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No Mafia, But Crimes Aplenty

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Manipur is a land without the mafia or organized gangs of criminals or organized crime, yet extortions on the National Highways, abduction for ransom, extortion notes served on the business class, contractors, suppliers and Government officials, bombs being placed or lobbed at the residence of a trader or a Government official over a monetary demand and killings merely because the ransom amount has not been paid, are staple diets of the State.

If the situation was not so serious, it would have elicited guffaws from everyone or all sensible people, but these criminal activities continue unabated because none of these elements who carry out such heinous deeds have the conviction to call a spade a spade, especially when it comes to acts of commission and omission which directly concern them. So at least, these people too have a sense of self respect or want dignity, is the scornful observation one would see on the visage of any sensible being.

No, those people who abduct and kill petty employees of some companies based outside the State are not criminals but sons of the soil, who have taken up the gun to fight for a cause, a cause which is as dear as the freedom and sovereignty of the people. The only point is, it has not yet sunk into the thick heads of these semi-literate elements that no one has asked them to fight on behalf of the people.

So a powerful bomb which is placed in a public area and explodes, killing and maiming several people is explained as part of the revolutionary movement and the party concerned expects the people to fall in line. Just plain terrorism or organized crimes which we generally associate with the underworld of Mumbai or terrorist groups like LeT or Al Qaeda. At least, the underworld do not come up with some lofty sounding principles or quote Marx and socialism and captive markets, without understanding its core meaning.

In other words they have the conviction to say who they are, that is criminals who will rob and kill. A look at the past few years, say 6/7 years back, should be more than enough for any discerning people to question why there has been a spurt of so many armed groups, who loot, kill, abduct, threaten etc all in the name of a cause which is dear to the people and the land. The rider here is, no one has asked them in the first place to take up the gun or wage a bush war on behalf of the people.

This fact has either blown over the heads of these semi-literate elements or they are merely trying to find some breathing space by taking refuge under the garb of some highly patriotic sounding names. No exhaustive research work has been done, or at least we have not come across it, but Manipur’s case is unique in the sense that a certain pattern has emerged down the years, which is unique to the State and her people. A JAC along with a charter of demands mentioned in the memorandum addressed to the Chief Minister following the killing of any civilian, by unidentified gunmen form an intrinsic part of the pattern we are talking about.

Not only this, but we also have to deal with the rider or the threat by the JAC to the Government that the body would not be taken back until and unless all their demands are met. A demand by way of a beseeching appeal in the local newspapers to any group/groups responsible for the killing to come clean and explain the reason is another important hallmark. Once the group responsible admits their hands in the killing and comes out with a series of reasons to justify their act, the matter is given a quiet burial. Remember, dead man tells no tale.

From the peculiar characteristics that we have mentioned above, certain facts can be discerned. One is that the conflict situation has provided the perfect foundation for such groups to emerge. With the elected Government failing to read the pulse of the people and the politics of insurgency practiced by the armed forces providing rooms for confusion to reign and with the trend of factionalism and internecine killings amongst some of the armed organizations, otherwise founded on some well defined ideologies, everything is in place for such groups to emerge and wreak havoc in the lives of the people.

The formula is simple. Gather a few members of desperadoes including the black sheep, who have been expelled from one of the insurgent groups, lay hands on some grenades and bombs and announce their arrival through the column of the newspapers and bingo another group of the sons of the soil has emerged. It is here that there have been so many stand offs between the media and some of these groups, because the media had refused to carry their statements, which were nothing short of serving extortion notices or sheer propaganda.

The trend that has caught on among the people, that is forming a JAC and then asking for a clarification from the killers is the result of a people, who have been brow beaten into silent submission for years altogether. In most cases, all such clarifications have been digested and the matter given a quiet burial. This tantamount to giving the license to any group to act as the policeman, the judge as well as the executioner. In short the emergence of such groups of criminals, masquerading as revolutionaries of the land, the conflicts situation and the lack of trust and confidence between the people and the elected Government, feed on each other and we do not need to go into the specifics to draw this conclusion.

Just one observation or statement should suffice. Why is it that a mere constable in the police commandos becomes a lakhpati in no time? What are the factors responsible for the emergence of fly by night operators, who reap the goods in no time and why is there this unsaid but nevertheless known to all fact, that one needs connection, both in the Government and the underground outfits to land a plum contract works?

(Courtesy: The Sangai Express)

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*The Sangai Express- Largest Circulated News Paper In Manipur
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