Why seize innocent lives?

India is a democratic country and every individual is free to go anywhere.

Salome Phelamei

My heart goes out to the families of the departed souls, and those injured in the fitful firing by Manipur armed forces at Mao Gate area in Senapati district. The incident happened at a peace rally in protest against Okram Ibobi Singh government’s decision to ban Thuingaleng Muivah, general secretary, NSCN (I-M) from visiting his birthplace, Somdal village in Ukhrul district.

Since the Manipur government is opposed to Muivah’s proposed visit to his homeland after more than four decades, it has deployed heavy security forces along the Nagaland border to bar his entry. Taking serious note of the state government’s action, the Naga bodies have appealed the PM to intervene and enable Muivah’s safe exit.

I wonder why a person should be barred from visiting his motherland when his beloved family members, relatives, friends and native people wait to see him neurotically for years. India is a democratic country and I feel every individual has free and fair rights to go anywhere.

Defying the prohibitory orders, Muivah continued his journey to the state with the support of various Naga bodies, which organized a peaceful procession on May 6 at Mao Gate to protest against the Manipur government’s decision. The security forces however started firing tear gas and stick bombs on the innocent Naga civilians. The erratic firing on the protestors claimed two students’ lives and injured over 100 persons, mainly women.

Shocked and shattered, I immediately called up my loved ones back home after hearing the tragic news. I came to know some of my associates were hurt in the incident, and managed to speak to one of my injured friends. I was told that the security forces also damaged many vehicles parked on the National Highway, broke windows, stole valuable belongings, kicked open doors of houses and tortured innocent youth.

The feeble masses who are forced to bear the brunt have been staging dharnas and rallies since then. The situation in the state has once again gone from bad to worse.

My question is: when will such dreadful acts by the security forces end? I doubt if ever a law would be adopted in this violence-hit state to curb such acts of the armed forces.

It seems the constitutional machinery in Manipur has broken down completely. The Ibobi government rather than promoting goodwill and peace amongst the Meiteis and the Nagas, has destroyed the peaceful relationship by adopting double standards.

The fact is that the deaths and turmoil caused due to the apathetic attitude of the Manipur government will have future bearings. The situation would have been much better if the state government had avoided ‘explosive militarised’ act, and had tried to resolve the matter through talks.

Chief Minister Ibobi Singh, who has been criticised for corruption and reported links with Meitei underground outfits, must be held responsible for the loss of lives, property, and provoking anger and resentment among the Nagas.

I feel it’s the appropriate hour the Central government should take up the grievous issue and ensure honest implementation of the law and order machinery in Manipur, while conducting a judicial inquiry, taking proper legal action against the guilty, and resorting to deterrent steps to avert further violence.

(The views expressed by the author are her own)

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