It has been roughly three weeks since ethnic clashes convulsed Manipur and killed 74 people, but there are no signs that the tensions are abating. Just this week, violence flared up in two regions – including in a district that was relatively peaceful during the worst phase of the riots – showing deep distrust continues to drive a wedge between communities and that local authorities have not done enough to tamp down on passions running high on both sides of the ethnic fault line.
It is against this backdrop that Union home minister Amit Shah’s comments on Thursday assume importance. Mr Shah called for calm, stressed that only talks between various groups could bring peace in the violence-hit region and added that he will personally visit the state soon and hold talks with stakeholders.
This is a sorely needed intervention in a region where large sections of the population appear to have lost trust in the state machinery and believe it to be compromised on ethnic lines. Despite thousands of forces marching through the narrow streets of small and big towns, prohibitory orders and curfew in large parts of the state, and internet connections being snapped for three weeks, local authorities have failed to get a handle on the law and order situation. Reports suggest that weapons have proliferated and gangs from various communities are on the streets, torching abandoned houses and clashing with each other.
In such a situation, only a dispassionate and apolitical peace process can yield any dividends and stop the violence. Mr Shah’s statement will need to be followed up with strong and impartial administrative action that ensures that no one is allowed to manipulate the festering communal wounds for political ends. The only task for the government should be to urgently restore peace and rebuild the social fabric. Politics can wait.
Enjoy unlimited digital access with HT Premium
Subscribe Now to continue reading