People's Democracy

(Weekly Organ of the Communist Party of India (Marxist)


No. 12

March 29, 2009


Rampant Insurgency In Manipur

Noorul Huda

TODAY, the situation in the northeastern state of Manipur with a total population of 25 lakhs of which approximately 1/3rd are Naga and Kuki Scheduled Tribes, presents a rather dismal picture. Only a few weeks back, on February 13, 2009, while the sub divisional officer (civil) in the tribal district of Ukhrul, Dr Th Kisan and his car driver and one revenue official were coming out of deputy commissioner’s chamber, after attending a meeting convened by the deputy commissioner Mr Pankaj Kr Pal, IAS, were abducted by an armed insurgent outfit (later on it was revealed that the insurgent outfit belonged to the well known NSCN- IM). The incident took place in broad day light and they were held captive for three or four days until their dead bodies were found in another hill district of Senapati on February 17, some 50 kilometers away from the capital city of Imphal. It was a cruel and barbarous killing; they were actually bludgeoned to death. From the moment of abduction, everybody knew about the incident, the deputy commissioner, P K Pal himself knew about the abduction but the fact remains that he proceeded on leave (to Delhi) on the following day, on February 14, 2009 without informing his superior authority about the incident and there was no serious attempt to pursue the matter and the tragic incident occurred.

What was the offence of Dr Th Kisan, who was a bright young man, who did his MA and PhD in Delhi’s prestigious Jamia Millia University and was associated with the SFI during his student life? It is well known that all the insurgent outfits in Manipur, big and small, viz the PLA ( People Liberation Army), the Prepak, the UNLF, the KYKI, the KCP, the NSCN (IM), several Kuki insurgent groups, even a small minority group while professing the avowed political aim of seceding from the Indian Union to establish a so called sovereign independent Republic, have after a lapse of 25 years or so degenerated into a small but a set of well armed militants who acquired expertise in abduction, kidnapping, extortion and also occasionally indulged in purposeless killings. Almost all of them concentrate on looting central government development funds which run into many crores of rupees and which are earmarked for schemes and projects under PWD (roads and buildings), irrigation, public health and family welfare, education (Sarva Siksha Abhiyan) electricity and myriad other welfare funds for poverty alleviation and development of scheduled tribes and through threats and intimidation targeting ministers, MLA, MPs, bureaucrats, police officers, engineers and contractors and manage to take a sizeable cut and thus besides enriching themselves they manage to inflate their organisational funds and carry on their anti-social activities with the connivance of a section of the above powerful and influential gentries. Thus a nexus between ruling class politicians, high level bureaucrats, technocrats and insurgents have been created during more than two decade long insurgency in Manipur and the huge loss inflicted on the state and mass of the common working people in the state are clearly visible to all.

Those who dare to protest or do not cooperate with the insurgents are mercilessly eliminated. Possibly Dr Th Kisan did not wish to part with the funds earmarked for the NREGA beneficiaries and met the tragic death. Even his immediately superior officer, the deputy commissioner of Ukhrul district Mr Pankaj Kr Pal an IAS officer and the higher ups chose to remain silent and suppress the incident of abduction for at least four days. Pankaj Kr Pal and the superintendent of police of Ukhrul district were put under suspension for dereliction of duty.


However, the common people particularly the womenfolk, students, teachers, journalists including political parties took up the cause and started organising demonstrations, dharnas and public meetings all over the state from February 18 -19, 2009 both in the valley and the hills. The protests were so widespread and intensive that the Manipur state government led by Congress (I)’s chief minister, Mr Ibobi got afraid and imposed curfew in the greater Imphal area from February 19, 2009 which continued for ten days or more. A joint action council (JAC) was formed to widen the protest movement and they refused to take out the dead bodies of Dr Kisan and his staff members for cremation until their demands viz nabbing the culprits and stringent punishment, regular functioning of the Unified Command Structure comprising of the army, paramilitary forces, police commandos and high level bureaucrats headed by the chief minister, proper coordination among its various sectors particularly between the army and state police, breaking the nexus between the insurgents and the state government ministers, bureaucrats/ technocrats contractors, middlemen etc, immediate abolition of NSCN-IM collection centres regularly functioning by the side of army and state police check points so that developmental funds can be utilised for the benefit and improvement of the lot of common people in Manipur. However, the joint action committee met the chief minister who solemnly promised to take up the matter seriously and suspended the deputy commissioner and the superintendent of police. Dr Kisan and his staff members were cremated in the presence of thousands of people at Imphal. The writer of this article, had the occasion to visit the house of Dr Kisan in Imphal and met Dr Kisan’s wife and his brother in order to pay respects to the memory of Dr Th Kisan, on behalf of Communist Party of India (Marxist). Dr Kisan’s young widow, Romita spoke to the CPI(M) leader, Brinda Karat, who was permitted to raise the matter briefly in the Rajya Sabha on February 25, 2009, the penultimate day of the present 14th Lok Sabha.

In Manipur, 80 percent of the people are dependent on agriculture. There are no big landlords, however, genuine land reform measures were not carried since independence, because of a long bourgeois-landlord dominated regime. Small and marginal farmers as well as agricultural labourers constitute the majority among the rural households. Principal crop is paddy but the state produces four lakh MT of paddy, which is barely half of the total requirement mainly because of the failure of irrigation projects and unscientific methods of cultivation. Small quantum of orange and pineapples are also produced in the state. There is no industry worth the name in Manipur. Because of the above factors, unemployment among the youth both in rural and urban sectors has become a big problem. Government jobs are few and far between and corruption in recruitment is rampant.

