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MANIPUR GOVERNMENT REPORTED REQUEST FOR RAPID ACTION FORCE CONDEMNABLE: CORE

Chumthang News Service
IMPHAL: The Centre for Organisation Research and Education (CORE) Manipur finds the report yesterday in the media that the State government has requested the Ministry of Home Affairs for deployment of two companies of Rapid Action Force (RAF) by a fax message sent to the Joint Secretary (NE), MHA, New Delhi highly alarming. The state now wants “surgical crowd control operations in a highly professional manner” according to this report. If the report is true, it must be outright condemned in the strongest terms.

According to report carried in the Imphal Times daily on 30th July 2015, the government of Manipur now has the view that its own security personnel are ill-trained and under-equipped, because of which the State’s own forces have failed to control the prevailing situation. This is a very surprising admission of the failure of the government, for which it is solely responsible, despite all the funds being poured in for years by the central government of bolster, and modernize, the police force. Our State does not need more forces, especially such as the rapid action force, but we sorely need a rapid action government that is responsive to the people’s needs, wishes and demands.

The RAF is a specialised wing of the Indian CRPF (Central Reserve Police Force). It was established on 11 December 1991 with the mandate to deal with riots, riot like situations, crowd control, rescue and relief operations, and related unrest. Though it is reported to be only equipped with non-lethal weapons, it is nevertheless a special, highly trained and well equipped force raised to also respond to communal violence and terrorist attacks in the country as it was used during the terrorist attacks in the Mumbai Oberoi Trident and the Taj Mahal hotels in November 2008. Does the State government now think that the people of Manipur engaged in a democratic and peaceful campaign are all terrorists and rampaging mobs? Or that the present situation is a communal violence? The direct and brutal response of the police to the people of Manipur protesting on the streets, that we have witnessed over many days, needs very deep analysis and thought as well as a rapid action to correct it. This is not evident from the reported request for an anti-terrorist squad from the Indian Home Ministry. A clarification on this question needs to be made by the Manipur government immediately.

The reported request by the government of Manipur is a direct affront to democracy that openly challenges all the citizens of Manipur. Surgical crowd control implies direct and violent action to individuals to immobilize or render them inactive. Such steps taken by the government, as reported, for the stated purposes will only serve to ignite a very tragic confrontation between the government and the people of Manipur. CORE considers this reported step by the government as a mistake of very grave proportions, and likely to have very regrettable long term catastrophic consequences as a precedent of state policy. It would have been more appropriate for the government to train and deploy specialised forces of the State to conduct humanitarian activities such as prompt rescue and relief operations during floods and catastrophes, which it has also failed miserably to perform.

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