STATEMENT OF THE LOK RAJ SANGATHAN
News has come that entire state of Manipur has been declared as ‘disturbed area’ under AFSPA.
For nearly five months now, large scale violence has completely disrupted normal life in the small state of Manipur. Hundreds of people have lost their lives, many women have been raped and molested, hundreds of homes and shops and places of worship have been destroyed, tens of thousands of people have been forced to flee from their homes. There are also innumerable instances of common people of Manipur coming to the defence of one another, irrespective of ethnicity, race, creed, or religion.
Recent developments in Manipur are in stark contrast to the claims being made about how glorious is India’s parliamentary democracy. The elected representatives in the Manipur Legislative Assembly do not appear to have any accountability towards those they are supposed to represent. The Manipur Assembly convened for barely one hour on 29 August, 2023. It did not even discuss the serious conflagration in the state.
Among the people of Manipur, there has always been scant respect for the elected Legislative Assembly, which is seen to be subordinate to the central armed forces stationed in the state. Even when the elected representatives have in the past unanimously resolved that the Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act should be repealed, it could not be implemented because of objections by the chiefs of the central armed forces. Recent developments have further lowered the credibility of the elected representatives in Manipur.
Following the sectarian violence in May this year, various organisations and individuals in the country had raised the demand for the dismissal of Manipur Chief Minister Biren Singh, for his failure to act impartially and to protect all sections of the people. During the debate that took place in the Parliament on the No-Confidence Motion in August, Home Minister Amit Shah stated that the removal of a chief minister was only needed in case he or she was not cooperating with the Central Government.
As far as the people are concerned, the central question is whether the state government, headed by the Chief Minister, fulfilled its duty of protecting all sections of the people in Manipur. Did it act impartially and do everything in its power to resolve the conflict and bring the violence to an end? The Home Minister did not consider this to be the central question. On the contrary, he considered the central question to be whether or not the state government cooperated with the centre.
Several spokesmen of the central and state governments have blamed refugees from Myanmar for the violent conflicts that have shaken Manipur. This explanation is far from convincing, given that about 40,000 refugees from Myanmar have been welcomed in Mizoram, which remains very peaceful even now.
The Assam Rifles reporting to the Union Home Ministry and the Manipur Police under the control of the state government have the responsibility of safeguarding the lives and properties of the people and ensuring peace. However, these armed forces are said to be thoroughly discredited amongst the people. It is widely believed that the Assam Rifles has been arming and protecting vigilante groups of Kukis. It is also widely believed that the Manipur Police has been arming and protecting vigilante groups of Meiteis. Whatever may be the truth, it is amply clear that these security forces have not been able to protect people of all communities and religions.
Lok Raj Sangathan offers its deepest condolences to all those who have lost their lives in the mayhem in Manipur. We demand that the central and state governments must fulfil their duty to ensure protection for all the people in Manipur. Those who are guilty of heinous crimes against the people, and in particular against women, must be brought to justice. All victims of the violence must be compensated for their losses.
Lok Raj Sangathan calls on the valiant people of Manipur, who have a long history of fighting against injustice, to unite even more strongly. We call upon them to unitedly defeat the diabolic attempts to divide them and work together to ensure peace and harmony.
Source of photo: https://www.forbesindia.com/article/photo-of-the-day/photo-of-the-day-protests-against-manipur-violence/86865/1