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Military


Revolutionary People's Front (RPF)
People's Liberation Army (PLA)


History

To restore the suspended freedom of Manipur and to resist the occupation force of India, People's Liberation Army (PLA), was founded on 25 September 1978, under the leadership of N. Bisheshwar. On 25 February 1979, PLA's political wing Revolutionary People's Front (RPF) was set up. Soon after its establishment insurgency emerged in a big way and the Manipur Government declared the entire Valley a disturbed area and Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act, 1958, was imposed on the Valley in September 1980. RPF suffered a major set back soon after its formation when its chief Bisheshwar was captured and seven other leaders were killed by the Indian Army in an operation in Tekcham, Thoubal district on July 6, 1981. On October 26, 1981, RPF along with People's Revolutionary Party of Kangleipak (PREPAK) and Kangleipak Communist Party (KCP) were declared unlawful organisations. On April 13, 1982, RPF's new leader, Thoudam Kunjabehari and eight other militants of the outfit were killed in an encounter in Kadampokpi area, near Imphal. 

By the end of the eighties, RPF once again stepped up their activities. PLA militants killed Vandana Mallick, an Indian Police Service (IPS) officer in an ambush near Imphal on April 8, 1989. To strengthen the revolutionary struggle RPF along with PREPAK and KCP formed the Revolutionary Joint Committee (RJC) in May 1991.

From 1990, RPF started imposing a ban on the sale of liquor in Manipur. PLA militants launched an armed campaign against social evils. It took to enforcing total prohibition and gunning down rapists, besides launching a vigorous drive against drug peddlers. As a step to prevent and safeguard the further worsening society, eroded abruptly by drugs and dreadful diseases like HIV and AIDS infection, RPF had formed a "Special Task Force" known as STAFORCE on July 7, 1996. PLA forced corrupt officials and contractors to confess their guilt through local newspapers. In August 1995, former RPF chief Bisheshwar was gunned downed by PLA militants for contesting in the State Assembly elections and accepting the Indian Constitution. 

From 1991, RPF started observing October 15 (the day Manipur merged with the Union of India) as Black Day. The party has been observing 25 February as Independence Demand Day since 1995. The party is the fourth revolutionary group, which claimed to abide by the Common Article 3 of the Geneva Convention.

Objectives

RPF takes up arms and fights for all the dependent and colonised people of Manipur representing the Meitei and the Nagas, the Kuki-Chins, and smaller nationalities for granting and restoration of independence and de-colonisation of the State of Manipur from the present colonial and hegemonic Administering Power of Indian, which has been occupying Manipur since 15 October, 1949, till today. It also aims to organise a "revolutionary front" covering the entire Northeast. RPF though a Meitei outfit, claims itself to be a trans-tribal organisation seeking to lead the non-Meiteis as well. 

Command Structure

RPF's armed wing - People's Liberation Army (PLA) was reorganised on the lines of a disciplined army. It has three bureaus - Central, Western and Eastern. All the decisions of the party are taken by the Central bureau. The RPF has divided the entire state of Manipur for administrative purposes into six divisions (presently only four divisions are operational as the party cannot operate in some hilly regions of the state). Each division is led by a commander. A division is further divided into tracts. Each track is headed by a corporal/ lance corporal and they are assisted by five lower rank members. PLA activists are equipped with modern sophisticated arms and considered as one of the most powerful militant groups in the state. The first Congress of RPF was held in May - July 1990. For the first time in the history of the RPF, Constitution of the RPF, Organisational Structure, Rank and Files, and, Rules and Regulation of the PLA were adopted in the Congress. The RPF also has a women's wing which works under Secretary Central Bureau. Presently, senior woman leader of RPF, Lily Leima is holding the post of Assistant Secretary of Communication and Publicity. Sources put the total strength of RPF at around 1,500 cadres. Recently on 2nd July 2004, the People's Liberation opened its 3rd battalion called battalion 253 at its General headquarters (GHQs) in Chandel district.  

  • Now only the Central bureau is working.

  • It has three bureaus but only the Central bureau is working the rest - western and eastern bureaus remains unoperational.

  • There is no record of when the Muslim cell was established but it is generally believe that the cell was establish in the wake of the Meitei and Muslim clashes in 1993. According to reports that I have got the cell is now defunct.

Leaders

Irengbam Chaoren is the President of the RPF. Its Vice-president is Ngouba aka Pravin Sharma, and Sanasam Gunen aka Phalguni is the General Secretary. Other Secretaries includes Home, Finance, Foreign Affairs, Central Bureau, Publicity and Communication, Social Welfare, Health and Education. Some of its leaders operate from neighbouring countries like Bangladesh and Myanmar.

