Myanmar instability, weapons with Manipur groups key issues in restoring peace — Lt Gen Kalita
KOLKATA — Eastern Army Commander Lt General RP Kalita on Wednesday said the availability of a large number of firearms with the warring groups in Manipur and instability in Myanmar leading to influx of people from the neighbouring country are the key challenges in restoring peace in the strife-torn Northeastern state.
Kalita said till the time firearms are available with members of the warring Kuki and Meitei communities, the situation can flare up any time.
“The availability of weapons with both the communities, whether stolen from Manipur police armoury or obtained from Myanmar, continues to pose a challenge,” General Officer Commanding-in-Chief, Eastern Army Command, Lt General RP Kalita, who is set to retire on December 31, said during a media interaction at Fort William here.
Kalita said the duty of the armed forces is to ensure absence of violent activities. He mentioned that this duty has been successfully implemented in Manipur, where it was called due to the ethnic conflict between the Kukis and Meiteis.
“We need to recover all the weapons that were stolen from the police armoury or those made available to the people from various sources. We have to ensure that society remains free of all kinds of weapons,” he said.
The Eastern Army commander said the armed forces have launched numerous coordinated operations and a number of weapons and ammunition have been recovered in the last five-six months.
Kalita said the conflict between the junta and rival forces in Myanmar has spread to areas closer to India’s border.
He said whenever there are violent activities between Myanmar Army and opposing forces, civilian population from the villages located close to the border come to the Indian side seeking refuge.
The Army commander said while some of them return after violence abates, others prefer to stay put.
Kalita said state police, supported by the Assam Rifles, has taken their biometric details and their data is being compiled.
“But definitely this continuous influx and movement of population across the borders causes some sort of anxiety in terms of contraband and weapons smuggling,” he said.
He said these challenges are accentuated by difficult terrains between India and Myanmar, making it difficult for the armed forces to dominate every inch of the border.
Kalita said efforts are being made by the Centre and the state government to engage both the communities.
Stating that dialogue is already taking place at the political and civil society levels of the two communities, he said, “I think that is the only way forward through which you can look for a permanent solution.”