The army is conducting surprise checks on 'suspension of operations' (SoO) camps in Manipur
The army is conducting surprise checks on the Manipur camps of insurgent groups that have signed the 'suspension of operations', or SoO, agreement with the centre and the state government, a defence spokesperson said in a statement today.
Over 25 Kuki insurgent groups have signed the SoO agreement, under which they are to be confined to designated camps identified by the government and the weapons kept in locked storage, regularly monitored.
Ethnic clashes in Manipur between the valley-majority Meiteis and the hill tribe Kukis have led to allegations that insurgents have broken SoO rules and rearmed themselves.
"Surprise checks on SoO camps are being undertaken to ensure the presence of weapons and insurgents as stipulated in the agreement," the defence spokesperson said in the statement.
The camp of an insurgent group that has signed the 'suspension of operations' (SoO) agreement in Manipur's Chongkhawzao
"Easy access to arms and ammunition to inimical elements aiming to destroy peace and harmony is an aspect that can't be looked away in violence-hit Manipur. Towards this, consensus among stakeholders on undertaking intelligence-based combing operations across Manipur is a welcome step," the spokesperson said.
The army shared aerial images of two insurgent camps in Manipur's Monbung and Chongkhawzao to highlight the level of monitoring they have been doing.
"Security forces have identified de-weaponisation and enforcement of SoO provisions as focal points to be addressed immediately," the spokesperson said.
Home Minister Amit Shah, who was in Manipur for four days, yesterday asked those who have snatched weapons during the nearly month-long violence to return them. Mr Shah had also warned against violation of SoO rules.
The army said they have made detailed plans to launch large-scale combing operations to recover snatched weapons, besides the surprise checks on SoO camps.
The violence in Manipur has claimed over 80 lives.
The immediate cause of the crisis was the protest by the Kuki tribe, who are settled in the hills, against the valley-majority Meiteis' demand for inclusion under the Scheduled Tribes (ST) category, India's affirmative action policy.