57 Mountain Division / Red Shield Division
The 57 Mountain Division headquarters are at Masimpur near Silchar. The formation and units of 57 Mountain Division are deployed in some of the remotest corner of Manipur and Indo-Burmese border.
General-officer-commanding, 57 Mountain Division, Maj. Gen. Iqbal Singh, had announced suspension of military operations by both the Army and the Assam Rifles for 15 days, beginning 01 March 2001. The goodwill gesture was made on account of the Yaoshang (Holi) festival. The Army kept mum on the possibility of extending the duration of the festival ceasefire in Manipur. However, Army officials had already informed Chief Minister Radhabinod Koijam about their intention to keep military operations suspended for some more time.
On the direction of Maj Gen Iqbal Singh, GOC 57 Mountain Division, a medical camp was organised in 2001 at Singhjamei and Wankhei under the aegis of 17 Assam Rifles. A team comprising five well-qualified specialists especially deputed for the purpose by the Army and the Assam Rifles treated more than 1000 patients. Free medicines were distributed among the patients. In an awareness programme conducted at these locations, people were educated about preventive measures to be adopted against minor ailments as well as terminal diseases like AIDS, cancer and viral-hepatitis. During the camp, numerous requests were received from other areas for medical aid programs.
As of 2004, between 57 Mountain Division, Imphal Sector of Assam Rifles, and Local Commanders of CRPF & BSF, about 16,000 - 17,000 troops deployed in Manipur, of which 5,000 troops were on patrol at any point of time. Both Army & Assam Rifles wanted clear-cut directions for an end result.
In June 2005 the army claimed major successes in its operation to flush out militants holed up in the interiors of Manipur?s hill districts after taunts from a banned group, which said its members killed at least five soldiers during an encounter. Maj. Gen. Govind Dwivedi, general-officer-commanding (GOC) of the army?s 57 Mountain Division, told the media that troops had flushed out militants from two areas that were hitherto known as "rebel-liberated zones". The military offensive, codenamed Operation Rainbow, was launched by the army's Red Shield Division in the first week of June 2005. On 04 October 2005, in a major offensive launched against militants holed up at Karang island of Bishnupur district, troops of 73 Mountain Brigade under the aegis of 57 Mountain Division launched a "massive operation" and killed three militants and seized three arms today. The operation was launched by troops of 73 Mountain Brigade stationed at Bishnupur. The service of the Assam Rifles was requisitioned to cordon off the area and cut off escape routes of the militants.
The 73 Mountain Brigade is deployed in Bishanpur district. The Bishanpur Brigade under the aegis of Red Shield Division has established itself firmly in the district of Manipur. The units of the brigade have launched successful operations against separatist forces. The synergised effort, as a result of perfect harmony between the units of the formation and the police, has resulted in apprehending some of the under-ground separatists from their safe haven even outside the state in Guwahati and Kolkata as well.
Various civic action projects, on the other hand, like medical and veterinary camps in the far-flung areas, electrification of remote villages and establishment of Vocational Training Centre have helped improve the quality of life of the people. While operations against under-ground separatists and civic action programme continue, two incidents amply demonstrated the soldiers' commitment towards the safety and security of the people. In one incidence, a contractor who was abducted from Imphal and was being taken away to some remote location in Churachandpur district was rescued by an alert soldier manning a check-post.
A project based on the concept of "Bare footed doctor" was conceived by Leimakhong based Red Shield Division to train girl paramedics from rural areas in the basic helth and maternity care, so as to improve the available medical facilities in far flung remote areas of Manipur. The first batch of 11 successful paramedic girls who completed the course in June 2005, have provided First Aid and Emergency medical assistance to over 700 persons and assisted in conducting 20 deliveries in their respective villages. Second course started from January 2006 and concluded on 25 March, 2006. In the closing ceremony at Leimakhong, Paramedics were awarded St John's Ambulance Senior First Aid Certificate by Major General GG Dwivedi, GOC, Red Shield Division. A First Aid kit with all essential equipment, instruments, drugs, dressing materials and a Home delivery Kit Bag to assist normal delivery was also presented to each girl by Dr (Mrs) Atima Dwivedi, President Red Shield Army Wives Welfare Association, so that they would become functional immediately on return to their native places.
On 27 May 2007, at Lakoipat Lake, some locals had come for a boat ride and picnic. In a tragic accident, the boat overturned and all the occupants began to drown. As people started crying for help, the available officers and men from the Brigade HQ rushed to the spot and jumped into the lake unmindful of their own safety. Twelve out of the 16 occupants, who otherwise would have perished, were rescued. Four persons, however, could not be helped as their bodies were trapped between the boat and weeds and slush at the bottom of the lake. The district administration and even the media unequivocally commended the troops. These actions of the soldiers sent a message to one and all in the area that Bishanpur Brigade has a steely resolve against the enemy of the state and a heart of gold for the people of the area.
On 09 September 2008 a well-planned and clinically executed pre-dawn operation at Loktak Lake by a combined force of Army and Police Commandos gunned down five cadres of the proscribed PREPAK (Cobra Task Force) which was said to be behind the recent bomb attack at the Chief Minister's bungalow. Subsequent to the evening encounter with Bishnupur Police Commandos at Toubul Pat Mamang under Bishnupur Police Station, troopers of the 4/8 Gurkha Rifles under 57 Mountain Division posted at ITI complex, Ning-thoukhong joined hands with the district police commandos in carrying out search operation in Loktak lake with use of boats with deployment of adequate security personnel along the roads leading to the lake. GOC of 57th Mountain Division Major General TS Handa observed that success of the operation was mainly to the credit of the co-operation given by the locals to the security forces and this is indeed a welcome development. GOC 57 Mountain Division Major Gen TS Handa, who was personally involved in co-ordinating the operation, congratulated all troops of the Army and the Police for this brilliantly executed and extremely difficult operation and has also thanked the local villagers of Bishnupur district for their willing support
The joint action of the Indian Army and Manipur police in September 2008 destroyed two camps of the banned militant outfit, PREPAK near Loktak Lake in Manipur's Thoubal district. The support of local residents helped in the task. Major General T. S. Handa, GOC, 57 Mountain Division, said: "Timely intelligence was given by the locals of the place which is a very healthy and positive sign. It indicates that locals are getting fed up of the undergrounds'' actions... People are fed up of the activities of militants and are helping the security forces, the army and the police to clear the undergrounds. It is a positive development and different from what happened in 2006".
Seven top leaders and cadres of the underground KCP were arrested in a swift and well planned operation code named 'Operation Grand Slam' conducted by a joint team of the 57 Mountain Division, Bishnupur police commandos and special branch of the Delhi police on 17 January 2009 in New Delhi. The 57 Mountain Division had generated intelligence regarding the presence of top leaders of the KCP(Mangang), Lamphel and City Meitei groups and a joint team of the 57 Mt Div and Bishnupur commandos was sent to New Delhi for carrying out an operation to nab them. The special branch of the Delhi police also provided vital support in the operation.
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