The recrudescence of violence in Manipur is a matter of national concern. The New Year began with armed men attacking a Muslim-majority area in Thoubal district and killing four of them. A day later, on Tuesday, four police commandos and a BSF jawan, engaged in a search operation in Moreh district, were injured when they came under attack from the militants. It is the first time since violence erupted in Manipur in May that the Muslim community has come under attack. What the majority community holds against them is that they have been siding with the Kukis in the so-called ethnic clashes. If they are also dragged into the conflict, the situation can indeed take a turn for the worse. In fact, that is what has already happened.
At least five districts in the Manipur valley are now under curfew, forcing the people to sit at home. Since the valley is where the majority Meitei community is preponderant and from where the state is administered, this does not redound to the credit of the government. In any case, the Chief Minister’s credibility is already in the mud. He remains in his post only because he enjoys the support of the Centre. It is a measure of his inability that he could not even ensure a decent burial for the bodies of the Kukis for months together. So far, over 200 people have been killed and 60,000 displaced from their homes since violence hit the state. Apart from making promises, little has been done to ensure that the displaced are able to return to the areas where they lived and rebuild their homes. There is irrefutable evidence that the division on ethnic grounds has indeed become permanent.
If Prime Minister Narendra Modi had visited the state, met the people affected and taken them into confidence on the ameliorative steps he was planning, it would have gone a long way to restore peace. When armed militias are able to strike at will, it is a reflection of the failure of the administration. When the ruling BJP has changed many chief ministers for their minor lapses, it is quite surprising that N Biren Singh is retained. With each passing day, the case for his removal from office has been getting stronger and stronger, whether the Centre agrees with it or not.