The changed narrative about the crisis in Manipur saying Meitei and Kukis-Nagas have lived amicably for decades, and that the current situation is all about narcotics, not ethnic strife, is amusing.

With the ‘Golden Triangle’ in close proximity, narcotics have not only been entering India through the Eastern borders but also sent from India to Myanmar for ‘refining’ and return. All of This is on record. This is the story of the entire North East (NE), not Manipur alone.

The main reason for the narcotics trade is the politician-terrorists-drug mafia nexus. Nagaland is known to have an annual narcotics trade of Rs 10,000 Cr.

This is the reason why: Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA) was removed from parts of NE. Manipur shamelessly used nude women to protest against AFSPA – a slur on Hinduism. The border with Myanmar is not fenced and not manned to deny unchecked crossings; Army columns currently deployed in Manipur are without AFSPA cover.

Overseeing the NE by a Minister of State of the ruling party at the Centre was taken away since he wanted to clamp down on the drug trade. The Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA). wanted to merge Assam Rifles with Indo Tibetan Border Police (ITBP) and take control, and; an ISI-China stooge is now penning that Rashtriya Rifles, Assam Rifles, Central Armed Police Forces and Central Industrial Security should be merged under the MHA.

Toxicity of the ‘Manipur Experiment’ is spilling into the NE. The barrage of disinformation for confusing the underlying cause may work on some, but not all. Comments like “necessary demographic changes cannot be brought about without bloodshed” are impetuously revealing.

Against the ruse of “looted” weapons from Manipur police armouries are ground reports that these were actually “distributed”. The N. Biren Singh government lacked the brains to at least dish out ‘mock’ punishment to Manipur police officials for allowing the “purported loot”. The posters saying “surrender weapons here” are also laughable.

China has armed and trained anti-India terrorists from our North East. This includes Meitei terrorist organisations like the Manipur People’s Liberation Army (PLA-Manipur) for several years, even exercised them as reported by intelligence agencies.

The thought perhaps was that these terrorists coupled with comparatively new terror organisations like the Myanmar-based Kanglei Yawol Kanna Lup (KYKL), could wipe out Kuki-Nagas from Manipur.

This is perhaps why Manipur MLA Thounaojam Shyamkumar Singh forced the release of 12 KYKL terrorists rounded up by the Army in Itham Village on June 24 – on orders

of Chief Minister Biren Singh or the MHA? Naturally, there is no further news about this politician-terrorist.

The ruling party at the Centre anyway maintained they had chosen the policy of staying mum, till the video showing Kuki women being paraded naked and subjected to mass rape

emerged. Even then, there is no move to impose President’s Rule in Manipur, and impose AFSPA to sanitise Manipur.

The Union Home Minister has said that the guilty will not be spared. But does he have the guts to prosecute a rat like Thounaojam Shyamkumar Singh? By not doing so isn’t the ruling party as rotten as the others?

Reservations should be based on financial status (as PM Atal Bihari Vajpayee had said), not in the present state which is hollowing India. But our polluted politicians would not let this happen, playing on castes.

Manipur continues to burn under the defunct N. Biren Singh administration, with arson, gun battles and villages being attacked. Some 160 are dead and 50,000 displaced. Because of the volatile situation, there is a Meitei exodus from Manipur to

neighbouring Meghalaya.

A meeting of the Meghalaya Chief Minister was attacked in Shillong with seven cops injured in the violence. The Meitei in Mizoram are feeling threatened. Meitei in Assam have issued an advisory to Mizos living in south Assam’s Barak Valley.

Mizoram CM wants a Mizo-speaking chief secretary. Kukis-Nagas have been living in Manipur for several decades. Failure to brand them illegal immigrants by raking up history, has led Assam’s CM, who is more of a spokesperson of the ruling party, to cry about heavy Rohingya influx.

The ‘yes men’ contend there is no crisis in Manipur and that the government is going as per plan, but without elaborating what the plan is.

So, is the plan: polarising or ethnic cleansing for political benefit; wiping out Kukis-Nagas from forest land in the 66,000 hectors (in six districts of Manipur) for Palm plantations – Rs

10,000 crore contract for which has been awarded; assuming complete control of the narcotics trade and poppy cultivation; mining minerals, or; sending a “muscular” signal to rest of India in absence of a viable opposition?

An exercise to identify illegal immigrants in Manipur is now being undertaken but would this be to suit the government “plan”, nuances of which have been discussed above?

Similarly, the cries about the Rohingya are not new. It has been on for the past several years. The Union Home Minister even called them “termites” in April 2019 and vowed to throw them into the Bay of Bengal.

But what has been done: about 150 deported to Myanmar, none to Pakistan and none to Bangladesh with whom we don’t even have an extradition treaty? So, is the gimmickry for the sake of politicisation only?

Governments in Manipur have been using women as shields, as is happening these days. Not only has the Army been deployed without AFSPA, anti-Army videos are in circulation, as well as videos of women effectively used to establish roadblocks to hinder movement of security forces.

Tamil Nadu Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) chief K Annamalai, sermonised during his visit to the United Kingdom that in India we let protesters block national highways for nine months, even the main arteries to major cities; the real strength of democracy, which the

UK does not have.

Former Army Chief General M.M. Naravane has said that involvement of foreign agencies in the ongoing violence in Manipur cannot be ruled out, He referred to China’s aid to various insurgent groups in the northeast over the decades. He is absolutely right.

But why would China and Pakistan not take advantage of the situation in Manipur-North East when the fires have been lit by us and we are inviting and entertaining Myanmar-based terrorist organisations like the KYKL, which is supported and armed by Chinese intelligence?

Finally, prudence demands imposition of President’s rule and AFSPA to sanitise Manipur unless the plan is to continue posing nothing really has happened in Manipur, similar to denying loss of territorial control in Eastern Ladakh since April-May 2020.

Lt General PRAKASH KATOCH is a veteran of the Indian Army. Views expressed are the writer’s own.