Sops to counter insurgency in Manipur

BY all aspects, approval given by the state cabinet on Sunday to the revised surrender policy and increasing the monthly stipend of surrendered militants from Rs 4000 to Rs 8000 is intended to solve the protracted problem of insurgency in Manipur for ushering in peace in the state. For the last many decades, the armed struggle being waged by various insurgent groups in the north east region, including Manipur has been one of the hottest topics during elections with many political leaders making tall promises to bring insurgent outfits to the negotiating table only to shelve such declarations once they are elected but not hesitating to rake up the same issue at the time of the next election. Other than the then chief minister Radhabinod Koijam, for the first time in the insurgency related history, announcing unilateral ceasefire against all outfits for a month in March 2000 to encourage the armed groups to shun the path of violence, Sunday’s cabinet meeting acknowledging that the surrender policy which the previous government had been adopting was infeasible as well as the decision to double the financial assistance to those who return to the mainstream will be an epochal gambit to lure the armed cadres out of the jungles. Though announcements were made in the past to solve the insurgency problem there were no concrete follow-up measures consequently leading to various insurgent groups sustaining their armed campaign and sporadically carrying out deadly attacks against security forces.

It is learnt that there are over 40 insurgent outfits in the north-eastern states, of which Manipur alone has 21 outfits as per official record. These outfits have been fighting for different causes, including existence as separate entities. Solving the decades old insurgent problem through political dialogues has been the top priority of governments of those states affected by insurgency. However, failure to evoke positive response from the insurgent leaders despite peaceful gestures for settling all outstanding differences through talks suggests that either those extending the olive branch are unwilling to cede any ground to the outfits or the insurgent leaders themselves are determined to take their campaign to its logical end. Moreover, solution continuing to elude the lengthy peace parleys between the Centre and the NSCN-IM could be another factor for hesitancy by the other insurgent organisations to hold talks with the government. Much to the chagrin of the governments at the centre and the state, the peace initiatives in the past proved to be a damp squib after no militant outfit endorsed declaration of the unilateral ceasefire. Though rejection to peace initiatives by the rebel leaders could be construed as their hardened attitude over lost independence only time will tell whether or not the rebel leaders would bite the bait laid by the N Biren government. The latest effort to end insurgency in Manipur by around offering attractive incentives to surrendered cadres, substantial financial grants, healthcare facilities and even job opportunities is apparent about the government believing that the growing population of educated unemployed youths in Manipur is the genesis for the insurgent movement.

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