Let good sense prevail in Manipur 

The incident of the attack and abduction of a police officer in Imphal by armed miscreants is reflective of a serious breakdown in law and order in Manipur.
Let good sense prevail in Manipur 

The incident of the attack and abduction of a police officer in Imphal by armed miscreants is reflective of a serious breakdown in law and order in Manipur. The personnel of state commando forces put their arms down in symbolic protest against the failure of the administration to initiate action against attackers and to express solidarity with the officer, who was later rescued and admitted to a hospital for treatment. The failure of the state machinery to recover illegal arms looted from state armouries and in the illegal possession of radical groups and civilian groups has led to a deterioration of the law-and-order situation. Miscreants across the state are still dangerously armed in both the hills and valley, and peace will continue to be fragile without the complete seizure of these illegally looted weapons and ammunition, as well as those smuggled into the state from across the border with Myanmar. According to Manipur Police, armed miscreants numbering about 200 coming in vehicles stormed at the residence of Additional Superintendent of Police, Moirangthem Amit Singh, in Wangkhei Tokpam area under Porompat Police Station of Imphal East district. The police also state that the armed miscreants vandalised the household properties at the residence. Two people were injured in the crossfire between the miscreants after additional forces rushed to the spot and retaliated. In the midst of the incident, the police officer and one of his escorts were abducted by the armed miscreants, but they were later rescued and admitted to a hospital for medical treatment. The incident also brought to the fore how armed miscreants are masquerading with impunity despite the deployment of 198 companies of the Central Armed Police Forces and 140 columns of the Army since violent clashes among armed groups Meiteis and Kukis began on May 3 last year. The clashes, which deteriorated virtually into “civil war,” have so far claimed 219 lives, crippled the state economy, disrupted education, and disrupted healthcare deliveries, putting ordinary citizens at greater risk of being deprived of basic necessities. Thousands displaced by the ongoing clashes continue to languish in the temporary shelters of relief camps. The sooner the armed groups realise the futility of mindless violence, the better for the state and its people. The prevailing situation calls for an urgent review of the law and order both by the central and state governments, and handling it with an iron hand to nab all troublemakers and put them behind bars. There can be no room for any lethargic response against perpetrators of violence. Operations to seize illegal weapons in the possession of armed civilian groups need to be intensified with coordinated action by security forces. Security forces instilling a sense of confidence among people about the protection of their lives and properties is critical to people in affected areas extending full cooperation in the restoration of law and order. Civil society groups in both hills and valleys need to undertake peacebuilding initiatives for the restoration of peace and harmony to send a message to armed groups that the conflict can be resolved only across the negotiation tables and not by the barrel of guns. Such peace efforts will go a long way in creating a conducive atmosphere for facilitating the return of displaced people to their villages and areas. As a first step in healing the wounds, civil society groups on both sides should mutually agree to a complete pause on issuing statements and counter-statements on contentious issues for the next couple of months. Community initiatives such as self-censorship on the posting or sharing of any image or video of clashes that can incite more violence on social media sites will reduce the flow of posts that add fuel to the fire or can potentially create bad blood. Suspension of internet services causes more loss to ordinary citizens whose daily lives are heavily dependent on it in a digitised world, but the administration is left with no option but to resort to it to prevent flare-ups when the internet is abused by violence mongers. The truth must not be suppressed, but internet users have an obligation to use it in a responsible manner so that it does not cause harm to society and they do not fall prey to disturbing elements that spread rumours and unverified information with the evil intention of causing unrest in society. Students and youth of Manipur must take the lead in the restoration of peace in the state, as continued deterioration in law and order will only rob them of all opportunities to receive quality education and advancement of their career goals in life, and they lag far as compared to the rest of India. It is hoped that better sense will prevail among all armed groups about the futility of violence and that they will be able to see through the conspiracy by anti-Indian forces to destabilise peace and tranquilly in the Northeast. Restoration of peace in Manipur must be the topmost priority for all stakeholders.

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