As we read this column, the old year will have drawn to a close and the world will be welcoming the new year 2014 with new optimism and expectation. On retrospection, the past year had been an eventful one but quite thankfully we did not witness any of the extended bandhs and economic blockades and consequently there was none of those sorry sight of long queues of anxious people hoping to lay their hands on the short supply of essential items. But of course, how can we forget the panic stocking and shoving around in the crowd for edible salt in anticipation of its quick disappearance from the market. Eventually, it turned out to be a hoax call and an amusing piece for the memory.
One of the landmark and heartening development of 2013 was the conviction of seven rape accused within a year through speedy trials in the two infamous rape cases concerning a U-Morok trader and a student of the TG Higher Secondary School. The swift conviction was made possible due to the guidelines offered by the Supreme Courts on rape cases. Though crimes against child and women have been escalating, legal experts and activists concurred on the view that the guidelines will proved detrimental to such crimes increasing in the future. Re-encapsulating the experience of the people of Manipur in 2013 will be unfair and incomplete without mentioning the border row with Myanmar. Public stir roiled the discrete dealings on the border fencing along the Manipur segment of the Indo-Myanmar border and threw up the bitter truth that the people in the state have been left out of the loop in settling the process of demarcation of the border. Sadly, after much persuasion when the Ministry of Home Affairs finally admitted its mistakes and halted the fencing works, the people of the nieghbouring provinces of Myanmar staged public protest alleging that Manipur had encroached into their territory. We wish with sincerity that the matter is resolved amicably in 2014, remembering the mutually beneficial relationship between Myanmar and Manipur in the past and new avenues that had been discovered specially in the fields of health and education.
Also, the reputation of the state had been smeared by the coming to fore of a full-fledged drug smuggling racket and the rampant bomb attacks on selected targets and roadside blasts, many of them proving to be fatal, that had added insult to injury to the state police department. It came to light that Manipur have become the transit point to a multi-crore drug smuggling business to Myanmar involving influential persons and officers of the state police department and the central forces. The most prominent case of drug recovery involved an army colonel, the then public relation officer of PIB (DW), Ajay Chowdhury and six associates including the son of a sitting MLA. The group was caught red-handed at Pallel along the Imphal-Myanmar highway with Rs 15 crores worth of pseudo-ephedrine and other drugs. But, in a macabre twist, chinks were spotted in what appeared to be a water-tight case as the accused were released on bail. On the other hand, Manipur and the state’s capital were rocked by a series of bomb blasts, which had a taunting reverberation as many of the fatal attacks happened within walking distances of important police establishments. Public outrage and criticism of the ability of the intelligence wing of the police department to anticipate the blasts grew with the increase in frequency and magnitude.
We greet the New Year with optimism, hoping for better things on every front whether it be the law and order situation, economic development or social or political growth. While being optimistic is essential, we should realize that being optimistic and not turning our plans into action is sinful. Let us remind ourselves that the onus for determining how the year 2014 ends up depend on our hands and pledge to make appropriate contributions.