Two weeks from now he would have come home in Shillong, spent a few days with his parents and younger brother, and then packed off to New Delhi to join the elite National Security Guard (NSG). He did come home on Wednesday, but in a coffin, after he had laid down his life fighting a group of ULFA and NSCN(K) militants in Nagaland a day before.
He had in fact only recently informed his father retired Subedar M Khanzalam that he was selected for the NSG, with his younger brother Siampu Manlun saying he had brought a lot of household items for his mother the last time he came home in Shillong. With his body flown to Shillong on Wednesday, 32-year old Major David Manlun was cremated with full military honour at the Assam Regimental Centre cemetery in Thursday.
“The last time he came home he had brought a lot of household items for mother because he would not get leave soon once he joined the NSG,” Siampu said in Shillong. “Having almost completed his tenure of Nagaland and not yet being satiated by action he had opted for deputation to NSG for which the probation was to begin on June 23,” Guwahati-based Defence Pro Lt Colonel Suneet Newton added.
Born on July 27, 1985 in Imphal, Major Manlun grew up in Shillong where the family had shifted from their native village in Churachandpur district in Manipur. Having graduated from St Anthony’s College, Shillong after completing Class XII from Army Public School in the Meghalaya capital, his first career choice was the Army. “While his father is a retired Subedar, his elder brother is presently serving with the Assam Regiment in Shillong and his only sister is married to an Army officer,” pointed out Lt Col Newton.
Proficient in several languages including English, Hindi, Mizo, Kuki, Paite and Nagamese apart from Zuo, his mother tongue, Major David Manlun was also a keen athlete and footballer, representing both school and college during his student days. Having completed his training in 2009 at the Officer Training Academy, Chennai, he was commissioned into the 1st Battalion the Naga Regiment in March 2010, with his first posting at Naugam in J&K where he took part in number of operations during his two-year stint.
“After spending the next two years at a peace station at Baklow in Himachal Pradesh, he was posted in Nagaland with 164 Bn Territorial Army in 2014. Here also, true to his nature he had been part of number of successful operations, in recognition of which he was awarded with the Chief of Army Staff Commendation Card on August 15, 2016,” Lt Col Netwon said.
ULFA active in Charaideo
Meanwhile, all the three militants who were killed in the encounter with security forces in Mon district of Nagaland on Tuesday night have turned out to be members of the anti-talk faction of ULFA headed by Paresh Barua, and all of them hailed from Charaideo, an Assam district that shares inter-state boundary with Nagaland.
Confirming this, Charaideo SP Jitmal Doley said the three have been identified as Akani Baishya alias Bipul Asom, Dikom Konwar and Pankaj Malia alias Phanindra Asom. “All the three have been members of the ULFA for quite some time. While Phanindra has been a ULFA member for over 13 years, Akani had joined the outfit in 2008 and Dikom in 2011,” SP Doley told The Indian Express over the telephone.
The SP also said that while 15 to 20 youth from the district have been with the ULFA for the past 10 to 15 years, the outfit has been trying to recruit more boys in the recent past. “Though there have been reports of fresh attempt to recruit new boys, there is no information of anyone joining in the past three years,” he claimed. Myanmar is less than a day’s walk across Mon district in Nagaland from Sonari, the Charaideo district headquarters.
“The ULFA, which works jointly with the NSCN(K), however has been trying to extort money from local businessmen. Unlike in the past when they used to send out extortion notes and then dispatch local linkmen to collect the money, they now call up directly from inside Nagaland or from beyond the India-Myanmar border over the telephone, and ask people to make payments inside Nagaland,” SP Doley said.
People from Assam who go to the adjoining Mon district of Nagaland for petty supply business and stone quarrying, are often forced to make payments in Nagaland, SP Doley said. “Many people of Charaideo district go to Mon for petty business. There are reports that the ULFA and NSCN(K) collect money from them inside Nagaland,” he said.
Local MLA Topon Kumar Gogoi however is worried that the ULFA would try to attract more youth from the district if the government was unable to create employment opportunities for them. “Charaideo is a backward district with very high drop-out and unemployment rates. This makes the youth highly vulnerable. I have suggested to the government and the Army to conduct pre-recruitment training programmes for various security forces, so that the unemployed youth are not lured away by the militant groups,” Gogoi, a BJP legislator who was till two years ago general secretary of the AASU said.