TODAY -

Editorial of the week

Killing fields
Courtesy: The Sangai Express 24th August, 2006



The death of a civilian and the injuries caused to five others in the dead of the night at a Church in Churachandpur is once again a telling commentary of how uncertain life has become in Manipur.

The publicity machinery of the Army authority has gone on an over drive to put the onus of the firing incident on the ZRA cadres, while understandably the death and the injuries caused to the civilians have left the people of Manipur fuming with rage.

This can be gauged from the spontaneous reactions and condemnations that have poured in from all over the State.

The Army authority has claimed that the firing started when ZRA cadres armed to the teeth opened unprovoked firing on a patrol party of 3 Rajputana Rifles and has even gone to the extent of questioning the presence of the armed men inside the Church.

Good question, but it should not be forgotten that this is one side of the story and the past tells us that the Army authority has the tendency not to come out in the open with all the bare facts, ostensibly under the stand that the morale of the troops has to be protected.

That the firing near the Church came only a few days after the bomb attack at ISKCON may be brushed aside as just another co-incidence, but it is a rude reminder of the uncertain times the people of Manipur have to live.

Armed organisations on the one hand and the security personnel on the other hand and caught in the middle are the civil population.

The irony of the situation is the security personnel and the armed organisations are supposed to be working for the welfare and security of the people.

At the moment the reports are still hazy as no first hand account has come in to verify whether it was the armed cadres of the ZRA who first opened fire or whether it was the security personnel who opened fire on a group of Church goers.

The important point however is not to forget that an innocent civilian was killed while five others were injured in the incident.

Understandably and predictably, the people of Churachandpur did not take the incident lying down with the Churachandpur District Students' Union leading the way in protesting the death of the civilian.

That the matter has been resolved for the moment, thanks to the Memorandum of Understanding signed between the student body and the State Government is another matter but what is important is the question, just how safe are the people of Manipur ?

If Church goers can be killed in some firing incident, if some devotees can be killed in a grenade attack launched by some psychopaths, then what does it say about the overall situation in the State ?

If the past is anything to go by, then the Churachandpur incident will die a natural death and it will become just another foot note in the gory history of the State.

Why and how was such a situation created is the question that begs some serious introspection and perhaps the time is now right for all the citizens of the land and the civil society organisations to address this question with the merit it deserves.

The issue lying before us today is not only about the death of an individual but about the overall environment where the life of a human being has been reduced to something of a commodity that can be bargained for or bartered.




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