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Unending Manipur conflict: Is it a proxy war to end rebel movement in NE?

by Editorial Team
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Unending Manipur conflict: Is it a proxy war to end rebel movement in NE?

We have consistently highlighted the possibility that the prolonged ethnic conflict could be a strategy to corner the Manipur underground (UG) groups. This line of thinking has strengthened with the recent allegations and counter-allegations between NSCN-IM and Indian security agencies concerning the fighting in Manipur and along the Indo-Myanmar border.
National Investigation Agency (NIA) has asserted in its chargesheet that the China-Myanmar module of the Isak-Muivah faction of the National Socialist Council of Nagaland (NSCNIM) colluded with banned Meitei outfits to infiltrate India. According to the NIA, this collaboration aimed to exploit ethnic tensions in Manipur, specifically targeting the Kuki-Zo community. The chargesheet alleges that weapons acquired from government armories were intended for violent attacks against the Kuki-Zo community, exacerbating unrest in the region.
In response to the NIA’s allegations, the National Socialist Council of Nagaland (NSCN-IM) has vehemently denied any involvement in supporting Meitei outfits or inciting violence in Manipur. Instead, the NSCN-IM has accused Indian security forces of collaborating with Kuki militant groups to wage war against Meitei revolutionary factions in Myanmar. The NSCN-IM alleges that Indian forces are providing logistical support to Kuki militants, allowing them to operate freely across borders and engage in violence against Meitei revolutionary groups.
Amidst the allegations and counter-allegations, questions are emerging regarding the involvement of Indian forces in covert military operations aimed at quelling Meitei underground (UG) groups along the Indo-Myanmar border. Analogies are drawn to historical operations like “Operation Jackpot,” (1971) which unfolded during the Indo-Pak war in Bangladesh, raising concerns about the potential existence of a contemporary equivalent dubbed “Operation BERMUDA” to arm the Kukis along Indo-Myanmar border to give a decisive blow to the Meitei fighting force.
Good covert operations are those operations we do not get to hear about, so we might never know, or we might when it is all over. Nevertheless, these questions are worth asking because what is happening now in Manipur seems like the echoes of past conflicts, notably the Naga-Kuki clashes. After the Naga-Kuki Conflict, NSCN IM signed a peace agreement. The recent peace accord with Pambei-led UNLF could be seen in this context of the Kuki-Meitei conflict.
However, the presence of numerous remaining insurgent groups who are still fighting against the state means that the rebellion in Manipur is not concluded. The core issue is that Meitei underground groups not militarily cornered to a point where they end up signing peace agreements with the government. Without their defeat at the hands of the Indian state in the so-called Meitei-Kuki conflict, the conflict could continue, trapping Manipur in a perpetual state of turmoil. It’s a grim reality that suggests a war of attrition, wherein the suffering of the Meitei people becomes the norm.
Amidst these accusations and counter-accusations, one thing remains clear: the urgent need for transparency and accountability. The people of Manipur, caught in the crossfire of competing interests, deserve clarity and justice in the face of mounting uncertainty. But, how can we hope any clarity from the government when confusion has been circulated from both the central and the state government regarding who controls the home department in the state, the causes of the violence and the nature of Kuki militancy, on whether they are terrorist or not. These confusions could be very well a signal that something is going on inside that all the clarity has been sucked inside a new golden triangle called BERMUDA in the eastern borders of Manipur.

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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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