The Indian government’s decision to get the armed forces out of Kangla Fort is a good one
Kangla Fort is seen not just as a symbol, but as the very epicentre of Manipuri culture and heritage. The colonial British army seized it in 1892, and after independence, this asset was transferred to its successor, India’s Ministry of Defence, which in turn used it to base the Indian Army and its related paramilitary forces.
While it may have been offensive to ordinary Manipuris, to the raging bulls of Meitei nationalism it was a blazing red banner. The Indian government was wrong to allow this affront to the Manipuri people to continue for so long after independence. The continued presence of the Indian armed forces in the Kangla Fort served as a lightning rod for insurgents.
In this context, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s act of handing over the fort to the Manipuri people is both right and correct. And lest the insurgents feel emboldened by what they may percieve as their victory, Dr Singh also indicated that the armed forces and the special powers act will stay in force until the violence comes to an end.