Editorial 15 May 2024

Editorial 15 May 2024

Title: Lame excuses: On Manipur and the ethnic conflict

It has been over three years since the coup d’etat in Myanmar in which the usurped junta absolute power and unleashed severe repression in order to clamp down on any demands for a return to democracy or granting more power to the marginalised ethnic identities in the civil war-prone country. Facing repression such as brutal bombing and the displacement of entire villages, many citizens, particularly those from ethnic minorities, have sought refuge in neighbouring countries including India. Many refugees from Myanmar’s Sagaing region and Chin State have fled the junta’s violent campaigns and headed to Mizoram and Manipur. While in Mizoram, refugees, of Chin ethnicity in particular, have been treated favourably, with the Mizo people regarding them as ethnic brethren, those in Manipur have not received such treatment from the government led by Chief Minister N. Biren Singh. Manipur has continued to conflate the issues related to the refugees fleeing Myanmar with that of cross-border drug trade. Ever since the ethnic violence between the Kuki-Zo community and the majority Meitei community last year, this refrain by the Manipur government, which has not hidden its preponderance to act as an ethnic majoritarian regime, has led to the stigmatisation of the refugees and policies that are in stark contrast to Mizoram’s humanitarian approach.

Moves such as seeking to end the Free Movement Regime, that is seen as favourable by the citizens of both countries, the announcement that India will fence the 1,643 km India-Myanmar border and Mr. Singh’s statement that 5,457 “illegal” migrants were found in Manipur’s Kamjong district should be seen in this light. The Chief Minister has repeatedly maintained that the conflict, which has killed more than 220 people, displaced over 50,000 people and resulted in injuries to thousands, besides creating a siege mentality among the Meitei and the Kuki-Zo communities, is a consequence of his government’s actions against “poppy cultivation” and “illegal immigration”. This is both an over-simplification and a biased view of the ethnic conflict that has raged in the State because of the inability of the Biren Singh government to rise above the ethnic fray and build confidence measures that could win the trust of the Kuki-Zo community. That the violence has been followed by the brazen militarisation of Manipuri society, in the hills and in the valley, with vigilante groups armed with sophisticated weapons, causing law and order problems, and impeding security personnel seeking to impose law and order, reflects even more poorly on the government. Unless there is a change, both in approach and in leadership in Manipur and the way it has treated the conflict, the situation will continue to fester.

Meaning of the word:

Usurped“Usurped” is a term used to describe the action of taking something, such as a position of power, authority, or property, without legal right or by force.Seized
Appropriated Confiscated Commandeered  
Legitimate Granted Permitted Authorized  
Unleashed“Unleashed” typically refers to releasing or setting something free or allowing it to happen with great force or intensity.Released
Unleashed Unleashed
Restrained Controlled Suppressed Constrained  
Repression“Repression” refers to the act of suppressing or holding back thoughts, feelings, memories, or desires, often unconsciously.Suppression Restraint
Expression Release Liberation Freedom  
Preponderance“Preponderance” refers to a superiority in weight, number, importance, or strength. It indicates that something is more prevalent or has greater influence or significance compared to something else.Superiority Dominance
Minority Inferiority Equality
Regime“Regime” typically refers to a system or style of governance, especially one that is authoritarian or oppressive.Government Administration
Democracy Opposition Dissent
SiegeA “siege” is a military strategy in which an enemy force surrounds a fortified location, such as a city, town, or fortress, with the intent of cutting off all outside access and forcing surrender.Blockade Encirclement Besiegement Investment  Relief
Liberation Freedom

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