The authorities in charge can no longer dismiss as an isolated incident last Sunday&’s killing of six Army personnel, including a junior commissioned officer, by Meitei insurgents in Manipur&’s Chandel district. In June last year, in the same district, in a meticulously planned attack NSCN (Khaplang) cadres, operating from across the Myanmar border, ambushed and killed 18 Army jawans and reportedly used sophisticated weapons to blow up heavy vehicles, suggesting their growing organisational strength, both in terms of men and fire-power. After a few days an elite Army commando team was said to have penetrated the NSCN(K) hideout along the Myanmar border and reportedly knocked the wind out of them. The public is not aware of any more such retaliatory actions after that bold and commendable adventure.
Manipur continues to present a picture of chaos and confusion despite the Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act being in force in the state since 1980. It is now more or less clear the claim that deployment of central forces alone can solve the problem is no longer tenable. It seems as if the state has to contend with insurgency for the foreseeable future unless the “dynamic” BJP government, committed to people&’s welfare, thinks the situation is grave enough to warrant intervention and comes out with a palliative. What should be a matter of immediate priority, however, is to sanitise Chandel district, prone to violence because it harbours many ethnic militant outfits, the dominant among them being the state&’s oldest, the United National Liberation Front. Its chairman, RK Meghen is in Guwahati jail after his arrest from Dhaka in 2010 and is undergoing trial for waging war against the establishment. Surely, a closer look at Manipur is due.