By Dr. MALEM NINGTHOUJA
Campaign for Peace and Democracy (Manipur)
- Instability and unrest are prevailing in India due to political economic constraints and the lack of the skill to build a stable country. As a result, various forms of unrests are persistent.
- No one happily embraces war. However, it is an open secret that the war between the rebels and the Indian army, which have lasted for more than 50 years, is a reflection of the political and economic constraints and the instability.
- It is known to many that several innocent civilians are victims of this war. This fact have been acknowledged by the Government of India constituted commissions, civil society reports, the United Nations and other international human rights bodies.
- Many peoples, for decades, have been urging upon those who revolt and those who carry out counter-rebellion to respect human rights. On the other hand, acknowledging the pains at the killings of either the rebels or the Indian army and the grievances of the respective survivor families, many have been demanding an end to this war. It is unfortunate that, this call for peace has not been respected by the political leaders who on their part have failed to bring a peaceful democratic solution.
- The recent ambush on the Indian Army by some rebel groups on June 4, 2015 in Manipur’s Chandel district and the Indian army’s retaliation in the form of a combing operation are not new phenomenon. These are the manifestations of the never ending war situation.
- Whether the Indian army would courageously and consistently fight against the rebels or not and under what tactics will be the political decision of the Government of India. However, it is the concern and voice of the people that unarmed civilians should not be the object of target and that the onus should not be imposed upon them when the two armed groups are in conflict.
- We feel that the ongoing combing operation is an emotive revenge following the ambush. The armed rebels must have fled; but the onus is being imposed on the villagers who live in and around the battlefield. It is similar to a situation when two vehicles met with an accident and the blame was on those who were living near the accident site. There were instances in the past, when the Indian army killed some rebels in a village and the rebels held the villagers responsible for it. The two characters are similar. We disagree with it.
- The ongoing operation in Chandel since 4 June, 2015 have sieged several villagers and we can feel their fear and grievances. In this situation the Indian army need to create a good impression about itself, within India and internationally, by making the combing operation more transparent and publicly accountable. We can understand the emotive sentiment of the Indian army and the hyper-nationalism circulated in the social media. However, it is advisable that they must not keep the people totally dark about the condition of the villagers; but allow the media and respectable civil societies to get access to the sieged villages.
- The removal of the restrictions on the entry of media and respectable civil societies will overcome the fear and grievances of the concerned villagers whose communication with the outside world have been cut off.
- We want peace: Ensure the security, rights and integrity of civilians during war.