Is the worst really over in Manipur?

Why did it take five months of violence to appoint Col Sanjebam who lives in the heart of Imphal even while projecting the worst is over? Why was this done without Manipur Police asking for such an appointment? Why was he posted to the police department, not as a military advisor to the Chief Minister?

Colonel Nectar Sanjenbam

Interviewed by PTI news agency on September 1, DG Assam Rifles (AR) said:  "Manipur is on the path to peace but the situation is unprecedented; a large number of weapons with civilians is a key concern; society has become weaponized; AR is not biased; forces are operating under extremely trying conditions - mobs surrounding them and women blocking key roads; no one can answer when the situation would normalize; security forces can only curtail violence levels".

The PTI interview is part of government efforts to obfuscate ground realities. This includes the ethnic cleansing of Kuki-Zo by police commandos under the Chief Minister, plus declaring all Kuki-Zo “illegal immigrants” (

Sponsored anti-Army/AR videos have been in circulation. Over 4,000 weapons and 51,000 rounds of ammunition have been looted from police armories (local sources say these were distributed to arm the Meitei) and only a minuscule number have been recovered. 

No action has been taken against the Manipur MLA who with a mob of 1,000+ women forced an army column to release 12 armed KYKL terrorists on June 24 ( This indicates ethnic cleansing of Kuki-Zo (Christians) has government backing. This is why multiple calls to sack Biren Singh are ignored. The KYKL terrorists may have been called from their base in Myanmar to assist in killing the Kuki-Zo.

Whither normalisation?

Normalisation of the situation in Manipur with 160+ killed, hundreds injured and 50,000+ in relief camps is a far cry. The Kuki-Zo would naturally retaliate. The state has weaponized women and the society in the Imphal Valley. Home Minister Amit Shah told Parliament illegal immigration is responsible for the crisis but this is not the case according to a former DG Assam Rifles ( Kuki-Zo have been living in Manipur for many decades and are Indian nationals. 

Manipur Police FIR falsely accusing the Assam Rifles is a real shame. Political skullduggery to control the smuggling of narcotics, weapons and goods, as well as the political agenda to cleanse the Kuki-Zo, has turned Manipur into a putrid swamp  ( The report of the fact-finding team of the Editors Guild of India (EGI) to Manipur, released on September 2, estimates annual revenue from narcotics alone in Manipur is Rs.50,000 crore while the state’s annual budget is about Rs.30,000 Crore. 

On August 18, three Kuki-Zo youths were brutally tortured and their limbs were broken before killing them in the Ukhrul district of Manipur. Sources told the media this was the handiwork of “trained insurgents”; were they KYKL terrorists or the CM’s police commandos? 

Between August 28 and August 31, heavy exchange of fire took place in Manipur which included mortar firing and use of drones leaving at least six dead. This was perhaps the reason behind PTI interviewing the DG AR to somehow show that things are becoming hunky-dory.

Strange decisions 

The Special Session of the Manipur Assembly called on August 29 lasted 48 minutes with all 10 Kuki MLAs abstaining. This was expected with the killings of Kuki-Zo, denying burial of their dead in native places and their homes and churches burned down. A day earlier, former Union Home Secretary G K Pillai, known to be a forthright man, accused the Union Government of following a sectarian political strategy by deliberately siding with the majority Meitei. 

The Supreme Court has refused to direct the Armed Forces to remove roadblocks and has instead asked the state government to ensure the supply of food and essential commodities to people affected by roadblocks. Sporting legend MC Mary Kom has written to Home Minister Amit Shah seeking steps to safeguard villages in Manipur inhabited by her native Kom tribe. 

In a strange development, veteran Colonel Nectar Sanjenbam of 21 Para (Special Forces) was appointed SSP (Combat) in the Police Department of Manipur. With two gallantry awards, including a Kirti Chakra, he is eminently suited as an advisor. Nectar led the team that successfully raided a KYKL terrorist camp inside Myanmar in 2015 after KYKL terrorists killed 18 army personnel in an ambush in Manipur. Ironically, the mastermind of that ambush is one of the 12 KYKL terrorists that the Manipur MLA forced the army to release on June 24.  

Why did it take five months of violence to appoint Col Sanjebam who lives in the heart of Imphal even while projecting the worst is over? Why was this done without Manipur Police asking for such an appointment? Why was he posted to the police department, not as a military advisor to the Chief Minister? Is his posting to show the government is not anti-army while sponsored protestors demand the removal of the AR-Army?

Continuing polarisation 

In a calculated move on March 24, the chief minister removed the Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA) “only” from Imphal Valley, divesting Army/AR of powers to arrest and search, a prelude to arming Meiteis with so-called looted weapons in May.  

Politicians want terrorism and insurgencies to continue for well-known reasons and security forces are ‘restrained’ accordingly. For example, Sadanand Date, the first IG   of Force One (raised after the 26/11 Mumbai terror attacks) never had direct access to the Maharashtra chief minister and wasn’t allowed to even covertly deploy his boys for surveillance in known ‘black’ areas in Mumbai. It would not be surprising if Col Sanjebam is also positioned in a post that is more ornamental. 

In a midnight scoop on September 2, the last 10 Kuki-Zo families in Imphal Valley were moved out, apparently without compensation. CM Biren Singh’s campaign to cleanse Kuki from Manipur will likely continue. With the polarization initiated in Manipur leading to violence, brutalities and killing, one can hardly say when the worst is over.

(The author is an Indian Army veteran. Views are personal.)

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Col Haider Chowdhury (Veteran)
Wed, 09/06/2023 - 14:37
It's grand old polarization tactics of Ruling Party employed every where in the country, the Govt don't want peaceful coexistence amongst the citizenary. They want only power through divisive politics. If the Govt wanted, the situation wouldn't have gone out of hand.
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