The disappearance of two youth from Lamshang who reportedly went to Sekmai and whose mobile phones were recovered from Senapati had raised alarm that they were kidnapped and there were requests for their safe release. This incident heightened the tension in the central valley area. KNF to be fair clarified that they are not involved in the abduction; which may be true or perhaps a strategy to duck the blame.
In the social media it was claimed that they have been done away with, though there was no proof as yet. However Kuki are past masters in hiding the dead, including their own which was even reported by British functionaries. This led to retaliation and five Kuki who came in a vehicle and perhaps had lost their way were waylaid and captured and also reportedly done away with.
There were reports of attacks in many parts of Imphal East and Imphal West with many confirmed reports of injured, including police personnel. This round of violence is after the assassination of a DSP last month at Moreh leading to large scale search operation by the joint team of both the state and central forces, leading to the arrest of a number of persons, including those of Myanmar origin. This round of violence will not be the last, and after a lull another cycle of violence will happen though one is not sure how long this will last. NPO, Senapati sees the dropping of the mobile phones at Taphou as an attempt to involve the Naga community and against such acts.
There were uploads by Kuki social media handlers of an imminent attack by Meitei on Kuki villages in Kangpokpi district after the missing of the two Meitei youth and many villages were reportedly secured through 24/7 manning of the bunkers. But the attack came from the Kuki side with concerted attack at four places at Maphou Dam at 8 am with two injuries, Thamnapokpi/Sanasabi at 9.30 am with no injuries, Kangchup Chingkhong at 10.30 am with the maximum injuries of 10 and Oinam Maning Tingkhai Khunou at 1.30 pm with no injuries.
The concerted attack was carried out in adjoining areas of both Imphal East and Imphal West indicating proper planning to spread the state forces. These concerted attacks follow a very strong rumour that about 200 aliens have crossed over the border from Myanmar with the aim to target peripheral villages and this need confirmation and take appropriate measures.
The tendency to upload posts in social media has made information available almost instantaneously but some of the posts are disturbing to watch and could have been avoided. Care may be taken and introspection done before uploading and not automatically uploaded as digital trail can always be traced.
The video of the rescue mission of the Assam Rifles during the ambush at Senam Kuki village went viral and this indicates that AR is doing their duty as ordered. The straight talk of IG (AR(S) at Moreh is also an attempt to sensitise the Meitei that the force is per se unbiased and is performing their assigned duty with fairness and without fear. There may be a few units which may not be neutral as alleged but to blame the whole force is not justified.
Those which are seen as biased must be named rather than vilifying the entire force. The role of the central forces was to ensure that the two communities do not fight each other and whoever makes an attempt to raid and attack villages of the other community were stopped. They do not retaliate when a few indiscriminate firing happened as retaliation will prolong the firing and may cause injury or death.
Only when life and property are threatened do they intervene or retaliate, it seems; but the desire of the Meitei is to ensure that firing stops from either side, with the side which violates it punished through immediate retaliation. It must be recalled that till now the Meitei had not fired against the central forces and all those central forces personnel who were killed or injured were caused by the Kuki-Chin militants.
The central forces must also be aware that the Meitei volunteers do not consider them as enemies and their sole focus is protecting their villages from Kuki marauders. The grouse of the Meitei is that the central forces did nothing when firing started from the hill. One is also a bit confounded that Kuki militants shouted to those working in the paddy field at Thamnapokpi to run if they wanted to be alive.
There was a notice to seek security support during the time of harvest in vulnerable fields and whether the villagers have sought such support and whether this was denied. If no support was sought, they are taking tremendous unnecessary risk. If sought and not provided, the district police have a lot to answer.
Paid media continues to give alternative narratives that Meitei militants are targeting the Kuki-Chin, which fortunately by now have limited buyers. They have even resorted to publishing books referring to the debunked report of the Editor Guild of India to buttress their hypothesis.
It is hypothesis not reporting and continue to churn out their version with the belief that repeated publication of such fake news will make readers believe that is the truth. Their lies were called time and again as people are not that gullible but that didn’t deter them and continues with their narratives much to the harm in their reputation.
The reports of people from Moreh escaping to Churachandpur for safety is very concerning as there is as yet no report of any excesses committed by security personnel though many Kuki-Chin organisations including the ten MLAs try to apportion blame to the state police, forgetting that the operation was carried out by the combined team of both the central and the state forces.
Their claim was belied by IGAR(S) but no they continue to harp on this thereby impacting their credibility. And what is the state government doing except continue with their homilies which nobody trusts or listens to. One minister was heard saying that all should work sincerely to bring normalcy, but what are they doing and whether any ministers had ever worked sincerely to bring normalcy.
If so they should list out the efforts they have made to bring normalcy. Believing that the matter will subside on its own is mere wishful thinking and serious and sincere efforts are required to bring normalcy. People are fed up with the non action and lies and the utter lack of initiatives is bringing Manipur into an abyss from which coming out will be a tall order.
(The views expressed are personal)