I have read the article written for the EPW by the Editor of the Imphal Free Press, which was also carried on the Sunday edition in full. The redoubtable Editor has hit two nails on the head in a single blow.
While asserting the extremely complicated and sensitive political issues, indeed trans-national dimensions, concerning the armed conflict situation in Manipur and the North East Region, he also hit hard at his own media fraternity for serious transgressions regarding ethics especially by the national media. The implications in terms of sustained national policy and views on Manipur and her people vis-Ã -vis the increasingly blurring national polity were clearly enunciated in his article. The plethora of denials from the armed non-state organisations in the region and he Myanmar government exposes the ill-thought and now exposed as bogus propaganda hype that India embarked upon with so-called `surgical strikes`.
I visited Paraolon Village and another nine in Chandel District yesterday on a joint mission with the Indian Red Cross Society, Manipur State Branch and the Disaster Relief Committee Manipur (DRCM). As we had the `blessing` of the MHA and IGAR (South), we encountered little problems in reaching the remote villages. Many of these villages, especially Paraolon were completed or largely deserted. Not a single person was found in Paraolon Village, only some abandoned dogs, cats and chicken! During our drive from Tengnoupal to Paraolon, we encountered exactly six persons! A large population of our tribal people of Manipur simply disappeared within a few hours of the clinical 4th June ambush of the 6 Dogra Regiment convoy at Paraolon. And the Indian intelligence and state administration has no clue where they went! I am deeply concerned about this population, about their whereabouts and their present situation, on humanitarian and human rights grounds. The government of Manipur does not seem to be concerned at all about its own population. Any central government operation of such a serious nature must obviously have the consent and cooperation of the state government. Yet, our Chief Minister and Home Minister are in a state of total denial.
At the ambush site, less than a kilometre from Paraolon Village, we encountered the Indian army (6 Dogra Reg) still holding fort. The infantry sepoys were ill-equipped, with drab uniforms, canvas jungle boots that can be bought in the Imphal bazaar and outdated small arms `“ even our Manipur Police are better equipped! The officers we met were most resentful. It is clear that the Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act of 1958 has run its full course, and it is now a curse for both the central armed forces and the people of Manipur.
What I miss in the well researched article `India`™s was against itself` is an overwhelming human concern for the ordinary citizens of Manipur`™s remote areas who are caught between a rock and a hard place! The role of the All Manipur Working Journalists Union (AMWJU) in this tragic episode in Manipur`™s history is most unfortunate.
Dr Laifungbam Debabrata Roy
Yaiskul, Police Lane, Imphal