Manipur Police Sub-Divisional Police Officer (SDPO) Anand Chingtham was shot dead on October 31, 2023. He was shot by a sniper while supervising the construction of a new helipad meant for security forces at the Eastern Shine School, Moreh. This new helipad became necessary because Kuki women-folk frequently blocked and interrupted the route from the old helipad at Kongdong Lairembi to Moreh town. Within 24 hours of this brutal murder, the State forces had started combing operations. The police team, which went to normalise the situation at Moreh, was ambushed at two locations, injuring three security personnel. According to the report of Imphal Times, armed terrorists were not found during these operations, even in designated SoO camps.
The Manipur police and State Commandoes arrested the “main suspects”, Phillips K Khongsai and Hemkholal Mate, on January 15, 2023. Security personnel on patrol near Moreh College saw two people open fire on security vehicles at around 4.30 p.m. The attackers ran away and hid in a cluster of houses. Security personnel had fired in retaliation and cordoned off the houses in the area. The police statement said, “Dur, During the operation in Moreh, two suspicious were chased and overpowered using minimal force”. A pistol with two live rounds, a hand grenade, ten live rounds of AK ammunition and ten detonators were recovered from them. A curfew was imposed in the border town as tensions rose.
The prime suspect, Phillips Khongsai, is an ex-armyman. He is accused of being the co-founder of the newly formed Kuki terrorist group People’s Protection Force (PPF). SDPO Anand had a heated debate with the functionaries of PPF and an apex Kuki civil body of the Tengnoupal district regarding clearing the Eastern Shine ground on October 29. According to the report of The FRONTIER MANIPUR, he took a position in a nearby Baptist Church and shot SDPO Anand to death. Miscreants at Moreh are bringing weapons experts and combat veterans from Myanmar to train the local Chin-Kuki youth. A lot of sophisticated arms are being smuggled through the porous Moreh international border, including sniper rifles.
The other suspect, Hemkholal Mate, is the treasurer of the Tengnoupal District Unit of BJP. The party has already expelled him and cancelled his membership.
Moreh: From Cosmopolitan Town to a so-called “Kuki Area”
The bustling trading town of Moreh had an eclectic mix of Meiteis, Nagas, Marwaris, Kukis, Gorkhas, Punjabis, Bengalis and Biharis. The Naga population of Moreh were driven out during the brutal Kuki- Naga clash of 1992-94. The population of Nagas in Moreh had declined sharply from around 12000 to just a few hundred by 1994. Disdisplaced from Naga-dominated State regions, Kukis had settled down in places like Moreh and Churachandpur. The kidnapping and murder of the 7-year-old child of a Tamil businessman led to the infamous Kuki-Tamil clashes of 1995. The Angala Parameshwari temple was attacked and defiled by the Christian Kukis, and properties of Tamilians were looted and destroyed. 80 per cent of the local Tamil population were forcibly displaced. The Gorkha, Punjabi, Bengali, Bihari and Marwari businesses were brutally extorted and harassed by Kuki terrorists, forcing most of them to leave Moreh.
The Meitei population of Moreh were also attacked without any real provocation in 2007 and 2015. Both of these clashes had led to an exodus of Meiteis from Moreh. The Kuki mobs had even assaulted women and children during the clashes of 2015. The “Manipur Violence” of 2023 have cleansed the remaining Meitei population, completing the process of making Moreh a “Kuki Area”.
Lawless border Town dominated by Myanmar-based Kuki Terrorists
Thousands of Chin-Kuki illegal immigrants have replaced the displaced Meiteis in Moreh. All of them are waiting to travel to the interior areas of the State, where they can get their fake residential certificates from Kuki village chiefs. These illegal immigrants include many terrorists belonging to the Myanmar-based People Defense Force (PDF). Several illegal villages have cropped up in this region, which is full of combat veterans and illegal immigrants from Burma, particularly after 2016. Villages like Haolenphai, Sahei, and Lyanphai serve as training camps for the PDF. Older villages like Minou, Molcham, and Joldam, along with dozens of other unnamed villages cropping up along the PMGSY road, have become safe havens for Kuki terrorists and illegal immigrants.
The presence of Chin-Kuki terrorists in Moreh became apparent on June 26 when they attacked our security forces with highly sophisticated weapons. The remaining non-Kuki residents of Moreh are being extorted ruthlessly and live in mortal fear of Kuki terrorists. The once-vibrant town of Moreh has become a ghost town. The shops that escaped widespread arson and looting are mostly shuttered. Many people roaming the streets are clad in lungis- a telltale sign of their Burmese origin. They frown on anyone speaking Manipuri; many carry Myanmar currency.
A BSF constable was shot in the head in Moreh town on May 28. A single shot to his neck felled another BSF constable on sentry duty at Sugnu. Snipers murdered both of them. SDPO Anand Chingtham is yet another victim of Kuki terrorism. Just a few hours before their arrest, the 10 Kuki MLAs had requested the Home Ministry to ensure the withdrawal of all State security forces from the so-called “Tribal Areas”. It must be noted that the Manipur Police is an egalitarian institution having representation from several communities. Calling them a “Meitei Institution” is a blatant lie.
Shortly after the arrests, a large group of Kukis surrounded the Customs Police Station in Moreh, demanding their release. This group of miscreants were primarily women, with a few men leading them. They created a lot of chaos at the Customs Police Station and harassed on-duty security forces.
The Kuki civil society organisations like ITLF and COTU have vehemently condemned the arrest and detention of the two suspects. They claim that both the accused were arrested arbitrarily by a group of protestors. They claim that “Meitei policemen” had fired five live rounds at them, injuring a couple of women. The Kuki Inpi Tengnoupal (KIT) has served a 24-hour ultimatum to release the two accused.
The Manipur State commandoes in Moreh were ambushed on January 17 17 at around 5.30 a.m. W. Somorjit Singh of the Indian Reserve Battalion (IRB), deputed to the Manipur Commandoes, has attained virgate. Three more security personnel have been injured. There was a heavy exchange of gunfire between security forces and Kuki militants at Ward Number 7 and 9 of Moreh. A viral video shows a Kuki “miscreant” threatening the Assam Rifles by pointing a gun at their armoured vehicle. The Suspension of Operations Agreement (SoO) has raised near-insurmountable obstacles for our security forces, who are trying their best to restore law and order.
The Moreh region is the gateway of our “Act-East” policy. Kuki terrorists calling the shots in his strategically vital region is not suitable for our national interests. The Kukis had contacted several foreign countries and anti-national groups like Khalistanis for help. They have also violated every term of the SoO Agreement dozens of times. The security forces have not been accessible to conduct their operations. The Bharatiya Government must deal with terrorists and their sympathisers with an iron fist. The effectiveness of the SoO Agreement must be reviewed. Kuki terrorism must be nipped in the bud for the sake of our national security and geopolitical interests.