As many as 29 people were injured and eight killed in a fresh cycle of violence that erupted on the boundary of Churachandpur and Bishnupur districts in Manipur since August 29, a defence source said on Friday. The area witnessed intermittent firing between the two groups on Friday where a person was said to have been injured in Churachandpur.
Assam Rifles (AR) Director General Lt. Gen. P.C. Nair told PTI that the country’s oldest paramilitary force remained unbiased and had destroyed bunkers, seized weapons and rescued innocent people from both communities in Manipur over the last four months.
AR has come under attack from several Meitei groups and BJP legislators for allegedly siding with one community. “Why should we be partial towards one community? We have soldiers from both the sides in our force and we have had no issue of any kind of rivalry among them. That truly speaks of the leadership that is there both in the Army and the Assam Rifles. These officers are giving all that they can to ensure peace,” he said.
AR’s administrative control lies with the Union Home Ministry while operational control is with the Army.
He said that of the 212 places where violence was reported in the past 120 days, the force had managed to restore peace in most areas.
The Assam Rifles chief said the current unrest in the northeastern State was not even close to the violence that took place in the 1990s during the peak of Naga militancy. He said the force was now encountering new challenges in operations where mobs were surrounding them and women blocking key roads.
“To be honest, this is completely new to us. As the head of the force, I can tell you that I have never faced a situation like this,” he said, adding that the AR was essentially tasked with three roles — border guarding, counter-insurgency operations and conventional operations alongside the Army.
He said the local populace needed to start talking to each other to bring back peace.
Meanwhile, women groups held a meeting in Imphal on Friday and decided to launch a “civil disobedience movement” to paralyse the government offices. Sharmila Naoshekpam, a woman activist, told reporters that they adopted a resolution to protest against the non-performance of the government in resolving the crisis. She said the women would also obstruct the movements of the vehicles of the Central paramilitary forces, adding that people in the relief camps would stop taking relief materials from the security forces. They would not allow any government activities till normality was restored, she said.