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regular-article-logo Thursday, 25 April 2024

Meiteis 'caution' PM Modi on extending suspension of operations agreement with Kuki militants

The Imphal-based Coordinating Committee on Manipur Integrity (Cocomi) appealed in a three-page memorandum to Modi before the SoO with the Kuki militant groups expires on February 28

Umanand Jaiswal Guwahati Published 27.02.24, 06:56 AM
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A leading conglomerate of Meitei-based civil society organisations on Monday urged Prime Minister Narendra Modi to "exercise extreme caution" and "refrain from hastily extending" the suspension of operations (SoO) agreement with Kuki militant groups.

The Imphal-based Coordinating Committee on Manipur Integrity (Cocomi) appealed in a three-page memorandum to Modi before the SoO with the Kuki militant groups expires on February 28.

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The grounds cited by the Cocomi to refrain from extending the SoO, signed in 2008 with 24 Kuki militant groups, included the "repeated and flagrant violations" of the ground rules "without thorough scrutiny and reassessment".

The "recent escalation" of violence in Manipur has "provided stark evidence of the direct involvement of Kuki militant groups in targeted attacks against Indian Army and state police personnel", the outfit said, adding that the "progress in the peace process remains elusive" despite the numerous extensions since 2008. The rebel groups have a strength of about 2,200.

There is sustained demand by Meitei-based organisations to abrogate the SoO because they accuse the Kuki rebel groups of triggering and fanning the ongoing ethnic conflict between the Meiteis and the Kuki-Zos.

The conflict, which started on May 3, 2023, has left at least 213 dead and over 67,000 displaced. The demand for abrogation of the SoO is also set to dominate the Assembly session from February 28. Modi has not visited Manipur since the conflict started.

The memorandum, signed by Cocomi coordinator S. Thokchom, was submitted by a three-member team, including its spokesperson Khuraijam Athouba, through the Dak Section of the PMO on Monday. It has cited several instances of violations of ground rules and reasons for not extending the SoO.

"This reality underscores the urgent need for caution and reevaluation of any decisions regarding the extension of the SoO agreement," the memorandum said.

The continued engagement with and legitimisation of armed Chin-Kuki narco-terrorist groups by the Centre not only violates the fundamental rights of indigenous Meetei citizens but also risks legitimising their presence in Manipur, the memorandum said.

"These breaches not only demonstrate a flagrant disregard for the terms of the agreement but also pose a significant threat to peace and stability in the region...."

"Therefore, the abrogation of the SoO agreement is imperative to uphold the rule of law, protect the rights of citizens, and restore faith in the government's commitment to maintaining peace and security in the region. Given these critical considerations, Cocomi urges the Government of India to exercise extreme caution and refrain from hastily extending the SoO agreement with Chin-Kuki narco-terrorist groups," it added.

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