By RS Jassal
In the concurrent insurgency knit scenario in Manipur, where conglomerate groups of UGs of various hues are up in arms for multiple socio-political demands, facilitating surrender of 103 cadres (UNLF, PLA, PREPAK, KCP, PULF and others) is just not real but stupendous achievement for the trio, SFs-Civil Admin-Police. If SFs had been running in circles to make contacts, police must have burnt midnight oil to study the antecedents for according clearance.
Although the name commonly used is surrender, is it not welcoming our own brethren to our own fold a Homecoming? Changing the mind of a guerrilla to civil life without firing a shot is a big step. People of Manipur are now coming to terms with the fact that the cause, for which the militant groups were formed, is no longer relevant. With increasing role Manipur is playing in national mainstream as nation builders, the opportunities are on a high rise both in India and elsewhere under globalised look.
To understand the logical implications of such homecoming ceremonies in totality, we must appreciate both the tangible and intangible effects on the society of such initiatives. The tangible effects include improved law and order situation, development and impetus to infrastructure building and creating conducive environment to implement long term policies. More important are the intangibles which have a long lasting impact on the society at large. These include rejuvenated cultural heritage, re-energized social bonding and prevention of people from treading down the path of violence and allowing the development projects to develop without deters.
The recent surrender of 103 UGs on 30 April 12 was a culmination of persistent efforts by all stake holders led mainly by the people of Manipur. Majority of the population in Manipur is living in varying stages of disillusionment with respect to future of Manipur and this was an apt occasion to motivate the misguided youth to join the society and fight social evils squarely. To achieve this, all organs of the society to include Govt machinery, NGOs, and SFs got together. Author learnt, poster campaigns were launched and messengers were sent across to spread the message of peace saying as ‘The homes are much safer in Manipur today. Take care of your homes and lebensraums. The optimistic stance adopted by SFs and police encouraged such homecomings. The steps taken by Assam Rifles for effective rehabilitation including vocational training, recruitment openings, spiritual rehabilitation and other unit level resettlement courses turned out as major reasons for the recent turn of events. There is also a visible urgency for people to settle down which has manifested itself in form of cadres abandoning the camps and preferring to settle into a married life of Post surrender treatment earlier groups who had surrendered at various levels, by the government and SFs conveyed the message of credibility of Govt efforts, leading to this mass surrender. As per sources in security Forces, a large number of intercepts indicate lowered morale in the militants camps across the border with increased infighting. Informal interaction with brave hearts who decided to shun path of violence revealed that a large number is awaiting to return home as the situation has turned peaceful and the cause for which they had picked up arms has undergone sea change and the conditions in the camp are now inhuman. It may be interesting to read that two PREPAK cadres walked more than 50 kms from Senam camp on Myanmar side accompanied by their female friends along Manipur River and reported to Assam Rifles. They only wanted help to initiate a new leaf of settled life for themselves in Manipur now limping towards a peace. What more! the recent trend of cadres returning home accompanied with families including children is an encouraging response to open arms policy being adopted by State and hopefully in days to come more and more disillusioned youth will shun the path of violence.
One third of total surrenderees on 30 Apr 12 were from UNLF and PLA. Increase in number of cadres from UNLF and PLA, is a result of months of coordinated psychological operations of the SFs. Overall, Thoubal District and Imphal District accounted for 62% of surrenderees. Such large scale home coming is sure to yield results in days to come and we need to gear up for such eventualities. It is the Government which has to keep its acts to rehabilitate them. Our rehabilitation plans for surrenderees and SoO groups need to be realistic, pragmatic, time bound, fair and transparent to the extent that a common man should be able to access the program on internet. We need to read through the encouraging signals of home coming opportunities for such groups and explore ways and means for their leaders at higher echelons to come to the negotiating table. Peace talks at this juncture will be a win-win situation for all stake holders as patience of people of Manipur is wearing out. The recent election results wherein diktat of militant groups was given a dressing down and public outcry against forcible recruitment by militant groups are signaling towards a new era wherein the people of Manipur will became leading key players amongst all stake holders.
Once rail link and Trans Asian Highway enter Manipur and reach Moreh-Tamu, Tipaimukh Dam becomes a reality, tourism flood gates open and as accompanying economic benefits will accrue, unemployment will vanish. We must understand that ‘Home Coming ‘ is not a defeatist approach but a progressive approach by reappraisal of the issue (s) for which arms were taken up against the State .There is a visible upward swing in Manipur towards peace and prosperity. The UG leadership must understand that if they want to remain pertinent in the annals of history of Manipur, then they must focus on creating a conducive environment which facilitates acceptance of legitimate demands by the authorities thereby arriving at a peaceful solution through dialogue leading to prosperity, harmony and development of the State – sooner than later .The wise who embrace the new dawn to start a new chapter in their lives are the true warriors of modern day avatar of Manipur.