MILITANT GROUPS' PROFILE

1. United National Liberation Front (UNLF)

Formed on November 24, 1964, the United National Liberation Front (UNLF) is the first militant outfit to have been founded in the valley areas of Manipur. The outfit aims at establishing an independent socialist Manipur. Manipur People’s Army (MPA) is the armed wing of the outfit which has observed its 22nd raising day on February 8, 2009. Today, UNLF is the most potent group in the state, carrying out violent actions.

The founder leader of the outfit is Areambam Samarendra Singh. Currently, it is headed by Rajkumar Meghen alias Sana Yaima who is the chairman of the outfit. Th Sanachou is the general secretary of the outfit and A Wangpa is the defence secretary of the outfit. Ksh Yoiheiba is the senior publicity officer of UNLF’s publicity department. According to Imphal police, the outfit’s current cadre strength is somewhere between 1,500 to 1,700. Successful recruitment drives have ensured more or less undisturbed cadre strength for the outfit over the years. Many of the cadres have access to and are trained in the use of most sophisticated weapons. The outfit has several training camps in Myanmar and Bangladesh.

The outfit’s activities have been reported from all the districts located in the valley areas of the state. On occasions, the UNLF has also trespassed into the hill areas of the state to carry out activities targeting the tribal population. The outfit’s activities have also been reported from the bordering areas between Assam and Manipur, especially southern Assam’s Cachar district.

During its formative years, UNLF was patronised by Pakistan in the erstwhile East Pakistan (Bangladesh) and a number of UNLF cadres underwent military training under the aegis of the Pakistani army. Subsequently, China is known to have warmed up to UNLF, although such ties no longer exist. On the strategic front, UNLF shares bonhomie with the NSCN-K and the ULFA, apart from the valley based militant outfits within the state.

In September 2006, the UNLF, forwarded a four point formula to start a plebiscite process for resolution of the conflict in Manipur. These included:

(1) A plebiscite under United Nations (UN) supervision to elicit the opinion of the people of the State on the core issue of restoration of Manipur’s independence.

(2) Deployment of a UN peace-keeping force in Manipur to ensure that the process is free and fair.

(3) Surrender of arms by the UNLF to the UN force, matched by the withdrawal of Indian troops and

(4) Handing over of political power by the UN in accordance with the results of the plebiscite.

The proposal was rejected by the State government.

On November 31, 2010 Rajkumar Meghen alias Sana Yaima, chairman of UNLF, was arrested from Motihari in East Champaran district of Bihar. He had earlier gone missing after being reportedly arrested in Bangladesh in September 2010.

2. People's Liberation Army (PLA)

N. Bisheswar Singh formed the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) on September 25, 1978 with an objective of liberating Manipur from Indian suzerainty. To begin with, the strategic approach of the outfit to achieve its objective involved organizing a revolutionary front of all dissenting ethnic groups in India’s Northeast and setting up a common front against India. The Revolutionary People’s Front (RPF) is the political front of the PLA.

Irengbam Chaoren functions as the President of the RPF. The current cadre strength of the PLA is estimated at 1500, most of whom are armed. The cadres are organised into four military divisions – SadarHill West areas of the Valley of Manipur, Sadar Hill areas in the eastern Valley, the hill areas in Manipur and the Imphal area. PLA cadres have mounted several attacks targeting security forces. Although for a number of years, the outfit adhered to a policy of not targeting the state police forces, of late attacks targeting police personnel have been reported.

Extortion and arms smuggling remains the primary source of income for the outfit. In 1990, the PLA established a campaign called ‘Staforce’ for enforcing restrictions on the sale of alcohol and drugs, curb political corruption, and control immoral behaviour. Over the years, PLA has issued several diktats with an objective of augmenting its popularity among the civilian population. In September 2007, the outfit imposed a ban on betel leaf consumption in the state as part of its anti-tobacco campaign. The PLA has been active in the valley districts of the state. In recent times, PLA cadres have also been arrested from Assam and Meghalaya.

The outfit, like most outfits operating in the valley areas of Manipur, has refused to enter into negotiations with the Indian authorities.

