While Indian government was at ease thinking it has already succeeded in resolving the insurgency issue in the state of Assam by neutralizing activities of United Liberation Front of Assam (ULFA), a recent report clearly proves such perceptions as wrong.
On November 13, 2021, heavily armed insurgent ambushed a convoy of 46 Assam Rifles in Manipur’s Behiang area in Churachandpur district killing the Commanding Officer (CO) and family of the 46 Assam Rifles alongside several military personnel and civilians.
Police sources in Imphal told reporters, the ambush took place near Sehken village under Behiang police station. In one of the deadliest ambushes by militants in Manipur in recent times, the Commanding Officer of 46 AR, his wife and son died at the spot.
Three Quick Response Team (QRT) soldiers were also killed on the spot in the deadly ambush. The CO has been identified as Colonel Viplav Tripathi (CO-46 AR). Other injured were shifted to Behiang Primary Health Centre.
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi strongly condemned the attack. “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”, he said in a tweet.
Defence Minister Rajnath Singh condoled the deaths and promised justice. “The cowardly attack on an Assam Rifles convoy in Churachandpur, Manipur is extremely painful & condemnable. The nation has lost 5 brave soldiers including CO 46 AR and two family members. My condolences to the bereaved families. The perpetrators will be brought to justice soon”, he said in a tweet.
Manipur Chief Minister N Biren Singh said a mass combing operation has been launched in the entire area. “The attackers came from across the border from Myanmar. We will hit back. Communication has been established with the Centre”.
Although Indian authorities blame People’s Liberation Army (PLA) of Manipur for this attach, stating the area is near the India-Myanmar border and PLA is active in those areas, experts said, the pattern of attack shows, ULFA might be behind it.
During the attack, insurgents exploded a suspected IED and, after that, opened fire on the convoy.
What is People’s Liberation Army of Manipur?
The PLA was established by N Bisheshwar Singh on September 25, 1978, to “liberate” Manipur and demand “separation” from India. He had split from United National Liberation Front (UNLF) to form this group.
The group, which seeks “cessation from India”, is led by principles of Marxism- Leninism and Mao’s thoughts. It also enjoins Naga revolutionaries to join in its fight for Independence.
The outfit further looks for “War of Independence” with Chinese support, provoking the Naga and Mizo ‘revolutionaries’ to jointly fight against the common enemy.
According to information provided by the Indian Army, he “formulated a two-fold objection, to liberate the Eastern Region of India comprising the States of Assam, Meghalaya, Nagaland, Manipur and Tripura and the Union Territories of Mizoram and Arunachal Pradesh through a carefully planned revolutionary uprising and to use this as a base for `liberating’ the rest of India”.
The PLA in 1989 formed a political body called the Revolutionary People’s Front (RPF) to prop up an alternative to mainstream parties. The RPF runs a government-in-exile, although there is no evidence of the existence of such entity.
It now has four divisions, namely Sadar Hill West areas of the Valley of Manipur, Sadar Hill areas in the eastern Valley, the entire hill areas in Manipur and the entire Imphal area. Each division has a commander, lieutenants, sergeant and lance corporals in its ranks, equipped with arms.
PLA is also a member of the Manipur People’s Liberation Front, an umbrella organization of three separatist organization of Manipur.