It’s been over 4 days of action so far. It’s sad for the people that have lost their lives and their families. The military leadership is tirelessly working ensuring that we are effective and are able to prevent major catastrophes. Right from the Chief of Army Staff, the Army Commander Eastern Command, to the HQs everywhere, military leaders have taken ownership and are of firm resolve to ensure that 'Peace is Back'. Along with the government they are putting measures into place that are effective and result oriented.
We see burnt vehicles, hear about people badly mauled. The army is deployed to the brim. Trying very hard to put the system into place by not getting into rivalries. Trying to bring in peace and talk to both sides without biases and make them understand the futility of this ruthlessness. But no one can make sense to people who are angry and most instigated by pettiness and false rumours.
We have so far been in the centre of this clash. Dispersed large crowds. Ensured no damages to a lot of properties. We have rescued at-least 10,000 people from both communities. Receiving more than a 1000 calls on each number over three days. Helped people with food, medical aid and water. Ferried stranded students and people needing help without biases to the airports. We have borne the brunt of trying to make peace at times, when the crowd turned against us despite our efforts and non show of force. We have the might and the weapons, but these are our people and we are showing utter restraint. I fear that we don’t get pushed to use force, cause then that will have major consequences. The aim is very clear, to bring peace back to Manipur.
When I see these approximately 3000 old people, men, women and children, in my station, it saddens me, they don’t even know what’s happening outside. The humanitarian crisis is huge, will take time to get back to normalcy. But we will get there. For those people here in the military camp, ensuring health and hygiene, respect for their diversity and above all ensuring happiness and that the kids have things to do, is something we are learning on the job.
Today, I met a family who was totally broken. Tried my best to help them out with things that I could do for them, under my power. They broke down, all they needed was a lot of love. It’s really emotional. The orders from top are very clear, help everyone, give refuge to everyone, ensure everyone is safe and security is not compromised at any cost. The war of the people against each other has reached dimensions that are too hard to comprehend anymore. The rumours are ghastly, most not true, but built up to incite. The main reason being unemployment, absolute helplessness and substance abuse. Young men who are exploiting the situation to feel proud getting their high from breaking property and beating up people. In destruction they are seeking pride.
In the mountains and the land beside each party is trying to keep the other away, by firing sporadically all night. Both sides have adequate weapons to wage a war. Men of both sides sit out the whole night congregated centrally to protect their villages from burning. The blame game is unending. No one trusts anyone. Even when called to rescue they want only the army to rescue them. The confidence ,we men in uniform we enjoy is superlative.
I have learnt a great lesson. I was hit by a stone on my head when I was fighting a mad crowd to save a young civilian boy from being killed. I was hit by a stone thrown by one boy who was later found to be under substance abuse, this was when I was trying to pull away the youth from being the cause of the murder. They were not against us, just angry that a youth from the other tribe had entered their village. When the guys saw that my head was bleeding they actually stopped their frenzy and hugged me, shouted at that boy, caught him and beat him and took me aside wanting to take care of me. The entire village today wanted to say sorry to me and make amends by bringing that boy to me. All I said was "I forgive you cause all I wanted was peace for you!"
The humanitarian crisis is huge, will take time to get back to normalcy. But we will get there. For those people here in the military camp, ensuring health and hygiene, respect for their diversity and above all ensuring happiness and that the kids have things to do, is something we are learning on the job.
The officers and men have been working tirelessly. All wanting to make a difference. The HQ above resilient to bring normalcy in the best way possible and fast. The boss here, genuine in his application. It’s been an exposure that is going to stick to my soul for years to come. The same peaceful people I idolised, I saw them demonised before my eyes. But still under the toughest exteriors known to me, there was an angel wanting peace. After this I can actually say, God sent me and all posted to Manipur for a reason. To help the needy and ensure that the calamity is soft on the ones that are also blessed.
Praying that this beautiful state with the most beautiful people realise that what they had was beautiful, they had freedom from fear & peace, therefore they were happy. Let happiness be back.
But looking at our boys in action is something that fills me with pride that is unmatched. After all we are the Final Responders!
The author is a military analyst & commentator on national security issues
(Views expressed are the author's own and do not reflect the editorial stance of Mission Victory India)
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