The visit of the INDIA team must have inspired confidence among the people that their fellow citizens in the country share their grief.
The suggestion of a 21-strong team of members of Parliament belonging to the Opposition alliance, INDIA, which visited strife-torn Manipur, a state where the government machinery completely failed to control an ethnic conflict recently, that justice be meted out to all groups of people there as a necessary condition to restore normalcy is one that anyone with a stake in the future would concur with immediately and unequivocally.
The visit by Opposition MPs has come some three months after clashes began, but better late than never. The team visited the relief camps and later called on the governor seeking justice for all. It minced no words when it criticised Prime Minister Narendra Modi for his prolonged silence.
The people of Manipur have suffered loss of material possessions and properties, including their houses and places of worship. The governments, if they choose to do so, can compensate for such losses and the team must follow up on this point.
But the more pertinent issue is the loss of trust between two communities who have shared the same destiny as citizens of a country and a state. Indeed, the plotters and perpetrators of what the state has been witnessing in the last three months have every reason to rejoice as they have succeeded in widening the chasm that existed between them.
It will take real hard work, and time, to undo the damage this has done to the social fabric. The visit of the INDIA team must have inspired confidence among the people that their fellow citizens in the country share their grief.
While the government at the Centre made no serious effort to address the issues of the Meitei and the Kuki-Zo, the one heading the state was always in denial. Its critics would even allege that the N. Biren Singh administration had silently helped one of the two groups engaged in the violence. The indubitable fact is that there has been no effort to douse the flames of animosity. It took the circulation of the video of two women being paraded naked before being raped to shake the nation’s conscience and force the governments to react.
It may be noted that, while the Union government was expressing its displeasure at the visit, what with its spokesperson minister calling it a “show-off”, the state administration facilitated it and arranged for meaningful interactions of the MPs with the affected people. It must be a reflection of the ground reality that the people want the peace process to start at the earliest.
Whether or not the government can concede the demand of Kukis for a separate administrative mechanism, the way to a lasting peace lies in ensuring justice for all. It will take a bipartisan approach to arrive at it, and it is up to the governments at the Centre and in the state to use the INDIA MPs’ visit as a first step towards achieving that goal.