Imphal, April 20: The government may not be able to rescue a person abducted by militants or stop extortion, but it can certainly wield the National Security Act to punish an employee who negotiates a deal with the militants to save his or somebody else’s skin.
Manipur chief secretary Jarnail Singh today warned government employees against clandestinely meeting members of militant groups, whatever the circumstances. “It is anti-national,” he said.
The warning came amid speculation about the families and colleagues of four “missing” officials of the Manipur Electronics Development Corporation trying to establish contact with the “unidentified” group that is holding them hostage. The quartet went missing after they left their homes for office on April 6.
Singh issued a circular on Wednesday, stating that a government employee who henceforth meets militants for any reason would be booked under the National Security Act.
Government employees of Manipur have allegedly been setting up rendezvous with militants outside the state to avoid detection. Guwahati, Calcutta, Bangalore and Dimapur have been named as the places where such meetings take place.
The chief secretary said three officials of the agriculture department visited Guwahati recently to negotiate with militants on “monetary” demands.
The circular from the chief secretary’s office asked director-general of police Y. Joykumar Singh to ensure stricter surveillance and the additional chief secretaries, commissioners, secretaries and heads of departments to prohibit employees from leaving Imphal without prior permission.
An official source said special police teams had already been deployed at Imphal airport and along the national highways to monitor the movements of government officials.
If any employee needs to make an official or private trip to any place beyond Manipur, he/she must first seek permission from the head of department, the minister concerned or the state secretariat.
The chief secretary said the four missing officials of the Manipur Electronics Development Corporation were detained when they went to a hideout of a militant group. “The officials went there to negotiate with the militants on demands for a share of funds sanctioned by the Centre for development schemes.”
Government employees criticised the circular, at least in private. A senior officer said no employee would probably go to a hideout or elsewhere to meet members of a militant group unless he/she was coerced into doing so.
“The government has yet to instil a sense of security in the minds of government employees.”
Several militants have been arrested outside Manipur in recent weeks. A top gun of the banned People’s Revolutionary Party of Kangleipak (Prepak) was captured in Guwahati on April 11, continuing a sequence of arrests that began in Imphal and then extended to Calcutta.
The two Prepak members arrested in Calcutta are Rakesh Singh and R.K. Dhaneshwar. They were in the city to teach a group of 15 students of Jadavpur University how to execute guerrilla attacks on security forces.
Military Intelligence traced Rakesh and Dhaneshwar on the basis of information provided by Sanjay Singh and Leishram Ibobi Singh, two top leaders of the organisation who spent six months in a rented house in Calcutta, masquerading as university students.
The Guwahati leg of the crackdown on the outlawed Prepak’s expansive network also led to the arrest of three activists of another Manipur-based militant group, the People’s United Liberation Front.