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Selectively leaked videos and motivated narratives: Assam Rifles DG talks about the situation in Manipur, vows to bring back normalcy

Lt Gen Nair said that the Assam Rifles were targeted by people of both factions, the Meitei and Kuki communities at one point.

Director General of Assam Rifles, Lieutenant General PC Nair, in an interview with The Indian Express rubbished all allegations of bias that were leveled against the force in the wake of Manipur violence that started six months ago.

Calling the bias allegations false, Lt Gen Nair said that the Assam Rifles were targeted by people of both factions, the Meitei and Kuki communities at one point. He said that several videos from Myanmar were selectively circulated and did not provide the full picture.

Speaking about the challenges that prevail in the state, he pointed at people’s mindset and the large number of weapons in circulation that continue to be a major cause for concern.

Lt Gen Nair said, “I think it will take some time for it to revert to what it was earlier. During such periods, selectively leaked videos or motivated narratives tend to go viral, with individuals manipulating them for personal gain. These represent vested interests from which people must be safeguarded.”

He further added, “The number of weapons that went missing from various police stations are close to 5,000, of which about 1,600 weapons are back today — a positive development, though it will take time before we get all the missing weapons back.”

“There were instances when people of a community were going en masse to attack the other after being fed with a certain narrative. And here, we stopped them. So obviously, when emotions are running high and they are prevented from doing what they want to, stories get cooked up,” Lt Gen Nair added.

“When all this started, the security forces had never worked in conjunction with each other, both the police and the central forces. But the significant improvement is that today, every operation is carried out jointly. You have AR, Army, BSF, CRPF, and local police – all five or six components working together for a specific operation, be it searching for weapons or apprehending wrongdoers. The police and our operations are now better synchronised, enabling us to restore normalcy more effectively,” Lt Gen Nair said.

When asked by The Indian Express about the “assurances from the state government” on the removal of Assam Rifles from buffer zones and replacing them with paramilitary forces, Lt Gen Nair said, “Why should there be such plans? We are there everywhere — in the plains, hills and in between in the buffer zones. Our officers and men are doing their job to the best of their abilities and in a highly professional manner. For us, bringing back normalcy is the most important job at hand and we shall persevere to do that.”

Two months after violent clashes broke out in Manipur in May, locals began pointing fingers at the forces who were tasked with preventing a repeat of the violence and disarming local armed groups. Tensions also ensued between the state government and the Assam Rifles with the Manipur police filing an FIR against them.

In September, the Delhi Meitei Coordination Committee (DMCC) submitted a memorandum to Defence Minister Rajnath Singh accusing the Assam Rifles of “biased treatment”.

They reportedly mentioned that the protests by Meitei groups were dealt with lathi-charge, rubber bullets, tear gas, and even live bullets being fired whereas protests by Kukis were dealt with differently.

Protests were held by Meitei women’s groups in some areas in Manipur accusing the Assam Rifles of bias against the community. Demands increased for the removal of the force from some areas.

Videos went viral on social media in September showing altercations between the Manipur police and Assam Rifles personnel. The state police also filed a criminal case against the force for “obstruction of duty” and “criminal intimidation”.

The police accused the personnel of the 9th battalion of the Assam Rifles of the “arrogant act” of “giving a chance to the accused Kuki militants to escape freely to a safe zone”.

Among other challenges that the Central force was faced with was anti-social elements camouflaging as the Assam Rifles. On 18th September, the Assam Rifles wrote to the Manipur police alerting them that a “few miscreants with the help of valley-based insurgent groups have acquired many used Tata 407 from the civil market and have converted them to resemble the vehicles being used by the Assam Rifles and putting the AR insignia”.

Meanwhile, the force continues to take measures to restore normalcy in the hill state of Manipur. Speaking about the same, Lt Gen Nair said that the Assam Rifles have been reaching out to all violence-affected people and have established camps for them, rendered medical aid, evacuated thousands, prevented several places from getting burned, and helped schools restart and children relocate.

“We are also helping the government in distribution of essential supplies and facilitating the reopening of the national highways. All this is kind of adding up to restoring normalcy. In one line, we are making our work do the talking,” Lt Gen Nair concluded.

Ayodhra Ram Mandir special coverage by OpIndia

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OpIndia Staff
OpIndia Staff
Staff reporter at OpIndia

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