The Central government’s indifference and the reluctance of Central Forces to act against the Kuki militant groups, under Suspension of Operations (SoO) even as they blatantly continue to violate the ground rules, has put the valley based MLAs in a difficult spot.
Ever since the controversial Dolaithabi incident, a simmering tension had slowly been building up among the valley population against the central forces. Also, the apparent lack of assertion from among the valley MLAs vis-à-vis the takeover of law and order issues by a central representative in the form of Security Advisor and the demand of 10 Kuki MLAs for a separate administration has helped in advancing the tension further.
Meanwhile, as Kuki militants armed with sophisticated weapons continue its onslaught against Meitei villages in the foothill areas, the state forces were left to fend for itself while the central forces kept their fingers crossed and stood watch.
As we said before in this column, even if the Central government is yet to withdraw from the SoO agreement central forces are bound to unilaterally act against any kind of violation of the ground rules.
The suspension of operations by either party is for setting an amiable atmosphere for talks or negotiations to be carried out in an effort to find a solution.
During such suspension of operations, the cadres of the militant groups are supposed to remain in the designated camps and arms deposited in the camp quarter guard.
Also, they are allowed to carry arms in public and carry out any illegal activity. So far, these ground rules have been honoured only in violation with the militants engaged in extortion, intimidation, interference in elections and involvement in poppy cultivation and narco-business.
In the present conflict, these militants under SoO are openly harassing and attacking the Meitei villages in the foothills and even cutting off the water supply pipelines. An inspection carried out by a team of central forces found most of the cadres and arms missing from the designated camps.
This clearly shows that the SoO cadres are actively involved in attacking the said villages burning houses and killing innocent villagers. So, what is stopping the central forces from acting or operating against the Kuki militants?
This is the question on the lips of everyone in the valley which again gave rise to another question as to what the valley MLAs are doing about it. Are they so timid even to question the BJP leadership or the central government in this matter?
Why are they unable to convince the central leadership about the uneven contest between militants armed with sophisticated weapons and village volunteers with single and double barrel guns as the central forces continue to wash their hands off the conflict?There are even complaints of central forces helping the militants.
So, the situation had become such that public anger is now beginning to be directed against their own representatives. Remember the June 18 incident when the state assembly building was razed to the ground and MLAs hounded by the general public in which an MLA narrowly escaped death but with third degree burns.
Once again, that kind of fury is building up. The houses of some MLAs, including a minister were vandalised in the present conflict while attempts are being made on others also. This has made some MLAs make public pledges of their commitment to the territorial integrity of the state and the wishes of the general public. Question is, are they really sincere about it or is it the survival instinct at work?