By Subir Bhaumik
Imphal, Feb 19 | Khundongbam Panmei, former chairman of the 1964-founded United National Liberation Front (UNLF), has faced charges of “colluding with the enemy by leaking sensitive information and framing other leaders” and has been expelled permanently during a special session of the UNLF.
The special session was held in GHQ Neina Shang, the jungle headquarters of the rebel group .
It is possibly located on the Manipur-Myanmar border. The Special Session was held on February 15.
A press statement issued by the Central Committee of the UNLF said that the organisation’s Central Committee had set up a Special Fact Finding Committee to investigate the charges against Panmei.
“The charges were found to be correct and UNLF has decided to sever all relations with Panmei with immediate effect from 15 February, 2021,” the press statement said.
It has not been possible to get Panmei’s reaction about the UNLF’s decision.
It was also not clear whether he had some followers within the group who might now come out and surrender.
Neither was it clear whether Panmei will now formally surrender to the security forces or the Manipur government.
Manipur’s BJP-led government has been trying to bring about surrenders from the ranks of UNLF, PLA and other Imphal Valley-based rebel groups after having failed to get these groups to the table for negotiations.
The Naga rebel group, NSCN (I-M) which is negotiating a final settlement with the Indian government, draws its top leadership from Manipur’s Naga areas .
Some Manipuri politicians want the Imphal Valley-based groups on the table, so that chances of a compromise of Manipur’s territorial integrity as a result of a Naga settlement can be blocked.
UNLF’s founder chairman Rajkumar Meghen alias Sanayaima was arrested in Bangladesh and quietly handed over to India in December 2010, showing his arrested in Bihar.
He was released from Guwahati Jail in November 2019, ten months before his 10-year jail sentence ended, apparently for his ‘good conduct’ in jail .
That release sparked off speculations that Meghen might open negotiations with Indian government but that has not happened so far.
Insurgency in the Imphal Valley is largely under control, says Lt Gen Sukhdev Sangwan, the director-general of the Assam Rifles, the leading counter-insurgency force in the Northeast.
Sangwan told this writer recently that his force had full measure of the valley insurgents militarily and was now focussing on their “sources of income”.