We had earlier warned about the rise of gun-culture along with mob violence in Manipur even after the ethnic clashes and that authorities need to take up adequate security measures commensurate with the new developments which we had never seen before. New challenges have come up which warrants a change in mindset for evolving a dynamic strategy as regards security management. The old strategies and tactical responses would become obsolete in the new security environment.
On the other hand, the ethnic unrest is far from over. There is still a deep-seated enmity and lack of mutual trust between communities prevalent. A fresh trajectory has risen in Churachandpur where clashes between Kukis and Paites have started. While there is a need to establish the rule of law in volatile areas like Churachandpur and Moreh, recovery of arms looted, including from police armouries, and country-made weapons at large needs to be taken up in a wider scale with security forces acting as a neutral referee. The prevailing lack of trust for the security forces among the general populace in the valley needs to be reversed through trust campaigns.
Presently, widespread combing operations are going on in both the hills and the valley under the direction of the Security Advisor. But, the recovery of looted arms is still limited while unaccounted country-made guns seized are plenty. On the other hand, a general notification issued through the District Magistrates of various districts has asked the holders of arms licenses issued by the magistrate to submit the arms licenses along with the registered arms by March 1 to the respective police stations as mentioned in the arms license.
There is also the other issue of unaccounted guns lying around plenty in the hands of young and untrained. With clashes reduced to a minimum level in recent times, the guns seem to be crying for use. As we said before, the story behind the recent incidents of armed robbery, personal vendetta, shooting incidents needs to be analysed in totality. Sometime back, gunmen fired at an unsuspecting crowd injuring five innocents.
Of course, the persons involved, including a former functionary of the ruling party, were arrested. There are other incidents of looting by armed persons and firing during drunken stupors between partying friends, hurling bombs or placing bombs at the gates of private residences, armed miscreants loitering around and individuals having political patronage displaying arms and shooting around in resolving disputes or whatever.
Is this what we had feared? There might have been numerous unreported incidents involving unaccounted guns also in recent times. The mental state of a person having a gun starts changing as soon as he or she acquires the gun and feels it in their hands and the smell of gunpowder stimulates a raw hidden power in him. A gun holder begins looking at every situation even if unthreatening through the prism of the barrel. So, there were instances of pulling out guns in even domestic squabbles. Add to that, when the said licensed gun holder is tipsy or drunk. The person is bound to act irrationally on others and this needs to be taken into account in dealing with the spoils of war.