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Maj Gen DS Hooda Goes Candid; Substantive Ideas Echo Through MU On Public-Security Forces Relations

Maj.Gen. DS Hooda being received on the dais. Image Credit: The Sangai Express.

IMPHAL, Jan 7: Different facets of the civil-military relations and their possible common goals were deliberated threadbare during a one day seminar held today at the Centenary Hall, Manipur University here.

The seminar on ‘Fostering Civil-Military Relations‘ jointly organized by the Red Shield Division and Manipur University was attended by eminent scholars and personalities.

Giving the welcome address, Vice Chancellor of MU, Prof C Amuba observed that the people of Manipur have been living in an environment of fear and anxiety thereby causing adverse impacts on social and economic well being of the society.

Stating that the people are equally wary of both security forces and militant cadres, Prof Amuba called upon the security personnel, particularly who hail from other States, not to view Meira Paibis as members of rebel groups.

The Meira Paibi movement is a transient offshoot of the conflict situation. They are not ardent supporters of rebel groups.

Even as numerous armed groups are operating in the State, only a few are genuine revolutionary groups based on some definite principles and ideals, he said. Security forces should respect human rights, then the civilians would certainly reciprocate in a friendly manner.

The VC also called upon security forces to make a clear distinction between terrorists and revolutionaries.

Speaking as a resource person in the first technical session, GOC Red Shield Division Maj Gen DS Hooda asserted that all citizens of the country should strike a balance between enjoying personal freedom and National security.

The Major General categorically stated that the army is in the State to assist the State Government and make people safe and secure. The army has lost many soldiers while discharging their duties towards ensuring security for the people of Manipur.

For the army, there is no dichotomy between human rights and counter insurgency operations.

Conceding that army personnel did commit human rights violation in isolated cases; Gen Hooda informed that 1500 charges of human rights violation were filed against the army between 1990 and 2009.

Out of these 53 were found true while the army has taken suo moto cognizance in 17 other cases.

A total of 104 personnel including 39 officers have been punished for human rights violation.

During the same period, 3806 soldiers have died in counter insurgency operations and almost 10,000 have been injured.

The army never uses heavy weaponry in counter insurgency operations because every life is precious, stated Maj Gen Hooda.

To the perception of the army, there is a clear distinction between UG cadres and civilians.

Talking about the approach of army to counter insurgency operations, he claimed that the army operates on a definite principle that no civilian should be killed.

The Armed Forces Special Powers Act does not guarantee any immunity to the army. They are performing their duty before the global audience and they are accountable for every action they take up, the GOC stated.

Presenting a paper on the topic ‘˜Current state of civil-military relations in Manipur’, Reader of Economics Dept, MU, Dr Ch Priyoranjan observed that the army personnel are facing a dilemma while operating within the country, particularly in insurgency affected areas.

In such situations, the army faces serious dilemma about their allegiance whether it should lie with the Union Govt or the particular State Govts or the general public.

Built up on the racial tripod comprising of the Aryans, Dravidians and Mongoloids, the process of Nation building is not yet complete in India, he observed.

In addition to the forces of regionalism which has superseded Nationalism, the Indian society is a hierarchical one characterized by corrupt polity.

All these complexities are reflected well in the functioning of the army while operating within the country, Dr Priyoranjan said.

Observing that there is an emotional disconnect between the military and civil populace in Manipur, Priyoranjan asserted that there is an urgent need to re-model the perceptions of jawans regarding the civil population of Manipur.

Manipuri people value freedom more than anything else and they are highly individualistic.

He suggested that respecting dignity of Manipuri people would go a long way in bridging the civil-military gap.

While the first session was moderated by Prof N Mohendro, the second session was moderated by Dr N Binoy Singh.

Presenting a paper on ‘˜Youth as harbinger of peace and largest stakeholders’ Dr Bimol Akoijam of Jawaharlal Nehru University, Delhi  observed that Manipuri youth seemed to be quite confused and resigned to the circumstances.

Today’s youth are being misled by contradictions.

Stating that the insurgency movement had its roots in the socio-political awakening witnessed by the youth of 1940’s and 1950’s, Dr Bimol         exhorted the youth to be critical in the assessment of events and progressive in their thoughts and actions instead of resigning to certain rhetoric.

‘By being critical and endeavoring to move forward, there is nothing to lose but this wretched and undignified life’, Dr Bimol said.

ISTV Chief Editor Rupachandra Yumnam noted that deployment of army was necessitated by breakdown in governance.

He emphasized on the need to re-structure the electoral process under which the Government is elected only by actual mandate of the majority.

Dr Bhagat Oinam of JNU Delhi observed that Manipur is facing serious dilemma where the Government has failed utterly to deliver any good, insurgents seeking an alternative political system have become corrupted.

By running schools, providing electricity, health care facilities etc to the civil populace, army is indirectly joining politics which means that the Government is as good as a military rule. Only through politics, one can imagine of a better future even though Indian democracy is under threat from militarism.

It is when civil administration fails that the army comes in the picture, he added.

The seminar culminated with vote of thanks given by Prof Amar Yumnam, Dean of Social Sciences, MU.

(Courtesy: The Sangai Express)

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