In the wake of arrest of five persons for extortion in Manipur including a suspected member of a banned terror group, the Manipur police has again warned of stern action against all those who were misusing the uniform for their ulterior motives.
The five persons were allegedly indulging in extortion from the general public and were carrying deadly weapons including AK and Insas rifles, which were looted from the police armoury, officials said.
Among those arrested on Sunday included 45-year-old M Anand Singh, alleged to be a trained cadre of Kangleipak Communist Party (KCP) Nyon group, which is banned under the stringent Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act.
The police had in July issued stern warning asking people to stop misusing police uniform following reports that armed rioters were wearing the outfit to create mistrust.
Some minority groups have been trying to exert pressure on police to release the five men and indulged in vandalism. A 48-hour bandh has been called by some of these groups but senior police officials made it clear that law will take its own course.
Singh is alleged to be a habitual offender and has been jailed six times in the past which included under the National Security Act (NSA), the officials said.
The Manipur police has circulated throughout all formations to ensure that its uniform is not misused and instructed them to intensify vigil and take strict action against the offenders, they said.
The action also comes a week after three tribals were gunned down by armed men, dressed in police uniform, in Kangpokpi district on September 12. The incident had taken place between Ireng and Karam Vaiphei villages in the tribal-dominated Kanggui area, located at the bordering districts of West Imphal and Kangpopki.
The three persons had started their journey from Ponlen in Kangpopki district and were proceeding towards Lemakong using the hill road when they were stopped by the armed assailants at Ireng near Singhda dam and gunned down.
Later it was known that the armed men, approximately over 20, were wearing police uniform, a disguise created to avoid stopping by central forces who have been manning the buffer zone in the strife torn state.
More than 180 people have been killed and several hundred injured since ethnic violence broke out in Manipur on May 3, when a 'tribal solidarity march' was organised in the hill districts to protest against the majority Meitei community's demand for Scheduled Tribe status.
Meiteis account for about 53 per cent of Manipur's population and live mostly in the Imphal valley, while tribals, including Nagas and Kukis, constitute 40 per cent and reside mostly in the hill districts.
The police have been asked even to check any vehicle carrying security personnel, especially the India Reserve Battalion and Manipur police, and their identity cards, the officials said.
The 45,000-strong Manipur police was vertically split after the ethnic clashes, with Meitei personnel in the force moving to Imphal valley for safety and the Kuki personnel escaping to the hills.