Search operations in Muslim inhabited areas of Manipur, 43 foreign nationals rounded up

By Dr. Syed Ahmed, for,

Imphal: Manipur police launched an early morning search operations in two of the most densely-populated Muslim inhabited areas of Manipur on August 30, 2012 and rounded up 43 foreign nationals. 24 are claimed to Bangladeshis and 19 from Myanmar. The crackdown was launched in Hafiz Hatta – Golapati in Imphal and Lilong in Thoubal district.

Inspector General of Police (LO) L Kailun, who led the operations informed media-persons that a combined team of Imphal West, Thoubal and Bishnupur Police conducted combing operations at Lilong area and picked up 136 youths for verification. Verifications were carried out at 2nd Battalion Manipur Rifles Parade Ground. During the course of verification, 19 of them admitted that they were from Myanmar and came to Manipur through Moreh, Meghalaya and Tripura while the rest identified themselves as citizens of other Indian states.

Around the same time, Imphal East Police also conducted a similar operation in Hatta- Golapati area and picked up 24 Bangladeshi nationals. They do not have any passport or documents for staying or travelling in India. All 24 of them would be produced in the court to decide whether they should be remanded to judicial custody or handed over to their respective embassies, Kailun added.

He further informed that such operations were also carried out at some places of Imphal West and Bishnupur districts of the State. However, no illegal migrants were found. The state police will continue its operation to detect illegal immigrants in other parts of the state, and Jiribam, bordering Cachar district of Assam, is the main target for police to conduct such operations since there are reports of many illegal migrants settling in the area, Kailun added.

Clarifying the matter, Home Minister of Manipur, Gaikhangam told media-persons that Manipur police carried out the special drive on the wee hours of Saturday based on information about presence of large number of foreign nationals in the two Muslim dominated areas of Imphal East and Thoubal districts. He also stated that appropriate action as per the law would be taken against the foreign nationals who entered Manipur illegally; they will be deported to their respective countries. As the detection of foreign nationals is a delicate and sensitive issue utmost care had to be taken to avoid public backlash against the police action, he added.

Talking to media-persons, Director General of Police, Manipur, Y. Joykumar said that all the Myanmarese rounded, including two women and three children, are from Arakan area, while the Bangladeshi nationals were mostly from Rajek, Latsahi, Nabganj and Chappai Nabganj areas of Bangladesh. Besides these foreign nationals, another 127 migrants from several other states were also picked-up for further verification during the same operation, which included 62 from West Bengal, 32 from Silchar and 33 from Bihar.

Search operation at Hatta-Golapati

The illegal migrants were all staying at rented quarters at the two areas and all were engaged in various categories of menial works. Some of the migrants were found to have married local Muslim girls, Joykumar added.

It may be recalled that after pressure from various civil society organizations, led by Federation of Regional Indigenous Societies (FRIENDS), the Manipur State Assembly adopted a resolution on July 13, 2012 urging the Central Government to extend the Bengal Eastern Frontier Regulation, 1873 to the State to check the influx of outsiders. FRIENDS claims that the total population of non-Manipuri in the state has increased at 7,04,488, while the indigenous tribal population is 6,70,782 and that of the Meitei, the major community is 7,51,822 which outnumbered the non-Manipuri population by only 47,000.

Besides the above mentioned indigenous tribal and Meitei communities, the State has also around 2 lakh indigenous Muslim population, locally known as Meitei-Pangal.