Centre signs peace deal with UNLF, oldest insurgent group in the northeast | Latest News India - Hindustan Times

Centre signs peace deal with UNLF, oldest insurgent group in the northeast

ByNeeraj Chauhan
Nov 29, 2023 06:40 PM IST

Making the announcement on his X account, Amit Shah said the agreement ends the six-decade long armed movement

New Delhi: The Centre on Wednesday signed a peace agreement with Manipur based insurgent group, United National Liberation Front (UNLF), a development described as a “historic milestone” by Union home minister Amit Shah.

Members of the banned group UNLF after signing the peace agreement. (X/@AmitShah)
Members of the banned group UNLF after signing the peace agreement. (X/@AmitShah)

Making the announcement on his X account, Shah said the agreement ends the six-decade long armed movement. It was signed in Delhi by senior officials of ministry of home affairs, Manipur government and UNLF representatives.

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“A historic milestone achieved. Modi govt’s relentless efforts to establish permanent peace in the Northeast have added a new chapter of fulfilment as the United National Liberation Front (UNLF) signed a peace agreement, today in New Delhi,” Shah said on X.

UNLF, the oldest valley-based armed group of Manipur, has agreed to renounce violence and join the mainstream, Shah said, adding that he welcomes them “to the democratic processes and wish them all the best in their journey on the path of peace and progress.”

Formed in November 1964, UNLF is the oldest Meitei insurgent group in Manipur. Areambam Samrendra Singh was its founding leader. The aim of the organisation is to establish an independent socialist Manipur. The outfit has an armed wing - Manipur People’s Army.

It is a banned organisation under the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA), which was extended for five years earlier this month. Even as the Union government is holding peace talks with most of the insurgent groups from the north-east, several commanders of outfits like UNLF are said to have been hiding in Myanmar. UNLF chairperson Rajkumar Meghen was released from Guwahati Central Jail in November 2019 after serving a decade-long sentence.

Shah said that the peace agreement with UNLF “marks the end of a six-decade-long armed movement.”

“It is a landmark achievement in realising PM Narendra Modi Ji’s vision of all-inclusive development and providing a better future to the youths in Northeast India,” Shah added.

Also Read: Centre forms tribunal to adjudicate ban on Meitei extremist organisations

The home ministry said in a statement on that “While political settlements have been finalised with several ethnic armed groups of the north east as part of conflict resolution initiatives of Government of India, it is for the first time a valley-based Manipuri armed group has agreed to return to mainstream by abjuring violence and agreeing to honour the Constitution of India and laws of the land.”

“The agreement will not only bring an end to hostilities between UNLF and security forces which have claimed precious lives on both sides over the last more than half a century but also provide an opportunity to address the longstanding concerns of the community. It is hoped that the return of UNLF to the mainstream will also encourage other valley-based armed groups to participate in the peace process in due course,” MHA said.

To oversee the enforcement of agreed ground rules, a Peace Monitoring Committee (PMC) will be constituted, it added.

“The agreement is poised to give a fillip to usher in a new era of peace in the North East in general and Manipur in particular. The development is likely to be a significant step in restoring peace and normalcy in the state,” the statement said.

The home ministry has signed agreements with several armed groups in the northeast since 2014 to end militancy and promote development, a statement issued by MHA said on Wednesday.

According to the MHA annual report 2022, the security situation in the north eastern states has improved substantially since 2014. “Compared to 2014, there has been 76% reduction in insurgency incidents in 2022. Similarly, in this period, Security Forces casualties have come down by 90% and civilian deaths by 97%,” the report states.

The report further states that 2,023 cadres of various insurgent outfits of NE States surrendered with 394 arms and joined the mainstream of the society.

Since May this year, Manipur is reeling from violence between Kukis and majority Meitei community. Clashes first broke out on May 3 in Churachandpur town after tribal Kuki groups called for protests against a proposed tweak to the state’s reservation matrix, granting Scheduled Tribe (ST) status to the majority Meitei community.

Violence quickly engulfed the state where ethnic fault lines run deep, displacing tens of thousands of people who fled burning homes and neighbourhoods into jungles, often across state borders. The authorities quickly clamped a curfew and suspended the internet, pumping in additional security forces to force a break in the spiralling clashes.

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