A criminal case has been registered against an Imphal-based politician for writing an opinion column where he alleged that the present crisis in Manipur is the creation of the Assam Rifles unit at Mantripukhri. The column, published on May 31 in an Imphal-based newspaper The Frontier Manipur and on news portals, alleged that Myanmar-based “Kuki terrorist outfits” were being protected by the Assam Rifles.
A First Information Report (FIR) was registered on June 12 at the Imphal West police station against Jagat Thoudam, adviser to a Meitei outfit named the Indigeneous People’s Front. The FIR, a copy of which is available with The Hindu, said that Mr. Thoudam has been booked under Section 124 A of the Indian Penal Code (IPC), pertaining to sedition, and Section 153 A of the IPC, pertaining to promoting enmity between different groups on grounds of religion, race, place of birth, residence, language, etc., and doing acts prejudicial to the maintenance of harmony. The complaint was filed by the Headquarters Inspector General, Assam Rifles (South) at Mantripukhri in Imphal.
Mr. Thoudam could not be reached for comment.
Combating ‘fake news’
Since the ethnic violence in Manipur erupted on May 3, several Meitei groups have claimed that the Assam Rifles, the oldest paramilitary force in the country, was helping the Kuki insurgent groups that are in a suspension of operations (SoO) pact with the Central and Manipur governments.
A government source said that in the wake of several social media posts and news articles that were peddling fake news to foment violence and chaos in the State, a dedicated team has been pressed into action to identify and flag such content. The internet has been blocked in Manipur since May 3.
The source said that 97 columns of Assam Rifles are currently deployed in Manipur, with 48 columns positioned in Meitei-dominated areas and 49 columns posted in Kuki-dominant areas. In the first wave of violence, there were more than 15,910 displaced people in the Assam Rifles camps, of which 9,236 or around 58% belonged to the Meitei community, the source added.
On May 30, the Manipur government had issued an order that people found spreading misinformation about the ongoing ethnic clashes in the State would invite charges of sedition.
On June 2, the Dimapur-based III Corps of the Indian Army (also known as the Spear Corps) issued a statement condemning efforts to publicly out Meitei officers posted for duty in Manipur as the State was in the middle of ethnic conflict between the Kuki-Zomi people, a community of Scheduled Tribes, and the dominant Meitei people.