Assam on mind, Manipur cracks down on immigrants
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To ensure that an Assam-like situation does not take place in the state, 60 teams of the Manipur Police descended on two Muslim-dominated areas of the state to crack down on illegal immigrants.
The operation started at 2 am Thursday and verification of the 150 suspected foreigners picked during the drive was on till late Friday.
The operation was carried out in Lilong and Hatta Golapati areas. Lilong is in Thoubal — Chief Minister O Ibobi Singh's constituency — and is the largest Muslim settlement in Manipur. Hatta Golapati is on the outskirts of Imphal city.
The police have so far identified 43 illegal immigrants — 24 from Bangladesh and 19 from Myanmar. The others picked up included 32 migrants from Assam, 62 from West Bengal and 32 from Bihar.
"We started rounding up people at 2 am as it is difficult to get a hold of people during the day when they are out working. Most of them had come to Manipur to set up businesses or were daily wage workers. We called them out to a field and asked them to produce documents, primarily their voter ID cards," said a senior police official involved in the operation. "This operation was simply to ensure that an Assam-like situation does not take place here."
State Home Minister G Gaikhangam, however, denied the operation had anything to do with Assam. "All over the country, according to the law, we are meant to identify and deport illegal immigrants. So we were just carrying out routine checks," he said. "The raids were carried out after specific tip-off. No community was targeted — it just so happens that the tip-off pertained to Lilong and Hatta. Whether they will be deported or not will be decided by the Centre."