Area of Operation

RPF's activities, which were only confined in the Valley districts of Imphal, Thoubal, and Bishenpur in the early nineties, are beginning to expand of late, its tentacles in the hilly parts of the state. The front now operates freely in the hill districts of Chandel and Churachandpur. It also operates in the Jiribam sub-division of Imphal district and launched ambushes on security forces. RPF also operates in the bordering areas of Manipur and Assam. RPF has recruited its cadres from Assam's Cachar district, which has a large number of Meitei population and started mobilizing them.

Popular Support

Its support mainly comes from the Meitei community. In recent times, the party has able to garner some support from the Kuki and Zomi tribes of Chandel and Churachandpur districts. In the wake of Kuki-Naga clashes in the nineties, RPF extended help to the Kukis in rehabilitating hundreds of Kuki families rendered homeless, providing money, food and building materials. It is also reported that RPF and UNLF has bought hundreds of acres of land from the Kuki chiefs in Churachandpur district. RPF has now secured a foothold in the Kuki-Chin-Mizo area. Recruitment to the RPF is opened up to the Kukis and related sub-tribes.

Funding

RPF's main source of income comes from extortion. PLA initially sought donations for their social activities, but these were gradually transformed into extortion demands. The primary target was the politician, the bureaucrat and the businessman. Later, they spread to the salaried government servant. By the nineteen nineties, the entire system had become institutionalised. Cashiers of different government departments were directed to deduct certain percentages according to the rank of the official, and pay the amount to the RPF and militant organisations. Traders and businessmen were, similarly and regularly 'taxed'. There are sources, which indicate RPF's involvement in abduction of people for ransom. Party has stopped collection of taxes since MPLF (an amalgamation of UNLF, RPF and PREPAK) declared in early January 2002 that MPLF would stop collection of taxes from government employees from 15 January 2002.

Training Camps

PLA received weapons and training in exchange for hard cash from the Kachin Independence Army (KIA) in early eighties. PLA recruits were trained in guerrilla warfare by the united National Socialist Council of Nagaland (NSCN) at its headquarters in Challam, beyond the Somrah Tract, in north Myanmar during the eighties. 

In 1990, Bransen, the KIA leader, withdrew support to the PLA, NSCN, and ULFA. It was around this time that the Khmer Rogue broke up in Cambodia releasing a number of AK-47s, RPD 7.62 LMGs and RPG-7 rocket launchers into the clandestine arms market of South East Asia. 

PLA has set up a number of bases in the Sylhet district. Two camps in Myanmar and five camps in Bangladesh are currently known to exist, where about 1,000 recruits have received arms training. In Manipur, RPF has set up camps in Chandel and Churachandpur districts. The party has its main camps in Sajik Tampak area in Chandel district and Nayang area of Churachandpur district.

Major Incidents

2000

December 20: Three PLA cadres are killed in Chandel and Thoubal district.

2001

February 20: Four People's Liberation Army (PLA) militants are gunned down at Naorem in Bishnupur district.

September 18: Army personnel kill five PLA activists during encounter at Khoupum valley near Mamong village in Tamenglong district.

2002

April 10: PLA claims responsibility for killing four security force personnel at Pangei, on April 9 and for the April 2-killing of a security force personnel.

April 22: Two PLA and three civilians are killed following clashes between the PLA and the Border Security Force (BSF) between Sugnu and Sangaikot.

May 3: Security forces in Manipur kill two PLA in separate incidents and recover a 9mm pistol with some live ammunition rounds.

September 10: Police charge sheet two PLA militants, arrested in Delhi, on March 15, 2002, under the Prevention of Terrorism Act (POTA). They are also charge sheeted under the Indian Penal Code, Arms Act, Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act and Passport Act. 

2003

January 5: Four PLA cadres are arrested from Hiracherra, under Kailasahar police station limits, in North Tripura district while crossing over to India from Bangladesh following their training in that country.

February 8: Tripura Police arrests three PLA militants from the Deorachara area in North Tripura district.

February 20: Army personnel operating in Jiribam subdivision, Manipur, destroy a militant hideout jointly used by PLA and the Kuki National Front (KNF) in the Sonapur area of Imphal East district.

June 14: Central Committee chief of PLA identifies Khomdram Lalaba alias Jayentakumar is killed during an encounter with the Manipur Police at Nandeibam Uku, under Singjamei police station limits in Imphal East district.

