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The External Affairs Minister (EAM) S Jaishankar has termed the situation in Manipur as “tragic”, saying the entire India wants to see normalcy. However, being the EAM, he has yet to comment on the territorial loss in Eastern Ladakh to China since April 2020 and the announcement of the Union Home Minister Amit Shah to fence the entire India-Myanmar border and cancelation of the Free Movement Regime (FMR) agreement between the two nations, even as the state assemblies of Nagaland and Mizoram have passed resolutions against such a move.

The Governor of Manipur has admitted that ethnic violence in Manipur has resulted in 219 killed, 60,000 homeless-displaced, 10,000 FIRs, 1,87,000 arrested (preventive) while 194 companies of Central Armed Police and 140 companies Army/Assam Rifles are posted in the state. But this is just a bland statement without covering the tragedy of Manipur. While the state administration remains complicit, can the Governor elaborate on the following:

  • How did the “armed” Arambai Tenggol openly storm Imphal with no interference by Manipur Police, taking the Minister of State (MoS) for External Affairs and 37 MLAs to Kangla Fort and forcing them to take an oath?
  • How has the Arambai Tenggol expanded to 50-60,000 strong within a span of one year and how are the cadres armed, in addition to weapons and ammunition purportedly looted from police and IRB armories?
  • How are UNLF cadres, who had supposedly surrendered their weapons, roaming around freely with weapons and have established permanent camps in parts of East and West Imphal, as well as in Churachandpur?
  • Where is Manipur MLA Thaounaojam Shyamkumar Singh, who heading a 1000-plus mob (mostly women) mob forced an infantry column of the Indian Army to release 12 armed KYKL terrorists on June 24, 2023? Why has no action been initiated against him and where are these 12 KYKL terrorists?
  • Doesn’t all this prove conclusively that both the Manipur Police and the State Administration are fully compromised; supporting and directing operations of the Meitei radicals?

In February 28, 2024, a first-time bizarre phenomenon was witnessed in Manipur when Imphal West police commando personnel laid down their arms in protest against the attack by a mob on the residence of Additional SP (Operations) Amit Moirangthem in Wangkhei Tokpam Leikai the previous day. This was both ironic and amusing – police commandos protesting against violence by laying down arms instead of taking lawful action! The significant part is that the police commandos were upset that they were not allowed to retaliate against the miscreants – not allowed by whom? Police commandos of Thoubal, Kakching and Bishnupur District also joined the arms-down protest. Moirangthem was reportedly later released.

The Manipur Police issued a statement saying Additional SP of Police Amit Moirangthem was abducted allegedly by cadres of the Arambai Tenggol, a Meitei organization, in Imphal East district, who was later “rescued” after a swift action by cops and security forces. The statement further said that Amit has been admitted to a hospital where his condition is stated to be stable and that Arambai Tenggol had earlier ransacked Amit’s house and damaged at least four vehicles with gunfire.

Police said, the armed miscreants vandalized household property at Amit’s residence, and in the resulting police response, two people, identified as Rabinash Moirangthem 24 and Kangujam Bhimsen 20 sustained injuries. According to the PTI, the Army was called in after the incident and four columns of the Assam Rifles were deployed in Imphal East.

The intriguing part is that cadres of both the Arambai Tenggol and the surrendered UNLF cadres have been roaming around freely displaying their arms, which indicates collusion of the state administration and Manipur police, while Manipur police  commandos have been operating directly under the Chief Minister Biren Singh since last year. So, why would the Arambai Tenggol attack and abduct the Additional SP (Operations) Amit Moirangthem and why would the police commandos be stopped from retaliating against the Arambai Tenggol mobsters?    

According to ground sources, the Arambai Tenggol attacked the house of Additional SP Amit Moirangthem when he was not there. He arrived after frantic calls from his father and was overpowered, beaten up and taken. He had reportedly arrested one of the Arambai Tenggol cadre earlier in the day because he was trying to move against someone involved in theft of vehicles. Next morning the Arambai Tenggol attacked a Kuki-Zo village to maintain popularity but got beaten back.

The Kuki-Zo are now saying that the whole drama of abducting Additional SP Amit Moirangthem has been scripted by Chief Minister Biren Singh to showcase that the Arambai Tenggol is too powerful and more weapons and ammunition are required to fight the menace. However, once those supplies are delivered Arambai Tenggol will be allowed to loot them and the guns will then be pointed at the Kuki-Zo; mass assaults will be conducted against the Kuki-Zo in conjunction with the Arambai Tenggol and UNLF. One of the major demands of the Arambai Tenggol is  abrogation of SoO for which talks are reportedly ongoing.

Manipur is in for much more violence. The latest incident is the abduction of Konsam Kheda Singh, a serving JCO of the Indian Army on leave, from his home in Manipur’s Thoubal District at 9 AM on March 5, 2024. Some people (Arambai Tenggol?) reportedly barged into his home, bundled him in a vehicle and fled. This is the fourth incident of kidnapping in Manipur since violence broke out in May 2023, wherein soldiers while on leave, on duty or their relatives have been targeted by radical elements.

India has conveyed to the UNHCR deep concern over the situation in Myanmar, saying the precarious humanitarian situation and escalation of violence have led to an influx of thousands of persons into the northeastern states. This is true and will likely keep escalating with the Arakan Army, part of the Brotherhood Alliance, declaring they would take control of the entire Rakhine State.

But if refugees are the reason for violence, Mizoram hosting the bulk of Myanmar refugees would be burning hot, which is not the case. Much more is happening in Myanmar, about which the government remains tight lipped. The Nagas in Manipur are presently watching the situation from the sidelines. But it would be naïve to think they would wait for the extermination of the Kuki-Zo from Manipur before taking up arms against the state-supported Meitei radicals.

The author is an Indian Army veteran. Views expressed are personal.

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  1. It is wrong to keep blaming the Meitis. They were the original inhabitants of Manipur who were mainly Hindus and Tribals. Then the previous regimes made inequitable laws and rules preventing Hindu Sadhus from entering Manipur while freely allowing Christian Missionaries to enter, preach their religion and coerce locals to convert while at the same time allowing Muslims to migrate without regulation. Now the Meitis are reduced to 55% of the population and the rest are Kukis, Nagas, etc. Inequitable laws preventing Meitis from buying Kuki lands while permitting the reverse, designating Kukis as ST while exempting Meitis from any such privileges has caused serious grievance among the latter. The Kukis demanding that Meitis be kept our of any reserved class is patently wrong. Demanding reservation is one thing and demanding that some other tribe kept out of it is quite perverse and not acceptable.

    The government must restore the status quo and make everyone equal. Drug cultivation must be banned and the demographic balance restored. The previous regimes have been responsible for this simmering discontent. The people responsible for such discriminatory rules and laws must be apprehended and punished. If these things are done, there will be peace.


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