Representatives of a prominent Meitei group engaged in discussions with Defence Minister Rajnath Singh to emphasize their demand for the removal of Assam Rifles from Manipur, which has been marred by ethnic violence. The Delhi Meitei Coordinating Committee (DMCC), a collective of influential Meitei groups, held a meeting with Singh at his residence, advocating for the substitution of Assam Rifles with another security force.
The Coordinating Committee on Manipur Integrity (COCOMI), a collective of dominant Meitei groups, has been at the forefront of the campaign to have the Assam Rifles removed from Manipur. Their primary contention is that the Assam Rifles has displayed bias in its operations. Notably, Meitei women’s groups have organized a series of protests against the presence of the Assam Rifles in the region.
COCOMI representatives have previously met with Union Home Minister Amit Shah on multiple occasions since ethnic violence erupted in Manipur in May. The violence has resulted in a death toll of at least 175 people and the displacement of approximately 50,000 residents.
During the meeting with Rajnath Singh, the DMCC delegation presented a memorandum outlining their concerns, including the perceived threat from Kuki militant groups and allegations of bias on the part of the Assam Rifles. Kuki groups, on the other hand, have accused Meitei militant groups of being responsible for the violence.
The DMCC delegation highlighted the embarrassment caused by Kuki groups seeking United Nations intervention to resolve the Manipur crisis. They reiterated that Meitei insurgency groups had been banned by the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) prior to the year 2000, and legal actions had been taken against them. However, they raised concerns about Kuki militants firing from hills and causing harm to farmers.
Among the issues discussed with Rajnath Singh, the DMCC delegation pointed out their perception of bias in the Assam Rifles’ dealings with Meitei and Kuki protesters. They also brought up topics such as narco-terrorism, the identification of illegal immigrants, and the suspension of operations agreement.
While Kuki groups have accused Manipur Police of bias, they have urged the Union government to retain the Assam Rifles to restore peace in the state. It’s worth noting that the Assam Rifles reports to the Union government, while Manipur Police answers to Chief Minister Biren Singh, who is of Meitei ethnicity.
Recent incidents have added to the tensions in Manipur, including legal disputes between the Assam Rifles and Manipuri leaders over allegations of bias and misconduct during clashes between Kuki militants and Meiteis. The central forces, including the Assam Rifles, have been stationed in buffer zones to prevent armed individuals from both Kuki and Meitei sides from crossing into each other’s territories.
Central forces have been strictly instructed not to allow even state police to cross these buffer zones without their accompaniment, aiming to address allegations of bias against the state police in the region.