New Delhi: The Manipur Police has filed an FIR against personnel of the 9th battalion of the Assam Rifles for allegedly obstructing a public servant carrying out their duty and disobeying the law. The FIR pertains to the aftermath of the violence in Kwakta, Bishnupur, where three Meitei residents were killed on August 6. Two Kuki men were killed in retaliatory firing later in the day.
In a statement, the Army’s Spear Corps said that there have been “fabricated attempts” to malign the image of the Assam Rifles.
According to the Indian Express, a video of a heated exchange between Assam Rifles and Bishnupur police had earlier gone viral.
The FIR, which The Wire has seen, alleges that Assam Rifles personnel blocked a road to Kwakta, not allowing the local police to make their way there. This “arrogant act”, the FIR states, allowed “Kuki militants” to escape after their attack before the police could get to the spot.
While Kuki groups in Manipur have held the state government and police responsible for allowing violence against them, the Assam Rifles has faced anger in the Meitei-dominated Valley areas for allegedly supporting Kuki militant groups. The Manipur state unit of the BJP has even submitted a memorandum to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, saying that the Assam Rifles must be removed from the state “in the interest of the general public”. The BJP unit demanded that they be replaced by “any other paramilitary forces”, the Indian Express reported.
The Army’s Spear Corps said on Twitter that there have been fabricated attempts to malign the image of the Assam Rifles. “Some inimical elements have made desperate, repeated, and failed attempts to question the role, intent, and integrity of the Central security forces, especially Assam Rifles, working relentlessly towards saving lives and restoration of peace in Manipur from May 3 onwards,” the statement said.
The Army said that due to the complex nature of the situation on the ground in Manipur, occasional differences at the tactical level do occur between various security forces. However, all such misunderstandings at the functional level are immediately addressed through the joint mechanism to synergise the efforts for the restoration of peace and normalcy in Manipur.
The Army said two instances have emerged over the last 24 hours aimed at “maligning the image of Assam Rifles”.
In the first case, the Army said, the Assam Rifles battalion has acted strictly in accordance with the mandate of the Unified Headquarters of strict enforcement of buffer zone guidelines towards the aim of preventing violence between the two communities.
In the second case, it said, the Assam Rifles being moved out of an area is not even related to them. “An infantry battalion of the Army is deployed in the area, since the crisis erupted in May, from where the narrative of Assam Rifles being moved out has been made,” it said.
“Indian Army and Assam Rifles assure the people of Manipur that we will continue to remain firm and resolute in our actions to prevent any attempt that could result in furthering violence in an already volatile atmosphere,” the statement said.
Note: Details from the statement by the Spear Corps was added to this story after it was published.