By Vijay Darda | 19-06-2023
How did ultras loot weapons from police stations so easily? Where are they getting sophisticated rifles from?
At the moment, the country’s main worry is Manipur. The violence that broke out last month shows no signs of abating. Over 130 people have died. Village after village has been set ablaze. The degree of cruelty is such that a child was also shot during the clashes between security forces and miscreants. The miscreants set on fire the ambulance that was transporting the child to the hospital. Among the fire victims were those who were accompanying the child. Currently, almost 50,000 people are forced to reside in the Army camps or other shelters.
The violence in Manipur broke out on May 3, and I wrote in this column on May 8 why the Seven Sisters are sitting on a powder keg. I had stated that the Kukis are predominantly Christians, whereas the Meiteis are predominantly Hindus with a few Muslims. That’s why this conflict is also being given a communal colour. There is little doubt that neighbouring countries have fuelled the fire and fostered extremism on a massive scale in the North-East. Even now, the extremists active in many North-East states get weapons from China and even from Pakistan Army and ISI.
It goes without saying that we cannot avoid our part of responsibility by blaming our neighbours. The neighbour can only interfere if we are weak and there is room for weapons and terrorists to cross the border. Despite all efforts to contain them, terrorist groups who thrive on the crumbs of China and Pakistan are active in the region. The nature of extremism there can be gauged from the fact that over 8,000 extremists have surrendered in the last nine years. In this background, just imagine what the actual number of militants active there would be!
Troops from the Army and central paramilitary forces arrived in Manipur within 48 hours of the outbreak of fresh violence. Despite this, killings continued and villages were set on fire. The minister’s house was set on fire! Actually, the role of local police has always been questionable. The commandos of Manipur police were openly accused of supporting a particular group of miscreants. Weapons were brazenly looted from police battalions and police stations in the areas where they were posted. More than 1,200 weapons were looted in three attacks and not even a single encounter took place! It’s impossible to determine who is to blame because both Kukis and Meiteis are accusing each other of looting weapons.
You would be surprised to know that the weapons that the terrorists looted were used against the Army and paramilitary forces. And indeed, the miscreants fighting with the Army and paramilitary forces do not appear to be normal rural or urban people. Weapons are being used in a manner as if they have been trained. Although it has not been explicitly declared at the official level that China is fueling the fire in Manipur with the help of insurgent organisations fostered by Pakistan, ISI and Myanmar, it is being seriously discussed within the Indian intelligence apparatus. There are valid reasons for this concern. There are numerous such extremist groups within Myanmar which openly work for China against India. They flee to Myanmar after attacking the Indian troops. The Indian Army conducted a major operation in response to one such attack. A short film on the operation was also made.
The government is well aware of China’s antics. That is why after becoming Prime Minister, Narendra Modi has made over 50 visits to the North-East states. Union home minister Amit Shah has been specially asked to hold talks with those groups which have some demands but are not anti-national. There have also been reports of some agreements on a confidential level. Many militant groups have also laid down their arms and joined the mainstream, but the extremists who feed on Chinese crumbs intend to destroy India. Normalcy was returning in Manipur. Last year, Assembly elections were held there peacefully. Following improvement in the situation, the Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA) was also withdrawn from many areas. So what plunged Manipur into violence once again? On the surface, the judicial order regarding the tribes may appear to be the reason which triggered unrest in the beginning, but no one can deny the serious conspiracy at work.
After the fresh violence, Amit Shah not only reached Manipur to take stock of the situation, the Army Chief Manoj Pandey reached there too. At present, it is definitely a matter of law and order and it should be dealt with strictly. Whoever is taking the law into his hands needs to be dealt with in a similar manner. But more than this, apart from providing a wide range of employment opportunities in the region, it is also necessary to convey a message to each and every person there that China wants to break India. That is why it is doing mischief in the North-East states. The way our intelligence agencies made inroads into Arunachal Pradesh, it is necessary to do the same in the rest of the northeastern states so that we can get an inkling of every conspiracy in advance and a Manipur-like situation does not arise. Toughness as well as softness are needed to deal with such matters! I am talking about softness because it is the responsibility of all of us to preserve the culture of the North-East even in the face of modernity. The flowers of love will bloom in every season only if we nurture the garden that India is with love!