The Manipur unrest is still raging beneath despite claims by the authorities that the state is progressing towards normalcy even if at a slow pace. From the routine curfew relaxation of 5 am to 5 pm and then upto 7 pm, a few days ago it has been extended upto 10 pm in both Imphal West and Imphal East.
Now, the curfew relaxation in Bishnupur district which borders Churachandpur has also been extended upto 10 pm like in Imphal districts. With reports of new and bigger bunkers coming up in the surrounding hills of Bishnupur and Moirang in place of the ones destroyed by security forces, the situation is still volatile. Agriculture activities in some pockets with security or a brief sojourn to Ukhrul town or routine inspection of development projects in Imphal area is not going to win brownie points in the real world, except in the perception war.
One common fallacy in governance or general assessment of the situation, be it the BJP or the Congress, is that their perspective seldom goes beyond immediate surroundings. Yet again, we would like to say that the unrest is far from over. There is still a deep-seated enmity and lack of mutual trust between communities prevalent. 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, and shooting incidents needs to be analysed in totality. Sometime back, gunmen fired at an unsuspecting crowd injuring five innocents.
Of course, the persons involved in the incident have been arrested. Before that, a house in Imphal East was robbed of jewellery and cash and a hand grenade was left at the residence of a member of Youth of Manipur. The latest incident is of a 23 year old student being shot in the head by another in Imphal. Is this what we have feared? Of course, the alleged shooter seems to have surrendered to the police. 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.