In an interview to discuss Wednesday’s disturbing developments in Manipur, which unfortunately have not been widely reported outside the state and are, therefore, not fully understood, one of Manipur’s most respected senior journalists, columnists and authors has said that 37 of the state’s Meitei MLAs and two of its Meitei MPs publicly taking an oath and the chief minister and deputy chief minister signing on to promote and pursue Arambai Tenggol’s objectives with the Centre is “unfortunate in many ways” and “it should not have happened in this way”. Pradip Phanjoubam agreed that “to a great extent” this seems like the ascendance of Arambai Tenggol and the deliberate subordination of the state government to this outfit.
Speaking about Korounganba Khuman, the Arambai Tenggol chief who arrived at the venue of yesterday’s oath taking ceremony in Kangla Fort in a police vehicle and is frequently seen on social media carrying allegedly stolen weapons, Phanjoubam described this as the “abnormal normal” of Manipur.
Phanjoubam discussed in detail some of the six demands raised by Arambai Tenggol which the MLAs and MPs have sworn an oath to promote and pursue and which the chief minister and deputy chief minister have signed on to as well. These demands include removing illegal Kuki tribes from the scheduled tribe list, replacing the Assam Rifles with another force and scrapping the Suspension of Operations agreement.
Phanjoubam was also asked about talk on social media that the Union government is considering dropping the integrity of Manipur clause from the SoO agreements and some people say this suggests that the government could be coming around to accepting some form or shape of separate administration.
Finally, Phanjoubam addressed two further issues. Is the Centre attempting to play both sides and is that wise or dangerous, if it is? Second, how do Manipuris view the fact nine months have passed since the 3rd of May but we don’t have a solution and the prime minister, who has time to visit multiple temples, has failed to visit Manipur.