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Another group on Ibobi peacelist

Imphal, May 11: The Okram Ibobi Singh government has added another militant outfit in the list of armed outfits willing to hold talks with the government, taking the number of such groups to 21.

The latest addition is the Azad faction of the Peoples United Liberation Front (PULF).

A source said the group sent a delegation of a civil society group to chief minister Ibobi Singh, who is also the home minister, to express its willingness to enter the peace process.

“The chief minister welcomed the move,” the source said.

The government is considering the proposal and is likely to send a response very soon.

The PULF — its members mostly drawn from the Muslim community of Manipur, known as Meitei Pangals — came into existence after over 100 Muslims were killed in a clash with Meiteis in 1993.

The united PULF was known to operate under the command of Basir Laskar, who was gunned down by Assam Rifle troops in 2006.

After Laskar’s death, the outfit broke into several factions.

Intelligence agencies in the state are trying to find out if the factions have any link with international jihadis. But so far there is no concrete evidence to suggest any link, the source said.

The PULF (Azad) confirmed that it was waiting for the government’s response.

Earlier, the Kangleipak Communist Party (Military Council) responded positively to the call for negotiations and had a round of talks with Ibobi Singh.

The Manipur government has already made some headway with 19 other non-Naga tribal militant groups, which have conglomerated under two umbrella organisations — the Kuki National Organisation and the United Peoples Front.

They signed the ground rules in Delhi on August 22.

The latest round of talks between the joint monitoring group, headed by additional chief secretary (home) D.S. Poonia, and the two umbrella organisations was held on May 8 in Imphal.

They discussed setting up designated camps, for which the Centre has provided Rs 50 lakh.

The camps will be ready in three months, an official source said.

Two rebels killed

Two militants were gunned down and three others, who were on their way to abduct a government official, were apprehended in separate incidents in Manipur over the past 24 hours.

Police said troops of the Assam Rifles gunned down two militants in an encounter at Lamlayang under Tengnoupal police station in Chandel district this morning. Two 9mm pistols and four live rounds were recovered from them.

The identities of the militants and the group are yet to be established.

In another incident, police commandos arrested three cadres of the United National Liberation Front from Yaiskul in Imphal West yesterday.

A 9mm pistol, five live rounds and a motorcycle were recovered from the trio, identified as Naorem Nicholas alias Nanao, Leishangthem Romeo alias Romi and Sanasam Ibohanbi Singh.

The police said the three were coming to abduct a government official residing in the locality. The cadres were remanded in five days’ police custody by an Imphal court today.

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