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What is SoO agreement?

  • Published
    15th Mar, 2023

The State government of Manipur has decided to withdraw from the Suspension of Operations (SoO) agreement with two hill-based tribal militant groups, alleging they were “influencing agitation among forest encroachers”.

  • Kuki groups have fought the Indian government for an ‘independent Kuki homeland’, spread across Manipur.
  • The Kuki insurgency gained momentum after ethnic clashes with the Nagas of Manipur in the early 1990s, with the Kuki arming them against Naga aggression.
  • While the two tribes have shared a hostile relationship since colonial times, things came to a head in the 1990s when the Naga-Kuki clashes took place. 
  • The state government claimed that a protest rally organised against section 144, was influenced by the two groups, Kuki National Army (KNA) and Zomi Revolutionary Army (ZRA).

Section 144:

  • Section 144 of the Criminal Procedure Code (CrPC) of 1973 authorises the Executive Magistrate of any state or territory to issue an order to prohibit the assembly of four or more people in an area.
  •  According to the law, every member of such 'unlawful assembly' can be booked for engaging in rioting.

What is the Suspension of Operations pact?

  • The SoO pact was signed on August 22, 2008.
  • Objective: For initiating political dialogue with the militant groups.
  • Reason: The Kuki outfits who were initially demanding a separate Kuki state have come down to a ‘Kukiland territorial council’, which would have financial and administrative powers independent of the Manipur Assembly and government.

There are nearly 30 Kuki insurgent groups in Manipur, of which 25 are under tripartite Suspension of Operations (SoO) with the Government of India and the state.

  • Time-period: The duration of the Suspension of Operation agreement is one year, it is extendable according to the progress of its implementation.
  • Implementation: To oversee the effective implementation of the SoO pact, a committee called the Joint Monitoring Group (JMG), with representatives from all the signatories, has been formed.
  • Signatories of the agreement
    • The signatories of UPF and KNO shall abide by the Constitution of India, the laws of the land and the territorial integrity of Manipur. 
    • They are prohibited from committing all kinds of atrocities, extortion, among others.
  • Provisions of the agreement:
    • The militant cadres are to be confined in designated camps identified by the Government. 
    • Arms are deposited in a safe room under a double-locking system. 
    • The groups are given arms only to guard their camps and protect their leaders.
    • As a rehabilitation package, the UG cadres living in the designated camps are given a monthly stipend of Rs.5000. 
    • Financial assistance is also being provided to maintain the designated camps.
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