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UNLF Peace Accord: 'Important step towards lasting peace in Manipur'

Manipur's oldest insurgent group, the United National Liberation Front (UNLF), signed a peace accord with the government, aligning with conflict resolution initiatives in northeastern states. The accord follows the Union home ministry's recent ban on several insurgent groups, including UNLF

Manipur UNLF Peace Accord: 'An important step towards lasting peace'
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First Published Nov 30, 2023, 5:37 PM IST

Manipur’s oldest insurgent group, the United National Liberation Front (UNLF) signed a peace accord with the government on Wednesday as part of the Narendra Modi government’s conflict resolution initiatives in the northeastern states. The peace agreement came days after the Union Home Ministry imposed a ban on several insurgent groups, including UNLF, operating against the security forces, police and civilians in Manipur.

These organisations were also indulged in activities prejudicial to the sovereignty and integrity of India. As per the agreement, the group will shun violence, return to the mainstream political system, and honour the Constitution of India and the laws of the land.

Asianet Newsable spoke to locals residing in the Imphal Valley about the new development. Geeta Rani Takhellambam, an advocate at Manipur High Court told Asianet Newsable: "This is a historic event, nothing less. UNLF, one of the biggest and oldest Insurgency groups that was founded in the year 1964, agreed to join the mainstream society and the democratic process of India is huge. This will mark as a major achievement of the present government -- both Central and State."

"This is an important step towards bringing lasting peace and giving development a chance in this deprived state of the far East of India. More importantly, the youths who have been so far disheartened during the present crisis will certainly feel encouraged and hopeful. In fact, for everyone having the best interest of Manipur in their hearts, this news will surely bring them happiness and hope for the future," Geeta Rani Takhellambam said.

According to the peace accord, there will be an opportunity to address the longstanding concerns of the community. 

On condition of anonymity, some locals said that the agreement says the truce is with a valley-based organisation, not Manipur-based. UNLF’s founders were from all communities. "It has been an agreement signed at the official level and not the PM level. They were of the view that there is a split in the group,” one of them said.

About The UNLF

The UNLF was established on November 24, 1964, under the leadership of Areambam Samrendra Singh in Manipur. After its formation, the group focused on mobilisation and recruitment till the 1980s. The group launched an armed struggle movement for the ‘liberation’ of Manipur from India in the 1990s and formed an armed wing -- Manipur People’s Army (MPA). It is believed the return of UNLF to the mainstream will also encourage other valley-based armed groups to participate in the peace process in due course. 

Manipur Chief Minister N Biren Singh said: "The oldest armed group of Manipur has chosen the path of peace, renouncing violence to join the mainstream and embrace democracy. The United National Liberation Front (UNLF) has signed a peace agreement in New Delhi, marking a significant milestone in our relentless pursuit of permanent peace in the Northeast.”

"The unwavering support and vision of Hon'ble PM Shri @narendramodi Ji for a brighter and peaceful North-East has made this possible. May this collaborative effort contribute to a harmonious and prosperous future for Manipur and the entire region."

Currently, Rajkumar Meghen alias Sana Yaima is the current Chairman of UNLF. Other important leaders include ‘General Secretary’ Th Sanachou; ‘Secretary of Defence’ A. Wangpa; ‘Secretary of Organisation’ M. Nongyai; and ‘Secretary of Publicity’ N. Thabal. The Women’s wing is headed by Nganbi Devi. The deputy chief of the women’s wing is Banti Devi. The group has been operating in the Jiribam Valley and Cachar district of Assam.

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