Overwhelming presence of military, paramilitary and police forces gave visiting American diplomat the impression that Imphal was under occupation

In an assessment of the situation in Manipur in 2006, American Consul General in Kolkata Henry Jardine wrote that the overwhelming presence of military, paramilitary and police officers contributed to the impression that Imphal was under military occupation.

“In ConGen's many interactions, even with some government officials, a reoccurring comment was that Manipur was less a state and more a colony of India,” he reported in a cable sent on September 1, 2006 (76968: confidential).

“The general use of the AFSPA [Armed Forces Special Powers Act] meant that the Manipuris did not have the same rights of other Indian citizens and restrictions on travel to the state added to a sense of isolation and separation from the rest of India proper,” he added.

“Several Manipuris,” he recalled, “argued that they had greater rights under the British Raj than under the present federation.”

The Indian civil servants were also clearly frustrated with their inability to stem the growing violence and anarchy in the State, feeling their efforts to effectively control the insurgencies were hamstrung by local politicians either in league with or at least through corruption, helping to finance the insurgents, he said.

Rampant corruption was complicating the effort to control the rising violence and a lot of money was being taken as kickbacks from contracts and government projects, the cable reported, adding: “The corruption results in a nexus between politicians and the insurgent groups. At a dinner reception, Chief Secretary [Jarnail] Singh noted that many politicians have links with or receive support from the insurgent groups.”

Rights violations

According to the leaked Embassy cable, authorities have committed numerous human rights violations under the AFSPA. “Governor [S.S.] Sidhu admitted to ConGen that the Assam Rifles in particular are perpetrators of violations.”

(This article is a part of the series "The India Cables" based on the US diplomatic cables accessed by The Hindu via Wikileaks.)