Centre chalks tough action on Manipur ambush

Rajat Kain

Manipur_army-mapThe Central government is looking for an “all-out offensive” against the attackers responsible for ambush on the army convoy of 6 Dogra regiment on Thursday morning at Chandel district of Manipur. As per the revised reports, 18 army personnel lost their lives while more than 10 are battling serious wounds. This is said to be the worst attack on the army personnel since the 1999 Kargil war.

Thursday evening saw several rounds of meeting between North Block and the South Block with Union Home Minister holding meetings with Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar and Chief of Army Staff Dalbir Singh Suhag. The NSA Ajit Doval too was present at the meeting. As the ministers and officials took the stock of situation, the Prime Minister expressed his shock at the incident.

“Today’s mindless attack in Manipur is very distressing. I bow to each and every soldier who has sacrificed his life for the Nation,” PM Modi had tweeted.

Speaking over the incident after the high level meeting in New Delhi, Home Minister Rajnath Singh claimed that “strongest possible action” will be taken and those responsible for the attack will not be allowed to go scot free.

“Deeply distressed after the news of attack on Army convoy in Manipur. We will not allow the sacrifices of our soldiers to go waste,” Rajnath Singh told the press.

The Centre has decided to put all installations of security and defence forces on a high alert after the incident. The Indo-Myanmar border in Manipur’s Chandel district and adjoining areas too have been sealed apprehending that the milatants responsible for ambush may take this route to flee outside the Indian territory.

However, so far no known insurgent or militant group has a responsibility for the attack.

Seen as the severest attack on the army in recent years, it has happened barely a week after the state government of Tripura had recommended lifting of contentious AFSPA after 18 years. The attack is certain to spark another debate on AFSPA as some areas in Manipur too are under the controversial law giving immunity to the defence personnel.

Incidentally, the state government of Manipur too have been mulling to ease AFSPA in Chandel and the adjoining Churchandpur district.

According to the probe so far, the convoy carrying the army personnel in four trucks was attacked on a stretch between the Paralong and Charong villages in Chandel, around 80 kilometres away from state capital Imphal. Army officials claim that the ambush was laid by militants using rocket-propelled grenades (RPG) and automatic weapons.

The ambush was triggered after an IED blast stirred the convoy followed by the militants resorting to heavy firing at the army personnel. A suspected insurgent was also killed as the army retaliated to the heavy firing, the local police told.

Soon after the incident, reactions started pouring in across the party lines. As the top government brass condemned the attack and assured an “offensive” against the militants, the opposition parties too expressed their grief over the incident.

Condemning the attack, Congress party President Sonia Gandhi said, “hope the killers of the vanguards of our national integrity will be brought to the book at the earliest”.

Congress Vice-President Rahul Gandhi too extended his condolences to the family of jawans killed in an ambush.

“Extremely sad to hear about the attack…My deepest condolences to the families of the martyrs,
we stand with each of them in this hour of tragedy,” Gandhi tweeted late on Thursday night.

(With inputs from PTI)