Seminar On Civil-Military Relationship: A Critique

Indian Army (File Photo)

Jan Seven Two Zero Eleven saw a good grappling of the issue by resource persons and the discussants. It was in response to a joint effort by the Military and Manipur University authorities. The subject was interesting but failed clear cut in nailing the inherent causatives of the issues whether the relationship discussed was that of between civil population and Military or Military & the civil administration. UGs who are   pegged to the latter and the main contributing force to the conflicting situation appeared nowhere. How much orchestrated misinformation penetrated into common man mind by frontal organization which keeps their minds in bind should have drawn attention of the subscribers of the papers for better understanding of the situation.

One of the resource persons devoted more time on the type of present governance hence asked for change in the electoral system. Which is the force affecting to ignore the electoral diktats of ECI (which in case of Manipur is UGs and most of the politicians) was not touched upon. What type of reforms are to be recommended against backdrop of ‘voters accepting money’ and “UG coercing candidates and voters” contesters “openly offering money and favors” wherever possible was not taken into account. And if at all remedial are taken too, how it is going to affect civil military relationship, is a matter of individual judgment & can’t be objective. If it is between civil administration and the Military, I feel, there cannot be better synergy obtaining  as on today in current situation in the light of UGs having been stirred from their citadels and their safe abodes  made unsafe by combined operations of strategic group  i.e., Manipur Govt & Military under over all control of MHA.

One speaker put that Merger was the main cause of bitter relationship so merger must be debated and settled first. Whereas fact remains if Manipur stands stronger and unbreakable today it is only because of Merger. If Merger is reversed by plebiscite or otherwise, Manipur will fragment into four to five segments as plebiscite cannot be only for one community toeing the line of one particular UG group. It is loud and clear Nagas will  be on their  own way, Hmars with Sawkardai  Kolasib-Vairangte portions of Mizoram and South Cachar & NC Hills  plus other parts from Tripura and Kukis will be opting for own living abodes as territories will be free to choose. You cannot put one set of rule for contesting Merger call & other for maintaining validity of Merger. In this case what prevents Moslems opting to look to erstwhile Arakanese Sultanate influenced Karimganj (ees) and well anchored Islamic leadership of lower Assam which are openly frequented by Bangladeshis and ISI foragers interest operatives. Why Military has been put into operation in Manipur is to assist civil administration on the approval of the Cabinet Secretariat, the highest decision making body of the Central Government, to create conducive conditions for good governance by reinforcing bonds between people & the administration by removing fear psychosis created by Militant activities. Well awareness of common man to enable him make his own judgment and there lies the careful treading on a rope of slender bound to swing by ‘intellectuals’ who matter can serve a good purpose neutralize blame slaps on SFs for everything—even the good they do.

One speaker termed MCA projects of the SFs as taking over the job of civil administration hence cautioning, overlooking the very fact which was before. Same speaker also contradicted himself, saying it was sad performance of the socio-economic sector responsibilities of the State for insurgency to take roots. Indian democracy is the most liberal democracy in the world so far as its repeated shock absorbance capacities are concerned. Otherwise how one section of the society can resort to months together in economic blockades etc, against other society within the same State. Manipur is not a failed State like Iraq & Afghanistan. Here it is made to look like that. The Nagas are on Peace/Ceasefire agreement, the Kukis are under SoO obligation, valley insurgent groups do not have much of interference capacity in the Hills even then the EAC, SDO & ADCs in Hills are still not functioning in situ. Wherever GOC/IGAR visits interiors in Hills, people ask for opening new SF post. There is no civil  police other than at District headquarters or in good number only at trade exit points so relationship of civil population and the Military who are visibly semblance of the Government stands on a natural upbeat under this peculiar scenario since Army catapulted to act with compassion and restraints compared  to the situation two decades back. Present cannot be seen without viewing past. Nobody touched what was in the past at least three decades back.

The seminar was held in the University campus where Military is stationed atop for campus security & civil police guards the main entry to keep security environs in place and, it is found difficult by the authorities to function without them yet speaker devoted most of the efforts in terming AFSPA as draconian law and for immediate repeal. How can Military perform duties within its own civil population without legal safeguards like CrPC which is given to civil police?

Yes, as Maj Gen Hooda, VSM ** the GOC said “HR violation under AFSPA did occur in a few cases which have been taken note of & being dealt by Military authorities”. “Further precautions have been taken and things are under control”. The seminar was extremely good so far as opening of minds was concerned. Military also constitutes of all Indians on its roll from other ranks to JCO’s to Officers and Manipur is proportionately the largest contributor in that. A vigil has to be maintained against black sheep even amongst armed forces but more so on the evil mongers among the civil frontal organizations who manifest their presence through them in various forms. If civil population remains civilized in its broadest connotations, supply lines to evil mongers can be plugged & peace route cleared of foliage. Meaningful UGs leadership can thus be brought to negotiation by enlightened public leadership through tripartite bondage between people, civil administration and the SFs.

I do not hesitate in congratulating both MU and the Military authorities to have arranged such a wonderful event. Author also recommends participation of men from uniform if not equal in number at least one speaker per session. Well intended seminar with meaningful participants can address issues & integrate disillusioned communities to good governance and misgivings by misinformation connected with Security Forces can be cleared. This seminar has apparently set the business of problem admission; that problem does exist. It will definitely assist in defining it too with subsequent efforts carried forward by Military and other forces too say, Police and Para Military. It is undoubtedly true that civil population support to Military operations is of utmost importance not only while battles are fought at the international borders but in fighting the insurgencies too, while on internal security modes even more importantly.

No military can emerge without civil and no civil can exist without Military. Prolonged engagement of Military in counter-insurgency grid does create ripples somewhere operating under all constraints and even under precaution and earns ill will. Hence keeping this in mind, Military which wins toughest battles with their ethos & regimental prides which serves as the clarion call for unit to go beyond the call of duty for extreme  sacrifice needs review infatuations with ethos while on IS duties. However when this ethos story gets applied to cover dishonorable acts, accountability diminishes and rogues get away and move up the ladder to embarrass the whole organization later.

*The opinion is written by RS Jassal.

(Courtesy: The Sangai Express)

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