How to Address the Meitei Insurgency Issue in Manipur

On November 25, 2023, police arrested one active cadre of the People’s Revolutionary Party of Kangleipak (PREPAK) on charges of extortion from Imphal West District. Two cadres of PREPAK-Progressive, Laisram Prem and Khumukcham Biren, were arrested in possession of arms and ammunition at Pishum road under the Singjamei Police station in Imphal West District.  Five KYKL cadres surrendered before Assam Rifles at Pallel. On November 16, 2023, militants used an Improvised Explosive Device to target Assam Rifles personnel in Tengnoupal District, causing no casualties and claiming the attack.

According to partial data compiled by the South Asia Terrorism Portal (SATP), at least 48 insurgency-linked incidents related to active Meitei groups have been reported in the state in 2023. These incidents include two incidents of killing with three fatalities, 43 incidents of arrest resulting in 65 cadres’ arrest, and two incidents of surrender in which 10 cadres have surrendered. There were 77 Kuki militants-linked fatalities, two cadres each of the National Socialist Council of Nagaland-Isak-Muivah (NSCN-IM) and the Zeliangrong United Front (ZUF), and one civilian killed by the National Revolutionary Front of Manipur (NRFM). The identity of the groups involved in 57 fatalities could not be ascertained.

The Union Ministry of Home Affairs (UMHA) has announced that the Meitei Extremist Organisations (MEIROs) have been engaging in activities that threaten India’s sovereignty and integrity. These groups have been found dead in various villages, including Vangli village in Churachandpur District, and Khangembam Sanjoy Singh of Kumbi Municipal Council Ward No. 2, Setupur Maning Leikai, who was shot dead by the Revolutionary People’s Front (RPF). In October, five active cadres of KCP were arrested during cordon and search operations in Yaripok Yambem and Changamdabi Villages in Imphal East District. Since March 2006, these groups have accounted for 4,171 such incidents, including 632 killings with 1,136 fatalities, 3,487 arrests with 4,808 cadres detained, and 52 surrenders with 108 cadres surrendering.

In November 2021, PLA and Manipur Naga People’s Front carried out one of the deadliest insurgent attacks near S. Sehken village on the India-Myanmar border. The attack killed Colonel Viplav Tripathi, his wife, six-year-old son, and four personnel of the accompanying Quick Reaction Team.

In May 2016, six Assam Rifles personnel were killed and seven injured in an ambush by suspected militants. In June 2015, militants from KYKL, KCP, and NSCN-K ambushed a 6 Dogra Regiment military convoy, killing 18 Army personnel and injuring 11.

In September 2005, 10 SF personnel belonging to the Garhwal Rifles were killed in an attack by KYKL in the upper Ngaryan Hills range in the Bishnupur District of Manipur. The government has decided to extend the ban on these Meitei groups, along with all their factions, wings, and front organizations, for a period of five years, effective from November 13, 2023.

Between the initial ban and the extension, insurgent organizations in Manipur have been involved in 302 incidents, including 295 arrests of 389 cadres, five killings with six fatalities, and two surrenders of six cadres. Since the outbreak of ethnic clashes between Meiteis and Kukis on May 3, 2023, Manipur has recorded at least 138 insurgency-linked fatalities in 68 incidents of killing. The overall insurgency-linked fatalities had remained in double digits between 2013 and 2018 and in single digits between 2019 and 2022, with the exception of 2021 when there were 27 fatalities.

Ethnic violence itself led to 175 fatalities, according to official data available till September 14, 2023. On November 21, 2023, the Eastern Command Army Commander Lieutenant General Rana Pratap Kalita disclosed that only 1,500 weapons were recovered from the ethnic violence between Kuki and Meitei communities, but more than 4,000 arms are still out. The 650,000 rounds of ammunition stolen during the peak of violence in May have been recovered by less than 5%.

The extension of the ban on these groups was necessary amidst allegations that the Manipur government is siding with the Meitei groups. Union Home Minister Amit Shah announced that the Government of India would talk with all militant outfits in Manipur and resolve insurgency-related problems by bringing all extremist cadres into the mainstream. The Manipur government also decided to withdraw from the Suspension of Operations agreement with two Kuki militant groups, the Kuki National Army and the Zomi Revolutionary Army (ZRA). Both Union and State governments must strictly enforce the ban to prevent insurgent groups from exploiting the state’s current chaos.

How to Address the Meitei Insurgency Issue in ManipurIndiaIndia NewsManipurMeiteiMeitei community