ILP, violence and history repeating itself

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The State witnessed some sporadic violent incidents related with the demand for implementing Inner Line Permit System over the last few weeks. First on the list is the brutal clampdown on students agitating for getting the act implemented in the State. As most of us know, ILP was purportedly designed to protect the indigenous people in the erstwhile Bengal Frontier Region from being corrupted by outside influence. Notwithstanding the official rationale which attributed the appalling police action as retaliation to the provocation of unruly students, not too many right thinking individuals are convinced. Neither has the Deputy Chief Minister’s face saving act by apologising to the people gone down well with many.

According to the National Crime Records Bureau’s report ‘Crime in India 2013’, Manipur has one of the highest population to police force ratio in India with 1,020 policemen per one lakh population. The United Nations recommended norm for societies not facing a major security challenge is a minimum police strength of 222 per 100,000 people. An increase in the population to police force ratio has not translated into more security for people but may have helped in employment generation. As per the Seventh Schedule to the Constitution of India ‘Police’ and ‘Law and Order’ are State subjects. Therefore, the onus is on the State governments to decide the composition of the police forces, its modernisation and equipping them adequately to face the challenges to internal security.

The sixty thousand dollar question here is whether the government has been able to contain insurgency to a considerable degree by employing more police personnel. The recent incident where a police officer smacked the face of a student who was running scared from police personnel is the latest in cases of police brutality. Almost a decade ago, a similar repulsive incident made headlines across the world. We can only hope that the State police will not prove Marx right by repeating the tragic incident as farce in the future. The Deputy CM’s assurance that some of the security personnel will be groomed to behave properly while dealing with ordinary citizens is welcome.

Coming back to the another violent incident related with ILP in which some vigilante civil body set ablaze a truck for carrying some 20 odd non locals, it can be only said that sane and rational individuals should mull a lot before taking the law into their own hands. ILP implementation is an emotive issue for many in the State but violent agitations alone will not suffice in getting it implemented. The merits of their argument will go a long way in convincing the powers that be who will inadvertently take the final call on its implementation. A healthy debate between those who are against its implementation and for its implementation will be a good start in that direction.

We need to study how other countries deal with similar demands. Making an in-depth study about what the US government does for protecting the Polynesian people in Hawaii would be a great idea. Similar studies about certain laws enacted by the Canadian government in some of its provinces where white settlers can’t buy or own land can be of immense help.

Manipur doesn’t exist in vacuum and is only a microcosm of the bigger world where various groups of people are also struggling to survive whatever the challenges are.

Leader Writer: Svoboda Kangleicha

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