Terrorist Infiltration Sparks Alarms in Manipur

UNLF and PLA, have been identified as participants that opened fire on an army officer in Manipur. 

In a disturbing turn of events, terrorists affiliated with banned insurgent groups, the United National Liberation Front (UNLF) and People’s Liberation Army (PLA), have been identified as participants in a recent mob that opened fire on an army officer in Manipur. 

Also Read: Editorial with Sujit Nair: Are we doing enough to heal Manipur?

The incident left Lieutenant Colonel Raman Tyagi severely injured and has raised concerns about the possibility of terrorists infiltrating protests in the region to incite tensions. This revelation has prompted central security agencies to issue warnings and heighten vigilance in Manipur.

The incident occurred during a standoff in Molnoi village near Pallel in the Tengnoupal district, where Lt. Col. Tyagi and security forces intervened to prevent an attack on tribal communities by a group that included Meira Paibis (women vigilantes). In the midst of the confrontation, a bullet struck Lt. Col. Tyagi’s hand, necessitating his evacuation and surgery in Guwahati, Assam. The subsequent investigation unveiled the alarming presence of terrorists from banned groups within the mob.

Security officials had previously been sounding the alarm about the resurgence of dormant insurgent groups like UNLF, PLA, Kanglei Yawol Kanba Lup (KYKL), and People’s Revolutionary Party of Kangleipak (PREPAK) in Manipur. According to reports, UNLF currently boasts a cadre strength of 330 members, followed by PLA with 300 members and KYKL with 25, all actively involved within the majority community.

A significant development occurred on June 24 when the Army and Assam Rifles, acting on specific intelligence, apprehended 12 KYKL members in East Imphal, including the notorious ‘Lt. Colonel’ Moirangthem Tamba, alias Uttam. Uttam had previously masterminded the deadly ambush on the 6 Dogra regiment in 2015, resulting in the deaths of 18 army soldiers.

UNLF has a history of engaging in extortion activities, primarily targeting contractors and businessmen. On the other hand, the PLA’s initial goal was to liberate Manipur and establish an independent Meitei land in the Imphal Valley. KYKL, considered a mercenary group with no clear ideology, relies on extortion and openly supports other terror organizations, recruiting mainly from criminal and drug-addicted individuals. PREPAK, banned by the government for its secessionist ideology, funds itself mainly through extortion, particularly targeting pharmacies. The group is deeply involved in drug trafficking and smuggling, sometimes acting as an intermediary for PLA and UNLF.

Security officials also expressed concerns that the arms and ammunition looted from the Manipur police armory may have fallen into the hands of these terrorist groups. Stolen weapons included .303 rifles, Medium Machine Guns (MMG), AK assault rifles, carbines, Insas Light Machine Guns (LMG), Insas rifles, M-16, and MP5 rifles. Additionally, approximately 6 lakh bullets have gone missing during the ethnic clashes that have plagued Manipur since May 3, resulting in over 160 fatalities.

The missing arms and ammunition were primarily from the Manipur Police Training Centre (MTPC) in Pangei, East Imphal, as well as the 7th India Reserve Battalion and 8th Manipur Rifles, both located in Khabeisoi, Imphal city. Of the stolen weapons, 2,900 were classified as lethal, while others included tear gas and mini flare guns.

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