BSF, CRPF deployment increased in strife-hit Manipur
Around 400 additional personnel of the two central forces have been airlifted to Manipur in the past three days, officials said.
Around 400 additional personnel of the Border Security Force and Central Reserve Police Force have been airlifted to Manipur in the past three days, officials said, even as the state government is repurposing the Churachandpur campus of the BSF as a temporary prison as the two regular jails are nearing capacity in the northeastern state that has seen ethnic violence since May.
The work to prepare the temporary jail started on Sunday, a day after the state government declared the premises of the BSF’s subsidiary training centre in Churachandpur as a temporary prison under the Prisoner’s Act ,1984.
The development is significant in the backdrop of chief minister N Biren Singh’s appeal to the public on September 22, urging them return looted arms within 15 days, after which central and state forces would launch a drive to recover them.
Of the 5,668 weapons and nearly 600,000 rounds of ammunition looted from government armouries in May and June, police have recovered only 1,329 weapons and around 14,000 munitions. The government was willing to take a considerate view on those who submitted the weapons within 15 days, Singh said on Saturday.
In the past few days, additional personnel of the central paramilitary forces were brought to Manipur in a C 130J and A 321 aircraft, an official said, requesting anonymity “The C 130 J aircraft landed thrice with additional reinforcements,” he added.
The need for a temporary prison has arisen as the two jails in Manipur are nearing their holding capacity. “The two jails will soon be filled to their capacity. Once the combing operation starts in the next 13 days, the two jails will not be able to hold additional inmates. The inmates with heinous crimes may be lodged in the two jails, but the new ones could be taken to the BSF campus in Churachandpur,” said a prison official, declining to be named.
The Sajiwa Central jail, which has a capacity of 850, currently has around 700 inmates, the prison official said. The women’s jail in Imphal has 115 inmates against a capacity of 350. Before the ethnic clashes started on May 3, there were less than 100 prisoners in Sajiwa, while the women’s jail held just three inmates.
“An area inside the sprawling campus of the BSF in Churachandpur has been identified to lodge prisoners. The temporary prison will be run by the state government, while the security will be provided by the central and state security forces,” the prison official said. “Two officials from the state government have already been given additional charge of superintendent and jailor of the temporary jail. In June, the CRPF camp housed three prisoners temporarily when they could not be transported because of the clashes that time.”
At least 176 people have died in the ethnic clashes in the border state since May 3. The clashes between the Kuki and Meiteis erupted during a protest against a court-ordered tweak to the state’s reservation matrix. The violence quickly engulfed the state where ethnic fault lines run deep, displacing nearly 50,000 people, who fled burning homes and neighbourhoods into jungles, often across state borders.