Lately, the government has become hypersensitive as it continues to vehemently deny a particular part of a report published in the Imphal Free Press a few days ago on the recent Dolaithabi incident, even to the extent of calling it fake news.
While speaking to a visiting media team, villagers in the general area of Pukhao Terapur said that Kuki militants under the SoO had taken over a deserted IRB post located at the small hilltop and that they were allegedly given protection by the security forces (Assam Rifles) in the area.
Villagers had shown a drone footage to the media team, which showed Kuki militants occupying the IRB post and a few other sites.
The controversial part of the report to which the government has taken serious exception is about a vehicle delivering food and eatables to the site in question and about the identity of those delivering and beneficiaries of the aid.
Villagers said it was the vehicle of paramilitary forces 'suspected to be Assam Rifles'. Hence, the vehement denial.
The first clarification from the government said the circulation of 'unverified' reports could fan further violence in the state.
The second clarification came from the newly appointed Advisor (Security) himself.
The security advisor said the allegations of central forces' involvement in supplying essential commodities to armed militants are baseless. In fact, the security personnel were supplying the same to their own camps, not militants, he said.
Well, let us put the controversy to rest for the time being in the interest of peace.
However, there are still some unanswered questions about the events and other allegations surrounding the Dolaithabi incident.
Why are armed Soo militants roaming around freely in the general area, creating fear among the villagers of Pukhao Terapur without any hindrance from the central forces?
Under the SoO ground rules, the militants are supposed to be at the designated camps, especially at times of communal conflict. As we understand, Kuki militant groups have not deviated from their regular mischief of forced taxation, kidnappings, abductions, and intimidation even during elections, regardless of the SoO agreement.
Their alleged involvement in poppy cultivation in hill areas had even led to the state government withdrawing from the controversial Suspension of Operations (SoO) with certain Kuki militant groups.
It may be mentioned that the government of India, the state government, and several Kuki militant groups had signed the Soo agreements.
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Meanwhile, the Government of India is yet to announce its decision on this, and for central forces, SoO seems to be still in force. Even then, they should not be allowed to roam around freely with arms and harass innocent common folk.
A vernacular daily even reported on the Dolaithabi incident that when state forces, including even a BSF column, tried to overrun the site where the militants are holed up, they were told to go back by central forces. There is no clarification from the government on this report, which itself speaks volumes.
The latest reports say that the IRB post has been taken over by police commandos and the IRB once again since Monday. An independent inquiry later should be able to reveal who the actual occupants of the Dolaithabi post were on May 6 and May 7.
In the recent conflict, there has been a general outcry against armed SoO militants and the central forces. Villagers in and around the Pukhao Terapur area are now demanding the withdrawal of SoO, and removal of Assam Rifles as they do not feel safe.
Surely, there must be certain reasons behind the demand for the withdrawal of Assam Rifles. Why is this happening? It is time for the government to explain this as well.
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