The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Kashmir echo in east

New Delhi, Sept. 20: The Centre has put together a unified headquarters for Manipur that is being shaped on the lines of the politico-military authority in Jammu and Kashmir.

The unified headquarters will vest enormous responsibilities on the army whose divisional commander will function as the security adviser to chief minister Okram Ibobi Singh. The Manipur chief minister will be the chairman of the unified command council.

Formation of unified headquarters is just an indicator of the level of threat that the Centre perceives in strife ridden states. Apart from Jammu and Kashmir, Assam is the only state to have a unified headquarters.

As such, the creation of a unified headquarters for Manipur means that New Delhi's security establishment is treating the situation on a par with its headache in the north even if the strife in Manipur does not have an external dimension. The 32-outfit Apunba Lup's 16-day blockade of Manipur completed two days today.

Sources in the security establishment said the decision to create a unified headquarters headed by Singh was taken on September 16. Its main task 'will be to ensure synergised approach to the operations'.

All security agencies in the state ' the army, the Assam Rifles, the SSB, the Intelligence Bureau, the CRPF, BSF and the state police ' have been asked to report to it.

Under a unified headquarters, the army usually has the biggest say in coordinating operations, and a divisional commander or corps commander is privy to all information from security agencies.

Manipur is covered by the army's 57 division that is usually based in Silchar. A division is typically headed by a major general who reports to the corps commander, a lieutenant general. The 57 division is a formation under the army's Dimapur-based 3 corps.

Decisions to form unified headquarters are taken in joint consultations at several levels and, at the very apex, between the ministries of home affairs and defence. In the last fortnight, home minister Shivraj Patil and army chief General N.C. Vij had visited Manipur.

Sources in the security establishment said the unified headquarters in Manipur would be on the lines of the command in Jammu and Kashmir where there are actually two unified headquarters, one for Jammu division and one for the Valley.

In Jammu and Kashmir, there is also a state security council and apart from the commanders of the army's XV (Srinagar-based) and XVI (Nagrota-based) corps, the chief of the northern command plays a major role in it.


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