'We will normalise the situation in a week': Kuldiep Singh

Singh is the security adviser to Manipur govt


The Manipur government has appointed Kuldiep Singh, former chief of the Central Reserve Police Force, as security adviser to contain the spiralling violence in the state and to liaise with the Union home ministry. Speaking to THE WEEK from Imphal, Singh said the fresh bout of violence had brought three major security challenges to the fore: underground groups and insurgents fishing in troubled waters, cross-border migration of refugees, and illegal poppy cultivation. Edited excerpts:

Q Is there intelligence about armed insurgent groups indulging in violence?

A There have been intelligence reports of underground groups and insurgents trying to create trouble. It is natural for miscreants and armed insurgent outfits to use this as an opportunity to further their agenda. Right now, we are only trying to douse the fire and help those who are stranded in different places to reach their homes safely. Whether the violence was sporadic or whether organised groups were involved will be a matter of investigation. Only then will we get a better idea about the involvement of underground groups.

Q The free movement regime (FMR) on the Manipur-Myanmar border has allowed refugees into the state. How are you dealing with illegal migration?

A The border movement is an issue that needs to be resolved. There are concerns about outsiders coming into the state and indulging in illegal activities, cross-border smuggling of narcotics and arms that is disturbing the local population. Nobody likes foreign nationals entering unlawfully and settling in their areas. All these issues are being looked into by various agencies as well as the central government.

Q The state government has been cracking down on illegal cultivation of poppy in the hill districts of Manipur.

A The drug problem in Manipur is an issue of deep concern for the state government. The smuggling of drugs from across the border and its consumption and the illegal cultivation of poppy in the border areas are significant threats. The government is taking every action to destroy illegal poppy cultivation. The Narcotics Control Bureau and the local police have joined hands to act against the drug mafia and cross-border smuggling rings operating in Manipur.

Q But the tribals living in the hill districts are worried about state action.

A Those who are indulging in illegal poppy cultivation or any other illegal activity in the border areas are miscreants who are deliberately defying the law. Only such miscreants are resorting to violence or trying to use the present situation as an opportunity to counter state action.

Q The people of Manipur are unhappy with the internet shutdown.

A The state government has set up village peace committees to spread the message of peace. We are appealing to people to maintain peace and harmony and not pay attention to rumours. People are being asked to contact the verified helpline desk to help their friends and family. If all goes well, we will be able to normalise the situation within a week. But the internet will remain shut for the time being as social media is being misused to spread rumours and mischief mongers are putting up distorted news and fake videos to create panic and unrest. While internet remains shut, landline and broadband facilities are available in Manipur. The focus is to restore normalcy as soon as possible and ensure violence does not resurface.