Road To Peace Still Distant - Eastern Mirror
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Road to Peace Still Distant

By The Editorial Team Updated: Nov 21, 2023 11:39 pm

It’s been more than six months since the ethnic conflict broke out between the Meitei and the Kuki-Zo communities in Manipur, but there is no peace in sight to this day, with fresh violence erupting at regular intervals. The warring parties are clearly not ready to make peace, while both the central and state governments have been unable to find a way to resolve the crisis all this while. The attack on an Assam Rifles patrol in Tengnoupal district, which was claimed by the banned People’s Liberation Army last week, and the killing of two persons, including an India Reserve Battalion jawan in Kangpokpi district on Monday, show that the issue is far from over. Such provocative moves from either side of the parties only aggravate the already volatile situation, with little trust left to cling on to. The recent announcement made by the Kuki-Zo body called the Indigenous Tribal Leaders Forum to pursue “self-rule” in its dominated areas points to the direction the imbroglio is heading, though such a move has no legal basis. It also indicates the failure of the government, both central and state, in handling the crisis, including reluctance to change leadership in the state. As the conflict has resulted in a demographic divide with the two communities confined to their respective dominated areas, a knee-jerk reaction from the part of the government on every move from either side won’t help solve the issue, but genuine trust-building efforts, starting with a complete cease of violence, will.

Unfortunately, the possibilities of a drawn-out guerrilla warfare between the outfits from the two communities is high in the event of failure to find an early solution. The civilians, including the Nagas, who are the second largest ethnic community in the state, as well as the Indian security forces, are caught in the crossfire, as evident by the casualties suffered besides the inconveniences caused by the conflict. The paramilitary forces deployed by the central government to quell the violence in the warring zones have earned the wrath of one community or the other, as maintaining neutrality is often taken as favouritism by some. Now, for how long can the government deploy thousands of security personnel in the state for this crisis? How long can people in non war zones bear the brunt of the conflict, including the internet ban and frequent bandhs? How long can people allow students to be affected? Will the people of the Kuki-Zo community ever return to Imphal, and vice versa for the Meiteis once peace returns? There are more questions than answers. Considering the complexity of the issue, bias rhetoric and a muscle-flexing attitude will only widen the divide. The lawmakers and civil society leaders can’t afford to take the cease of violence as the return of normalcy and spell venoms to score brownie points, but they can take it as an opportunity to build trust through reconciliation. Any measure that undermines the principles of “give and take” and compromise will not help solve the ongoing crisis.

By The Editorial Team Updated: Nov 21, 2023 11:39:11 pm
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