Manipur violence: State police files FIR against Assam Rifles personnel for preventing search operation against armed Kuki militants

Manipur violence: State police files FIR against Assam Rifles personnel for preventing search operation against armed Kuki militants

Manipur police have filed a first information report (FIR) against some Assam Rifles personnel for allegedly preventing them from chasing armed miscreants involved in the killing of three individuals in Kwakta on Saturday morning.

The FIR, a copy of which has been obtained by OpIndia, was filed on August 5, hours after an altercation between Manipur police and Assam Rifles men was extensively publicized on social media. The FIR has been filed under sections 166, 186, 189, 341, 353, 506 and 34 of the Indian Penal Code.

Manipur police personnel are seen in the video accusing Assam Rifles of interfering with their operation while chasing the armed Kuki miscreants. In the footage, an Assam Rifles officer is heard claiming that he is merely performing his job.

FIR filed against Assam Rifles

According to the FIR filed by the Manipur police, a squad led by the superintendent of police (SP) of Bishnupur and other officials had proceeded towards Pholjang road along Kwakta ward 8 to look for “Kuki militants” who may have been involved in the three killings (Meitei victims) earlier that day. According to the FIR, police personnel were conducting searches.

“On reaching the Kutub Wali Masjid located at Kwakta ward 8 along Pholjang road, the state police teams were stopped, and their way was blocked by the personnel of the 9 Assam Rifles by keeping and parking their Casper vehicle in the middle of the Kwakta Pholjang road, obstructing in discharging their law bound duty. As such the arrogant act of the personnel of 9th Assam Rifles gave a chance to the accused Kuki militants to escape freely to somewhere that is a free zone for them,” the FIR read.

Complaint mentioned in the FIR

According to the reports, three Meitei men were shot dead and their remains disfigured at their home in Bishnupur’s Kwakta Ward 8 at around 3 a.m. on Saturday (August 5). Following the murder, many Meitei organizations began demonstrating against the Assam Rifles, demanding that they leave Manipur.

Women’s organizations have accused the Assam Rifles of being prejudiced in their duties. They were also accused of employing excessive force when dealing with Meitei women demonstrators, according to the ladies.

In line with an order issued by the Manipur police on Monday (August 7), Assam Rifles soldiers were replaced with civil police and CRPF at a checkpoint in Moirang, between Bishnupur and Kangvai in Manipur. The order was issued by the auxiliary director general of police (law and order) without any explanation. The sequence, however, only applies to one checkpoint.

‘Assam Rifles was doing its job’

However, the Assam Rifles have called out fabricated attempts to malign their image amid the violence. It said that the unit has not moved out of the state as it is being claimed by people pushing the narrative. “Assam Rifles has been in Manipur since May and will continue to remain firm and resolute in actions to prevent any attempt that could result in furthering the violence,” the statement read.

“The Assam Rifles Battalion has acted strictly in accordance with the mandate of the united headquarters of strict enforcement of the buffer zone guidelines towards the aim of preventing violence between the two communities”, the statement read.

Earlier Manipur govt had questioned Assam Rifles, and asked how 718 Myanmar nationals entered India illegally

Earlier in July, the Manipur government had asked Assam Rifles authorities to push back 718 Myanmar nationals who entered India illegally. These illegal immigrants, including 301 children, entered India on July 22 and 23. The state government then expressed concerns over illegal immigrants entering India amidst ongoing Manipur violence.

The state government also pointed out that it had clearly informed Assam Rifles that, being Border Guarding Force, it has to take strict action to prevent any such infiltration of Myanmar nationals into Manipur without valid visas or travel documents. These instructions were given on behalf of the Ministry of Home Affairs, Government of India. The state added that such infiltration may have international ramifications amidst an ongoing law and order situation. 

The Assam Rifles and other paramilitary personnel are still stationed around the state in order to restore normalcy. Manipur is currently home to the CRPF (Central Reserve Police Force), BSF (Border Security Force), SSB (Sashastra Seema Bal), ITBP (Indo-Tibetan Border Police), and Assam Rifles, as well as the Indian Army.

To restore normalcy, the forces are acting under a single interagency leadership led by Kuldiep Singh, Manipur’s security advisor. So far, at least 160 persons have died in violent ethnic clashes between Meiteis and Kukis.

Clashes erupted in Manipur on May 3 in Churachandpur town when Kuki organizations called for protests against a proposed change to the state’s reservation matrix that would grant the Meitei people scheduled tribal (ST) status. Violence swiftly overtook the state, displacing tens of thousands of people who fled burning houses and communities into jungles, frequently across state lines.

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