UNLF, banned armed group of Manipur, signs peace accord: 'A historic milestone'
The United National Liberation Front (UNLF) and its armed wing, the Manipur Peoples’ Army (MPA), were among several Meitei extremist organisations in Manipur banned by the Union home ministry earlier this month.
The United National Liberation Front (UNLF), which was banned by the Ministry of Home Affairs earlier this month, “agreed to renounce violence", Union Home Minister Amit Shah said on Wednesday. The minister said “a historic milestone (was) achieved" as the organisation signed a peace agreement in Delhi on Wednesday.
The Union home ministry said, "This is 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 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 ministry said.
The United National Liberation Front (UNLF) and its armed wing, the Manipur Peoples’ Army (MPA), were among several Meitei extremist organisations in Manipur banned by the Union home ministry earlier this month. The decision to declare many Meitei extremist organisation as “unlawfull" was taken in the wake of ongoing violence in the northeastern state.
On Sunday, Manipur Chief Minister N Biren Singh said his government was holding talks with an Imphal Valley-based insurgent group. He had ensured that a peace accord would be signed soon.
Speaking to PTI-Video, Singh had said, "We are advancing, and we are expecting to sign a peace accord with one big UG (underground organisation) very shortly," the chief minister said. He, however, had refrained from naming the underground organisation.
Now, Amit Shah's tweet confirmed on Wednesday that the UNLF agreed to renounce violence. “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.
Biren Singh also congratulated Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Amit Shah for achieving the feat. He said, "This signing happened today under the leadership of PM Modi...The cadres of UNLF agreed to follow the path of peace, I appreciate the members for this. I hope that the militants in the state and those who raise weapons also choose the path of peace."
Manipur has been witnessing incidents of ethnic violence since May 3 this year, after a 'Tribal Solidarity March' was organised in the hill districts to protest against the Meitei community's demand for Scheduled Tribe (ST) status. More than 180 people have been killed since the violence broke out in the state.
The Meiteis account for about 53 per cent of Manipur's population and live mostly in the Imphal Valley, while tribals, which include Nagas and Kukis, constitute 40 per cent and reside mainly in the hill districts.
On Tuesday, the Centre constituted 'The Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Tribunal' under Justice Sanjay Kumar Medhi to adjudicate the ban on nine Meitei Extremist Organisations under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA).
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