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Barricade Removal: Police Announcement Raises More Questions Than Answers

by Aribam Bishwajit
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The winds of discord have been blowing steadily across Manipur for over four months, and the unsettling quiet that follows each government announcement has become all too familiar. In these times of crisis, the governance’s primary role should be to serve as the bedrock of stability and assurance. Yet, as days turn into weeks and weeks into months, the actions, pronouncements, and—more critically—the glaring inactions of the government and its auxiliary bodies have planted seeds of doubt and mistrust among the populace.
The unfolding narrative is fraught with tales of displacement and fear. Bishnupur district’s events on May 3 offer a harrowing glimpse into this tumult. Kuki communities, in a move that shocked many, forced the Meitei out of their ancestral homes, pushing them into an uncertain exile. And as if these stories of forced migrations weren’t distressing enough, there are emerging, deeply troubling accounts of sexual violence, adding another layer of urgency to an already explosive situation.
In this maelstrom, the words and deeds of our elected officials—the very individuals entrusted with navigating the state out of such crises—appear increasingly detached and tone-deaf. Their recent sojourn to the national capital, portrayed as a mission to seek solutions, ironically paints a picture of desperation and incapacity. For many, this act represents a tacit admission of their inability to manage and mollify the upheavals in Manipur, a state that placed its faith in their leadership capabilities.
On September 14, a significant announcement echoed from the corridors of the Manipur state police, reinforced by central forces. They declared the removal of the barricades that stretch from Phougakchao Ikhai to Kangvai in Bishnupur district. While on the surface, this move is projected as a monumental stride towards peace, the underlying currents suggest otherwise. Is this a genuine attempt at reconciliation, or is it a mere performative gesture aimed at optics?
Inspector General of Police, IK Muivah’s press briefing only added to the burgeoning skepticism. His assurances of a safer, more inclusive Manipur rang hollow for many, especially the residents of Kangvai, who, instead of the warmth of their homes, have known the cold confines of relief camps. The promise of removed barricades should have heralded a hopeful return, but for many, it feels like a superficial, pressured response rather than a well-thought-out plan of action.
The crux of this crisis lies in the simple, heartfelt desires of Manipur’s citizenry. They wish to return to their homes, to walk their lands without the shadow of fear, and to live without seeking permission or facing retribution. If Mr. Muivah and the state machinery genuinely stand by their announcement, will they also stand guard, ensuring the Meitei’s safe passage and life in Kangvai? Or will their words, like many before, evaporate, leaving behind only disillusionment and danger?
For Manipur to heal, it requires more than grand gestures and press conferences. It needs a genuine commitment, an actionable roadmap, and most importantly, the restoration of a fractured trust. The ball is in the court of the state’s leadership. The hope remains that they won’t drop it, for the stakes have never been higher.

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