Source: Waari Singbul Network

2/29/20243 min read

Imphal: In the midst of the continued turmoil gripping Manipur since May 3, 2023, Chief Minister N. Biren Singh presented a detailed overview and strategic responses during the 5th session of the 12th Manipur State Legislative Assembly.

Singh meticulously recounted the unfolding events, commencing with a rally in the international border town of Moreh at 9:45 am, followed by the regrettable burning down of a forest office in Churachandpur at 10:30 am on May 3rd. The situation escalated further with subsequent arson in Churachandpur and border areas with Bishnupur districts, resulting in 219 casualties and over 60 thousand internally displaced, an incident unequivocally condemned by the Chief Minister.

In light of the eruption of violence, a security advisor was appointed on May 4th, and by May 7th, the incumbent chief secretary was replaced. The leadership underwent further alterations, including the replacement of the Director General of Police (DGP), and the Chief Minister stepping down from the chairmanship of the United Command of Security agencies operating in Manipur. Recognizing the gravity of the situation, 42 Special Investigation Teams (SIT) were established to probe the root causes. Despite the challenges, Chief Minister N. Biren Singh expressed gratitude for the support of the people, noting that the state is gradually returning to normalcy.

Various state security forces, comprising civil police, IRB, Manipur Rifles, Commandos, and VDFs, alongside 198 companies of Central Armed Police Forces (CAPF), 153 columns of the Indian Army, and Assam Rifles, have been mobilized. Emphasizing the critical nature of deployment due to challenging terrains, Singh underscored the significance of these forces in effectively addressing the unrest.

Ensuring a collaborative approach, regular security coordination meetings, including the Chief Secretary, DGP, and the security advisor, are conducted. At the DGP's level, Operational and Intelligence Group meetings contribute to effective coordination, supplemented by routine district-level security coordination meetings.

In a bid to control the situation, security forces are actively involved in area domination and containment operations across more than 100 sensitive periphery areas, aiming to prevent clashes between conflicting groups. State forces are strategically positioned in hotspot areas, including Moreh, to quell violence and restore stability, as briefed by Chief Minister Biren Singh to the assembly.

Addressing the issue of arms and ammunition looting, an extensive audit was conducted on May 15 through joint efforts of the Police, Indian Army, Assam Rifles, and other paramilitary forces. Singh reported a successful recovery, with 1,757 arms and 22,707 ammunition reclaimed from the approximately 5,600 arms and 6.5 lakh rounds looted from the Manipur Police armoury during the initial days of the violence.

The Chief Minister's presentation faced a counter-argument from Opposition Congress MLA K Ranjit Singh, attributing the ongoing violence to the alleged support by central paramilitary forces, particularly the Assam Rifles, for Kuki-Zo militants targeting Meitei settlements. Notably, the Manipur government alleged bias against Assam Rifles leading it to request the Ministry of Home Affairs for their replacement with a neutral central force.

In response, Chief Minister N Biren Singh conveyed the government's active pursuit of replacing Assam Rifles from guarding the Indo-Myanmar borders in Manipur with other central forces possessing specialized border security skills. Highlighting the ministry's acknowledgment of the connection between the current unrest in Manipur and the challenges faced by the Assam Rifles, Singh disclosed plans for fencing the entire borders with Myanmar and the suspension of the Free Movement Regime (FMR). Additionally, he revealed on the Legislative floor that the central government would dispatch a team of central forces to take over border guard duties, relieving the Assam Rifles of this responsibility in Manipur.

Chief Minister N. Biren Singh's thorough overview offered a nuanced understanding of the complexities surrounding the ongoing unrest, accompanied by strategic responses, providing crucial insights into Manipur's current state of affairs.

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