An estimated 10 major militant groups are said to be active in the Manipur and adjoining areas.
New Delhi: The Army is working on a new strategy to deal with insurgency in the Northeast region where it has noticed a slowdown in the intensity of its operations against militants ever since the Supreme Court ordered a CBI probe into alleged extra-judicial killings in Manipur.
The Army is said to be concerned over increasing casualties of its personnel in Manipur and an “over cautious” approach being adopted by its field units in the region.
An estimated 10 major militant groups are said to be active in the Manipur and adjoining areas. Sources claimed the Army top-brass held detailed discussions a few days ago as there appears to be a “manifested caution” being exercised by the field units because of the directives of the apex court on cases related to the Armed Forces Special Powers Acts (Afspa).
The Supreme Court in the last few months has, in a number of orders, asked the CBI to probe alleged extra-judicial killings and fake encounters by the Army, Assam Rifles and police in Manipur, observing that violation of human rights cannot be tolerated.
The court in July last year had sought a probe into as many as 1,528 cases of alleged extra-judicial killings in Manipur and constituted a special investigation team (SIT) after a public interest litigation (PIL) was filed. Sources said that there has been a perceptible disquiet among some of the soldiers and officers deployed in Manipur who were adopting an over-cautious approach in conducting counter-insurgency operations.
In 2017, eight Army men were killed and 26 injured in anti-insurgency operations while the number of militants gunned down was three. Till August this year, three insurgents have been killed where as five soldiers were killed and 17 injured, they said.
As per the official data, a total of 1,889 soldiers were killed and 3,168 suffered injuries in the Northeast since 1997 while the number of insurgents killed during the period was 4,974. Similarly, the overall figure of the Army and Assam Rifles personnel killed and injured, along with those gunned down by the security forces, was around 10,000 in the last 20 years.
In connection with a hearing Afspa-related cases in Manipur, the Supreme Court had earlier rejected the government’s contention that the disturbed area was similar to a war like situation and the anti-insurgency forces needed immunity against collateral damage during operations.
There has been a long-standing demand from various quarters in Jammu and Kashmir and the Northeast to withdraw the Afspa.
In a major move, around 700 Army officers and soldiers have approached the Supreme Court against a reported move to dilute some provisions of the Afspa.