The outfit enjoys popularity among the civilian population and has also been patronised by the politicians of the state. The outfit maintains several camps in Bangladesh and Myanmar. In 1989, the outfit had announced the formation of a government-in-exile in Bangladesh.

3. People's Revolutionary Party of Kangleipak (PREPAK)

Formed on October 9, 1977, the People’s Revolutionary Party of Kangleipak (PREPAK) is one of the oldest militant groups in Manipur. It demands establishment of an independent Manipur state sans the outside migrants. In an important announcement in October 2007, the outfit set itself the deadline of 2015 to achieve its objective, failing which it would abandon the path of armed revolution forever.

R.K. Tulachandra was the founding leader of the outfit. Following his killing in an encounter in 1986, S. Wanglen assumed the position of commander-in-chief of the outfit. At presentl, Achamba is the chairman of the outfit and Tajila is the commander-in-chief. Official estimate of the cadre strength of the outfit is about 200. Most of its cadres are armed with sophisticated array of weapons and have posed major challenges for the security forces. Activities of the outfit are largely confined to the valley districts of Manipur. Such activities in the recent years are on a decline, mostly as a result of the inter-outfit rivalry.

Finances of the outfit are mostly managed through extortion targeting the civilians, traders and government employees in the state. The outfit, for a number of years, was known to have cornered government contracts and sold them off to private contractors for a commission of 10 per cent. In October 2007, the outfit announced that it is giving up the practice and also would no longer ‘tax’ the government employees and the vehicles plying within the state. It declared that it would primarily depend on voluntary contribution from individuals and such contributions would be limited to Rs.15,000 per year.

The PREPAK, especially in the 1990s, was patronised by the NSCN-IM. Being a constituent of the Manipur People’s Liberation Front (MPLF), PREPAK shares strategic linkages with the UNLF and the PLA. The outfit also maintains few camps in Bangladesh.

4. Kanglei Yawol Kanna Lup (KYKL)

Kanglei Yawol Kanna Lup (KYKL) was formed in January 1994, with a purported objective of establishing a utopian Manipuri society by getting rid of all vices that are afflicting the society currently. The outfit underwent a split in 1996 into two factions- Namoijam Oken led KYKL-O and Achou Toijamba-led KYKL-T. Both factions, however, reunited in 2002.

Achou Toijamba is the present chairman of the outfit and Keisham Yaima is its general secretary. Namoijam Oken and Toijam Ibochou head the outfit’s Meeyamgi Yawol Lanmee (military commission). The outfit is known to have about 500 cadres some of whom are armed. The outfit has access to the most sophisticated weapons like AK series rifles and RPG and explosives. It mostly operates in the valley districts of Imphal East, Imphal West, Bishnupur and Thoubal. Like every militant outfit operating in Manipur, extortion remains the primary source of income for the KYKL.

With the aim in rebuilding a vice free Manipuri society, the outfit has launched operations against drug trade, corruption in public offices and all activities that the outfit considers as signs of decadence. In 2001, the outfit started Operation New Kangleipak (Kangleipak being the ancient name for Manipur), a high profile campaign to clean up the educational system in Manipur. KYKL is mostly known for the diktats issued by its information and publicity wing. Such diktats have ranged from imposing certain dress code on women to banning chewing of tobacco. Although such diktats have been greatly dissented, the fear of reprisal has made people fall in line. On several occasions, the outfit abducts students indulging in malpractices during examinations and officials in the education department to punish them by shooting at their legs.

KYKL operates in the valley districts of Manipur and shares a close nexus with the other militant outfits operating in the valley. Outside Manipur, it maintains strategic linkages with the NSCN-IM. It has two camps in Bangladesh and one camp in Burma. Its weaponry includes sophisticated weapons like AK-47, Rocket Launchers and self loading rifles (SLR). Extortion is the main source of funding for the outfit. 

5. Kuki Revolutionary Army (KRA)

The Kuki Revolutionary Army (KRA) was formed in December 2000 at Saikul of Manipur’s Senapati district, by a group of disgruntled cadres of the Kuki National Front (KNF)’s Military Council faction. The purported objective of the outfit is to secure a “separate State” for the Kuki tribe within the Indian union. In Assam, where the outfit operates in the Karbi Anglong district, the KRA aims at the establishment of a “Kuki National Council”, an autonomous administrative council for the Kuki tribals.

