From cops to teachers, ‘transfers’ in Manipur mirror a deep ethnic divide

Over 2,000 government employees have been ‘transferred’ to make sure they work from districts where they ‘feel safe’.

WrittenBy:Shivnarayan Rajpurohit
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Beyond the divide between the Meitei-dominated valley and Kuki-inhabited hills, the impact of ethnic faultines in strife-torn Manipur has been evident within the state machinery too. Hundreds of officials from the two communities have been working from only “districts where they feel safe”.

Be it the top administrative brass, police, teachers, or clerks, consequences of the conflict are for everyone.

In May, even the house of then DGP P Doungel had come under attack from a violent mob in Imphal – he was replaced by Tripura cadre IPS officer Rajiv Singh days after the incident. Doungel, a Kuki, subsequently took charge of a new post created for him overnight.

And over the last three months, as many as 2,263 government employees have been “transferred” to districts where they “feel safe” with a numerical strength of their community, according to an affidavit filed by the Manipur government in the Supreme Court earlier this month. 

These include officials from the Indian Administrative Services, Manipur Civil Services, Manipur Financial Services, High Court of Manipur, police and the education departments. 

With the Manipur secretariat in Imphal nearly emptied of staff from the Kuki-Zo communities, 10 legislators from the state had earlier demanded a separate administration for the hill districts and had written to Prime Minister Narendra Modi seeking separate DGPs and chief secretaries or officers with equivalent powers in such areas.

While many officials have chosen to report for duty in other areas, a few remain absent from work. The Manipur government had warned them to return to work lest they lose their salary in June, but its status report this month said that no salary was withheld, and that “officers unable to attend the office at their respective place of posting are being accommodated in other districts as per the officer’s convenience and demand from the officers”.

An official from the Manipur Home Department said most of these were “not transfers” but “service utilisation or attachment orders”  – under which officials are given additional charge. Officials attached to safe districts denied any loss of salary.

More cops in the hills, valley stations spread thin

The flight of the Kuki-Zomi police personnel from the six valley districts and of their Meitei counterparts from the 10 hill districts has created an imbalance in staff strength. 

While the number of police personnel in hill districts has ballooned, valley police stations are spread thin. 

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