Mr Biren Singh has proved himself to be an abject failure.
It is a welcome development that the Army has facilitated the return of 212 Indian citizens who had fled Manipur and taken shelter in Myanmar for the last three months to escape the ongoing ethnic violence in the state but the exuberance of Manipur chief minister N. Biren Singh over it is tough to understand, given that the state ruled by his government continues to suffer from violent incidents. In the latest of these, three people have lost their lives in a most brutal manner. A section of people in the state feel so threatened that they have asked the Union government to reintroduce the dreaded Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act.
The returnees to India had fled their village Moreh on May 3, the day when ethnic clashes began in the state, crossed the India-Myanmar international border and taken shelter in the Tamu area in Myanmar’s Sagaing division. The Army and the foreign ministry had since then interacted with Myanmar authorities. Internally, the Army also worked with the local people to ensure that harmony prevailed in their village. From the looks of it, the security forces went beyond their immediate brief and tried to infuse confidence in the people to come back to their homeland. As it turns out now, their return is another feather in the cap of the Army which has been seen as a neutral force by the people.
However, an Army can do only so much to ensure that the various communities in Manipur who have co-existed for centuries continue to do so; it is a political process as part of democratic governance. People of different political and religious moorings and of various ethnicities who speak different language live within their constraints in every part of this great nation understanding each other and working under a democratic Constitution for the greater common good. It is the job of the elected representatives and the people in the administration to assure everyone that justice will prevail and that the tools of the state work for everyone and discriminate against none.
Mr Biren Singh has proved himself to be an abject failure in performing this very basic duty which is also the singular responsibility of the chief minister, so much so that the Supreme Court of India was forced to comment that that there was an absolute breakdown of constitutional machinery in the state. The demand of one tribal community which has borne the brunt of the violence that the AFSPA which they have fought for decades be reintroduced in the state is a statement of no confidence in Mr Singh.
Numerical strength in the legislative Assembly authorises none to feel that he is the emperor of all that he surveys. The entire Constitution is built to protect the citizen; and no ruler who has lost the confidence of his people can continue in government. It is high time all those who have sworn by the Constitution acted so that its writ runs in the border state.