July 8: Dead body of Revolutionary People's Front (RPF) 'Publicity Chief', Ningthoujam Mangoljao @ Sanjit, is recovered from the Nambul River near Irom Meijrao in Imphal West district.

July 27: Manipur Chief Minister Okram Ibobi Singh and Irrigation Minister W. Brajabidhu Singh escape unhurt when PLA attacked their convoy at Wangjing area, about 35 kilometres from the State capital Imphal. Two of their security guards were killed and seven others injured during the subsequent encounter with PLA militants.

October 15: Security force personnel kill three PLA militants during an encounter at Singda village in the Imphal West district of Manipur and recover an AK-47 rifle with magazine, one 9mm pistol with magazine, a radio set, 200 grams of explosive materials, two detonators, 15 rounds of AK-47 ammunition and two live rounds of 9 mm ammunition from the encounter site.

November 29: Two PLA militants are killed in an encounter with the security forces in the Yairipok area of Thoubal district.

December 13: PLA cadres attack the 28th Battalion of Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) at Kwakta in the Bishenpur district of Manipur.

2004

January 29: Two PLA cadres are killed in an encounter at Sanjembam village near Imphal.

February 17: Two Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) personnel are killed during an ambush laid by suspected PLA cadres at Moirang Khunou in the Bishnupur district.

February 27: Imphal East District police arrest two PLA cadres from Uripok Bachaspati Leikai.

March 2: Assam Rifles personnel kill a suspected PLA activist, identified as Irengbam Shyamananda, during an encounter at Awang Sanjenbam in the Imphal East district.

March 7: Report indicates that PLA's 'Operation Red Star' launched against the security forces from June 25, 2003, to February 25, 2004, has ended.

March 15: Security force personnel kill a suspected PLA activitst, identified as Khumanthem Naoba, at Khurkhul in the Imphal West district.

March 18: Two PLA cadres are arrested from the Imphal West district along with a 9mm Mauser pistol, one magazine, three live bullets and four live bullets of 9 mm pistol.

March 24: Security force personnel arrest three PLA cadres in separate incidents in the Imphal East district.

March 25: Assam Rifles claims that it has arrested Elam Nabachandra alias Ngouba alies Achouba. Assam Rifle says that he is the Secretary of Publicity and Propaganda of the RPF.

March 31: Holding the Congress led SPF Government squarely responsible for the lack of development of the state and rampant violation of human rights by security forces in the state, Revolutionary People's Front (RPF) boycotts all candidates put up by All India Congress Committee and Manipur Pradesh Congress Committee. RPF warns that campaigning and organising camps for these candidates should be ready to face any eventuality.

April 19: PLA cadres kill three security in Sajik Tampak.
 

People's Liberation Army (PLA)

 Genesis

The People Liberation Army (PLA) was formed by Mr Bisheswar in 1969, when he split from United National Liberation Front (UNLF).  He formulated a two-fold objection, to liberate the  Eastern  Region  of India comprising the   States    of    Assam,   Meghalaya,    Nagaland,   Manipur   and   Tripura   and   the   Union Territories  of Mizoram and Arunachal Pradesh through a carefully planned  revolutionary uprising  and to use this as a base for `liberating' the rest  of India.  He  also  emphasized  the  need  for a "War  of  Independence" with  Chinese support on the basis of the principles of  Marxism- Leninism  and Mao's thoughts. They also appealed to the Naga  and Mizo 'revolutionaries' to jointly fight against the common enemy.

Objective   

 People's Liberation Army stands for an independent Manipur and cessation from India to be   achieved by principles of Marxism- Leninism and Mao's thoughts. It also enjoins Naga revolutionaries to join in its fight for Independence.

Organization  

The People's Liberation Army initially did not have a well-defined hierarchical org structure and functioned more or less on a cellular basis. The political wing of the People's Liberation Front was formed in 1979. Its Civil Wing consists of various sub wings which deal with Finance, Publicity, Education and mainly engaged in extortion, tax collection and some welfare programs for the society to build their image. Its armed wing (Revolutionary People's Front) consists of four battalions, Auxiliary department, Project department and Training department.  Battalions are mainly functional in Myanmar and valley districts.

 Important leaders   

 Some of the important leaders of the group are :-          

            Self Style President Irengbam Chaoren @ Borot. 

            Self Style General Secretary  Ibipishak Singh. 

Self Style Chief of Army Staff Lieutenant  Colonel G Jame.  

