Kuki-Zomi police officers appeal against transfers to Meitei areas; Manipur government says they are being promoted

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| Photo Credit: V. Sandhya

Over 100 Kuki-Zomi personnel of the Manipur Police’s Manipur Rifles and Indian Reserve Battalion have approached the Indigenous Tribal Leaders’ Forum to intervene in a transfer order that posts them in Meitei-dominated areas of the State. The officers said they had availed all institutional mechanisms available to them to ask for a consideration but have not heard back. 

Taking the matter forward, the ITLF wrote a letter to Home Minister Amit Shah, saying, “It [the transfer order] requires them to travel to Meitei districts and, if they survive the journey, be stationed with mostly Meitei police personnel. In other words, this is a death sentence as the government cannot guarantee their safety.”

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However, a source in the Manipur government denied any ill intent behind the transfer order, dated February 14 and signed by the Director-General of Police. “These are personnel who are being promoted and posted wherever the appropriate vacancies were available,” the source said. 

Fear of mobs

“The personnel, around 40 or 50, came to the ITLF office two to three days back and requested that we intervene on their behalf and that is why we have written to the Home Minister regarding this,” said ITLF spokesperson Ginza Vualzong.

One of the officers who is being transferred from his current posting in Churachandpur to Jiribam, a Meitei-dominated district, told The Hindu, “Our family members have written to our Commanding Officers and we have also put in applications for special consideration given the situation. But we do not know if the CO has received these. We felt going to ITLF was our only option”

“We were living in Imphal’s government quarters near the National Games Village and still no one could protect us when the mobs came. We fled our homes and left everything behind on May 4 [2023],” he said. 

‘Ploy against Kuki-Zo officers’

ITLF officials said that 177 officers had been transferred in this particular transfer order dated February 14 and signed by the Director-General of Police. Of this, they say 110 are Kuki-Zomi personnel, who have been sent to either Meitei-dominated areas or to places which they cannot reach without going through Meitei-dominated areas. While they claimed that none of the Meitei officers on the list had been posted to Kuki-Zomi areas, The Hindu found at least one officer from the Meitei community who had been posted to Churachandpur in this batch. 

In the letter to Mr. Shah, the ITLF insisted that the physical and geographical separation of the Kuki-Zomi and Meitei communities had already taken place. Given this scenario, “the order is clearly a ploy by the communal State government to target Kuki-Zo police personnel as they will not be able to report for duty in Meitei areas”, the tribal forum said.

State will provide security

Vehemently denying any such intent, the Manipur government source said: “There was no intent to compromise their security. If they want to address the problem, they should approach the authorities and the State will provide security if they are feeling that they are not secure. If we do not promote them, they won’t get the enhanced pay and benefits that they are entitled to,”

The ITLF letter has also been marked to other officials in the Ministry of Home Affairs, the Intelligence Bureau, the Manipur government, and the DGP of Manipur Police. 

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