In many cases, the Suspension of Operations designed to bring outfits to mainstream has only resulted in bringing them to over ground.
Chief Minister Okram Ibobi Singh and his ministerial colleagues are worried over the increasing instances of violations of ground rules of Suspension of Operations (SoO) by some cadres who had come over ground.
On Tuesday, a court in Imphal remanded Somex Phurishabam in police custody for 15 days. He belongs to an outfit, which had come over ground after signing SoO. He was put up in the designated camp at Loitam Khunnou where the camp of 9 Dogra Rifles is located.
It transpires that he had sneaked out of the camp and stayed at an aunt’s place in Awang Sekmai for two days. He allegedly stole the battery of a truck and sold it to a workshop for Rs. 900. He was so emboldened that he took the battery to Imphal in full public view. However, the driver and villagers caught him at his home. He was handed over to police who have registered a case against him.
This is not the first time that some of the signatories had committed crimes in violation of the ground rules of SoO. Earlier, police had arrested a ranking "commander" of an outfit which is a signatory to SoO on the charge that he was the mastermind behind the attempt to kidnap a non-local for demanding a huge ransom. Two other ranking "officers" had also been arrested from a private clinic in Imphal on the charge that they had issued extortion threats to an organisation of truck owners. The list is rather long.
The SoO signatories’ dilemma
Under the provisions of SoO cadres of over 25 outfits in Manipur had joined the national mainstream. However, the government is yet to start talks with any of the outfits. Some of the leaders of these signatories told reporters that the government does no pay the stipend to the inmates of the designated camps on time, making it very difficult for them to arrange even meals.
The signatories are facing life threats from insurgents of other groups who have been killing these SoO signatories at sight. Even those who had been absorbed in police and paramilitary forces were killed. Most of them had no time to whip out their hand guns. There has been instance of a personnel being killed ten years after the surrender.
Govt to take it up with Centre
Reacting to the increasing instances of such ground rule violations Okram Ibobi Singh said that the government shall come down heavily. The issue would be taken up with the Union government. However sources say that so far the Manipur government has not broached these up to the Union government fearing that it will send a wrong message to the insurgents who may be thinking of signing the SoO.
Demands to shift camp site
There have been vociferous demands from the villagers to shift 9 Dogra Rifles and the designated camp from Loitam Khunnou. In the recent past, people in some other districts had demanded closure of the designated camps. People in Chandel district did not allow the government to open a designated camp to lodge the signatories. The villagers at Khongjom in Thoubal district agitated when an alternative site was selected there by the government. Villagers told reporters that the armed former insurgents are making their presence felt among the villagers. Some villagers were also been beaten up. They also allege that public properties are also missing and they suspect the involvement of some former insurgents. When some ranking former rebels were arrested by police the outfits, which are putting up with the security forces announced that they had expelled them from the outfits. These unsavoury happenings may upset the peace applecart and the Manipur government is worried.