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Unable to extort money from locals in Manipur, ultras killing security personnel

By Amresh Shrivastava
New Delhi, Nov 17 (IANS) The ultra groups active in Manipur have been unable to extort money from the locals due to the impact of Covid-19 pandemic, which hit the business in the state badly.

They have now resorted to killing the security personnel to retain the sway on the local population, according to sources in the security set up.

The Coronavirus pandemic, they said, hit Manipur badly and had a telling impact on the economy in Imphal valley. It also took a toll on the finances of big businessmen, who were paying up the various Imphal Valley-Based Insurgent Groups (VBIG) operating in Manipur and Myanmar border to buy peace.

Earlier, the VBIGs used to extort money by creating fear psychosis by lobbing grenades and damaging property not by claiming lives as it could further denigrate their name and popularity among masses.

VBIG is a term used to identify all Mietie Insurgent groups operating in Manipur including the People's Liberation Army(PLA), the People's Revolutionary Party of Kangleipak(PREPAK,Pro), Kanglei Yawol Kanna Lup (KYKL), United National Liberation Front (UNLF) and Kangleipak Communist Party (KCP) (all factions).

The recent attack on the Assam Rifle convoy on November 13, killing a Colonel and his family and security personnel, can also be seen as an attempt to retain their fear among the local business community and the masses, the sources further said.

Explaining reasons behind the frustrations of these cadres, the sources elaborated on how the lower rung of these outfits have been living in pathetic conditions in makeshift camps on Manipur Myanmar borders and a proper meal has also become a luxury for them.

Further, ill treatment and humiliation at the hands of their own hierarchy and growing disenchantment with Myanmar Army and Myanmar Police has compelled them to surrender, while the leaders of such insurgent groups are leading luxurious lives.

They have also been deeply disappointed by the Myanmar Army actions against them whenever India has asked for help, the sources said. The situation has now taken a new dimension post the coup on February 1, 2021 wherein the reins of governance has been taken over by the Military Junta. This has mushroomed into an armed group with common goals to overthrow the regime and they do not want the VBIG in their set up.

It is estimated that the total strength of all Mietie groups across Indo Myanmar Border is anticipated to be around 300 and these insurgent groups are interested only in their survival and are colluding with the Myanmar Army without any remorse and the junior young cadres have no option but to accede to the demands, even if they are unwilling.

The August 10 killing of six PLA cadres opposite Pangsau pass in Waktan village in Myanmar in a case of internal feud is an ominous testimony of the low morale and growing indiscipline in the organisation.

Driven to the wall by Indian Security Forces, pushed to the brink by their own leadership and utilised as cannon fodder by Myanmar Army, the militant cadres of VBIGs are in a "lose-lose" situation.

The only 'winner' seems to be the senior hierarchy of VBIGs and the Myanmar Army, the sources, quoting the sentiments of the cadres of the militant outfits, said.