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Meitei group accuses Indian Army of colluding with ‘Editor’s Guild and Chin-Kuki narco-terrorist groups’

Any similar allegation against the army in Kashmir would have ignited a blizzard of condemnation from Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his supporters

Umanand Jaiswal Guwahati Published 14.09.23, 06:04 AM
Representational image.

Representational image. File Photo

The longer the Centre is in denial mode, the more bizarre the situation is becoming in Manipur.

The Indian Army has been accused by a Meitei-dominated organisation of colluding with the "Editor's Guild and Chin-Kuki Narco-Terrorist Groups".


Any similar allegation against the army in Kashmir would have ignited a blizzard of condemnation from Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his supporters. Twenty-four hours into the claim, the Centre has not uttered a word, sticking to the policy of handling BJP leader and chief minister N. Biren Singh and his support base with kid gloves.

The army is part of the central forces invited by the BJP-run government in Manipur to enforce law and order after the conflict spun out of control on May 3.

Now, a conglomerate of influential Meitei civil society organisations, the Coordinating Committee on Manipur Integrity (COCOMI), has claimed that the army had “influenced” the Editors Guild of India (EGI) to “publish the most biased and baseless” fact-finding report on the unrest in the state.

The COCOMI claim follows a declaration in the Supreme Court by the Guild on Monday that it was the army that had drawn the attention of the editors to the "partisan manner of reporting" by "media outlets in the Imphal valley". The army had informed the Guild through a letter in July that such biased reporting could be playing a role in keeping the state on the boil. The Meiteis are in majority in the valley.

The COCOMI assertion echoes the stand of chief minister Singh on the Guild's report. After FIRs were slapped on the Guild's fact-finding team, the chief minister had held a media conference to condemn the Guild's report that concluded there were “clear indications that the leadership of the state became partisan during the conflict”.

The chief minister made no mention of the army during his media conference last week. But on September 9, a Manipur government media statement said the state cabinet had “condemned the unwanted actions of the central security forces” on civilians the previous day at Pallel in Tengnoupal district although it was a joint effort by central paramilitary forces and the state police.

Ground reports said that while Meitei intruders were locked in a firefight with security forces in a Kuki area, thousands of Meitei supporters had tried to march towards a Kuki village after gathering at Pallel. The security forces, who were allegedly shot at from within the crowd, had opened fire, killing three civilians.

The Editors Guild had on Monday submitted the army's letter in the Supreme Court while seeking protection from the FIRs filed against its four members over its fact-finding report on Manipur.

It is against this backdrop that the COCOMI issued the statement against the army and the Guild on Tuesday. The allegations were levelled in a press communiqué issued by Somorendro Thokchom, media co-ordinator of the Imphal-based COCOMI.

According to the COCOMI press communiqué, going by the army letter submitted to the Supreme Court by the Guild’s counsel, their earlier statements, letters and official X posts, the fact-finding team was “invited by the Indian Army to make a report on the Manipur violence”.

The army letter did not explicitly extend an invitation to the Guild. After listing three media reports in the letter, the army requested the Guild to conduct "an examination" of the enclosed reports to "ascertain whether the guidelines for journalists and media houses have been violated by these media houses which appear one-sided". The army also sought appropriate action.

The Meitei-based conglomerate said the Guild had issued a statement “appealing for crowdfunding to meet their expenses to travel to Manipur from Delhi” and had thanked the Indigenous Tribal Leaders’ Forum (ITLF) media cell on its X handle on September 6 for “their donations which they later on deleted”.

The ITLF is a conglomerate of recognised Kuki-Zo tribes in Churachandpur, a Kuki-Zo majority district. Zo refers to the common ancestry.

The COCOMI, the conglomerate of influential Meitei civil society organisations, said: "Considering the above course of events, Indian Army has influenced EGI to publish the most biased and baseless Fact Finding Report on Manipur Violence by EGI.... The report also clearly indicates that there is a deep nexus between the Indian Army influencing the Press Media’s cheapest editor’s body in the world to work beyond their ethical practices and making the Narco-Terror Fund to sponsor their trip to Imphal through their Narco-Terrorist Agencies called ITLF Media Cell. Such collusion among the India Army, Editor’s Guild and Chin-Kuki Narco-Terrorist Groups like ITLF is beyond doubt now and it must be dealt with firm hands,” the COCOMI said.

The COCOMI and other Meitei civil society organisations have been maintaining that narco-terrorists are fuelling the ongoing unrest in the state.

There was already a sustained demand for the removal of the Assam Rifles by Meitei organisations from Manipur as it is perceived as siding with the Kukis in the ongoing conflict. The Assam Rifles is commanded by officers of the Indian Army.

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