TODAY -

Manipur And The Paradox Of Security

Siamchingthang Tunpo *



The situation of security in Manipur today has gone from bad to worst. It is no longer aquestion of law and order problem but increasingly a socio-political and economic problem of the various ethnic groups of the state.

The security concerns are not merely confined to insurgency and counter-insurgency operations, and its repercussions on the general public and society, it also encompass the ethnic tensions faced by the state and the people as a major challenge to the peaceful co-existence of the numerous ethnic communities.

The scenario is a cluster of complex and myriad issues ranging from identityformation by various ethnic communities to gross human rights violations especially by the security forces. In a very common parlance, the notion of security is closely related with the concept of security forces or the police.

The people look up to them as anagency for ensuring public order, protection of the people and property for a peacefuland secure life by maintaining law and order, and prevention and detection of crime. However, people in Manipur have developed a different perception of these law enforcing agencies. Mistrust of the public towards the security forces are large, where they areseen as tormentors rather than helpers.

Whether it is isolation and insolence from the country, between the valley and the hills or among the tribes themselves, the sense of divisiveness due to the lack of inclusive politics is well highlighted in the third chapter. The chapter deals on the geographical seclusion of the state owing to the landlocked nature and its subsequent social complications, compounded by the governmentís failure to address these complications and social issues.

The chapter deals more on the internal isolation and insolence among the different communities of Manipur and less on the political and social isolation the people feel towards the greater Indian society. However, the author once again lifts major portion of the chapter from different articles Conflict Management and Conclusion.

The government has contributed to the conflicts through its action and inaction. The Hill Areas Committee of Manipur Legislative Assembly was constituted in 1972. It consists of all members of the legislative assembly who represent the hill constituencies. Theoretically its mandate is to oversee planning, implementation, and monitoring of development activities in the hill region of Manipur.

But, it has been ineffective. Further, in order to grant limited home rule powers to the hill areas, the Indian parliament enacted the Manipur (Hill Areas) District Councils Act, 1971. Accordingly the hill region is divided into six autonomous districts each having a district council (18 elected and 2 nominated members). The elected members are elected on the basis of adult franchise from the territorial constituencies of the district. Six district councils were constituted in 1972.[vi] Each council has limited executive and financial powers.

The executive powers are the construction and maintenance of roads, bridges and other public buildings; the establishment, maintenance and management of primary schools, dispensaries, markets and fairs; the supply, storage and control of water for agricultural purpose; the preservation, protection and improvement of livestock and prevention of animal disease, public health and sanitation; the management of any forest not being a reserved forest; the regulation of the practice of Jhum or other form of shifting cultivation and the like.

Although the district council does not have legislative powers but it can recommend legislations on certain matters concerning scheduled tribes such as the appointment or succession of Chiefs, inheritance of property, marriage and divorce and social custom. The councilís financial powers include levying taxes on profession, trades and employment; on animals, vehicles and boats; on the entry of goods into the market for sale; on the maintenance of schools, dispensaries or roads and the like.

The first elections were held in 1973. But, the councils soon became defunct. As a result, the elections could not be held. After a long period of neglect the government of Manipur realized the need for reviving the district councils, and hence the elections were held in 2010. The government has devolved more powers and functions upon the councils.

Every ethnic groups of Manipur are resorting to political mobilization to gain more political power, cultural autonomy, control over territory, economic security, and development (Bhagabati 2004: 9). But, their political aspirations are fed by a belief that adequate political power is a necessary condition for retaining their ethnic identity.

In themselves, these aspirations are legitimate. The difficulty arises when the ethnic identity is connected to the demand for separate homelands. But it is important to emphasize that on account of the ethnic heterogeneity it is virtually impossible to divide Manipur along ethnic lines.

It is impossible to accept that there are ethnically homogeneous areas that can be aggregated into either Nagalim or Kukiland. But the ethnic conflict makes Manipur a dangerous place. At the same time, the governmentís conflict management has not been effective.


* Siamchingthang Tunpo wrote this article for Imphal Times
This article was posted on July 01 , 2016.


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