Imphal, September 4
The Manipur government has appointed a retired decorated Army officer who was in charge of the operation to destroy militant camps in Myanmar eight years ago, as the senior superintendent of police (combat), a post created for him, officials said on Monday.
The appointment of Col (retired) Nectar Sanjenbam for five years followed Union Home Minister Amit Shah statement last month that Kuki people started entering Manipur from Myanmar illegally following a military crackdown on militants.
An organisation of the Meitei, one of the warring communities in the northeastern state, have also asserted that the four-month-long strife is a manifestation of the tension over deforestation, illegal opium poppy cultivation and change in demography in certain areas of the state mainly caused by illegal immigrants from Myanmar.
It is alleged that arms are being supplied to militants from Myanmar to Manipur.
“The Governor of Manipur is pleased to appoint Col (retired) Nectar Sanjenbam as Senior Superintendent of Police (Combat) in Manipur police department on a fixed tenure basis for a period of five years with immediate effect,” the state Home Department said in an order.
He had led the operations against militants in Myanmar in June 2015, days after their attack in Manipur’s Chandel district left 18 Army personnel dead. “Significant casualties” have been inflicted on them, the Army had said.
It appears that the government wants to use the retired Colonel’s experience in counter-militancy operations in Myanmar to address the situation in Manipur where more than 160 people were killed in the ethnic violence since early May.
Col Sanjenbam who retired prematurely last year was awarded the Kirti Chakra gallantry award for his role in the operation inside Myanmar.
Speaking during the debate on the no-confidence motion in Lok Sabha on August 10, Home Minister Shah said problems started in Manipur with the influx of Kuki refugees from neighbouring Myanmar after the military rulers there started a crackdown against militants in 2021.
The Kuki refugees started settling down in the jungles in the Manipur valley, raising fears of a demographic change in the region, Shah said.
More than 160 people lost their lives and several hundred were injured since the ethnic clashes broke out in Manipur on May 3, after a ‘Tribal Solidarity March’ was organised in the hill districts to protest against the Meitei community’s demand for Scheduled Tribe (ST) status.
Meiteis account for about 53 percent of Manipur’s population and live mostly in the Imphal Valley. Tribals — Nagas and Kukis — constitute little over 40 percent and reside in the hill districts.