Is Peace Returning in Manipur?

With thousands in relief camps away from their homes most of which were destroyed and even bulldozed, can it be said that the situation now in Manipur is free from disturbance? Merely a lull in the firing cannot be termed as returning of peace as this can be broken anytime.

ByRK Nimai

Updated 7 May 2024, 11:46 pm


Both the head of the state and the head of the government of Manipur had on separate occasions hinted that peace is slowly returning. The question is what is meant by the peace they are referring to? Is it the dictionary meaning of “ free from disturbance” or the classical definition given by Baruch Spinoza, the 17th century Dutch philosopher of Portuguese Jewish origin in his Theologico-Political Treatise (1670) that “Peace is not an absence of war, it is a virtue, a state of mind, a disposition for benevolence, confidence, justice”. Either way, there is no way to show that peace is slowly returning.

With thousands in relief camps away from their homes most of which were destroyed and even bulldozed, can it be said that the situation now in Manipur is free from disturbance? Merely a lull in the firing cannot be termed as returning of peace as this can be broken anytime as had been seen a number of times in this crisis. As regards, realising Spinoza’s definition of peace, no way though it can be said that this is an ideal condition which can’t be achieved even in the best of times.

Many from both the warring communities yearn for normalcy can be gauged from the reactions of the victims, both of those who lost their near and dear ones and those who are in the relief camps during the observation of the anniversary of the start of the crisis.

Most internally displaced persons want to return to their homestead land and start afresh as the life in the relief camps is no life; with no privacy, hardly any income, impacted education of kids and what not. There are even pundits who claim that the end of the crisis is near as mentioned in a puya. Whether this will turn out to be right or wrong, only time can tell but to believe that the final words were already spoken in the 17th century for events unfolding in the 21st century is a bit difficult to swallow. But such narratives indicate that people yearn for normalcy and are ready to do anything for it.

Whether there can be truce is a question asked by many, both within and outside the state? But the continuing narrative that ethnic cleansing started in Imphal will put a spoke on any negotiation and that is where a Truth and Reconciliation Commission is called for as was done in South Africa in 1996 after the end of Apartheid.

Even the Supreme Court had asked for the establishment of such a Commission last December in respect of Jammu & Kashmir while upholding the repeal of Article 370 of the Constitution to “investigate and report on the human rights violations carried out by both the state and non-state actors in the Kashmir valley at least since 1980s...”. Further the series of tweets by the head of the government recently that the crisis was a consequence of the actions taken by the government to identify infiltrators, War on Drugs, enforcement of forest laws, etc will not help in bringing in at least a truce or ceasefire. There is no chance of any negotiation with the CM and the Kuki organisations reacting and counter-reacting to tweets and statements. Even efforts have been made to have a ceasefire in Gaza where the difference between Israel and Hamas is too wide for any detente.


The crisis in Manipur cannot be compared with what is happening in Gaza, though the violence can be seen as similar with here there is the tragedy of mutilation of live and dead bodies which are nothing but war crimes and is against the rules of engagement. The sudden leak of videos of butchering some innocents which had happened months back with the intent to anger the other community from time to time also will never help and tit for tat will follow.

There is a famine of ideas in both the central and the state government on how to manage the crisis or perhaps proper attention was not given or there are even allegations that both are not at all keen to resolve the crisis. The last allegation is unfair as no government will want to see its citizens suffer from such man made calamity but the yearlong crisis had made people to think otherwise. Not a very good sign on the governance and the ability to protect the life, liberty and property of the citizens.

Those in the Opposition and general public can claim that youth have taken up arms to defend their villages and such claims are made very frequently, especially during the times of election, but the CM stating this recently, perhaps in an effort to shield the youth, is a distinct admission of the failure of his government to fulfil the obligations laid down in the Constitution, which should invariably attract Art 356. 

The danger of social media is that posting may be done without proper consideration and can be done when one is not in his normal self; under anger, sadness or even under intoxication. But once posted the danger is there with charges and counter charges along with a digital trail.

While Manipur is reeling under the burden of this yearlong crisis, the weather God was also unkind as the state was visited by thunderstorm bringing in huge size hail damaging crops and buildings. It is reported that nearly 15,000 homes have been affected in 14 districts, with the brunt faced by Imphal East and Imphal West.

The impact of climate change is felt here also which is not surprising as the hills are barren of trees and the wetlands were filled up by humans and there has to be consequences. There is not even a murmur when electric towers were uprooted by strong winds; was it due to poor design or poor construction. This needs to be examined in detail as either way, corrective steps for the remaining towers need to be taken. Similar is the puncturing of the CGI roof and there should be a bye laws of what specification of CGI sheet must be used to withstand such hailstorm.


No doubt, the size of the hail was the biggest this writer had ever witnessed in his lifetime, though earlier he had seen similar intensity both in parts of Imphal and Ukhrul. While serving as ADM of Imphal District in the middle 1990s, hailstorm affected a number of houses in Andro but on field enquiry the next day, it was found that all the affected houses were roofed with thin CGI sheets and in his report a mention was also made for laying down specification for all types of roof to ensure that such incidents do not recur. But nobody even had to desire to look into such reports except take out the number of affected to provide some relief. The hailstorm is the proverbial “Lu Kokpada len taba” (hail on a shaved head) or tragedy follows one after another.

The response of the CM and the government to the hailstorm and heavy rain was laudable with immediate decision and action, which is hardly seen now-a-days and hope that succour is provided without bias to the victims at the earliest. One suggestion is the need of cleaning the drainage system in Imphal city before the onset of monsoon as with the pre-monsoon showers, many areas and roads have been inundated mainly due to non functioning of the drainage system which are clogged with plastics and muck.

The continuing crisis will again affect cultivation of farmland in the red zone and will the government come to the succour again to compensate the farmers for their losses? There are even claims that the other party had started ploughing fields which will only further the tension, resulting in violence. The longer the crisis continues, more tragedy will unfold and with nothing to do, the mind will become the devil's workshop and plan for worse acts with an object to anger and frustrate the other community.

One thing which comes out is the indiscipline or utter disregard of safety of some Meitei who crossed the red line to the other side, without any rhyme or reason. Once they are missing, their families and friends will ask the government to act but when such behaviour could not be controlled what can the government do? Such behaviour is hardly seen among the Kuki. These irresponsible persons only fuel further tragic events, impacting the lives of many others.

(The views expressed are personal)


First published:


War on Drugsmanipur crisisnormalcymanipur hailstorm

RK Nimai

RK Nimai

The author is a former bureaucrat, Imphal, Manipur


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