Trial by fire
The time has come for the BJP-led government to assert its position on proper maintenance of law and order and not bending to pressure wherever it comes from.
After months of calm and peace, two events suddenly jolted the state that it brought law and order situation in the public radar amid the fight against the deadly pandemic Covid 19. One event is the snatching of around rupees one crore and fifteen lacs in broad daylight in the southern Churachandpur district headquarters after gunning down a security guard, while the other incident is the road blockade on the Imphal-Dimapur highway by irate citizens after the Assam Rifles nabbed a suspected NSCN-IM cadre on the charge of collecting illegal tax from the truckers. In the last three years, such incidents had become extremely rare in the state and people have started breathing a sigh of relief from the rampant extortion on the highways and militant-related activities.
The Churachandpur incident will certainly remain as a blot on the law and order record of the district and the state as a whole, as against the backdrop of the oftviolated Suspension of Operations (SoO) signed by GOI with several Kuki militant groups active in the state. It needs to be said that violation of the ground rules has become more of a norm with the SoO groups, as the security forces and state police has to now and then assert its writ on the groups. Even then, such violations have not been reported for a long time. The merciless murder of a SBI Cash Replenishment Agency employee in front of a SBI ATM booth has not only brought up questions on the security system employed by the agencies, but it has also made the job of such replenishment agents totally insecure. So, they as a group have decided to cease work demanding swift capture of the murderous looters. Imagine the mess and resultant public outcry if all the agencies stop replenishing cash at the ATM booths. But, that is another angle. What we are really concerned is the audacity of the looters to be able to pull up such a stunt in broad daylight. Police is still investigating the case and involvement of certain SoO groups or splinter groups is not ruled out. However, we hope the DGP LM Khaute’s visit to the district would help clear up certain things.
Regarding the Mao incident of a suspected collector of NSCN-IM and public protest claiming the arrestee as a civilian, it is not a new modus operandi but an oft-repeated exercise. In several incidents, the Assam Rifles has been at odds with NSCN-IM and several stand-offs have been reported inside and outside the state in the recent past. There are several instances of security forces apprehending NSCN-IM big-shots travelling within the state with arms even though the ceasefire is not ‘officially’ effective in the state, in the past. Yet, most of them were
let scot-free due to political pressure from above. Not to talk of letting them go scot-free, there are even stories of escorting them like VVIPs up to the Nagaland border. Such instances have created a notion among the general public that the state government of Manipur, past or present, always bends to pressure from the Centre in matters relating to the arrest of NSCN-IM people, virtually acknowledging the ceasefire without territorial limits.
In view of these events, the time has come for the BJP led government to assert its position on proper maintenance of law and order and not bending to pressure wherever it comes from. How this government acts on the two events will surely be trial of fire test for it. Both the Naga and Kuki groups has to be shown that nobody should held the state government or Manipur public at ransom in pursuit of its devious goals. Act though, the public is watching or else perish.