GUWAHATI: The debate surrounding the withdrawal of Assam Rifles from Manipur intensified after representatives from the Delhi Meitei Coordinating Committee (DMCC) met with Defence Minister Rajnath Singh in New Delhi on Thursday.
The Coordinating Committee on Manipur Integrity (COCOMI), a Meitei community body, in a statement released on Friday said that the DMCC, its representative, also submitted a memorandum to the Union Minister urging the replacement of the paramilitary force.
In the statement the committee also alleged that the paramilitary force has been operating impartially during the ongoing strife. Referring to Kuki civic bodies approaching the United Nations for an intervention, as an “embarrassment caused to the Manipur government”, the committee also raised concerns about Kuki militants operating in the state.
Earlier in June, a coalition comprising 15 Manipur-based organisations had forwarded a memorandum to the United Nations and various international human rights organisations, urging them to focus on the ongoing crisis in the state.
They also discussed issues of narco-terrorism, illegal immigrants and their identification as well as suspension of operations agreement with Singh, the statement said.
The COCOMI has been consistently advocating for Assam Rifles’ withdrawal, while Kuki-Zo-Hmar lawmakers and tribal groups have expressed their reservations, arguing that the force operates impartially.
Last month, 10 Kuki MLAs of the state appealed to Prime Minister Narendra Modi to not withdraw Assam Rifles from the state, maintaining that this could jeopardise the security of the tribals.
On August 8, the Manipur Police had filed a First Information Report (FIR) accusing Assam Rifles of obstructing their pursuit of militants.
On the same day, the Army had issued a statement addressing the situation, stating that “inimical elements” had made desperate and repeated attempts to question the role, intent, and integrity of central forces, particularly Assam Rifles, who are actively engaged in saving lives and restoring peace.
Assam Rifles has maintained its troops were only following the buffer zone guidelines in place to restore normalcy. It has filed a sedition case against COCOMI for allegedly discouraging the return of weapons stolen from police armouries.