The KRA chairman Thangkeng Hangshing was killed by cadres of a rival militant outfit in his brother’s house in the Srinivaspuri locality in national capital New Delhi on 11 November 2007. The other office bearers of the outfit include its Publicity Secretary Zet Kuki and Information Secretary D.T. Haokip. Approximate cadre strength of the KRA is 250, out of which about 150 cadres are believed to be armed with assorted weapons.

The main area of operation of the outfit is in the Saikul and Kangpokpi sub-division of the Senapati district, Chalwa area in the Tamenglong district, Chandel and Churachandpur district. Some cadres of the outfit are also based in the Karbi Anglong district of Assam. Source of income for the outfit has been extortion targeting civilians, businessmen and vehicles passing through the area. Demand notes are often sent to the government offices and their dishonouring has led to abduction of officials in the past.

The National Socialist Council of Nagaland-Isak-Muivah (NSCN-IM) was instrumental in training and arming the KRA cadres. The KRA has strategic linkages with the United Kuki Liberation Front (UKLF), the National Democratic Front of Bodoland (NDFB) and the Dima Halim Daogah (DHD). On the other hand, the KRA cadres have engaged in internecine clashes with the rival Kuki National Army (KNA) cadres. On 12 January 2005, a combined team of the UKLF and KRA cadres had killed the KNA chief Vipin Haokip at Diyang in the Churachandpur district.

On August 1, 2005 KRA, along with other 17 Kuki militant outfits, signed Suspension of Operation (SoO) agreements with the government. The agreement has been extended up to August 22, 2010, at a meeting held on August 18, 2009.

6. Kuki National Army (KNA)

Formed in 1988, the Kuki National Army (KNA) is the armed wing of the Kuki National Organisation (KNO), which describes itself as a revolutionary movement based in the ancestral territory (Zale’n-gam) of the Kuki tribals. The Zale’n-gam comprises the contiguous region in Northeast India, Northwest Myanmar, and the Chittagong Hill Tracts (CHT) in Bangladesh.

The primary objective of the KNA is to unite all the Kuki-inhabited areas, specifically in the Kabaw valley of Myanmar and the Kuki inhabited areas in the hill districts of Manipur under two Kuki states: one within Myanmar i.e. ‘Eastern Zale’n-gam’ and the other within India, ‘Western Zale’n-gam.’ The outfit has, however, tried to fulfil its objectives within the framework of the Indian constitution.

Brigadier Vipin Haokip was the first Chief of Army Staff of the KNA. Following his death, Colonel S Robert became the Chief of Army Staff in January 2005. The KNA claims to have a cadre strength of 600, many of whom are armed. The outfit reportedly has access to modern weapons like automatic rifles and mortars. Its area of operation is limited to the hill districts of Manipur and neighbouring areas in Assam, where it mostly carries on its extortion activities. On occasions, it has clashed with the NSCN-IM cadres in Manipur.

KNA, over the years, has avoided confrontation with the security forces and has, instead, petitioned the Union Government for fulfilling its objectives. In August 2005, it entered into a formal cessation of hostilities agreement with the security forces. The agreement was, however, rebuffed by the Manipur state government which said that its police force would continue its operation against the Kuki militants. In 2007, however, the state government agreed to respect the agreement. At present, KNA is under a Suspension of Operation (SoO) agreement with the government and the agreement has been extended up to August 22, 2010.

The KNA’s strategic partners include the NSCN-K, the United National Liberation Front or the UNLF (a major rebel group in Manipur) and the ULFA. Such linkages, over the years, however, have considerably weakened.

7. People's United Liberation Front (PULF)

People’s United Liberation Front (PULF), founded in 1993, claims to represent the interests of the Pangal (Muslim) community in Manipur. Incidentally, PULF is one of the various Islamist extremist organizations which originated in Manipur following the May 3, 1993 communal clash between the Muslims and the dominant Meiteis in the Thoubal and Imphal (East and West) districts. While other Islamist outfits disintegrated, PULF has survived and has been bolstered following the May 30, 2007 merger of the Islamic National Front along with it.

