Daily Current Affairs – 21st December, 2016DEVENDRA VISHWAKARMA
Manipur violence- Assessing the internal security
Manipur has been facing sever hardships in supply of essential items since November 1, 2016 after United Naga Council (UNC) imposed an indefinite economic blockade on the two national highways — NH 2 and NH37 — that serve as lifeline for the state.
The economic blockade
- The state government had announced formation of seven new districts with the reason being administrative convenience. This brings up total districts to 16 from 9.
- UNC which claims to be a common platform for Nagas in Manipur, feels that the move by the majority Meiteis will hurt their interests.
- The UNC has claimed that the creation of new districts, especially making Sadar Hills and Jiribam full-fledged districts in the Naga dominated hill areas, will encroach upon and divide the traditional land holdings of Naga tribes.
- This blockade has not only crippled trade and normal life in the state but also increased the existing divide between the valley and the hill people.
- The blockade has led to scarcity of goods which has led to price rise. The cost of petroleum products have almost tripled.
- In addition, the demonetisation move further worsened the situation. However, the market is devoid of essential items which has made people now indifferent to demonetisation move.
- Cross-border trade with Myanmar at border towns of Moreh in Manipur and Namphalong in Myanmar, legalised since 1995, has also come to a standstill, hit by the double blow of the blockade and demonetisation.
- Adding fuel to the fire, the tensions in the state has further heightened after suspected UNC militants continued their violent attacks on Manipur Police and other state forces.
- Though the leadership of National Socialist Council of Nagaland – Isak-Muivah (NSCN(IM)) claims that a political solution on the lines of Greater Nagalim is on the cards, the situation has worsened so much that Manipur Chief Minister urged the Centre in writing to snap all agreements with the NSCN(IM) and revoke the ceasefire at least in Manipur.
- In the aftermath of economic crisis and insurgency, a group of angry protesters took to streets and torched the vehicles.
- In order to prevent spread of violence, the mobile internet was shut down in Imphal West district.
- Also, a large number of police personnel were deployed at sensitive areas of the state. The central government had placed 15 companies of central forces stationed in Manipur at the disposal of the state government.
Internal security challenges- nothing new
- Manipur has faced cycle of violence and insurgency movements within the states due to land and identity issues. Lack of competent governance institutions, infrastructure and economic growth has failed to bring a long term solution to the Manipur crisis.
- The creation of new districts has been a subject of ethnic strife in Manipur since 1971, when it was first proposed.
- Successive governments have failed to resolve the festering identity-driven tensions sparked by the exercise.
- For instance, Naga and Kuki villages are located side by side in all four hill districts of Manipur (Imphal East, Imphal West, Senapati and Tamenglong).
- The Armed Forces Special Powers Act (Afspa) has been in place since 1958. It has continued to alienate the local population, and act as a deterrence for focused modernizing of state police and counter-insurgency forces.
- The signing of the Naga framework accord between NSCN-IM and NDA government in 2015 has also increased speculation about the territorial disintegration of Manipur.
- Manipur’s northern districts have been long claimed by Nagas as part of the greater Nagalim territory. Disputes over these lands in the 1990s resulted in targeted attacks against Kukis and tensions between Nagas and other tribes.
- The creation of 7 new districts, with at least three districts dividing the Naga-dominated areas in northern Manipur, has given new life to this tension.