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Is insurgency reviving in Manipur?

  • Category
    Security
  • Published
    2nd Mar, 2022

Context

IED blast in Manipur on 20th February, 2022 injured two jawans of ITBP.

Background

  • Manipur, since September 2021, has seen steep rise in militancy.
  • Increased instances of violence has caused death on some occasions including the one in which an Indian Army Colonel, his family and soldiers were killed.
  • Defence Minister Rajnath Singh in an election rally on 14th February, in Imphal, called upon the militant groups in Manipur to shun violence and have dialogue with the Central Government for bringing peace in the state.

Analysis

What is the genesis of violence in Manipur?

  • Historically speaking, anti-India attitude and insurgency groups in Manipur rose because-
  • Manipur’s merger with India in 1949 is considered by separatist in state to be forced and without the assent of Manipuri people.
  • Delay in granting full-fledge statehood to Manipur, which happened only in 1972.
  • Secessionist movement by Naga militants in the neighboring state of Nagaland and their demand for creation of Nagalim (Greater Nagaland) has created an atmosphere of hate in the hill regions of Manipur.
  • Geographically Manipur is divided into Hill regions and the Imphal Valley.
  • In the Imphal Valley the Meitei community dominates while it is in the hills of Manipur that the Naga tribes live in majority alongwith Kukis.
  • Tensions amongst these three tribes has added new chapters of violence in the state.

Which insurgent groups are active in Manipur?

  • United National Liberation Front (It is the oldest and the most active insurgent group in Manipur)
  • People’s Liberation Army
  • People’s Revolutionary Army of Kangleipak
  • Kangleipak Communist Party
  • Kanglei Yawol Kanna Lup
  • National Socialist Council of Nagaland-IM
  • Zeliangrong United Front
  • People’s United Liberation Front (PULF) 

What are the demands of these Insurgent Groups?

  • There is no one single specific demand of the insurgent groups and there are differences on what each group and each fraction within a particular groups want.
  • Most of the insurgent groups operating in Manipur have been demanding cessation of the state from Union of India.
  • Though this demand today is only rhetorical and used to start from higher position in negotiation with the Indian and the Manipuri government.
  • Increased decentralization of power with more authority and subjects to be transferred from Central Government to the state government and the Hill Councils of Manipur.
  • The Kukis tribe wants creation of more Hill Councils in the state with their political dominance in them.
  • The Naga insurgent groups, as discussed earlier, are fighting for the creation of Nagalim (Greater Nagaland).
Naga militant groups want Nagalim consisting of Nagaland, hill regions of Manipur and bordering regions of Myanmar were this groups are in majority.

What has been the response of the Indian Government?

  • After taking into consideration the rising instances of violence in the state, the Government of India declared the whole of Manipur to be a ‘disturbed area’ and brought it under the application of Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA) in the year 1980.

What is AFSPA?

  • Armed Forces Special Powers Act(AFSPA), 1958 is an act of the Parliament of India that grants special powers to the Indian Armed Forces to maintain public order in "disturbed areas".
  • Armed Forces in “disturbed areas” have the authority to prohibit a gathering of five or more persons in an area, can use force or even open fire after giving due warning if they feel a person is in contravention of the law.
  • If reasonable suspicion exists, the army can also arrest a person without a warrant; enter or search a premises without a warrant; and ban the possession of firearms.
  • Military operations by the Indian defence forces and out- reach efforts made by the Indian and Manipuri Government caused the graph of violence in the state to dip since the mid-1990s.
  • Successive Central Governments have offered peace talks within the framework of Indian Constitution.

    Talks between Central Government and the insurgent groups:

    • The NSCN-IM entered a ceasefire agreement with the Government of India (GoI) in 1997, even as peace talks between them have still been continuing.
    • Kuki outfits under two umbrella groups, the Kuki National Organisation (KNO) and United People’s Front (UPF), also signed the tripartite Suspension of Operation (SoO) pacts with the GoI and Manipur on August 22, 2008.
    • Many of their smaller outfits have entered the SoO agreement with the state government, which has launched rehabilitation programmes for militants of such groups.
    • Although  major valley-based militant outfits (Meitei groups) such as the UNLF, PLA, KYKL etc. are yet to come to the negotiating table.

    The way forward:

    • Insurgent groups that have not come to table and are still creating problems need to know that talks are the only way ahead.
    • Negotiation within the framework of Indian Constitution, as offered by the Indian Government, is the only way in which peace can be achieved and sustained in Manipur.
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