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History of insurgency in Manipur

  • Published
    30th May, 2023

According to the Manipuri government, security forces recently killed 40 insurgents.


History of conflict in Manipur

  • Naga National Movement: Manipur has been in the cross-currents of India’s oldest insurgent movements, such as the Naga national movement in the 1950s and the fight for an independent Nagalim.
    • In 1964, the United National Liberation Front (UNLF) was formed, demanding secession from India.
  • Meitei insurgent groups: Subsequently, numerous Meitei insurgent groups, such as the People’s Revolutionary Party of Kangleipak (PREPAK) and the People’s Liberation Army (PLA), came into being.
  • Conflict between Meiteis and Meitei Pangals (Muslims): At the same time, similar clashes were taking place between the Meiteis and Meitei Pangals (Muslims), leading to the formation of the Islamist group People’s United Liberation Front, alongside several others.
  • Kuki-Zomi insurgent groups: The Kuki-Zomi movement started as defence against aggression by other groups, but quickly morphed into a call for Kukiland - an imagined country spreading across the Kuki-Zomi inhabited areas of India, Myanmar and Bangladesh.
    • The groups were a reaction to Naga aggression against the Kukis, and in 1993, a massacre of Kukis by the NSCN-IM left thousands of Kukis homeless.
    • The primary groups in the area include the Kuki National Organisation and its armed wing, the Kuki Revolutionary Army, the Zomi Re-Unification Organisation, Zomi Revolutionary Army, the Kuki National Front, the Kuki National Liberation Front, United Kuki Liberation Front and Kuki National Army.

Steps taken by the Government in this regard:

  • Enactment of AFSPA: The Indian government enacted the Armed Forces Special Powers Act in 1958 in response to Naga separatist activity.
  • It was extended to the entire state in the 1980s, and peace talks led to a tripartite Suspension of Operation agreement between the Centre, the state and the Kuki-Zomi groups in 2008.
  • However, the Valley Insurgent Groups have never entered an agreement with the Centre or participated in any peace talks, and technically remain active.
  • At present, these groups are no longer active in the region.
  • Armed Forces Special Powers Act of 1958: The act gives unfettered powers to the armed forces and the Central armed police forces deployed in “disturbed areas” to kill anyone acting in contravention of law and arrest and search any premises without a warrant and with protection from prosecution and legal suits.
  • The law first came into effect in 1958 to deal with the uprising in the Naga.
  • The Act was amended in 1972 and the powers to declare an area as “disturbed” were conferred concurrently upon the Central government along with the States.
  • Tripura revoked the Act in 2015 and Meghalaya was under AFSPA for 27 years, until it was revoked by the MHA from 1st April 2018.
  • At present, this act is operational in some parts of Assam, Nagaland, Manipur and Arunachal Pradesh.
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