An essential feature of a state is that it has a monopoly over violence. This monopoly is tempered by an elaborate system of checks and balances to ensure that there’s no arbitrariness or partisanship. Using this basic feature of a state as a benchmark, Manipur, yet again, failed the test on Friday when a mob burned down the house of a man alleged to have been part of a group that paraded two women naked. It’s come after weeks of anarchy that keeps widening the ethnic fault line between Meiteis and Kukis. There’s overwhelming evidence that the state in Manipur has withered away.
Close to three months after trouble broke out, Manipur faces the daunting challenge of ending violence and finding ways to narrow the ethnic divide. On available evidence, this task is beyond Singh. The Constitution places GOI above states in the hierarchy of power and charges it with the task of protecting a state from internal disturbance. It’s for GOI to bring about necessary changes in administration to first ensure that mobs don’t take over the role of the state. That’s a prerequisite to begin the process of healing.
The ball’s in GOI’s court.
This piece appeared as an editorial opinion in the print edition of The Times of India.
END OF ARTICLE