IMPHAL: Security forces deployed in Manipur against insurgent groups are making valiant efforts to bring the people of the strife-torn state into the mainstream.
As part of their initiatives, the Army and Assam Rifles have been organising National Integration Tours (NIT), running schools for insurgency-hit children, and providing infrastructure to the people of the state.
“We are still being targeted by insurgents and that is a fact. There always was outreach and still is,” said Major General Vijay Mishra, General Officer Commanding of 57 Mountain Division. The division is stationed at Leimakhong, around 30 km from the capital Imphal.
Manipur has been affected by insurgency for the last two decades. Around 99 insurgent groups operate in the state. Some of the major groups include the United National Liberation Front (UNLF), the People’s Liberation Army (PLA), and the People’s Revolutionary Party of Kangleipak (PREPAK). According to sources, the UNLF has an estimated cadre strength of 1,500 while it is 1,600 and 250 for the PLA and the PREPAK, respectively.
According to official figures, 1,517 people have been killed by insurgents since 1997. While 1,942 of the rebels have been killed, over 17,000 have been apprehended and around 2,200 have surrendered.
“The Army has been very helpful. They took us to Jaipur and Jodhpur as part of the NIT. It was the first time I saw a train. I feel very nice now,” L Pushpa Rani Devi, a class 10 student in Kengwai Higher Secondary School said. She aspires to be an actress someday.
The Army also runs a school for the insurgency-affected, named DISHA. It was established in 2008 and has helped 22 children. Seven of them have gone on to join the Army while one is pursuing medicine and the other is an engineer.