Two more groups sign pact today - Hill militant outfits, UTLA and PRA, join suspension of operation

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  • Published 24.03.12

Imphal, March 23: The Manipur government’s efforts to bring militant groups to the negotiating table has paid more dividends with two more Kuki militant groups agreeing to sign the Suspension of Operations agreement.

The United Tribal Liberation Army (UTLA) and the Pakan Reunification Army (PRA), which mainly operate in the state’s hill districts, will sign a tripartite agreement with the Centre and state government officials here tomorrow, an official source said.

The agreement will be signed by Sambhu Singh, the Union joint secretary, home, in-charge of Northeast, senior officials of Manipur government and leaders of the two outfits at the banquet hall of the headquarters of the 1st Manipur Rifles battalion here, he added.

The United Tribal Liberation Army, which was formed in 2002 with about 150 cadres, had agreed to sign the agreement during the fourth round of talks with government officials in December last year.

The peace pact, however, could not be signed immediately because of the Assembly elections in January. The outfit mainly operates in Churachandpur district and Jiribam subdivision of Imphal East, intelligence sources said.

The Pakan Reunification Army was formed in 2007 at Khobung in Chandel district with a few hundred cadres. They mainly operate in Chandel district.

With this, the number of militant groups signing peace pacts will go up to 22.

The first tripartite agreement was signed in 2009 with 19 Kuki militant groups under two umbrella organisations — the Kuki National Organisation and the United Peoples Front. In 2010, the Kangleipak Communist Party (Lallumba) signed the agreement. The cadres of these 20 groups, numbering more than 1,500, are now accommodated in 12 designated camps.

The Kuki National Organisation and the United Peoples Front are still waiting to start a political dialogue.

The Kuki armed groups are fighting either for a “Kuki homeland” or to safeguard the interest and identity of their community.

Though most of the hill-based militant groups have signed the Suspension of Operations agreement, major groups like the United National Liberation Front, the Peoples Liberation Army, the Kangleipak Communist Party, the Kanglei Yawol Kanna Lup, the Peoples Revolutionary Party of Kangleipak and the United Peoples Party of Kangleipak, which are fighting for Manipur’s “independence”, have not responded to the call for peace talks.

The Kuki National Liberation Front has also rejected the Suspension of Operations agreement.

“With two more Kuki armed groups joining the peace process, there will be more peace in the hill districts of Manipur. We are also trying to bring the other groups into the peace process,” an official of the state home department said.