BSF and CRPF Forces Strengthened in Conflict-Stricken Manipur

BSF and CRPF Forces Strengthened in Conflict-Stricken Manipur

Imphal - In the last three days, approximately 400 additional personnel from the Border Security Force (BSF) and the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) have been transported to Manipur, as confirmed by officials. This development coincides with the state government's decision to repurpose the Churachandpur campus of the BSF into a temporary prison due to the imminent overcrowding of the two existing correctional facilities in the northeastern state. Manipur has been grappling with ethnic violence since May, making this move essential.

The preparations for this temporary jail commenced on Sunday, just a day after the state government officially designated the premises of the BSF's subsidiary training center in Churachandpur as a temporary prison under the Prisoner's Act of 1984.

This development holds significance in light of Chief Minister N. Biren Singh's appeal to the public on September 22, urging individuals to return looted firearms within 15 days. After this period, central and state forces would launch an operation to recover these weapons.

Out of the 5,668 weapons and nearly 600,000 rounds of ammunition looted from government armories in May and June, only 1,329 weapons and approximately 14,000 rounds of ammunition have been recovered by the police. Singh mentioned that the government was willing to take a lenient stance towards those who voluntarily surrendered the weapons within the specified 15-day timeframe.

Over the past few days, additional personnel from central paramilitary forces have been airlifted to Manipur using C-130J and A321 aircraft. An unnamed official stated, "The C-130J aircraft landed three times with additional reinforcements."

The need for a temporary prison has arisen due to the nearing capacity of the two existing jails in Manipur. A prison official, who chose not to be identified, explained, "The two jails will soon be filled to their capacity. Once the combing operation starts in the next 13 days, the two jails will not be able to hold additional inmates. Inmates with serious crimes may remain in the two jails, but new ones could be taken to the BSF campus in Churachandpur."

Currently, the Sajiwa Central jail, with a capacity of 850, houses around 700 inmates, while the women's jail in Imphal accommodates 115 inmates against a capacity of 350. Prior to the ethnic clashes that began on May 3, Sajiwa Central jail had fewer than 100 prisoners, and the women's jail held just three inmates.

An area within the expansive BSF campus in Churachandpur has been designated for housing prisoners in the temporary facility. The state government will oversee the operation of the temporary jail, with security provided by central and state security forces. Two state government officials have already assumed additional roles as the superintendent and jailor of the temporary jail. In June, the CRPF camp temporarily housed three prisoners when transportation was hindered due to the clashes at that time.

Since May 3, ethnic clashes in the border state have resulted in the loss of at least 176 lives. The clashes, stemming from protests against a court-ordered adjustment to the state's reservation matrix, escalated swiftly, engulfing the state in violence. Manipur, with deep-seated ethnic fault lines, witnessed the displacement of nearly 50,000 people who fled their burning homes and neighborhoods, often crossing state borders to seek refuge in jungles.

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