The Commanding Officer (CO) of 46 Assam Rifles (Khuga Battalion) Col. Viplav Tripathi, his family and four Quick Reaction Team (QRT) personnel were killed in an ambush by militants in Churachandpur district of Manipur on Saturday morning.
The officer’s convoy was attacked with Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs) at Sehkan village, Singhat subdivision, in Churachandpur district.
“In the following firefight with suspected militants of the People’s Revolutionary Party of Kangleipak (PREPAK)/People’s Liberation Army (PLA) cadre, the CO, his wife and six-year-old son and four QRT personnel lost their lives on the spot. The other injured personnel are receiving treatment at the Behianga health care centre,” a statement from Assam Rifles said. A search is on in the area.
Col. Tripathi had served in Mizoram until July 2021 before he moved to Khuga in Churachandpur district.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi strongly condemned the attack.
Strongly condemning the attack, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said on social meida, “I pay homage to those soldiers and family members who have been martyred today. Their sacrifice will never be forgotten. My thoughts are with the bereaved families in this hour of sadness.”
“The cowardly attack on the Assam Rifles convoy in Churachandpur is extremely painful and condemnable. The nation has lost five brave soldiers including CO 46 AR and two family members. My condolences to the bereaved families. The perpetrators will be brought to justice soon,” said Defence Minister Rajnath Singh on social media.
The insurgent group is believed to be behind the attack as the PREPAK remembrance day is celebrated on November, 12/13, an officer from Assam Rifles said.
While attacks on military convoys have taken place earlier, families of personnel were not targeted. The attack may have been planned without information that the family was also travelling along, the officer said.
“Strongly condemn the cowardly attack on the convoy of 46 AR which has reportedly killed a few personnel including the CO and his family at CCpur today. The State forces and the paramilitary are already on their job to track down the militants. The perpetrators will be brought to justice,” said Chief Minister N. Biren Singh on Twitter.
War on drugs
During Col. Tripati’s tenure in Mizoram, the battalion has carried out major seizures of drugs and several successful operations to disrupt illegal smuggling including narcotics along the Myanmar border and hinterland. “The battalion has also recovered several weapons and war-like stores which could have landed in the hands of anti-national elements thus avoiding major casualties,” Assam Rifles said.
“The anti-drug campaign conducted by his battalion in January 2021 received laurels and the awareness created by him in the State won him praise from locals,” the first officer cited above, who had also worked with him, said.
In May, the 46 Assam Rifles had received Unit Citation from Governor of Mizoram P.S. Sreedharan Pillai for their all-round performance during its employment across Saitual Mamit, Kolasib, Champhai and Aizawl districts from April 17 to May 28.
“The battalion has exhibited excellent professionalism, dedication and compassion in guarding the Indo-Myanmar border and has also performed exceedingly well in assisting the local populace and has served the people of Mizoram through focused activities under civic action, student outreach and health campaigns especially during challenging times of COVID-19 pandemic,” the citation read.
While insurgency within the State has come down in recent years, insurgent groups find sanctuary across the border who resort to violence. Also with security forces conducting intelligence-based operations, IEDs and ambushes have emerged as the preferred way to mount attacks on security forces.