Manipur's oldest armed group's joining the process held at Kangla Palace groundstext_fields
Imphal: The Manipur government extended a warm welcome to members of the state's oldest valley-based armed group, marking a significant step forward in the region's peace process.
The United National Liberation Front (UNLF) of the Pambei faction, which recently signed a peace deal, was greeted by Manipur Chief Minister N Biren Singh at a ceremony held at the Kangla Palace grounds in Imphal, a historic site that once symbolised Manipur's sovereignty.
During the event, Chief Minister Singh expressed hope for more groups to lay down their arms and join the peace initiative in the strategically important border state. He emphasised the historical significance of the UNLF's decision to engage in dialogue after six decades, acknowledging their trust in Prime Minister Narendra Modi's leadership as a pivotal achievement.
The UNLF, which had previously advocated for a sovereign Manipur and opposed the integration of the pre-independence Manipur kingdom with India, has now shown a willingness to participate in the peace process.
General Secretary Ch Thanil affirmed the group's commitment to fostering lasting stability and peaceful discussions, expressing readiness to sign a final deal if a mutually agreeable solution is reached.
Acknowledging recent ethnic clashes between the Kuki tribes and Meiteis, Thanil pointed to external influences instigating the disturbances, highlighting the necessity for peaceful dialogue and resolution.
This development marks the first peace agreement with a valley-based armed group in Manipur. The Chief Minister, acknowledging the transformative journey, expressed gratitude to the UNLF, the Indian government, and the people of Manipur, emphasising the significance of building bridges and strengthening relationships.
The peace pact with the UNLF is seen as a crucial development ahead of the 2024 general elections, showcasing a strategic move by Chief Minister Singh and the BJP.
Manipur, once plagued by insurgency, has been gradually advancing with infrastructure development and is witnessing a shift away from its tumultuous past. Additionally, major railway lines soon reaching the valley areas signify significant progress in the state's development.
Founded in 1964, the UNLF operated primarily from Myanmar's dense jungles near the Indian border. The armed group, which split into factions due to internal differences, had its armed wing known as the Manipur Peoples' Army (MPA). The current peace agreement is with the Pambei faction, signifying a historic milestone in Manipur's pursuit of peace.
The state, however, has been grappling with ethnic violence resulting in casualties and internal displacement since May 3.