Security Advisor, DG sounded on Jiribam as early as January this year
A crisis that could have been averted ?
Source: The Sangai Express

Imphal, June 09 2024: Build-up of "armed miscreants from Churachandpur" near Jiribam was known months before and the fresh spat of violence in the district was anticipated, but no adequate security measures were taken up as advised, revealed confidential documents shared by a highly placed source in the State Government today.

While the confidential documents revealed that the build-up of "armed miscreants from Churachandpur" near Jiribam was known in early January this year, it advised pre-emptive measures to thwart any violence using Central and State security forces.

One of the documents mentions "...ITLF [Indigenous Tribal Leader's Forum] is reportedly considering cutting off supply lines to Imphal valley via Jiribam" .

Security Advisor, DG sounded on Jiribam as early as January this year
Security Advisor, DG sounded on Jiribam as early as January this year

Even as the highly reliable source has shared these documents, it has also made a sensational claim that Chairmanship of the Unified Command instituted to handle security apparatus amid the conflict was stripped off Chief Minister N Biren Singh on May 31, 2023 .

The violence between the Meiteis and Kukis first erupted on May 3, 2023 when protesters taking part in ATSUM's "Tribal Solidarity March" turned violent at the border area between Churachandpur and Bishnupur districts.

On the day (May 3, 2023), several armed men wielding AK Rifles and protesters vandalised and burnt Meitei houses and shops at Bishnupur's Torbung and adjoining areas.

Jiribam on fire

Even as the violence spread to other parts of Manipur immediately after May 3, 2023, Jiribam remained relatively peaceful with no major incidents of violence until a Meitei man, Soibam Sarat Kumar was brutally murdered by suspected Kuki militants on June 6 (2024) .

As the murder triggered tension between communities, violence broke out in Jiribam district.

After Assam Rifles reportedly rescued more than 200 Meitei residents and evacuated them to safety, nearly a 100 houses left unprotected by the security forces have been burnt by Kuki militants.

Videos, widely shared on social media, show armed miscreants walking the streets of a Meitei locality that was burning.

Situated on the border with Assam, the district has mixed communities.

While a chunk of the people in the district are Meiteis/Meeteis, there are many Kuki villages in the district and along Imphal-Jiribam Highway.

The fresh violence at Jiribam is being seen as yet another attempt by Kuki militants to "cleanse" the district of Meiteis/Meeteis.

Entire Meitei populations have already been forced out of several districts including Churachandpur, Tengnoupal (Moreh) and Kangpokpi.

What the confidential documents say on the situation in Jiribam

Months before violence erupted in Jiribam, N Geoffrey, Secretary to Chief Minister shot a letter to the Director General of Police on January 15, 2024 mentioning movement of about "200 armed Kuki-Zo militants" from Churachandpur to a village near Jiribam district.

"It has been reported that about 200 armed Kuki-Zo militants have moved from Churachandpur and reached Phaitol Village, Old and New Kaiphundai area of Tamenglong district bordering Jiribam district," said the letter marked "IMMEDIATE & CONFIDENTIAL" .

It asked the Director General of Police to "take all necessary security measures in order to prevent any untoward incident" and "respond to threats posed by the group..." .

Days later, incidents of gun fire were reported from several villages including Lamtaikhunou in Jiribam, and on January 21, a request was made by the district's Superintendent of Police to the ADGP (L&O) to provide 2 Companies of CAPF for deployment at Jiribam and Borobekra sub-divisions for maintaining law and order.

Later on January 27, 2024, the Secretary to Chief Minister shot another letter to the Director General of Police with copies to the Security Advisor, Chief Secretary and Superintendent of Police of Jiribam.

The letter marked "IMMEDIATE", said there were movement of "armed miscreants from Chura- chandpur" towards Vangai Range bordering areas of Jiribam and asked the Director General of Police to take adequate pre-emptive measures including domination of strategic locations using Central and State security forces.

Significantly, it said the ITLF (Indigenous Tribal Leader's Forum) was reportedly considering cutting off supply lines to Imphal Valley via Jiribam.

Whose failure is Jiribam violence and who is running Unified Command

Even as the State Government and the Security Advisor had access to sensitive information regarding the buildup of "armed miscreants from Chura- chandpur" near Jiribam and the alleged intention of the ITLF (Indigenous Tribal Leader's Forum) to cut off supply lines to Imphal, apparently there were no adequate security measures put in place to thwart violence that has now engulfed the district.

Armed miscreants wielding assault rifles have attacked several Meitei settlements and nearly a 100 houses have been burnt.

Over 200 including women and children have been displaced and are taking shelter in relief camps.

Even as the Secretary to Chief Minister, N Geoffrey, on June 9 (yesterday) sought a report explaining the flare up of violence from the Police Department, it is apparently clear that the State Government and the Chairman of the Unified Command who takes all the major decisions pertaining to security measures have failed in Jiribam.

While the State Government is ultimately responsible, there is a cloud over who is actually running the Unified Command and whether Article 355 has been imposed in Manipur or not.

The highly placed source who has shared the documents claims that the Chairmanship of Unified Command was taken away from the Chief Minister on May 31, 2023 when the ongoing conflict wasn't even a month old.

However, when asked if it means Article 355 has been imposed in Manipur and if Security Advisor, Kuldiep Singh is the Chairman of the Unified Command, the source didn't comment.

Article 355 states, "It shall be the duty of the Union to protect every State against external aggression and internal disturbance and to ensure that the Government of every State is carried on in accordance with the provisions of this Constitution" .

This ambiguity and confusion surrounding the Chairmanship of the Unified Command has been here since the early days of the conflict when Article 355 was reportedly imposed in Manipur after the May 3, 2023 violence.

While there had also been claims that the Article 355 has not been imposed in Manipur, the cloud surrounding this and Unified Command has remained confusing the public on who to blame for all the security lapses that have emerged since May 3, 2023 .

While there have been several reports of Security Advisor Kuldiep Singh allegedly telling many civil organisations that the Chief Minister was the chairman of the Unified Command, N Biren Singh has neither rejected nor confirmed the claim.

Despite numerous appeals by the public to clear the air surrounding the Chairmanship of the Unified Command, the CM has not yet made any comment on the matter.

The ongoing conflict since May 3, 2023 has killed over 200 people and displaced more than 60,000 people.

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