The old Indian State is unable to control Manipur

Featured image: cars damaged due to gunfight in Imphal. Source: NDTV.

Today the Indian Supreme Court has pointed out that “the police have not been in charge of the situation for the last two months” and has stated that “no law and order has been maintained by them”. One more proof of what is already known: the old Indian State is still unable to suppress the protest and attacks against it in Manipur.

So far there are some official figures given by the Manipur government: by the end of February there were 13,264 structures/buildings destroyed, a figure that continues to be updated and is increasing; more than 187,000 arrests have been made, 10,000 judicial cases have been opened against those who have rebelled against the old Indian authorities. Also since the end of February repressive forces have expressed continuously how they are not able to put Manipur under their control, and they are also unable to put an end to the armed struggle there. We have recently reported on new armed clashes.

This situation has continued developing, without improving or being solved by the Indian authorities. Between the end of February and the beginning of this month there were several very significant events: on Wednesday the 27th of February, armed groups shot the residence of a high ranking police officer in the capital of Manipur, Imphal. Then they took him captive. The attack was carried out by around 200 armed people. The Manipur Police commandos refused to exercise their functions that day, showing the total crisis in the area for the repressive forces. On last Friday a new similar incident occurred, in this case a soldier was captured, being the fourth similar case since May 2023.

The Manipur government is unable to deal with the situation and it has even canceled police personnel transfers from some parts of Manipur to other parts, because in that case it could not guarantee the little control it has over some districts. In turn, the Manipur police has made a call for help to the Indian army and other central repressive forces, stating that their needs have grown in Manipur, and that they must be deployed with greater force. After that, it has been pointed out that joint operations between several repressive forces are performed intensely, but local repressive forces are asking for more central efforts.

This will without doubt lead to the reactionaries and local ruling classes wanting to apply a harsher repressive policy against the people of Manipur and against any protest, which will be labeled as criminal or violent. In fact, lawyers and activists of Manipur are denouncing that this is happening already, for example with the excess of force used by the Rapid Action Force against the frequent and peaceful protests of women which take place in Manipur. All of this is nothing more than the result of the sharp crisis of the local ruling classes, and because of the explosiveness of the masses, materialized in the great protests that have shaken Manipur since May of 2023. And these protests have not been pacified at all, on the contrary, they continue to show week after week, month after month, the weakness of the old Indian State as well as its reactionary character.

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