The big secret

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One hundred fourteen militant suspects including five women cadres of 11 different militant groups allegedly laid down their arms before the state Chief Minister Okram Ibobi Singh at a ‘homecoming’ ceremony at Mantripukhri, the headquarters of IGAR (South) on Wednesday. Besides the Chief Minister, the state Home Minister Gaikhangam, Principal Secretary (Home) Dr Sureshbabu, state DGP Yumnam Joykumar and Major General UK Gurung was present. These surrender ceremonies have been going on for quite some time in the state. It was always followed by denial or rebuttal from the outlawed organisations which the official organizers have named in their press statements. They are either not in the rolls of the named organisations or they are deserters or those who have been expelled from those organisation. The catchword was ‘surrender drama.’ The media persons were also invited at these homecoming functions.

At times, many of the so-called militants would surrender with hooded faces. After the surrender routine, the VVIPs present would repeat the same old speeches that they had given on earlier occasions. In short, it was simply a boring routine repeated time and again. This time, it was more different. The Assam Rifles authorities refuse to divulge either the names of the surrendrees or the number of weapons surrendered by them. The question is why. If the youths who had supposedly laid down their arms before the authorities were indeed militants, suspected or otherwise, there should not have any problem in
disclosing their identities before the media and the general public. One hundred fourteen is a big number with regard to the state of Manipur and it was supposed to be a big achievement for both the state and the state agencies fighting insurgency, and also good propaganda material. But instead of revealing
the identities of the militants and the number of weapons category wise, the Assam Rifles authorities chose to keep mum. Even when pressed by media persons, they refused. Yet they conceded by giving the number of militants against the groups mentioned by them. According to a statement provided by the PRO IGAR later on, the one hundred fourteen were eighteen cadres from the UNLF, eleven from the PLA, nine from the KCP, seventeen from the KYKL, eighteen from PREPAK, twelve from KNLF, one from UPRF, two from KNLA, six from UPPK, four from UNPC and sixteen from PULF.

The arms and ammunition laid down by the said cadres include among others AK 47 rifles, HK rifles, lethode gun, carbines, revolvers, pistols and two RT sets. It is open secret that groups like the KCP and PULF has several factions. Yet it does not mention to which factions the surrendered militants belong to. It is also known that, some of the faction ridden groups are being brought into the peace process in a joint effort of the centre and the state government, in recent times. And the once dreaded Lanheiba Meitei of KCP-MC, the group responsible for the blasts in Ragailong and Babupara also the bobby trap car at Raj Bhavan, was given bail and presently lodged in the camp of an Assam Rifles unit awaiting the start of a peace process. It is believed that Lanheiba Meitei had promised to representatives of both the Centre and state government of bringing overground several cadres along with matching number of weapons in the process. But, how is he going to conjure up the number claimed by him is again a mystery yet to be revealed. Meanwhile, surrendered militants are getting killed in a number of supposedly staged encounters involving security personnel and the police commandos. The Chief Minister had in fact promised a fresh investigation to the Phayeng encounter in which one of the two alleged militants killed turned out to be a person who had surrendered to Assam Rifles in the past and had recently been escorted to the AR camp only a few days before. This incident has led to another question as to whether the surrendrees lodged in AR camps safe or are they waiting for their turn to be sacrificed for the sake of glory seeking AR officers. One remembers a Tehelka report that the 42 people who had surrendered on July 14 this year to AR authorities were in fact daily-wage labourers, mechanics in tyres shops, rickshaw-pullers and over-ground collaborators.

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