Ten Kuki MLAs have requested Prime Minister Narendra Modi not to remove the Assam Rifles (AR) from Manipur.
Recently, the Manipur unit of the BJP had asked PM Modi to replace Assam Rifles “by any other paramilitary forces permanently” from the state in the interest of the public and also sought his intervention to bring an amicable solution to the ongoing ethnic unrest at the earliest.
The BJP state unit in a memorandum to PM Modi said, “The role of Assam Rifles in regard to the ethnic unrest and in maintaining peace and tranquillity in the state has been under considerable criticism and public outrage.”
Ten Kuki MLAs – seven of them from the ruling BJP – said, “The credibility of the Assam Rifles (AR), the oldest security forces protecting our motherland India internally and externally since its establishment, pre- and post-independence, is known to everyone. Till date, the Assam Rifles are jointly working hard together with other Central Forces… to contain the situation in Manipur.”
“We, the 10 Kuki-Zo-Hmar tribal MLAs from Manipur humbly wish to draw your kind attention that since the outbreak of ethnic strife in Manipur in May 2023, the unabated violence has led to deep mistrust between the Kuki-Zo-Hmar tribals and Meitei communities which has been reflected in splitting of local state administration and law enforcing agencies too,” the MLAs said in the letter.
The growing mistrust between forces is also evident from the videos that are being widely circulated.
After one such video surfaced, the Manipur Police registered an FIR on Monday against the Assam Rifles. In the video, the state police could be seen arguing with Assam Rifles and accusing them of protecting one side.
After the FIR was lodged, the Army issued a statement saying misunderstandings are bound to happen during operations but they can be addressed through joint mechanism.
On Tuesday, in a major change, the Assam Rifles was withdrawn and replaced with the CRPF at a vital checkpoint in Moirang Lamkhai of Bishnupur district after hundreds of women activists took to the streets at several places, accusing the central paramilitary force of brutality towards civilians in the valley districts. The Union Home Ministry has administrative control of Assam Rifles, while the Army has operational control.
“While a myriad of central forces has been rushed in the state including the Indian Army, BSF, CRPF, RAF and ITBP etc., but the tribals have unwavering faith on the central forces, particularly the Assam Rifles as they stood the test of time and did their work without prejudice, bias, fear or compulsion. The Assam Rifles has the majority of their troops from the northeastern states and they have been guarding Manipur for very long, hence, they are aware of the local dynamics,” the MLAs said.
“Though they have dealt the tribal miscreants also with a hard hand, the tribals have seen them putting their lives at risk to stand as a wall to create buffer zones in areas which are inhabited by both warring communities. What sets them apart from other forces is their single-minded resolve to safeguard humanity, compassionate yet firm-handling of highly tense situations and unbiased conduct,” the MLAs said.
Earlier, a group of 40 MLAs of the state asked Home Minister Amit Shah to replace the 9th Assam Rifles, the 22nd Assam Rifles, and the 37th Assam Rifles with other central security forces that are more inclined towards promoting the unity of the state.
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