The article discusses the extension of the Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act (AFSPA) in Manipur for another six months, exempting areas under 19 police stations in the Imphal Valley. This extension comes amid a violent ethnic conflict between the Meitei and the Kuki communities. While the Army argues that the absence of AFSPA in the Valley hampers its operations against insurgents, the government's exclusion of the Valley from AFSPA's purview is being viewed as partisan conduct. The article calls for urgent action from the Centre to reconcile the two communities and prevent the situation from deteriorating.
The Extension of AFSPA in Manipur
The Government of Manipur has extended the AFSPA for six more months, except in areas falling under 19 police stations in the Imphal Valley. AFSPA gives armed forces wideranging powers in 'disturbed areas,' but its continued necessity is a matter of debate.
AFSPA was initially imposed to help the armed forces combat insurgency but has been criticized for potential misuse and human rights violations.
Ethnic Conflict and AFSPA
The exclusion of the Imphal Valley from AFSPA's jurisdiction is considered ironic, especially considering the recent ethnic conflict between the Meitei and the Kuki communities in the region.
The Army argues that AFSPA's absence in the Imphal Valley affects its operations against insurgent groups possibly exploiting the ethnic unrest.
Government's Partisan Conduct
The exclusion of the Imphal Valley is viewed as a partisan move by the government, perhaps to avoid displeasing the majority Meitei community.
The government maintains that it cannot conduct a detailed assessment of the situation because security agencies are busy maintaining law and order, which further raises questions about the selectivity of AFSPA's application.
The Need for Reconciliation
The article emphasizes the urgent need for the Centre to take serious initiatives for reconciliation between the Meitei and the Kuki communities to prevent the situation from worsening.
The tensions between communities and the Assam Rifles raise the possibilities of further conflict, making reconciliation an immediate necessity.
Conclusion and Recommendation
The extension of AFSPA and the ongoing ethnic conflict in Manipur necessitate urgent action. The Centre should focus on reconciliation efforts between the conflicting communities to bring stability to the region.
A balanced and fair approach, possibly involving thirdparty mediation, could help in easing tensions and restoring peace.