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Among others, AFSPA, is archaic in its silence on gender insensitivity and child rights

Relevancy of Human Rights to Manipur Crisis

Only a few days have elapsed since International Human Rights Day, 10 December 2023 that marked the United Nations 75th anniversary of one of the world’s most groundbreaking global pledges: the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR). Various events of the Rights Day observances were organized in this tiny Indian state of Manipur as well. The connected concern here is that the ongoing violent incidents in Manipur since May that caused the gruesome killings of 200 lives, injuries of over 3000 people, disappearances of 40 individuals, enormous destruction of property and internal displacements of about 65,000 villagers. All these are not happening in a vacuum, for Manipur is 19th state of India, the nation dares to contest China and Canada, the 4th biggest military and the 5th economic power in the world. Indigenous people are screaming for help crying – “Where are our governments?”

India enacted “the protection of the human rights act 1993”, relating to the Status of National Institutions (The Paris Principles) adopted 20 December 1993 by the UN, and taken initiatives running national and state levels human rights commissions to ensure the full enjoyment of the “life, liberty, dignity and equality”. The legitimate obligation upon the governments in terms of protecting the rights of their citizens is a crucial element always. When we study the three fundamental characters of the subject namely guaranty, democracy and universality – more importantly, here the guaranty underlines a contract that state or government takes the responsibility to protect the citizens by acknowledging the greater power and resources bestowed on them by the people, whereas democracy indicates the law rights related  are human rights are for the people and by the people, and universality implies that all the rights should be treated equally irrespective of creed, caste, color, etc.

A death toll of over 200 people is a very vital number for such a small population less than  3 million habitants especially for the indigenous Meiteis in the Indo-Burma region. The tragic reality is that the violence does not take off its ugly hands from tearing the vital organs of mother Manipur who gave birth to the game of polo, and produces the finest personalities in sports, art and culture for India’s fame. It erratically continues sending chills down the people’s spines. Again about 20 more individuals were finished their lives last week only; their mournings are getting louder as death rituals are being observed this week. The current environment has crippled the post-pandemic fragile economy of Manipur so badly. The arsons of several property, paralysis of the lifeline-highways, transports and communication, and the sudden and continuous shutdown of the internet have been dumped the Manipuris to the darkest. The eventualities are rather uncertain towards a painful future for all the 30 plus communities of Manipur.

In the beginning, the conflict seemed to be between the defenseless indigenous Meiteis and heavily armed Chin-Kuki militants. However, as the violence prolongs further, the other stake holders also have emerged on the horizon being involved more. The state government of Manipur and more critically the central government, New Delhi are the crucial party to the situation by default.

There are about 100,000 armed forces deployed in Manipur. What are the central and state forces are doing, how are they responding to the violence over the last seven months? The two national highways synonymous with life-lines are left to the hand of militants although the supreme court orders remain active. A stretch about 15 kms including Kangpoki on Asian Highway 1 and some three or four locations on NH 37 remains unprotected.  The governments look reluctant to contend the elements that threat the thousand years inherited ‘idea of Manipur’ characterized by inclusiveness and integrity groomed by the Meiteis.

Over 15,000 Meitei who have been habited for centuries now are ethnically cleansed from by the Chin-Kukis from Churachandpur, Moreh , Chandel and Kangpoki . Not a single Meitei is there anymore. All the houses including multistorey concrete buildings have not been only completely dismantled also been leveled the ground of the colonies and villages in Churachandpur and Moreh. More surprisingly, a tiny valley where mostly the Meiteis inhabit  that is  the 8 percent of total of land mass of Manipur is reduced to 6 percent now as the heavily armed Chin-Kuki militants have occupied after arson and killings.   The Meiteis are not able to move in and around the surroundings 94 percent area of their state, they have been confined to such enclosure. In early July, two high school students – Phijam Hemanjit and his young girlfriend, Hijam Linthoingamgbi, and in early November two teen-boys were captured and reportedly killed when they crossed the confinement lines.

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