Revolutionary People's Front (RPF) People's Liberation Army (PLA)
The People's Liberation Army (PLA) is a Meitei outfit in Manipur with a political wing, the Revolutionary People's Front (RPF). The PLA was established under the leadership of N. Bisheswar Singh in September 1978. Now led by I. Chaoren and running a government in exile in Bangladesh, the outfit aims at organizing a revolutionary front covering the entire Northeast and uniting all ethnic groups, including Meiteis, Nagas and Kukis, to liberate Manipur. The PLA is believed to have camps in Burma and Bangladesh. The outfit's estimated strength would be 3,000 as of 2005 and it has targeted security personnel and local political leaders. It maintains links with the UNLF, PREPAK, as well as the NSCN-K, ULFA, and the Kachin Independent Army (KIA) of Burma. The RPF also functions as moral police - it banned the showing of Hindi films since these allegedly corrupted Manipuri culture. The outfit also punishes drug traders.
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,
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
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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
December 20: Three PLA cadres are killed in Chandel and Thoubal
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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.
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).
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.
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
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.
People's Liberation Army (PLA)
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.
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
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.
Some of the important leaders of the group are
Self Style President Irengbam
Chaoren @ Borot.
Self Style General Secretary
Self Style Chief of Army Staff Lieutenant
Colonel G Jame.
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
The major source
of funds for the group is
expenditures on development
projects. It also levies taxes
on government employees,
transporters etc. Its
collection from various means
amounts to approximately Rupees
1.70 crores per month.
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