Militants ask Manipur minister to “surrender”; abducts govt. officia

The United Kuki Liberation Front (UKLF), a Kuki militant organisation, has asked the cooperative minister of the state, Abdul Salam, who they allege, is involved in a scam relating to the misappropriation of funds meant for the Integrated Cooperative Development Programme (ICDP), to “surrender” to the outfit. Efforts to contact the minister telephonically, however, failed. Out to cultivate a Robinhood image, a popular practice among insurgents in the North-east, the UKLF’s diktat came soon after the outfit’s “town commander”, Helun Haokip, claimed responsibility for the abduction of T Mani, general manager of the ICDP, who, he said was also involved in the siphoning of funds meant for villagers. Mani, Haokip said, had been taken away by members of the UKLF from his home at Lilong Chajing here on Monday, and would be put on “trial”. In yet another incident, unidentified gunmen, who police suspect to be members of the militant Kangleipak Communist Party (KCP), abducted Dr Y Achou of the JN Hospital in Porompat in the Imphal East district. An associate of Dr Achou was recently shot and injured by cadres of the KCP on “charges of not performing his medical duties”.

The government, for its part, has, in at least one case, been accused of capitulating under militants’ pressure. The state’s education commissioner, IS Laishram, who was abducted by the Kanglei Yawol Kanna Lup (KYKL), one of the many militant organizations operating in the state, for allegedly taking bribes from college teachers, was, for example, suspended by the Government while in captivity. The suspension order was, however, revoked on Tuesday. The principal of the LMS Law College M Kiranchand, in the East Imphal district, was, meanwhile, released by the KYKL on October 13, after being held in “custody” for more than a week for the alleged misuse of college funds.

Manipur has of late seen a string of abductions of government officials and other citizens by militant outfits, a phenomenon attributed to the breakdown of the regular law and order system, and the fact that the government has been largely ineffective in controlling corruption, something that militants in the North-east have been known to cash in on, cultivating a do-gooder image. In neighbouring Assam, for example, people, especially in the rural areas, have been known to approach local leaders of the banned United Liberation of Asom (ULFA), to settle disputes and to complain against corruption by government officials. In their earlier days, the outfit which is now close to 20 years old too was known to abduct and put on ‘”trial” alleged corrupt officials and “anti-social elements” A large section of the ULFA later took to large-scale extortions and plain hooliganism. Many of them who ‘surrendered’ were later ‘rehabilitated’ with government sops and liquor shops.

By Sobhapati Samom (