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Rahul Gandhi's Manipur Visit - What We Know So Far

(Image Source - ANI)

BJP Leaders are criticising Congress, while it seems Congress, despite all kinds of Criticisms, is walking fearlessly in its path. The BJP Tried to stop Rahul Gandhi but Rahul Gandhi visited Manipur for 2 days and then came back to Delhi. Rahul Gandhi took up the situations and feelings of the people there, but did not say anything about BJP’s central leadership , or for that, the failure to control the situation in Manipur.

Various journalists tried to elicit any comment from him on Modiji, or why he is not going there but Rahul Gandhi stood firm in his stand that he has not gone there to do any kind of politics. He made it a point to mention that he was there to help in anyway he can and violence and rioting is not going to help anyone. However, one thing that he said was that he visited the camps and basic amenities such as that of food needs to be improved and all medicines need to be supplied.

Since the outbreak of ethnic violence in Manipur two months ago, approximately 50,000 people have been displaced, about 130 people have died, and hundreds have been injured from both the majority Meitei and minority Kuki populations. According to the non-Meitei Indigenous Tribal Leaders Forum, 201 tribal communities have been burned down, and over 500 dwellings, 355 churches, and church buildings have been demolished.

State administrations have been ousted under Article 356 for less. In Manipur, the Centre has been hesitant to even use Article 355 of the Constitution, which allows it to take over law and order in the state. While the state burns, Prime Minister Narendra Modi has been radio silent.

Surprisingly, the Indian Army has posted a video on Twitter purportedly depicting women activists impeding their peacekeeping operations in Manipur. It demonstrates that Meitel women not only often accompany armed rioters in their cars, but they also obstruct Army mobility to enable arse and disrupt logistical flow. Using a JCB, they enabled the digging of access and exit roads to the Assam Rifles' encampment.

Worryingly, the Army claims that Meitel women demonstrators compelled them to release a feared terrorist who masterminded the 2015 attack on a Dogra Regiment convoy that killed 20 troops. They also compelled the Army to release 12 Kanglei Yawol Kanna Lup militants, including its self-styled L Col. Moirangthen Tamba alias Uttam, who was caught with weapons and ammunition.

Clearly, some army troops who have served in other areas of social disturbance are shocked by what is happening in Manipur. Former Lieutenant General HS Panag tweeted, "A stark contrast with what is happening in Manipur, where mobs are forcing terrorists to be released by acquiescing military!" The officer in question is now reported to have been fired by the Army for his alleged actions.

"I am sure the Army would have responded differently if such an incident had occurred in Kashmir," another veteran told the reporters. A retired Army colonel reportedly contrasted the two faces of the Army in Kashmir and Manipur by recalling how the top brass praised Major Leetul Gogol for the heinous display of brute force by tying an innocent Kashmir civilian, Farooq Ahmad Dar, to the bonnet of his jeep as a human shield against stone-throwing protestors.

The police need to retrieve the 4,000 or so automatic and semi-automatic firearms that have been looted since May 3 (supposedly approximately 1,800 have been recovered). Unless and until this is done, neither the police nor the security forces will be able to act effectively, since they will be able to be fired at by anybody in possession of the looted guns and ammunition.

Manipur is clearly not Kashmir. The Army and the Assam Rifles have not used force to disperse the Meitei women activists who have obstructed their movement and demanded the release of political detainees. The films reflect their powerlessness and, whether intentionally or unintentionally, remove them from the scenario unfolding in Manipur.

Peace and reconciliation can only be achieved through political leadership. However, the Narendra Modi administration and the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) are inextricably linked to both sides of the conflict. N Biren Singh, the Chief Minister of Manipur, is a Meitei who leads the BJP-led National Democratic Alliance (NDA). On the other hand, militant Kuki organisations claim to have assisted the BJP in capturing power in Manipur for the first time in 2017. On June 8, a letter dated 2019 was filed as an affidavit to the NIA court.

It is sent to Union Home Minister Amit Shah and says that two major BJP leaders--Assam Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma and Ram Madhav, then the party's North-East in-charge--used Kaki militant organisations to win the 2017 assembly poll. It was presented by S Hackip, Chairman of the militant organisation United Kuki Liberation Front (UKLF), with whom the government has reached a cease-fire deal.

Shah has failed to deliver on his commitment of establishing a cease-fire between the two groups made a month ago. After visiting Shah in Delhi, Singh issued a statement implying a "division of responsibility," with one dealing with the Kuki hill tribes and the other with the Meitis who control Imphal valley. According to the report, "the Union home minister has assured that he will take full responsibility for the hill districts and has also instructed the government to ensure that peace is restored in the valley with the cooperation of civil society organisations, including Meira Paibis."

To achieve lasting peace between the hills and the valley, however, a unified political narrative shared by both the Centre and the state leadership is required, rather than viewing the hills and valley as two distinct entities to be told two distinct narratives.

After an all-party conference, Shah said that Manipur was gradually returning to normalcy, saying, "Since the late night of June 13, not a single person has died in violence in the state." Although there were more casualties on June 29, racial hostility on the ground cannot be evaluated only by the number of dead. The lack of lethal violence does not always signal the arrival of peace, particularly in the aftermath of ethnic cleansing in both the Imphal valley and neighbouring hill areas.

Manipur's two Lok Sabha seats may not signify much in the grand scheme of things for the BJP in 2024. With no way to blame a non-existent Opposition in the state or identify a phantom tukde gang of urban Naxalites, jihadis, or Pakistan-backed terrorists, the BJP has nothing to leverage for electoral gains in the rest of India. Similarly to Kashmir, could the forced departure of populations from Manipur's valley and hills have any electoral ramifications

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