“There is no middle ground now and bringing the two rival groups together is impossible without political discussion.From all accounts, use of military force does not look like an option,” the source said, asserting that the feuding groups had hardened their positions since the strife began on May 3 and has left more than 100 dead.
The source said at the heart of the state’s crisis are two elements-insurgents and civilians-carrying sophisticated weapons they looted from the state’s armouries and police stations at the start of the conflict.
The source said apart from insurgents under Suspension of Operations (SoO)-a broad term that defines those groups who are in talks or have signed peace pacts with the government-there are a large number of cadres belonging to outfits not bound by any ceasefire agreement.
“The biggest fear is that if these insurgents are allowed to operate freely, they would soon regain their lost relevance among the people. All efforts by the government over the years to push development in Manipur might fall flat if these insurgents are not reined in immediately,” the source said.
Why the Manipur unrest goes beyond the Kuki-Meitei conflict
The Manipur government called out the Army and the Union home ministry sent a large number of central armed police forces immediately after the violence broke out. A BSF man was killed, while several Assam Rifles troopers were wounded in efforts to control the spiralling violence. Besides CRPF, RAF and BSF, over 60 columns of Army and Assam Rifles are currently deployed, in addition to Manipur police.
“The mandate for the Army is to assist the civil administration in maintaining law and order. The Army and Assam Rifles are not for controlling mob violence, which is the job of the police,” the source said. “We are trying to bring down the violence and have been able to achieve the objective to an extent, but there are still vulnerable spots in areas between the valley and the hills. Troops have to respond in a calibrated manner to avoid any collateral damage in populated areas.”