NEW DELHI: The Central intelligence agencies had advised Manipur chief minister Okram Ibobi Singh 3-4 days back against travelling to the Tangkhul Naga-dominated Ukhrul district in view of inputs that the rebel Naga outfit NSCN (IM) may resort to violence to prevent him from inaugurating a hospital and other development projects there.
According to sources in the security establishment here, there was prior intelligence that NSCN(IM), led by T Muivah who is a Tangkhul Naga from Ukhrul, was unhappy with the Manipur chief minister visiting ‘an area of their dominance’. The input was promptly shared with the Manipur government and a security follow-up meeting held in Imphal to discuss the possibility of Ibobi calling off the visit. However, Ibobi noted that, as chief minister, he could not be held back from inaugurating development projects in his own state and insisted on keeping his Ukhrul schedule amid heightened security arrangements, revealed an intelligence officer.
On Sunday night, suspected NSCN(IM) cadres gave an inkling of their plans to sabotage the chief minister’s trip by triggering a blast outside the Ukhrul district hospital hours before its scheduled inauguration. An India Reserve Battalion jawan sustained splinter injuries in the attack.
On Monday morning, the intelligence agencies again warned the chief minister’s security set-up that suspected cadres of NSCN(IM) had set up road blockades and were burning tyres along the route Ibobi would take from the helipad to the hospital. Ibobi was finally convinced against carrying through his visit to the newly-constructed Ukhrul hospital. He proceeded back to Imphal in the same chopper, but there was gunfire from suspected insurgents as he took off. He remained safe, but a security personnel was injured in the gunfire.
Intelligence sources said NSCN(IM), which is demanding Manipur’s Ukhrul district as part of ‘Greater Nagalim’, may not have intended a life-threatening assault on the chief minister but only fired at the helipad to “stake their claim to Ukhrul and any development projects there”. An officer warned that the NSCN(IM) attack could evoke angry protests by the Manipur’s Meiti leaders over the next few days.
Meanwhile, the Centre is likely to raise the attack on Ibobi at the meeting of the next Naga ceasefire monitoring group. Intelligence sources said the Centre is also concerned over the fresh recruitment of cadres by NSCN(IM) in the recent months, notwithstanding the ongoing talks between Centre’s interlocutor R N Ravi and NSCN(IM) leadership to finalise the contours of a permanent settlement of Naga issue.
Source: Times of India