Ambush Of Commanding Officer Of Assam Rifles In Manipur

Ambush Of Commanding Officer Of Assam Rifles In Manipur

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Ambush Of Commanding Officer Of Assam Rifles In Manipur

The 46 Assam Rifles was moved to Manipur for four months from Mizoram. While in Mizoram, 46 Assam Rifles was instrumental in thwarting drugs and weapon smuggling from Myanmar.

A War Against Drugs’, the anti-drug campaign launched by the Assam Rifles turned out to the main reason behind the  ambush of Colonel Viplav Tripathi, commanding officer of the 46 Assam Rifles. It was a revenge killing by an insurgent group, from whom large quantities of drugs and weapons were seized by Colonel Tripathi’s 46 Assam Rifles during the unit’s stint in Mizoram.

China has been playing a major role in supporting the insurgent groups operating in the northeast states.  China’s role is becoming clearer  from various investigations into weapons and arms seizures.

“Besides adopting aggressive posturing on the LAC (Line of Actual Control), Chinese military is playing proxy by supporting armed insurgent groups active in northeast,” observed an officer.  Routes from Myanmar and Bangladesh have also been used by these insurgents to smuggle drugs to get easy money for their survival.

“We had information that insurgents were looking for an opportunity to target Col Tripathi’s unit. This time, they got lucky,” said an officer.  Colonel Tripathi was an infantry officer from 2 Kumaon Regiment of the Indian Army.

Colonel Tripathi, his wife and son was returning after attending a civic action programme in a forward company base, to his battalion headquarters. Four vehicles were part of the commanding officer’s (CO) convoy when they were ambushed. Over a dozen insurgents attacked the convoy with under barrel grenade launchers and small arms.

The attack happened at Sehkan in Manipur. The area borders Mizoram and is around 65km from district headquarters of Manipur, Churachandpur.  The CO’s vehicle was not bullet-proof. Also, Assam Rifles has limited number of mine protected vehicles.

In a statement, Assam Rifles said the commanding officer and three QRT (quick response team) personnel accompanying him died on spot in the gunfight with the militants (suspected PREPAK/PLA cadres). The wife of the CO and their six-year-old son too died in the attack.

The PLA claimed responsibility for the attack. The insurgent group, in a statement, said they did not know he CO’s family was with him. In a joint press release, deputy secretary of PLA’s political wing Revolutionary People’s Front (RPF) Roben Khuman, and secretary, publicity, Manipur Naga People’s Front (MNPF) Thomas Numai, claimed that they were unaware that the CO was being accompanied by his wife and son. They said, “Indian security forces should not bring their families to a place which has been declared by government of India as a disturbed area.”

It is also suspected that the militants from the separatist group People’s Liberation Army or the People’s Revolutionary Party of Kangleipak (PREPAK) might have fled to Myanmar after the attack, as majority of PLA cadre operate from Mandalay in Myanmar and Ruili in China, which borders with Myanmar.

Attack on the family of an officer by insurgents has happened after many years. While Army, Navy and Air Force officers are not allowed to keep their families in operational areas, Assam Rifles has the provision to keep their families with them. Family members of Assam Rifles stay in identified garrisons. Schools, accommodation and other areas of the garrison are well protected.