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Speculating the end game of Manipur Conflict

by Rinku Khumukcham
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Speculating the end game of Manipur Conflict

Carl Von Clausewitz’s famous assertion that “war is nothing but politics by other means” underscores the profound connection between conflict and political objectives. In the realm of military theory and strategy, winning a war is seen as the art of bending the will of the enemy to align with one’s political goals. This perspective sets the stage for understanding the intricacies of the ongoing Kuki-Zo conflict in Manipur.
In this conflict, the stated aim of the Kuki-Zo community is a separate administration, reflecting a desire for political autonomy. However, a lack of clarity surrounds the specific goals within this separation. The recent demand by the ITLF for Union Territory (UT) status with a legislature adds a tangible dimension to their political aspirations, yet not all stakeholders, including COTU, have openly embraced this demand.
Distinguishing between articulated and hidden goals is essential in comprehending any conflict. While articulated goals are publicly stated, hidden goals lurk beneath the surface. Pradip Phanjaobam and RK Meghan provide speculative insights on the hidden goals. Pradip Phanjaobam suggests that one potential hidden goal could be drawing Manipuri rebels back from Myanmar in Imphal. According to RK Meghen, the goal could be restructuring Manipur’s administration through three territorial councils.
These speculated end goals may align with the central government’s interests, leading it to believe that achieving them could quell armed insurgency in Manipur. However, such a move contradicts the foundational idea of Manipur as a unified territorial and administrative entity.
The role of the Kuki-Zo community in this complex scenario raises perplexing questions. Why demand separate administration while engaging in hostilities against the Meiteis, who lack the constitutional authority to grant such demands? The community’s active involvement in a conflict with the Meiteis, instead of pursuing separate administration through diplomatic channels, appears to lack careful consideration.
India’s permitting of armed conflict between two communities at the border, concurrent with a war across the neighboring border in Myanmar, raises eyebrows. Is there a strategic intention to wear down the Meiteis, potentially leading to their acceptance of central government decisions when fatigued?
From the Meitei perspective, there is currently no inclination to agree to administrative trifurcation. The looming question is whether the conflict against the Meiteis will persist until all rebels return and consent to the trifurcation of the state.

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Imphal Times is a daily English newspaper published in Imphal and is registered with Registrar of the Newspapers for India with Regd. No MANENG/2013/51092


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