Even as Manipur’s security advisor, Kuldiep Singh has gone on record saying the sniper and the group involved in the killing of sub-divisional Police Officer (SDPO), Chingtham Anand Kumar in Moreh have been identified and an all-out effort is underway to nab culprits, highly placed sources said that the fatal attack is the handiwork of a newly set up group christened as People’s Protection Force (PPF).
The sources, who don’t want to be named, said the shooting of the police officer was executed under the supervision of a commander of a Kuki militant outfit currently under the Suspension of Operation (SoO), a tripartite ceasefire agreement with the state government and the Centre.
While the Security Advisor stopped short of revealing the identities of the people and group involved in the dastardly act that killed the decorated police officer, they alleged that the PPF, based at Moreh, had been planning to ambush the State Police’s Special Commandos deployed to maintain law and order at the border town.
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The source revealed that three days ahead of the sniper ambush that killed SDPO Anand, functionaries of PPF and an apex Kuki civil body of Tengnoupal district engaged in a heated argument with the deceased police officer over why the police personnel were clearing the Eastern Shine school ground.
The deceased SDPO, along with 3rd Indian Reserve Battalion Commandant, H Balram and Superintendent of Police (railways and special commandos), Th. Krishnatombi Singh was supervising the clearance work of the school ground that started on October 26 to prepare for a helipad.
The sources alleged that after the heated agreement that took place on October 29, a co-founder of PPF who is an ex-serviceman, along with a commander of the Kuki National Army (KNA) took position near a Meitei Baptist church at Moreh, and using a ‘brand new’ sniper, procured from Thailand border, shot the SDPO.
The source further revealed that miscreants at Moreh are extorting money from the residents of Moreh to buy ammunition, and sophisticated weapons, particularly snipers, and also to bring in master trainers from Myanmar to Indian soil to train Chin-Kuki youths as PPF volunteers.
Furthermore, the sources said that the recruits are being sheltered and given arms training at Haolenphai and Sahei, the two Kuki villages lying along the India-Myanmar international border on the Indian side to Moreh.
They continued that the extortion drive in its initial campaign could manage to extort a whopping Rs.8.7 crores. According to them the extortion ‘order’ was issued by an influential Chin-Kuki body based at Moreh, under the authority of its president.
It also alleged that sophisticated weapons like snipers, assault rifles, rocket propellers, and explosives were recently purchased from Thailand and China.
A second batch of arms training for PPF volunteers is underway at Haolenphai and Sahei. It is stated that the KNA commander involved in the sniper ambush was called in to supervise the training of the PPF.
Unprecedented ethnic violence erupted in Manipur on May 3, following a tribal solidarity rally that turned violent in the Churachandpur district, leading to retaliatory violence between Chin-Kuki-Zo and the Meitei communities across the state.
On May 3 itself, violence spread to the international border town of Moreh, with Chin-Kuki miscreants attacking, looting, and burning down Meitei shops and homes in the main commercial town, forcing over 4000 Meitei residents of Moreh to flee for safety.
Again, on July 26, a large mob torched over 30 abandoned Meitei houses and demolished several other properties.
Meanwhile, the Chin-Kuki-Zo civil bodies have been campaigning against the deployment of state security forces at the border town, staging protest demonstrations and even blocking the national highway that connects Imphal with Moreh, rendering Moreh inaccessible by road.
As an alternative, choppers are being used to ferry state forces and other supplies in and out of Moreh.
Even as the state government were using two helipads maintained by 5 Assam Rifles to access Moreh by air, it decided to make a new one at the Eastern Shine school ground for its movement as Chin-Kuki-Zo womenfolk prevented movement by blocking the road leading to the two helipads.
Immediately after the sniper ambush that killed the Moreh SDPO, additional reinforcement of state force reached the border town and sprang into action detecting 32 illegal Myanmarese immigrants on the first day of a search operation on Wednesday.
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