25 leaders and cadres of the NRFM with weapons are working to bring peace to Manipur
A week after Manipur's oldest valley-based armed group United National Liberation Front (UNLF) signed a peace agreement with the Centre, another Meitei group - the National Revolutionary Front Manipur (NRFM) - has now joined the peace process.
As many as 25 leaders and cadres of the NRFM - a Meitei underground (UG) outfit led by Major Boicha (Vice Chief of Army Staff of NRFM) with 25 weapons - have joined the UNLF and are working to bring peace to Manipur.
"With this, most of the outfit's members have taken a step towards abjuring the path of violence. The development is likely to give momentum to the efforts of the Government of India to restore peace and normalcy in Manipur," the Union Home Ministry said in a statement.
As per the ministry, the NRFM (earlier called the United Revolutionary Front) was formed on September 11, 2011, by cadres of three factions of the Kangleipak Communist Party, a Meitei UG outfit.
"Its senior leaders operated from bases in a neighbouring country and were involved in violence and extortion in various parts of the Manipur Valley. The development is likely to encourage other Meitei UG outfits to join the peace process and democratically pursue their demands besides giving a boost to fulfil the Modi government's vision of an "insurgency-free and prosperous northeast"," the ministry's statement said.
The peace deal with the UNLF, the oldest insurgent group in the region, was signed last Wednesday, ending a six-decade-long armed movement.
The peace agreement was signed with the Pambei faction of the UNLF and Home Minister Amit Shah called it a historic development, stating that Manipur's oldest insurgent group decided to renounce violence and join the mainstream.
Mr Shah also shared a video in which cadres were seen surrendering their arms.
"The KH Pambei group, seen close to the Chief Minister in the state, has only 65 cadres while the faction led by KH Achou Singh, better known as Koireng, holds control over 300 cadres," a senior ministry official said.
According to him, the smaller faction signed the pact, while the bigger group decided to stay away.
"Most of the cadres of the Koireng faction are currently located beyond the international border in Myanmar. Pambei's men are said to have slipped into Manipur during the recent ethnic strife between the Meitei and the Kuki community," the official further said.