The state government of Manipur is a coalition one led by Congress (I) chief minister, Ibobi Singh for the last seven years. Out of the total 12 cabinet ministers, there is only one non-Congress minister, from the CPI, Parijat Singh, who continues to be a member of national executive committee of CPI. Out of 60 members in the state legislative assembly, the government is backed by 31 members from the Congress (I), four from CPI, and three from Lalu Yadav’s RJD. The opposition comprises of five MLAs from the regional Manipur People’s Party, four from NCP, three from the regional tribal party National People’s Party (NPP)- all from Kuki tribals and ten NSCN(IM) supported independents. Out of three MPs, two belong to Congress (I) including one Rajya Sabha and the outer Manipur ST seat is held by NSCN(IM) backed independent.

The state government has been pursuing a neo-liberal economic policy which has benefited a small section of neo- rich viz some bureaucrats, technocrats, legislators, contractors and middlemen apart from the topmost few leaders of the insurgent outfits who have been running their organisation in collusion with the administration. It is said that during the last ten or fifteen years, some ministers, bureaucrats, technocrats and businessmen /contractors have made huge fortune running into hundreds of crores of rupees in a poverty stricken backward state like Manipur. The result is that the state has earned the ill reputation of being one of the most corrupt and ill administered and backward states in our country facing the worst law and order situation, where extortion, kidnapping and killing of the innocents have become daily routine affair. The anti- insurgency action programmes undertaken by the army, Assam rifles, para military forces, police commandos have killed in 2008 alone around 600 people- a great majority of whom have to carry out the orders of the insurgent outfits. They are mostly ordinary supporters and indirect agents who are lured to work on payment of money and who have been christened by the media as “Khongbal Khelno” a Manipur term, which means materials flowing in the drains.


Most unfortunately a national political party like the CPI, that has a glorious past and that along with the CPI(M) and other Left parties has been waging bitter struggles against the neo-liberal and pro-imperialist policies of the Congress (I) in the centre and all other states and against communal–fundamentalist and blatantly, pro-American policies of the BJP, is presently part and parcel of the Congress (I) led Ibobi Singh government in Manipur. This peculiar phenomenon in Manipur has put the CPI (M) in an embarrassing position, because there are no other Left parties in the state. As a result today, we have to extend support to the CPI candidate in the Inner Manipur Lok Sabha constituency from a separate platform as we are totally opposed to the policies and practices of the Ibobi led Congress (I) state government. The Congress (I) candidate too is contesting the same seat- Congress (I) and CPI candidates are locked in a scheduled friendly contest. On the other hand, in the other outer Manipur (ST) Lok Sabha constituency, the CPI is having a tacit understanding with the Congress (I) while we are extending support to the NCP candidate. The NCP leadership in the state had already approached the CPI(M) state leadership for support. In fact, it should be noted that NCP and the regional Manipur People’s Party had, about a month back floated the proposal that the Left parties, NCP and the MPP would support the CPI candidate in the Inner Manipur general seat against the Congress (I) and the BJP and the same combination should extend support to the NCP candidate in the Outer Manipur ST constituency. In that event, there was a good chance for the victory of CPI candidate in the Inner Manipur seat. However, this proposal did not find favour with the CPI state leadership with the result that the two Left parties had to part ways in the impending Manipur parliamentary elections in April 2009.

BJP is not a force in the state. Regional MPP is quite influential in the Imphal Valley, but tilted in favour of the BJP in the past, RJD is a new party with a lot of incoherent political postures; NPP representing Kukis is confined to mainly the district of Churachandpur. NSCN(IM) wields considerable influence among the Nagas and although they have been conducting dialogues for ten long years with the government of India, and a cease-fire is operating, they support armed militancy and indulge in activities described above. They have floated the idea of NAGALIM ie. Greater Nagaland, the integration of Naga populated areas of Assam, Manipur and Arunachal Pradesh with the present Nagaland state but this proposal has not found favour and is rather bitterly opposed by overwhelming majority of non-Naga population of Assam, Manipur and Arunachal Pradesh. How this problem will be sorted out by the central government is anybody’s guess.

The question arises as to what measures the central government, whether it is headed by the BJP-led NDA, or Congress(I) led UPA, have taken during the last 10 to 15 years, unilaterally or through the Manipur state government to curb activities of the insurgent outfits, maintain law and order and improve the economic situation of the state to elevate Manipur to a little better administered state and move forward to the path of ameliorating the economic well-being of the toiling people of this otherwise culturally advanced state. The answer would be so far precious little has been done. There is absolutely no seriousness on the part of the central government to study the critical problems the state has been facing for long years, discuss the grave situation patiently with the representatives of political parties, mass organisations, civil society and intellectuals so that gradually with the collective efforts of the centre and the state, a solution can be found to effect changes in the administrative sphere. Just at the present moment what is happening is disturbing and extremely disappointing. Whenever a major act of violence takes place and convulsions among the people accrue, some central minister or top bureaucrat flies to Imphal, spends couple of hours discussing about the situation with the chief minister and army officers, and advises the state government and returns to New Delhi on the following morning flight. This kind of ad hoc intervention becomes useless and is ridiculed by the people at large. I was surprised that during the recent turmoil in the entire state of Manipur following the brutal killing of Dr Th Kisan and his two staff members, central minister Mani Shankar Iyer, who is incharge of Northeast region, paid a visit to Imphal for some other official work when the city was itself under curfew, did not discuss about the grave situation at all, neither did he feel it necessary to visit Dr Kisan’s family, nor did he utter a word of sympathy for the victims or their families. This is in nutshell the cavalier attitude exhibited by the central government (whether headed by BJP or Congress-I) towards the entire northeastern region. This also shows how they are tackling the violent anti-national activities of the insurgent groups in the northeastern region.