Although the PULF aims at establishing an independent Islamic country in India’s Northeast through the launch of an armed revolution against the Indian state by joining causes with other like-minded radical Islamist outfits, it has acted mostly as a vigilante outfit over the years. Its activities have mostly been confined to protect the ‘values’ of the Muslim community by imposing behavioural patterns on them. It has passed several strictures against the consumption of drugs and alcohol by the Muslim youths in Manipur. It has also tried imposing dress code on Muslim girls.

The outfit’s cadre strength is estimated at about 150. Only few of the cadres are armed. Most of the outfit’s attacks involve the use of explosives. Once powerful, the outfit’s strength has waned considerably following the May 11, 2006 death of Bashir Laskar, ‘commander in chief’ of PULF and Mohammad Shafi alias Rami, its ‘deputy home secretary’.

The outfit mostly operates in the valley districts of Manipur including Thoubal. In the past, it operated in the Barpeta, Nagaon and Lakhimpur districts and the Barak valley areas of neighbouring Assam. However, such activities have ceased. Extortion forms the bulk of its source of funds. In addition, few incidents of arms smuggling involving PULF cadres have also been reported.

Strategically, PULF is linked to the NSCN-IM. The latter is believed to have trained and armed the PULF cadres in return for money. Official sources link PULF with the Pakistani Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI).

8. United Naga People's Council (UNPC)

A new militant outfit called the United Naga People’s Council (UNPC) is formed and a formal announcement was made on May 19, 2008 before the media at an unspecified place in the Senapati district. It reportedly consists of cadres of a splinter group of the NSCN-IM in Manipur. The ‘president’ of the group, S.S. Max, said that the group aims at restoring peaceful co-existence amongst the people living in both hills and valley and to safeguard the territorial integrity and sovereignty of Manipur. He said the new splinter group had no enmity with the ‘revolutionary movements’ waged by the NSCN-IM, NSCN-K and NNC. He also said the outfit is led by two ‘colonels’, one ‘major’, two ‘captains’, two ‘full junior full lieutenants’, three ‘second lieutenants’ and 20 trained cadres of the NSCN-IM, who had defected in April 2008 and had formed the UNPC in the state on April 30.

9. United People's Party of Kangleipak (UPPK)

The former Chinglemba Mangang group of PREPAK re-incarnated itself with a new nomenclature to be known as the United People’s Party of Kangleipak (UPPK) with its armed wing Kangleipak People’s Army (KPA).

Announcing the formation of the new group by the old cadres, Khuman Laishramcha, Assistant Secretary in-charge, District Committee Member (DCM), Information and Publicity Department, United People's Party of Kangleipak (UPPK) informed in a press note that the party with its armed wing founded on November 6, 2008 stand for a united effort of all like minded revolutionary outfits operating in the region to make a sovereign republic of Kangleipak free from the age-old yoke of the Indian Union and its colonial system of government once and for all.

The press note further stated that the party stand for united endeavour and collective struggle to foster unity, promote revolutionary comradeship and maintain a close relationship among all the revolutionary parties existing in the region with due respect to each other until the common goal is reached.

The press note of the newly formed party further stated that their party does not encourage all sorts of forcible monetary demands and collections.

Declaring that the Chinglemba Mangang group of PREPAK will no longer be seen or heard in the land, the press note affirmed that the UPPK with its armed wing KPA is pladged to carry on its revolutionary activities under the supreme command and leadership of its sole founder-leader Chinglemba Mangang.

On May 21, 2009, UPPK launched ‘Operation Wayel’, with the objective of ensuring due quality in contract works and goods supplied as well as to do away with all forms of fraudulent practices. The outfit said that under the operation, it would check all goods supplied by suppliers and works executed by contractors.

