Elephant in the room
When something big and positive happens, it is human nature for the majority to be part of the winning team. By the same yardstick, when something bad and negative happens, everyone wants to run afar from the stink and the mess. Sometime ago, the army top brass, police officials and top government officials were bubbling over with pride and optimism over the homecoming of certain groups and turning their attention to the development of the state. The picture then was of joint efforts and team work and something good being achieved. Cut to the news of top cadres of an armed group who has been a part of the MoU being picked up while trying to force their way into the office of the Director of RIMS and no one wants to talk. There is a wall of silence over what the cadres were up to, considering that they were armed to the teeth and being ‘escorted’ by AR personnel. The MoU had clauses over depositing arms and the cadres having to stay in AR camps but the why, how and what is conveniently being unaddressed by all concerned: the police, the Home department and the Assam Riffles. Like the proverbial elephant in the room that everyone can see but keep on ignoring, no one is yet ready to give any semblance of an explanation. IFP sources have confirmed that the UG-AR combine had earlier made two attempts to force their way into the Director’s office. That bit of information means it was no social call or a matter concerning health issues. A Major with the AR is said to have been part of the first attempt at storming into RIMS, and again with the UGs being armed. Till the time solid explanations are given, there can only be conjectures which given the state of things in Manipur its own sub context.
But if everyone concerned not wanting to see the elephant thought it would move away, the bigger buzz is that another elephant was netted at Pallel. A defense PRO attempts to flee when asked to stop and then tells national news channels that he has no clue what he had in his vehicle since everything belonged to his traveling companions. What he is carrying turns out to be worth several crores of banned illegal drugs and a news snippet is that his traveling companion in crime happens to be the Assistant Manager of a private airline for Manipur office unit whose spouse is incidentally the Manager of the same unit. Alarm bells need to be sounded over this bit of information considering the many occasions that banned drugs have been shipped into Imphal by flight. A thorough investigation is much needed but who would be the credible agency to deal with the two current stinkers is the main questions that begs for an answer. The Home Minister had earlier made a statement that all drug related cases in the state would be handed over to the CBI but the central agency has unfortunately no good track record in the state in terms of any progress with its cases that it has been assigned to in the state.
Interestingly, if such incidents had played itself out earlier, it would have been only local flavor and forgotten. Thanks to social media sites and the age of ‘shares’, the RIMS case and the drug seizure cannot be swept under the carpet. Already, the national media is flagging off the story and if the pressure over accountability and solid explanations are called for, the lid can be blown off over what security personnel in Manipur get away with. India’s defense forces have earlier been caught on the wrong foot over various other cases of corruptions on a major level and in the context of areas where the Armed Forces Special Powers Act is imposed, giving impunity and the right to search but not be searched, there have always been whispers doing the round over how security forces are said to be involved in smuggling out teak, red sandal wood and precious stones from the state during their posting stints. We have had claims where people have come forth to say that they were made to be part of certain Army related or AR related functions by force. Such claims have mostly been brushed aside for the voice is often confined to a smaller level where it can be controlled simply by not reacting. Many have earlier alleged that security personnel are also involved in drug trafficking but without any proof being forthcoming, were being discounted. This time, the elephant in the room is just too big to be ignored.