 Affiliations   

People's Liberation Army is having strong nexus with National Socialist Council of Nagaland (Issac Muivah) although it does not support  Greater Nagaland which amounts to bifurcation of Manipur.

Internal Linkages

RPF maintains close relations with UNLF and PREPAK militant groups. The revolutionary freedom struggle of Manipur has stepped up to a new paradigm through their historic declaration of the formation of Manipur People's Liberation Front (MPLF) on the 1st March of 1999. The spearheading organisations of the freedom struggle of Manipur, viz. RPF, PREPAK and UNLF have agreed to resolute all the differences among them step by step for the sake of the Independence and sovereignty of Manipur. Already the people of Manipur have expressed their solidarity and happiness with the great leap towards the united struggle in Manipur. 

In one of its collective and unified exercises at both political and military platforms, the constituents of the Manipur People's Liberation Front (MPLF) observed the fifth National Black Day at an undisclosed area situated at the Indo-Myanmar Border on October 15 October 2003. RPF also has relations with Kuki militants like Kuki National Front (KNF), Kuki National Front (KNF) and has understandings with Zomi Defence Volunteers (ZDV). 

External Linkages 

RPF has cordial relations with the National Socialist Council of Nagaland (NSCN-IM). It had earlier taken military training in NSCNKhaplang led areas in Nagaland-Myanmar border. RPF with an aim to turn the revolutionary movement in the northeast into a well-coordinated struggle and turn the war into a war of nationalities formed the United Liberation Front of Seven Sister (ULFSS) along with NSCN (IM) and other smaller militant groups in 1993. RPF has also maintained links with All Tripura Tribal Force (ATTF). PLA is also reported to have contacts with Pakistan's Inter Services Intelligence (ISI), Pakistan. The ISI's nexus with the RPF came to notice through a document recovered in January 1991 from Finance Secretary Biren Singh aka German. 

To focus the attention of the international organisations, RPF has started attending sessions organised by Unrepresented Nations People's Organisation (UNPO) and the United Nations Group on Indigenous People (UNWGIP).

The party had submitted a representation to the De-Colonisation Committee of the UN on December 11 in 1996. Another memorandum had also been submitted to the UN head quarters at New York to implement the earlier memorandum and representatives of the party presented the case of Manipur to member countries of the UN. A declaration made by RPF during the 49th session of the human rights subcommission, at Geneva deeply concerned over the flagrant violation of the international humanitarian law standards by the armed forces, despite being one of the high contracting parties to all the four Geneva Conventions of August 12, 1949. The declaration RPF urged India to sign the additional optional protocols of the Geneva Convention. 

In a letter to the G8 countries, SAARC countries, ASEAN countries and China, Irengbam Chaoren, President, RPF on May 18, 1998, strongly condemned India's five nuclear tests terming it as a threat to the international community particularly the security of the South Asia Region and manifestation of India's high-handedness. The RPF requested G 8, SAARC, ASEAN and China to support the national liberation movement of Manipur.

Publications

RPF has published a monthly journal called Reflection. Besides, it has also published other occasional journals. The rebel group has launched a website for publicity and propaganda purpose. It can be accessible at www.Geocities.com/CapitolHill/Congress/4568/pictures/index.html.
 
Dialogue with the Government

Till today, RPF has not shown any interest in holding a dialogue process with the Government of India (GOI). It has firmly committed to the cause of liberation of Manipur. It has repeated ruled out talks with Indian Government unless its demands are not included in the negotiation. The People's Front government headed by the Samajwadi (Socialist) Party offered a unilateral cease-fire to all separatist outfits, operating in the state of Manipur commencing from 1 March 2001, however, RPF and other groups rejected the cease-fire offer.




Funding    

The major source of funds for the group is Government departments expenditures on development projects. It also levies taxes on government employees, businessmen, contractors, transporters  etc. Its collection from various means amounts to approximately Rupees 1.70 crores per month. 

Publications  

The group used to publish newsletters regularly which have since been discontinued.  Some of the old newsletters and publications are available at its website http://www.geocities.com/CapitolHill/Congress/4568/publications/index.html.  

Present Status      

People's Liberation Army is consolidating its position with continuous procurement of arms/ammunition, recruitment. The group has suffered a number of reverses at hands of Security Forces off late which has led to demoralization of its cadre.  It continues to maintain a working relations with National Socialist Council of Nagaland (Issac Muivah) for safe shelter in Naga dominated areas despite certain reverses off late. The women cadres of the group are also the activists of various Social Organizations and force the members of Social Organizations to carryout protests against Security Forces.

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