Another putrid eruption from the swamp in Imphal came in the form of Manipur police FIR accusing Assam Rifles (AR) for stopping them in discharging duties. The Army has said inimical elements are making desperate attempts to question the Army’s role; AR has worked relentlessly to save lives and restore peace and there have been multiple instances to malign AR.

Specially crafted anti-Army/AR videos have been in circulation and AFSPA is not imposed, reducing Army to the level of police. This enables ethnic cleansing by police commandos under Chief Minister Biren Singh’s orders. In this context, the eye-opening article by Lt. Gen. Prakash Menon is a must read. The article also explains why Assam Rifles is being vilified and the Centre-State connivance for letting the violence spiral.  

No action has been taken against the alleged politico-terrorist MLA Thaounaojam Shyamkumar Singh forcing the Army to release 12 KYKL terrorists on June 24, including the mastermind of the ambush killing 18 personnel of an infantry unit in June 2015. This indicates Thaounaojam Shyamkumar Singh has the backing of the CM and the Union Home Minister. The KYKL terrorists were probably invited to assist ethnic cleansing of the Kuki-Zo and could be enjoying the hospitality of these politicians. After all, Zail Singh as Union Home Minister was hosting terrorists from Punjab at his official residence. 

The prime minister’s speech writer appears as sick as the   POTUS’s speech writer who makes Joe Biden go on a tangent; here also narratives at times are not in synch with ground realities – berating Air Force use to bomb Aizwal when Nagas had even shot down a Dakota, and peace having returned to Manipur? Opening of schools, screening of movies in Churachandpur and police probably told to pause killings isn’t return of peace where: bulk of 4,000+ weapons and 50,000+ ammunition distributed-looted are not recovered; 180+ killed with Kukis being told to “change” the place to bury their killed; displaced Kukis asked to settle away from native districts in Naga areas – which is not acceptable to Nagas; 6,000 plus FIRs pending with police, and; schooling of children of 50,000+ in rehab shelters no issue.   

Recall reports of Nagaland Police FIR against 21 Para (SF) team alleging they deliberately killed civilians on December 4, 2021, while actually an armed civilian mob attacked the SF team shooting dead one SF soldier and injuring 14. Facts were twisted to remove AFSPA and control the Rs 10,000 annual narcotics trade in conjunction with politicians-drug mafia-terrorists. Next day a 600-strong armed mob attacked 27 Assam Rifles post in Mon town; ransacking and burning buildings but no action was taken against the ring leaders known to Nagaland police. The Manipur police FIR against AR are for similar reasons, with added agenda of ethnic cleansing.

The quantum of narcotics entering India from the ‘Golden Triangle’ to our east would be as much as entering from west, if not more.  Chemicals and narcotics go to Myanmar from India for refining and return and Army/AR is a hindering nuisance. In January 2023 alone, 194 kgs of  pseudoephedrine tablets with market value of Rs 2 crore were confiscated and Assam Rifles recovered same tablets with market value of Rs 9.80 crore.

Narcotics are not the only commodity being smuggled across our eastern borders and the overall value would be astounding. This is why Assam CM Himanta is also rooting to abolish AFSPA altogether, rendering the Army/AR without powers to search or apprehend. After all, if the public is crying over tomato prices, imagine the plight of our “poor” politicians and political parties; elections have become so damn expensive and look at the horrendous costs of affecting political defections in Maharashtra – if figures circulating on social media are even anywhere close.    

There is periodic reference to ‘Nari Shakti’ by the prime minister but what is the government doing about the horrifically perverted use of nari shakti in Manipur under political patronage which puts womanhood to shame? Nude women in Imphal valley have been protesting for removal of AFSPA in the past on behalf of the politicians – isn’t this abusing our Hindu/Vedic culture? Presently, women mobs are visible on camera blocking Army/AR movement, demanding removal of AR and asking soldiers what is their religion and wanting them to show identity proof. This is hardly possible without prior ‘political briefing’ of these women mobsters and blessings of the CM and the Centre. Ironically, the politico-Taliban and their followers loath the secular of the Army, some of whom are pretty vocal about it.      

There have been vociferous suggestions that illegal immigrants from Myanmar are the main cause for the Manipur crisis. The Union Home minister said so in Parliament and the Solicitor General must say similarly to keep his job. But this is not the case according to a former DG Assam Rifles. Associated tweet reproduced below. The Kuki have been living in Manipur for scores of decades and are Indian nationals.

Concurrently, why don’t we acknowledge that cross-border smuggling of narcotics, weapons and goods is a political expediency which entails movement? Moreover, the problem of infiltration into Manipur is decades old. But then why is only 5.6 km fenced off in the 390 km Manipur-Myanmar border and what is the government doing about finalizing and demarcating the India-Myanmar border?  Despite all the talk and vigilantes against cow-slaughter, why haven’t we stopped cow smuggling into Bangladesh with border management directly under the MHA?

There is surprise in many quarters why Biren Singh has not been sacked although the reasons are pretty evident. He enabled the present government in Manipur and has increased his following through actions this year including arming the Meitei. The spectacle of Meitei women holding placards to sack Biren Singh is subterfuge; they actually adore him for arming the Meitei at large, his astuteness in ‘Sadbhavna” towards Nagas while demonstrating resolves to eliminate the Kuki-Zo. There is also speculation that with his proximity to terrorists and ability to use them for political gains, MLA Thaounaojam Shyamkumar Singh could be Manipur’s future chief minister.

India has been rightly telling Pakistan that talks and terrorism cannot go together. Then why don’t we acknowledge that talks and strong-arm tactics (read ethnic cleansing) cannot go together. Biren Singh may be able to wipe out Kuki-Naga from the 6,000 hectares of land earmarked for palm plantation (contract for which has been signed with an Indian corporate), but there would be adverse repercussions no matter how many weapons are distributed, terrorist organizations like KYKL invited and  polarization-cum-ethnic cleansing of energized to get more votes. China needs to do nothing more than inject few shoulder fired IR-guided surface-to-air missiles to add to the mayhem – the types it gave to Taliban to fight US-NATO in Afghanistan and to the United Wa State Army (UWSA) in Myanmar.

The recent brutal attack on August 18 killing three Kuki youth after torturing, stabbing and breaking their limbs in Thoubal area of Ukhrul by what is being described as “trained insurgents” (KYKL-police commandos?) bodes a grim future. The United Naga Council (UNC) has said no permanent structure or semi-permanent relief camp shall be allowed in Naga areas. The tribal body wants Army deployment to recover the arms, but without AFSPA what searches and arrests can they make? Yet, the missive from the powers that be appears to be: we have the numbers; you can lump it or go climb a tree.

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

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