TODAY -

A brief history of Manipur Police
- Part 3 -

Waikhom Damodar Singh *

The first two incumbent officers appointed as selected by the Union Public Service Commission in the 1960s were Sarvashri W Damodar Singh and Paocha Gangte followed by Sarvashri Lairenjam Jugeshwore Singh and Sanjembam Bimolchandra Singh in 1961/62 or the third post of Assistant Commandant of 1 MR and another post of DySP for the District Police sanctioned with a starting meagre Pay of Rs 200/- per month (starting pay of a commandant/SP at that time was Rs 600/- which was considered quite an attractive amount of pay).

The first two officers retired from the service in the ranks of IGP and DIGP respectively while the latter two officers reached upto the rank of DGP and retired in that rank. Most ably assisted by the services of the newly entered very active and promising officers Commandant LH Hartnett proved his 'worth' of service and raised the standard of the battalion, particularly in carrying out the most difficult and hazardous duties of operations in the hilly areas of Manipur, especially during the most hostile rainy season launched only by moving on "foot" overcoming the steep hill climbs etc.

The 1st battalion, Manipur Rifles became the unit which produced best results in the operations conducted jointly with the Army and para-military units under the command of tough Major General, Pathania of the then 23 Division (converted to 8 Mountain division later on) which covered both the areas of Manipur and Nagaland with its Div HQ at Kohima. The toughness of the general with quite a slim body was well exhibited when he marched on foot along with the troops during the operations conducted.

Commandant LH Hartnett also convinced the State Government of the great need of having more armed Bns of the State and thus it was on 1st November 1962 that the 2nd Bn, Manipur Rifles was raised under his dual charge as Commandants of both the battalions with Sarvashri P Gangte and Thangjam Karunamaya Singh as the Assistant Commandants. The former was transferred from the 1st Bn while the latter was appointed against the sanctioned posts of the newly raised Bn who also retired in the rank of IGP.

From 1965 onwards the Manipur Rifles Bns began to be commanded by IPS officers, namely Sarvashri Salam Shyamkishore Singh, IPS of the Manipur-Tripura cadre of 1966 seniority as the Commandant of the 2nd Bn, Ashim Nath Banerjee, IPS of Maharastra cadre of 1952 seniority and on deputation as the Commandant of the 1st Bn after Shri LH Hartnett followed by Sarvashri S. Shyamkishore Singh transferred from the 2nd Bn after Shri AN Banerjee had been repatriated to his State in 1968.

After Shri S Shyamkishore Singh retired on superannuation in December 1974 Shri W Damodar Singh, IPS of MT cadre of 1969 seniority and other officer of the cadre became the Commandants of 1 MR, 2 MR and other Bns raised later on one after another. Sarvashri Gurdial Singh Pandher and Devendra Singh Grewal, IPS of the MT cadre of 1964 and 1966 seniority respectively also commanded the 7th-Bn (raised by Shri Pandher) and the 2nd Bn.

In 1966 two more Bns of the Manipur Rifles, the 3rd and the 4th, were raised at Patna and Indore respectively under the charge of the newly appointed Assistant Commandants, Indra Nath Vohra and Vijay Vikram Sardana initially which soon came under the command of Sarvashri VP Jain, IPS of the Bihar cadre of 1961 and Arun Bhagat, IPS of the ertswhile Union Territory cadre of 1961 seniority.

Both the officers held the posts on deputation assisted by Shri L Jugeshwore Singh and Irom Chhatrajit Singh as the seniormost Asistant commandants of the Bns. But the two newly raised Manipur Rifles Bns got merged soon into the 95 and 96 Bns of the Border Security Force as per policies introduced by the Central Government for conversions of the State armed police units into the Central para-military force.

The HQs of both the Bns continued to be at Pallel and Churachandpur respectively though their names have been permanently struck off from the list of the State armed battalions. Raising of the 5th, 6th, 7th, 8th, 9th and 10th Manipur Rifles Bns followed. Appreciating the outstanding perfomances of the Bns of the Manipur Rifles in dealing with the insurgencies in Manipur, particularly in the hill areas, the Government of India, as a very exceptional case, had allowed them in upgrading their start, the two Bns of the 1st and 2nd Manipur Rifles were equipped weaponary and accoutrement at par with the BSF Bns, in that as a with the long range firing 3 inch mortars and medium machine guns (vickers having firing power of 600 rounds per minute) by having an additional support company each Bn.

Till the end of 1966 the basic Police recruits and refreshers training of the District Police and the Manipur Rifles Bns were carried out at their respective reserve lines and Bns under the direct control and supervision of the SP and the Commandants but it became centralised from 1967 onwards with the Manipur Police Training Centre, renamed as Manipur Police Training School later on, raised at Pangei on 2nd January 1967 by mobilising all the training staff and equipments of the district police and the Manipur Rifles with Shri W Damodar Singh, then Assistant Commandant of 1 MR as the Officer-in-charge of the Centre working independently.

The historic process of the State Police got through under the very keen and most thoughtful initiatives taken by the then Inspector General of Police of Manipur, Shri Mahendra Singhfirst IPS cadre officer of 1948 batch of UP cadre on deputation to Manipur.

The State Police Training Institution so raised was done by taking over the open village grazing land of some 200 acres of the Pangei-Yangdong village some 9 kilometers from Imphal on the north-east in 1962/63 and all the katcha type of coal-tarred roofing buildings that came up there for shifting the 1st Bn, Manipur Rifles unit as an essential diversion in the State police administration, and later on acquiring more land of the adjoining hilly area on the Northeast for long range firing including that of the long range 3 inch mortars and the medium machine guns.

to be continued...




* Waikhom Damodar Singh wrote this article for The Sangai Expres . This article was webcasted on December 31st, 2008.

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