Pulling Out Trump Card?

In other parts of the vulnerable areas, reinforcement can be reached in an hour or two but not at Jiribam. Perhaps the state security apparatus was lulled by the sense of relative calm that prevails in the district without understanding the implication.

ByRK Nimai

Updated 13 Jun 2024, 1:01 pm

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The murder of a Meitei on June 6 and the subsequent violence leading to arson and displacement of hundreds in Jiribam has put the more than 13 months old crisis into another dimension. After some violence in May of last year, life in Jiribam can be said to be normal with the formation of a peace committee with representatives from different communities. Distrust started after one person Bosco Seigoulien was reported missing on May 14 and his body was found in the Jiri river near Muolzawl village on May 16 resulting in finger pointing by both the communities.

The post mortem report was not made public leading to continuing distrust and paving rooms for rumours. The beheading of Sarat and the subsequent violence was further fuelled by social media which is agog with “information” though many are nonsense trying to grab hits with unfounded claims. The dismantling of small bridges in the district and the ambush carried out on the advance escort party for the CM’s visit to Jiribam between Ngaprum Chingjin and K Sinam and the reports of movement of armed persons from Pherzawl and Haflong side make the security of the district serious.

One is a bit confused why security presence was thin in this district when it is clear that reinforcement will not be easy and one has to send through air but vehicles to operate there will be limited. In other parts of the vulnerable areas, reinforcement can be reached in an hour or two but not at Jiribam. Perhaps the state security apparatus was lulled by the sense of relative calm that prevails in the district without understanding the implication.

Perhaps as both the Security Advisor and the DGP were formerly with the CRPF with limited knowledge of the functioning of a state police and both being officers not from the cadre, are perhaps unaware of the terrain and the implications. Further, there is hardly any intelligence network of the state police and both had failed to revive the intelligence network much to the disadvantage of the functioning of the state police. The most astounding information is that the bunkers from which ambush was carried out of the near Ngaprum Chinjin was reportedly only about 100 m from the camp of a Coy of the 86 Bn CRPF and if true what are the security forces doing acting like the proverbial “Howdokna sangom thakpra yengoo” meaning watch whether the cat drink the milk and reporting only after the cat drank it.

The Chief Minister in his interview with the Indian Express had admitted that he bears the responsibility for the loss of the two LS candidates, one from the BJP and the other supported by it but he refuse to admit any failure on the handling of the crisis though fingers have been pointed to him while on the other hand he point finger in all directions. He replied that there is no question of him stepping down at this juncture.


Meanwhile his office clarified that it had communicated in January 15 about the movement of 200 Kuki-Zo militants from Churachandpur to Jiribam in Phaitol and New and Old Kaiphundai in Tamenglong district to the Security Advisor and the DGP both of whom were appointed by the state government on the advice of the Union Government. CM is no longer the Chairman of the Unified Command as per the instruction of the UHM and the Security Advisor was the Chairman. It was also mentioned that in another letter on January 27, the DGP was requested to take adequate measures after gun fire was reported in Jiribam on December 31, January 1, and January 21 and reports were also sought.

It expressed its concern that efforts are on to cut off NH 37 and also requested for area domination of strategic locations using Central/State Forces. It was also stated that the SP Jiribam had informed DGP that firing occurred at Lamtai Khunou and had requested for providing two Coys of central forces for elaborate security measures in Jiribam and Borobekra sub-divisions. Again on January 31, the Police Department was instructed to take all possible steps in regard to the possibility of looting arms of 7 IRB located in Jiribam. This narrative is a trump card of the Chief Minister to duck any direct allegations against him on the inaction of the state government agencies.

The Security Advisor and the DGP have now been targeted for the failure to take sufficient measures to stop attacks from the Kuki militants. But the question remains why action has not been taken against the two if they are at fault. No action but sly attack makes one recall his statement that UHM will look after the hills and the valley; in other words he has ceded his power unconstitutionally to somebody. Especially as Art 355 was clarified not to have been invoked and hence the role of the MHA is limited and direct intervention cannot be made constitutionally.  Another question that went begging is when the SP of Jiribam sought for additional forces due to the developing security scenario which transfers him at this juncture. There are many questions which remain unanswered.

It may be recalled that in a reply on March 4, 2024 to starred question number 220 from Surjakumar Okram in the last Assembly session it was stated the Advisor (Security) is the current Chairman of the Combined Headquarter though in terms of Para No. A (iii) of Government order No. 2/8(17).2004-H(A)(Pt) dated May 31, 2023 CM Manipur can call a meeting as and when required and he will head the meeting. In the same reply, it was stated that Advisor (Security) chairs the Strategy and Operation Group while the DGP heads the Operational Intelligence Group.

The reply further added that there have been five meetings of the Combined Headquarter; three chaired by the Advisor (Security) and two by the Chief Minister. In other words till then CM chaired 40% of all meetings of the CHQ which is commonly referred to as Unified Command. Thus the putative claim that CM no longer has the power is not borne by the facts. One surprising element is that normally the DGP and the IGP (Intel) briefs the CM daily on the law and order situation earlier but it seem that after May 31, 2023 it is the opposite with CM’s office providing Intel inputs to the DGP and the Security Advisor, thereby indicating a breakdown in the system when it is most needed. Politicians though have their own network of information which in many cases just can’t be equalled by officials, as observed during my service.

Many groups had opposed the evacuation of people from villages which came under attack and persons from both the sides have been victims and most view that it is the duty of the forces not only to protect the lives but also the property which it had failed to do so. The priority seems to save lives but the happenings in Churachandpur and Moreh had laid serious ground for suspicion that the Central forces are abetting in ethnic cleansing, though the evacuation was reportedly on the request by the villagers through the state police. This is collaborated by the experience that when the police commandos came under attack for five days in Moreh, hardly any central forces came to assist them.


In contrast in Kashmir any attack on the state police is retaliated with the full might of the combined central and state forces. Such happenings cause concern that Manipuri are treated as third class citizens and they should fend for themselves. If that is the case, allowing the village volunteers to move toward Jiribam to defend the vulnerable villages is the refrain from common folks. It underlies a deep sense of distrust .on the security forces and relying more on the village volunteers indicating a complete breakdown on the law and order machinery.

Only the state has the right to the legal use of violence and no others and this should be enforced strictly. The segregation of good and bad militants will haunt the Indian state in the days to come. In the killing of Sarat the JAC had alleged one person Goushang Singson as the main culprit and his vehicle Bolero AS027A 2905 was used in carrying out the dastardly act. The police should make an attempt to arrest him and also demand from his community his surrender and if on investigation he was found innocent, set him free. His arrest may dramatically reduce the tension there.

Bandhs have been called by one organisation along NH 37 which was opposed by a Naga student organisation and this led to tension between the two communities also. CM had pulled out his trump card to deflect from his responsibility but will this cut any ice is a million dollar question.

(The views expressed are personal)



First published:


meiteiskukismanipur violencejiribam violence

RK Nimai

RK Nimai

The author is a former bureaucrat, Imphal, Manipur


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