Manipur CM is corrupt: WikiLeaks
In a September 2006 confidential cable released by WikiLeaks, Henry Jardine, principal officer, US consulate general in Kolkata, underscored the corrupt state of affairs in Manipur. Sanjib Kr Baruah reports.delhi Updated: Mar 21, 2011 23:43 IST
In a September 2006 confidential cable released by WikiLeaks, Henry Jardine, principal officer, US consulate general in Kolkata, underscored the corrupt state of affairs in Manipur.
The US official, reporting that rampant corruption was complicating the effort to control rising violence in the state, also mentioned that chief minister Okram Ibobi Singh was known as “Mr. Ten Percent”, for the amount of money that he takes from contracts and government projects.
The report said that officials and private individuals agreed that many key government officers and politicians receive kick-backs and skim-off money from government funds. Even the protocol officer facilitating Jardine's trip had said that the government was incapable of handling the situation as all the officials were more interested in their own enrichment.
He said that just getting a government job required payments equivalent to several thousand dollars. On being asked by the US official as to who received the payments, the protocol officer said it was the state government ministers.
The US confidential cable said that in December 2005, chief of Army Staff J.J. Singh reportedly told the media that chief minister Singh had contributed Rs 15 million to insurgent groups in the state.
Manipur State Youth Congress leader L. Tilottama was also quoted speaking in “hypothetical” terms about politicians’ motivations to protect insurgents, “If I take Rs 1 crore from a businessman building a flyover, and the insurgents get a share, I want to keep quiet about it.”
Jardine was in Manipur to probe a grenade attack on an ISKCON temple, where two American citizens were injured. He traveled in a convoy with about 20 paramilitary soldiers and a dedicated ambulance with full medical staff.
In addition, at sites visited by him, upto 100 soldiers were deployed around the area and along the access roads. At an event with an NGO to promote baseball in Manipur, soldiers used landmine detectors to sweep the grass around the baseball field.
In the US officials' many interactions, even with some government officials, a reoccurring comment was that Manipur was less a state and more a colony of India.
The general use of the Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA) meant that Manipuris did not have the same rights compared to other Indian citizens and restrictions on travel to the state added to the sense of isolation and separation from the rest of India.
The overwhelming presence of military, paramilitary and police officers contributed to the impression that Imphal was under military occupation.
Jardine also reported that the Indian civil servants were also clearly frustrated with their inability to stem the growing violence and anarchy in the state, feeling their efforts to effectively control the insurgencies was hamstrung by local politicians either in league with or at least through corruption, helping to finance the insurgents.