If we remember correctly, a year ago, there was a hue and cry over the announcement of opening new police stations and outposts along the Indo-Myanmar border. The announcement was made by Manipur Chief Minister N Biren Singh. He said that the state government, with the approval of the Ministry of Home Affairs, will set up 34 police outposts along the Indo-Myanmar border to check cross-border infiltration. The CM was replying to queries raised by Opposition MLA K Ranjit Singh during the Budget session of the Manipur legislative assembly.
Manipur shares a 398-km border with the neighbouring country Myanmar with most of the parts remaining unfenced. Several village chiefs and civil bodies of the border district of Tengnoupal had opposed the recent state government decision to set up police outposts along Manipur sector’s India-Myanmar boundary.
In two separate press statements, they categorically stated that the current deployment of Assam Rifles along the border area is satisfactory and dependable. One of the statements claimed that the villagers “have apprehensions” about the proposed deployment of the state forces.
The state cabinet had given its nod to the setting up of 34 police outposts along the India-Myanmar border and six more outposts along the National Highway 37—the Imphal-Jiribam route.
It was rather strange that some village chiefs should object to opening of police stations and outposts near the Indo-Myanmar border, while many are asking for police coverage. Yet, it is indeed commendable for the Assam Rifles to be able to instil such confidence and faith in the force by the local populace.
They say, the Assam Rifles are competent and relevant enough to check and control movement of contraband drugs and to protect the border areas and its inhabitants while they do not have faith and confidence in the state police force because of rampant practice of bribery and involvement of state police personnel in peddling of drugs.
It is good that the village chiefs has full faith and confidence in Assam Rifles and it is a shot in the arm for the central paramilitary force who often project themselves as ‘Friends of the Hill People’.
The Assam Rifles here has twin functions, one that is of policing the Indo-Myanmar border and the other of counter-insurgency operations. Well, there are doing a good job of frisking and checking besides patrolling the border. But, they are not regular police.
There are so few police stations and outposts not only in the border areas but also in the hill areas. The job of police is not only of maintaining law and order but also crime control and investigation, besides prosecution.
The police force is one of the primary arms of the government and it has been assigned the basic duty of hunting down criminal elements and bringing them to justice.
The reach of governance had greatly increased in the interior regions through sustained campaigns like Go to Village and the police force is an important agent in facilitating the reach of government and its services.
There might be some bad apples among the police personnel, but that should not be a reason for refusing police stations and outposts wherever required.
The case of police corruption and rogue elements in the force is not a case only of Manipur, but everywhere in the world. Most police forces are afflicted with this disease of police corruption and complicity in drug smuggling and peddling as well.
Chief Minister N Biren Singh needs to have a plan for curbing police corruption if he wants to really succeed in his campaign.
A sustained campaign has been going on which yield results every day. Not only police but central agencies including NCB and DRI have become very active. And police is needed for processing the arrests and seizures before bringing it to the courts for prosecution and punishment.
The question now is, whether the objections from chiefs of border villages in any way connected with the present unrest in the state? Maybe it is far-fetched, but still worth asking.
Read More: IFP Editorial