As expected the defence of the three officers of Education Directorate, two ZEOs and one DI is while offering apology for their unauthorised acts of issuing No Objection Certificate (NOC) for affiliation of schools under Kangpokpi and Churachandpur districts to the CBSE they had done it under duress from elected representatives, CSOs and individuals. Such pressure was expected and their inability to weather such pressure indicates their lack of officer like quality to hold such responsible posts.
Among the six MLAs who had written to these three officers, one because of his long stint in the bureaucracy, his letter was written in bureaucratise language incorporating “as per rules” so that he can avoid future complications, by saying that the officers had exceeded their brief as his request was to process the affiliation to CBSE as per rules. The CBSE also cannot absolve their irresponsibility as the guidelines for affiliation indicate NOC from the state government which means NOC issued by an authenticated officer of the state government, which means Under Secretary, Deputy Secretary, Joint Secretary, Additional Secretary, Special Secretary, Secretary, Commissioner, Principal Secretary, Additional Chief Secretary and Chief Secretary and no other specially not the ZEO or the DI.
If CBSE is unaware of such a position, it indicates utter lack of knowledge of the government system, which just can’t even be considered. Hence, the only inference can be that some mischievous element within CBSE had manipulated the affiliation process and CBSE must conduct an enquiry and penalise the culprits. Inability of the CBSE to conduct such an inquiry will only make them culpable for the illegal acts.
The intent may be positive to ensure that students do not suffer but with technology without physical presence at Imphal everything can be done and the act is seen as an end to meet political agenda. The three officers despite their apology must be penalised as if they are allowed to go scot free similar acts will be repeated in the future and their defence will be the precedent set for the three officers. Once they had admitted to their irregular act, under the rules they should be notified of the penalty contemplated to be imposed and further steps taken for penalty.
The CM after meeting the UHM in Delhi had as yet not met any local media about the fall out of his meeting. In Delhi he had hinted to some actions likely to be taken by the central leadership but what action is silent. He needs to spell out what are the steps contemplated by the Union government to end the nine-month-old crisis or whether he had made any proposal or suggestions towards this end.
Keeping quiet is not an answer and it is high time that the people are carried along so that violence and sufferings are minimised in the near future. The government and the public must go together in such a situation and hiding facts can only enlarge the trust deficit.
The press releases from both the UNC and the KSO need to be read together. The statement of the UNC is clear and that the Naga are deeply concerned with the activities of the Meitei and the government needs to understand this. It does not mean that a conflict is looming between the Naga and the Meitei but their worry is apparent.
The activities of the Kuki side like writing letters to ADB, World Bank, etc indicate that they are doing everything in their power to marginalise the state government and consequently the Union government. The letter to the German Chancellor by a group is most concerning as its object is not only separate administration within the territory of India but a separate nation which will be difficult to fructify at this stage; but the intent is clear.
The state government should not have pressed for scrapping of FMR, NRC or border fencing as this is the agenda of the Union government and such demand only distances other communities. CSOs demanding are altogether a different ball game but the state government demanding has a different connotation. It will distance all hill communities from the government which should be for all communities.
The inability of the state government to bring normalcy even in nine months does not bode well for the government and the present government can become the fall guy for the inability to manage the crisis with the Union government subsequently taking a high moral ground. In politics everything is fair and game and nothing can be ruled out. Whether to scrap FMR or not is the call of the Union government but it benefits all communities, including the Meitei.
Border fencing is also the responsibility of the Union government and it has to take a decision taking the internal security, drug and arm smuggling into consideration. So is the case with NRC which was already in the radar of the Union government. There is a difference between agreeing to NRC and demanding it; and the nuances need to be understood. Illegal immigration is a separate issue and the state government must gear up its agencies to identify in time any illegal immigrants and put them not only in the negative list but also take steps to push them back.
General Navarane’s suggestion of a live fencing using Bambusa balcao along with smart equipment is a proposal worth considering as it can be erected along a uniform distance from the border which will limit objections from the local villagers. The former Army Chief who is not a yes man, even claiming that the Agniveer scheme was not the army’s proposal but a top down decision, needs serious consideration to what he says on internal security matters.
In terms of cost, live fencing with smart equipment will be far cheaper vis a vis barbed wire fencing, which is likely to cost Rs 2 crore per km. Civil engineers will be keen on civil engineering solutions but live fencing, if it is effective, will be much better from every aspect including ecological. The damage to the environment if barbed wire fencing is erected along the border will be tremendous. A short length can be tried and its effectiveness assessed.
The collection of money from the public for helping the state forces stationed in Moreh is disturbing as the forces are salaried people. To claim that vegetables donated will be sent across to Moreh need to be taken with a pinch of salt as it is difficult to send any items to Moreh except by chopper. Our village volunteers need funds more and they are the ones who need public support as they are not paid staff and are volunteers.
For the state forces, yes their sacrifices must be appreciated and their specific needs may be satisfied but there is the state government which will look into their welfare and needs. This is not to belittle their contribution but to prioritise the limited resources. It is heartening to learn that for the state forces there is no red line and they can operate in any part of the state. This is exactly the point that needs to be clearly understood by all, including the government. This abhorrent nomenclature and its implementation on the ground by Central Security Forces is concerning though it can protect lives by limiting entry to other’s zone of control but the restriction must be uniform.
The problem with the Manipur crisis is that for any act there is different meaning to either side but the worst is the identification of the state government with the Meitei. For the Meitei, the Meitei CSOs should be allowed to represent their community like those with the Naga or Kuki. Towards this the Union government is also culpable as in their desire to prop up the CM, he was made to represent the Meitei with hardly any interaction with the Meitei CSOs. The government should be seen as neutral and any misunderstanding allowed to be thrashed out by the communities, with the government not as a party but as an umpire.
(The views expressed are personal)