A suo motu FIR by Manipur Police accusing the 9th Assam Rifles of obstructing a search for tribal militants in Bishnupur on August 5 and enabling them to escape the dragnet emerged Tuesday, exposing a fault line in Manipur’s security establishment a day after the paramilitary force was withdrawn from a key checkpoint in the valley district.

Assam Rifles hadn’t reacted to the FIR till late Tuesday.

The Manipur unit of BJP submitted a memorandum to PM Modi, requesting that the Assam Rifles be permanently replaced entirely “by any other paramilitary force”. It said the force had failed to “maintain neutrality”.

Sub-inspector N Devdas Singh’s FIR at Phougakchao Ikhai police station states that at 6.30am on August 5, police and commando teams led by an officer of the rank of SP ran into a Casspir mine-protected vehicle of the 9th Assam Rifles parked in the middle of Kwakta-Pholjang Road near Kutub Wali Masjid.
According to the FIR, this amounted to obstructing police in the line of duty as they scoured the Kwakta area for militants suspected to be hiding there in the wake of unidentified gunmen shooting dead three people — a father-son duo and their neighbour — inside their homes.

A video purportedly showing police and Assam Rifles personnel arguing that morning had surfaced on Monday, fuelling the protests by women activists that led to the paramilitary unit being recalled from the checkpoint at Moirang Lamkhai in Bishnupur.
Terming the alleged obstruction by Assam Rifles “an arrogant act”, SI Devdas Singh’s FIR accuses personnel of the 9th Assam Rifles of “giving a chance to the accused Kuki militants to escape to somewhere that is a free zone for them”.
The three killings in Kwakta early on August 5 triggered reprisal later in the day, causing three more deaths and injuries to 16 in firing and mortar shelling.
The valley districts have eight checkpoints meant to prevent movement of armed groups, of which three are jointly handled by the Army and police, and two each by the Assam Rifles and police. At three points along the Kakching-Sugnu, Imphal-Leimakhong and Imphal-Sekmai roads, the state government had requested either Army or Assam Rifles deployment alongside the police.
Members of the Meitei Pangal (Muslim) community of Kwakta have fled their homes since the violence last weekend. Representatives of the community met the state’s security adviser and appealed for an end to the ethnic conflict raging for over three months.

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