Who is responsible for the violence in Manipur?

Between May 3 to May 5, for three days and nights, anarchy and violence ruled Manipur. In the capital Imphal, Churchandpur, Bishnupur, as well as many other towns of the state and adjoining rural areas, armed gangs went on the rampage. They looted and plundered, and spread death and devastation. The homes and properties of people have been destroyed. Tens of thousands of people have been forced to leave their homes, and live in temporary camps set up by the armed forces. People living in the villages bordering neighbouring states of Assam, Meghalaya and Mizoram have fled to those states, fearing for their lives. While the government has refused to provide figures, it seems that at least 55 people have been killed. All this has gone on under the watchful eyes of the state police and the armed forces. In Manipur, the Armed Forces Special Powers Act is in place, and the army has ruled for decades behind the façade of a civilian government.

On May 5, the Central government imposed Article 355 on Manipur. Since then, it has airlifted and deployed thousands of additional troops in the state. The Indian army and Manipur police have been given shoot at sight orders.

Rumours spread through social media have further inflamed passions. All kinds of stories are being spread through the print and electronic media and the social media as to the cause of the anarchy and violence. All of them blame the people.

According to this inflammatory propaganda, people of two communities went on a murderous rampage. This is not true. People protected each other. The anarchy and violence was state organised. How else can it be that in a state under Army rule, where Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA) allows the Armed Forces to kill with impunity, such large scale violence can take place?

The aim of all the media propaganda is to hide what is the problem in Manipur, and who is the trouble maker.

It is well known that in the states of the North East, and in Manipur in particular, the intelligence agencies of the Central government have established close coordination with various armed militant groups. Many of these groups are armed and financed by the intelligence agencies. The Central government justifies army rule and the Armed Forces Special Powers Act by pointing to the violent activities of these groups. These armed groups justify their existence by pointing to the oppressive rule of the army.  Together and separately, the Indian Armed Forces, and the armed groups collaborate in oppressing and terrorising the masses of people they claim to protect. Together, they carry out various operations, including poppy cultivation, drug peddling, and smuggling across the international border with Myanmar.  Like parasites, they suck the blood of the people, and amass private wealth. The civilian governments in Manipur work in close coordination with these armed groups, under the supervision of the central state. The Central Government, its intelligence agencies and the Armed Forces are completely responsible for the anarchy and violence that has engulfed Manipur at this time.

The aim of unleashing this anarchy and violence is to divert the people of Manipur from seeking solutions to the pressing problems facing them. The workers, peasants and tribal people, women and youth of Manipur lead a life of great hardship and insecurity. There are very few higher educational institutions. There is massive unemployment amongst the youth as there are very few job opportunities. Youth have to travel to far regions of the country, in search of education and jobs. On top of this, Army rule has made life a living hell for the masses of people. For more than four decades, all sections of the people of Manipur have been waging a heroic struggle for an end to Army rule and the repeal of the Armed Forces Special Powers Act.

The anarchy and violence unleashed by the ruling class in Manipur shows that it is unfit to rule. Far from ensuring prosperity and protection for the people, it is incapable of and unwilling to even protect the lives and properties of people.

Communalism is at the very foundation of the Indian state. The bourgeoisie rules by exacerbating divisions amongst people on the basis of nationality, religion, language, caste, and every other basis. All the political parties of the ruling class participate in sharpening communal divisions and unleashing communal violence. People of Manipur, as well as people of other states of the country have bitter experience of this.

The problem facing the people of Manipur is the capitalist economic and political system in place in our country. The bourgeoisie ruling over our country savagely exploits the land, labour and resources of the people of Manipur and of the rest of India. It maintains its oppressive rule over the people through the political system of multi-party democracy, organizing periodic elections, by which it legitimizes its dictatorship over the workers and peasants and broad masses of people.

Along with periodic elections, the bourgeoisie unleashes state terrorism, including state organised communal massacres targeting people of this or that community, to keep the people divided and disoriented.

The Indian ruling class and its political parties make out that the people of Manipur are backward, and want to massacre each other on a communal basis. This is turning truth on its head. The people of Manipur have a proud history of unitedly fighting against exploitation and oppression, for their rights. It is the ruling class which organizes communal massacres, and then sends its armed forces to further oppress and terrorise the people. This is what the Indian ruling class and its state has been doing all over India.

The struggle raging in our country is between the ruling bourgeoisie headed by the monopoly capitalists on one hand, and the workers, peasants and tribal peoples on the other. It is not a struggle between different communities, as the ruling class propaganda makes out.

The workers, peasants, and tribal people of our country need to take our  destiny into our own hands. We need to unite around the aim of replacing the rule of the bourgeoisie with worker-peasant rule, and carrying out the Navnirman of India. With political power in our hands, we will reorient the economy from fulfilling capitalist greed to fulfilling the ever-growing needs of the whole of society. With political power in our hands, we will establish a system which will indeed ensure prosperity and protection to all.

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