GUWAHATI, Jan 12 � Concerned over the law-and-order situation in Manipur, the Central Government has decided to put the State under a thick security blanket in the run-up to the elections to the State Assembly. A high-level team comprising senior officers of the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) and Intelligence Bureau (IB) are in Imphal since yesterday on a three-day trip to assess the situation and to chalk out strategies to ensure violence-free elections.
Highly placed sources in the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) told The Assam Tribune that the situation in Manipur is a cause of serious concern, particularly in view of the ensuing polls scheduled for January 28. "The situation is bad but it is definitely not beyond control and steps have been taken to ensure that the forces are deployed in strategic locations to deal with the situation," sources added.
MHA sources said that there should not be any shortage of force to deal with the situation in Manipur as the Centre has already deployed 360 companies of Central paramilitary forces. However, sources admitted that the presence of too many active militant groups in the State is a matter of concern. At least ten militant groups including United National Liberation Front (UNLF), PLA, KYKL, PREPAK, KCP, PULF, etc. are active in the State and they have already started efforts to interfere with the poll process.
Sources pointed out that almost all the militant groups of Manipur have strong bases in Myanmar and efforts are on to increase vigil along the international border to prevent militants from sneaking into India from their bases in the neighbouring country. Another disturbing fact is that some of the militant groups have reportedly joined hands in Myanmar and the possibility of the militants attempting strikes together cannot be ruled out.
MHA officials admitted that the possibility of the members of the NSCN (I-M) interfering with the poll process in Manipur cannot be ruled out and all the security forces have been instructed to deal with any such attempt strongly.
So far there has been no report of Maoists making any attempt to interfere with the elections in Manipur, but the Maoist rebels have a good understanding with the PLA and the forces would have to keep a close watch on the situation.
Meanwhile, the Central team is meeting officials of the police and security forces, Government officials and politicians to assess the situation and to evolve strategies to deal with it. The team is scheduled to return to New Delhi tomorrow.