Despite Opposition, Process to Arm Manipur Villagers Begins

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The dream to provide arms to Manipur public particularly to the villagers of Heirok and Chajing villages in the name of defending themselves from militants comes into reality on Monday as the state authority conducted a recruitment rally here for the first phase. Manipur, an Indian state bordering Myanmar on its east is home to a dozen armed Insurgent groups with demands ranging from autonomy to sovereignty.

Monday’s recruitment rally was conducted for the first time in the line of creating Village Defence Committees in volatile districts of Jammu & Kashmir-Udhampur, Doda, Rajouri etc, despite the opposition from various quarters under the directive of DGP Manipur Yumnam Joykumar in a move to appoint 300 Special Police Officers from Heirok village. The recruitment for Chajing village will take place either on May 6 or 7.

According to Manipur’s Police Chief Yumnam Joykumar, the SPOs would be recruited as under Indian police act 1861. The selected SPOs would be given. 303 rifles and motorbikes for patrol duty. Each SPOs would be paid remuneration of Rs 3000 a month along with ration and khaki uniforms.

A large number of youths mostly matriculates (Class X standard in Indian education system) with the hope of getting a berth came out to take part in the day long physical test at their village ground here since early morning.

“I think I will be selected from this rally” says a young villager who once participated in an Indian security force Assam Rifles recruitment rally recently.

Taking advantage of the day’s recruitment, some of the applicants even try to join the rally using their relatives’ certificates, but their attempt were rejected. “We have received a total of 460 applicants today” a senior police officer informed.

Interestingly Heirok village which is having a population of hardly 20,000 in Thoubal district of Manipur in India’s North Eastern region, is home to over 100 security men who have been serving in the state as well as central paramilitary forces. “In my own locality alone, there are around18 jawans” a resident of Heirok Part I Heitup pokpi Mamang Leikai told this reporter on Monday.

On the other hand, an officer in charge of State police who posted in Thoubal district said that the residents of Heirok hardly lodged complain to the concerned police stations unlike other villages in the district. The reason is they (the villagers) themselves solved their problems, the officer added.

India’s Union Home Affairs Ministry had approved the proposal following a visit of senior officials from New Delhi recently.

Manipur Chief Minister O Ibobi Singh chaired state cabinet meeting on Friday last decided to arm these villagers following the latter’s pressure, after creating 500 posts of Special Police Officers (SPOs)-300 for Heirok and 200 for Chajing villages.

The demands to issue guns to these were raised following the killing of three people and injuring another by opening fire by proscribed People’s Revolutionary Party of Kangleipak cadres at a Thabal Chongba venue at Heirok ovillage in the last week of March last and killing of a 53 year old man by proscribed Kangleipak Communist Party (MTF) at Chajing Konjeng Leikai in IMphal west district during April last week.