TRUCE PACT: TALKING THROUGH THE HAT


The Sangai Express, 
Aug 4 2011

The manner in which the State intelligence agencies moved swiftly and managed to zero in on the mastermind of the dastardly Sangakpham bomb blast came like a whiff of fresh air. Can't really recollect the last time that a case of this proportion was laid bare so fast and so conclusively. However as in everything that has got to do with Manipur, trust the political class to foul things up and this time we had none but the Chief Minister himself trying to reduce the good work of the intelligence agencies to some sort of a poor joke. We understand that the political class in Manipur have the uncanny knack of talking through their hats and this is unfailingly visible during election campaign and at the time of inaugurating a bridge or laying the foundation stone of a community hall. However this is not election time, though it is not far off, and the occasion was certainly not an inauguration function of a bridge or a foundation stone laying exercise of a community hall. On the contrary it was a sombre affair, with the head of the people addressing his subjects who are trying to come to terms with life after being subjected to one of the most atrocious incidents, through the media. Either the Chief Minister was under the impression that the time was right to win over the confidence of the people through some tall talk which will find no place even in a fairy tale or it was a case of the leader exposing his ignorance through his desperate attempt at damage control exercise. If Mr Ibobi was under the impression that he could convey the message of a tough, no nonsense Chief Minister by stating that his Government has approached the Centre to revoke the ceasefire agreement with the NSCN (IM), then the joke is on him. The blast at Sangakpham is serious. Five persons were killed, including two school girls. The mangled torsos of the victims, the burnt flesh strewn around the site of the blast, the putrid air thick with the stench of burnt flesh, the shattered glass panes all told the tales of an armed group determined to extract its pound of flesh for the total wash out it suffered at the battlefield of the ADC election held earlier this year. The endless bouts of self congratulatory jig staged by the SPF Government after the ADC election is proportionate to the degree of opposition to the election, if we may add. That the armed group, NSCN (IM) in this case, is determined to make up for the loss of face is evident from the fact that none of the elected ADC members, from the Naga dominated areas, feel secure enough to go back to their home turf coupled with the bomb attack at the Khuman Lampak youth hostel, where the ADC members were housed. As investigations have revealed, the seeds of the Sangakpham blast were sown in the “ballot field” of the ADC election and it was in reference to the said blast that the Chief Minister talked about the State Government urging the Centre to revoke the cease fire with the NSCN (IM). This is hot air and it came like a bucket of cold water after a hot shower, in the face of the good work done by the intelligence agencies.
 
 “Without territorial limits” is the clause that led to the June 18, 2001 uprising and led to the death of 18 persons. It was this clause that saw the Assembly being burnt as well as the offices of numerous political parties in Imphal. Again it was this clause which saw the then unfortunate Speaker of the Assembly being herded out from his quarters by thousands of people and forced to take part in the march towards the Raj Bhawan. The humiliation was complete. And it was on the blood of the 18 people, the ashes of the offices of political parties and the State Assembly and the humiliation of the then Speaker, that this clause was rolled back but has this led to Manipur being outside the cease fire coverage ? This is a naive question no doubt and the battered skulls of Dr Kishan and his two subordinate staff, the pool of blood which flooded the room where the couple of Lungphu were staying, the days of tension and siege of Shirui village in Ukhrul district by the Assam Rifles some years back, the arrest drama and ultimate escort provided to NSCN (IM) leader Lungalung and his men in Manipur are some of the instances that have rendered the days of protest in 2001 and the roll back of the “without territorial limits” redundant and something of a caricature. Likewise the Sangakpham blast was an instance of this caricature exacting a heavy toll. Disappointment is too lame a word to express the overwhelming sentiments that came on hearing the ridiculous statement of the Chief Minister. A leader of the people should have known better and it would have been that much more palatable if only Mr Ibobi had the sincerity to admit that all these unwanted instances have occurred because the cease fire ground rules have been debunked a long time ago. Delhi does not mind this at all, as this does not expose Connaught Place or Pallika Bazar or 10 Janpath to any danger. These are the points which should have been taken up strongly with the Union Home Ministry. It was cheeky but at the same time it was the truth when the Assam Rifles admitted to the existence of three recognised camps of the IM group in Manipur. This came to light during and after the Shirui siege. The three camps are at Moning in Senapati district, Oklong in Tamenglong and Phungchong in Chandel. “Taken note of” is the term used by the Assam Rifles. Instead of indulging in tall talks, the State Government should make it clear that these camps should go. Moreover it needs to be pointed out to Mr Chidambaram that if the ceasefire ground rules were implemented in letter and spirit then the two school girls would have reached home safely.

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