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Controversial presentation allegedly made by Paramilitary officials on Manipur Violence emerges

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Controversial presentation allegedly made by Paramilitary officials on Manipur Violence emerges

IT Bureau
Imphal, April 17:

A presentation allegedly prepared by members of the Paramilitary Force, Assam Rifles, on Manipur violence has stirred controversy. This presentation, purportedly made by Assam Rifles officials in Manipur, highlights unique factors contributing to the conflict in the region. It assigns partial blame to the state government, particularly Chief Minister N Biren Singh, citing his “political authoritarianism and ambition.” The presentation emphasizes the impact of illegal immigrants from neighboring Myanmar, the resulting demand for a national register of citizens to curb migration, and the aspiration for Kukiland. Furthermore, it alleges that armed groups from the Meitei community are arming individuals, while Kuki community armed groups supporting their volunteers.
These factors have heightened tensions and undermined efforts by community leaders to portray the conflict as common citizens volunteering for self-defense against the opposing community. However, the presentation points to policies of the chief minister that, according to Assam Rifles officials, have exacerbated animosity between the communities. It highlights Chief Minister Biren Singh’s “hard stance” on the “war on drugs” and “vocal social media dissent,” among other factors, as contributing to the escalation of the conflict.
The presentation accused CM Biren Singh of exacerbating divisions between communities in the state’s anti-drug campaign. His crackdown on poppy cultivation, particularly in hilly regions bordering Myanmar, created the perception that he was targeting Kukis. Additionally, the presentation alleged “state forces’ tacit support” of violence and the breakdown of law and order machinery. Another factor noted in the conflict is “Meitei Revivalism.”
According to the presentation, the conflict is divided into three phases: “initiate,” “mutate,” and “stalemate.” It outlines how the nature of violence has evolved through these stages. The spark that escalated tensions occurred in April last year, referred to as the “initiate” period, when the Manipur High Court entertained petitions to include the Meitei community in the Scheduled Tribes list, which includes property rights in Kuki-dominated hilly areas.
The presentation described the period of conflict starting May 3 as marked by “high-intensity riots,” “selective targeting,” and being “orchestrated and led by militias.” According to the Assam Rifles presentation, by the end of May, the character of the conflict began to shift. It acknowledged the involvement of fighters from both communities. This participation put pressure on valley-based insurgent groups to also join the conflict, fighting on behalf of the Meitei community. These groups began “providing arms and ammunition,” consolidating their base, and “increasing recruitment and ideological support,” the presentation stated. Later, militias intensified recruitment and training, particularly targeting rural youth, resulting in intermittent escalations and eventual stalemate.
Regarding the authenticity, the Reporters’ Collective (TRC) conducted a review of the assessment presented in a PowerPoint presentation in late 2023. However, TRC could not verify independently whether the views expressed in the presentation were endorsed by the Assam Rifles as an organization. In response, the Assam Rifles informed Al Jazeera that it would not engage in discussions regarding speculative or unverified matters, emphasizing their focus on core duties and responsibilities. They stated that they had no further comments on the issue at that time. Additionally, Assam Rifles issued a statement cautioning that the contents of the article should not be interpreted as the organizational viewpoint of Assam Rifles, asserting that no such presentation had been made by the organization.
Despite this, Al Jazeera claimed to have independently confirmed the existence of the presentation and reviewed its contents.

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Imphal Times is a daily English newspaper published in Imphal and is registered with Registrar of the Newspapers for India with Regd. No MANENG/2013/51092


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