that he has already written letters to them (the DGP and Chairman of Unified Command Kuldiep Singh about their failure to handle the law and order situation in Manipur) and that they failed to take care of what happened in Jiribam (on June 6, 2024) and if these people were appointed by him then why didn't he sack them (the state intelligence, according to local newspaper reports, had already appraised the chief minister and the law and order machinery about the steady build-up of 'armed miscreants' from Kuki-dominated Churachandpur district)?

A confusion has been created (about who is in charge of the law and order and security machinery in Manipur) and this must be addressed.

Now that Narendra Modi has been sworn in as prime minister for the third time, and there have been repeated demand from the Opposition that he should have visited Manipur when the state was going through a bout of violence, do you think a visit by the prime minister now could help bring some normalcy back to Manipur?

I think he should (visit Manipur).

The prime minister is the head of the country and if one of the states (Manipur) of the Union has almost witnessed a civil war-like situation and to remain quiet (even in such a situation doesn't do any good).

I hope he breaks the silence now and does what is necessary to restore Constitutional order in that state (Manipur).

Get Rediff News in your Inbox:
India Votes 2024

India Votes 2024