Op­ti­mism De­feats Block­ade

India Today - - THE STATE OF THE STATES - By Kaushik Deka

Twenty-two-year-old Abem Golmei, a nurs­ing stu­dent from Malom, 7 km from state cap­i­tal Imphal, was aghast when a national daily last month called Ma­nipur a failed state. Sure, a 92- day- long block­ade of the two national high­ways con­nect­ing the state to the rest of In­dia had brought the state to a stand­still. Com­mod­ity prices soared, scarcity of fuel threw the trans­porta­tion sys­tem out of gear and hos­pi­tals ran ter­ri­bly short of medicines. Worse still, nei­ther the state nor the Cen­tral Govern­ment acted promptly to end the block­ade. In June 2010 too, the state suf­fered a sim­i­lar month-long high­way block­ade.

Yet, Golmei is not ready to give up and ac­cept her state as hav­ing failed. “I know the press loves bad sto­ries, yet the state has seen so many good things in the last year. I find Ma­nipur much more peace­ful than it was two years ago. At the very least, fake en­coun­ters don’t make head­lines these days,” she says.

Golmei is not a soli­tary voice. Though there has been a wide­spread ac­cep­tance that the state govern­ment has failed to pro­vide a po­lit­i­cal so­lu­tion to most of the prob­lems plagu­ing the state, the law and or­der sit­u­a­tion has im­proved in the last one year. Se­cu­rity forces and state po­lice in Ma­nipur, a state still un­der the grip of the Armed Forces (Spe­cial Pow­ers) Act, 1958, com­pelled var­i­ous mil­i­tant groups to ei­ther sur­ren­der or seek refuge in neigh­bour­ing coun­tries like Myan­mar and Bangladesh. The ar­rests of top in­sur­gent lead­ers such as United National Lib­er­a­tion Front chief Ra­jku­mar Meghen have re­sulted in a sharp de­cline in ter­ror at­tacks.

The state po­lice’s numbers have been beefed up to 10,249 in 2010, as com­pared to 8,541 in 2009 and 5,502 in 2008. The National Crime Records Bureau’s Crime in In­dia 2010 re­port re­leased in Oc­to­ber shows that cases of cog­nis­able crime are de­creas­ing, from 3,349 in 2008 to 2,852 in 2009 to 2,715 in 2010.

The silent force be­hind this sub­stan­tial re­duc­tion in cog­nis­able crimes is the state’s Di­rec­tor Gen­eral of Po­lice Y. Joyku­mar Singh, who has been metic­u­lously work­ing on an over­haul of the state po­lice force.

Chief Min­is­ter Okram Ibobi Singh, who also hap­pens to be the home min­is­ter, is, how­ever, deeply con­cerned about the chaos cre­ated by bandhs, block­ades, gen­eral strikes, dhar­nas and ral­lies called by var­i­ous or­gan­i­sa­tions. “Force is not the an­swer to prob­lems. The govern­ment is open to di­a­logue with any group for any prob­lem,” he says.

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