Six Members of Rebel Group Along Myanmar-Indian Border Charged With Unlawful Association

By Salai Thant Zin 19 January 2021

Sagaing Region authorities have filed charges against an officer and five other members of the People’s Liberation Army of Manipur (PLA), a rebel group fighting the Indian government from bases along the Myanmar-India border, under the Unlawful Association Act and the Immigration Act.

Five Meitei rebels were arrested at Chindwin River Bridge in Monywa, Sagaing Region in northwestern Myanmar in August last year, and their interrogation led to the arrest of a PLA captain who had immigrated to Sagaing.

With the approval of the Indian government, police and immigration department have opened cases against them under the Unlawful Association Act and the Immigration Act at police stations in Monywa and Sagaing.

“We arrested five Meitei people at Chindwin Bridge who said they came to receive medical care. We interrogated them with a special unit as they looked suspicious. And we arrested a Meitei captain living in Sagaing who has ties with them. They are all Indian citizens. So, police filed a lawsuit against them under Unlawful Association Act and the immigration department has also filed a lawsuit under immigration law,” said Sagaing police force spokesman Police Lieutenant Colonel Ba Win.

The PLA captain, identified as Nora but also known as Devanl, has been living in Sagaing with a fake Myanmar citizenship ID, according to Sagaing Region authorities. The Meitei man from Tokpaching of India’s Manipur had moved to Myanmar and married a Burmese woman in Sagaing. The couple has a daughter.

Police charged the six under Section 17 (1, 2) of Unlawful Association Act in August last year. And immigration department also charged them under the 1947 Myanmar Immigration (Emergency Provisions) Act. The Monywa Township court is hearing the case.

Sagaing Region police force is also planning to open cases against Nora and a Meitei rebel under Section 468 of Penal Code for counterfeiting citizenship IDs, said Police Lieutenant Colonel Ba Win.

The Irrawaddy was unable to obtain a comment from the Sagaing Region Immigration and Population Department.

According to Kuki Youth Network (KYN), there are at least six Meitei rebel groups based in Myanmar: the People’s Revolutionary Party of Kangleipak (PREPAK), the People’s Liberation Army of Manipur (PLA), the United National Liberation Front of Manipur (UNLF), the United People’s Party of Kangleipak (UPPK), the Kanglei Yawol Kanna Lup (KYKL) and the Kanleipak Communist Party (KCP).

All are fighting against the Indian government for the liberation of Manipur.

The rebel groups are mainly based in Tamu and Kalay townships in Sagaing Region and in Tonzang in Chin State on the Myanmar-India border. India-Myanmar military analysts suggest there may be many Meitei rebels holding Myanmar citizenship IDs and some are running businesses in other parts of Myanmar.

The six Meitei rebels are being detained at Monywa Prison, according to the police.

In January 2019 the Northwestern Command of the Myanmar military raided the headquarters of the National Socialist Council of Nagaland-Khaplang (NSCN-K) in the Naga Self-Administered Zone of Sagaing Region. The NSCN-K is an ethnic Naga armed group pushing to establish a sovereign Naga homeland. The military arrested 24 Assam and Meitei rebels in the raid, according to a military spokesperson.

In May 2019, the Hkamti District Court in Sagaing Division sentenced the detainees to two years in prison under Article 17 (1) of the Unlawful Associations Act. They were released in the presidential amnesty in April and handed over to the Indian government at Hkamti Airport in Sagaing the following month.

Translated from Burmese by Thet Ko Ko.