Manipur Police Commandos, Sent As Reinforcements After Cop Was Shot, Ambushed

Many Manipur Police commandos were injured in the ambush that happened 10 km short of Tengnoupal district

A Manipur Police commando who was injured in the attack


A team of Manipur Police commandos sent to a border town as reinforcements after a senior police officer was shot dead last morning were ambushed by suspected insurgents on their way, the police said. Many commandos were injured in the ambush that happened 10 km short of Tengnoupal district.

Troops of the Assam Rifles rushed to the ambush site and rescued the police commandos, government sources said. Many have been taken to hospital.

Kuki civil society groups, meanwhile, in statements alleged it was a retaliatory shoot-out with Kuki village volunteers over alleged indiscriminate use of force by police commandos. The Kuki groups alleged the Manipur government has been pouring in state forces to Moreh to harass civilians and have demanded the centre to withdraw the police from the border town.

A senior police officer in Moreh, however, told NDTV on phone that some groups often claim "village volunteers" as a cover for insurgent attacks, and there is no way to know for certain that these "village volunteers" will not lead an attack.

"The ground situation should be observed first-hand and verified. Any group can claim anything. That doesn't mean it is true," the officer said, requesting anonymity.

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Manipur Police officer Chingtham Anand was shot dead by suspected insurgents in Moreh

The India-Myanmar border trading town of Moreh in Tengnoupal, where senior police officer Chingtham Anand was shot dead by a suspected insurgent sniper while he was overseeing the construction of a helipad, is about 115 km from the state capital Imphal.

While the distance is not much on paper for a highway on the plains, the Imphal-Moreh route has many hills, jungles and hairpin bends that significantly raise the risk of ambush by insurgents, sources said.

The Manipur Police sent the commando reinforcements to Moreh after security forces started an operation to neutralise the suspected insurgent sniper who killed the police officer, sources said.

The unprecedented attack on the helipad project this morning and the subsequent ambush marked a sharp increase in hostilities between the security forces and insurgents amid the semblance of hard-won normalcy in ethnic violence-hit Manipur.

A small squad of Manipur Police commandos who have been stationed in Moreh since the May 3 violence is being bolstered with reinforcements now. Sending police personnel to the border town, however, has not been easy due to roadblocks by miscreants, sources said, adding the need for a larger helipad was felt and so a decision to build it was taken.

The new helipad is being built by the state forces. This will be the third helipad in Moreh. The two other helipads are under the Assam Rifles, whose operational control is with the army.

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The state forces are developing the helipad in Moreh

The state forces are making the new helipad for their own exclusive use to transport police and paramilitary jawans to Moreh from other parts of Manipur, since the road to Moreh is blocked by miscreants at many places and there is a high risk of ambush, as had happened yesterday, sources said. The insurgents want to stop the new helipad from being made operational, they said.

Kuki Civil Society Groups React

Kuki civil society groups have strongly condemned what they alleged was the Manipur government's attempt to send the police into Moreh and start indiscriminate operations against Kuki civilians.

"The Kuki Inpi Manipur have made repeated appeals to the government of India to withdraw the police commandos from Moreh to prevent any untoward incident against the minority Kuki-Zo community," the civil society group Kuki Inpi said in a statement.

The Kuki group Indigenous Tribal Leaders Forum (ITLF) in a statement criticised Manipur Chief Minister N Biren Singh over what it claimed was inequality on treatment of two cases of cop deaths - one was Onkhomang Haokip, who was killed in September, and the other is yesterday's incident.

Referring to Haokip's death, the ITLF said, "... The Chief Minister's Office remained startlingly mute on social media, and no immediate action to investigate was taken. Moreover, a meagre ex-gratia was announced... The brutal and cowardly assault on officer Haokip left his family bereft, yet the government's indifference was palpable."

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Over 60,000 central forces are in Manipur to fully bring the situation to normal

Human Cost Of Manipur Ethnic Violence

The ethnic violence in Manipur has killed over 180 people and left thousands internally displaced.

Though the Manipur ethnic clashes between the Kuki tribes and the Meiteis is said to be over the Meities' demand for inclusion under the Scheduled Tribes category, many leaders including Union Minister Home Minister Amit Shah and Foreign Minister S Jaishankar have said entry of illegal immigrants is one of the main factors behind the unrest in the northeast state, which is ruled by the BJP.

The National Investigation Agency (NIA) has said it is looking into an alleged transnational conspiracy involving terror groups hiding in Bangladesh, Myanmar and Manipur to exploit the ethnic violence in the northeast state.