Representational Image (Express Illustrations)
Representational Image (Express Illustrations)

Where insurgency persists in northeast

The PLA is a rebel outfit comprising the Meiteis, the majority community in Manipur who reside mainly in the Imphal Valley.

Nearly a week after last Saturday’s insurgent ambush in Churachandpur, Manipur, that killed an Assam Rifles commanding officer, Col Viplav Tripathi, his family and four personnel of the paramilitary force, there is still no clarity over who carried out the attack and the motivation behind it. Although two groups, the People’s Liberation Army and a little-known Naga group called the Manipur Naga People’s Front, have claimed responsibility, the plausibility of the PLA’s involvement appears more likely.

The PLA is a rebel outfit comprising the Meiteis, the majority community in Manipur who reside mainly in the Imphal Valley. Although the attack took place in a district dominated by the Kukis, a major tribe in the state, the possibility of the PLA’s hand is more because it has bases in Myanmar, which borders Churachandpur. Many northeastern insurgent outfits had bases located in the Naga-dominated areas of Myanmar, particularly in the Sagaing division, but they were evicted and shut down after an agreement between India and that country in 2018. But several Manipuri insurgent outfits, including the PLA, are still harboured outside the Sagaing division. So it is possible that PLA rebels crossed into Manipur through the porous Indo-Myanmar border, carried out the ambush and made their way back to the neighbouring country.

But whichever the rebel group responsible for the attack and whatever the objective, the fact is that of all the states in the Northeast, Manipur remains the only one where simmering insurgency continues even now, whereas the guns have long fallen silent in all other areas. From Nagaland and Mizoram to Assam and Tripura, insurgent groups have either laid down their arms or become dormant following ceasefire agreements. This is not so in Manipur, where Meitei-dominated outfits have refused to either surrender or enter into any sort of agreement with the government. The timing of the attack is also significant. It comes at a time when the National Socialist Council of Nagaland (I-M), which is at loggerheads with the PLA, is engaged in talks with the Centre to reach an agreement, reportedly before Christmas. The PLA perhaps wanted to send the government a message that it needs to be counted too.

The New Indian Express