10. KANGLEIPAK COMMUNIST PARTY (KCP)

Kangleipak Communist Party (KCP) was formed by a dissident group of People’s Revolutionary Party of Kangleipak (PREPAK), led by Y. Ibohanbi on April 13, 1980. Its objective is to win freedom from Indian rule and formation of an egalitarian society for the Kangleipak (Manipur) through an armed struggle.

The founder of KCP, Y. Ibohanbi, was killed during a security force operation in 1995. After his death, KCP broke into many factions. There were moves to unite these factions but there was very little success. On August 23, 2011, the Union Minister of State for Home Affairs, M Ramachandran said in the Lok Sabha that there are at present 12 factions of the KCP. These factions are KCP (Noyon), KCP-MC Lanheiba Meitei, KCP-MC Lanjaba Meitei, KCP Lamphel, KCP City Meitei, KCP Kokkai, KCP Nando, KCP KK Nganba, KCP-MC Ningamba and KCP-MC Lallumba.

The presence of KCP is mostly in the valley areas of Manipur but it has been found to be engaged in extortion and other activities in the hill districts also. These extortion activities are the main sources of funds for the outfit. KCP has relationship with most of the outfits operating in the valley districts of Manipur. In its earlier days it also maintained ties with the NSCN-IM and the ULFA.

11. MANIPUR NAGA REVOLUTIONARY FRONT (MNRF)

Manipur Naga Revolutionary Front (MNRF) was formed in 2008 under the leadership of Allen Siro and claims to be an autonomous revolutionary group formed to save the territorial integrity of Manipur.

A release from the group’s publicity secretary, C Rocky in May 2009 said that MNRF does not collect house tax, ration tax but helps the people in the areas it operates, although it will collect three per cent as party funds from any development work, contract, scheme and employees of the government offices etc.

12. KUKI NATIONAL FRONT

Kuki national front (KNF) was formed under the leadership of Ranco Thangboi Kuki on May 18, 1988. The primary reason for the formation of the outfit was to counter the increasing influence of NSCN-IM in the Kuki-inhabited areas of Manipur.

The main objective of the outfit is the formation of a separate State or Union Territory for the Kuki community, ‘Kukiland’.

In 1995, KNF split into two - the "presidential” faction and the "military council” faction.
The presidential faction again split into two - Samuel faction (KNF-S) and Zougam faction (KNF-Z).

The main area of operation of KNF is the Churachandpur district of Manipur. It also operates in other Kuki inhibited areas of the Chandel, Tamenglong and Senapati districts. It has links with the other Kuki militant outfits, with the valley-based outfits of Manipur like UNLF and PLA. It also has ties with the NSCN-K.

In August 22, 2008, KNF (all its factions) and other Kuki militant outfits signed the Suspension of Operations (SoO) agreement with the central government in New Delhi. They are at cesefire since then and its cadres are staying in the designated camps. In March 2010, the Union Home Secretary, G.K.Pillai met the leaders of the KNF in Manipur and the peace talks are expected to begin soon.

13. OTHER KUKI MILITANT GROUPS

There are 18 Kuki militant groups in Manipur. Apart from Kuki Revolutionary Army (KRA) and Kuki National Army (KNA), other outfits are not much active. These Kuki militant outfits have signed Suspension of Operation (SoO) with Government of India under the banner of United Peoples' Front (UPF) and Kuki National Organisation (KNO). The agreement has been extended up to August 22, 2010.

The groups under KNO are Kuki National Front (Military Council), Kuki National Front (Zogam), United Socialist Revolutionary Army (Old Kuki), United Komrem Revolutionary Army (UKRA), Zomi Reunification Front (ZRF), Zou Defence Volunteer (ZDV-KNO), Hmar National Army (HNA), Kuki Revolutionary Army (Unification), Kuki Liberation Army (KLA-KNO) and Kuki National Army (KNA).

The groups under UPF include Kuki Revolutionary Army (KRA), Kuki National Front (KNF), United Kuki Liberation Front (UKLF), Kuki Liberation Army (KLA-UPF), Zomi Revolutionary Army (ZRA), Kuki National Front (S), Hmar Peoples’ Conference/ Democratic (HPC-D) and Zou Defence Volunteers (ZDV-UPF).

(Updated till 26 January, 2011)