End Ceasefire With All Kuki-Zo Insurgent Groups: Manipur Assembly Unanimous Resolution

Manipur: The deadline for extension of the suspension of operations (SoO) agreement ends today

End Ceasefire With All Kuki-Zo Insurgent Groups: Manipur Assembly Unanimous Resolution

A member of a suspected Kuki-Zo insurgent group aims a launcher at an Assam Rifles vehicle

New Delhi:

The Manipur assembly today unanimously passed a resolution asking the Centre to scrap the controversial suspension of operations (SoO) agreement with some 25 Kuki-Zo insurgent groups in the ethnic violence-hit state.

The deadline for extension of the SoO agreement ends today.

"This decision comes in the interest of ensuring peace and security in the region," Chief Minister N Biren Singh said in a post on X, formerly Twitter.

"... The central government should not extend SoO (agreement) with all those who have repeatedly violated the ground rules," Manipur BJP MLA and the Chief Minister's son-in-law Rajkumar Imo Singh also said in a post on X.

The Kuki-Zo insurgent groups signed the tripartite SoO agreement with the Centre and the Manipur government in 2008.

Every year, a joint monitoring group (JMG) reviews the SoO agreement and decides whether to end or renew it. Broadly, the SoO agreement says the insurgents are to stay at designated camps and their weapons kept in locked storage, to be monitored regularly.

The Manipur government in March 2023 announced it had withdrawn from the SoO agreement with the Kuki National Army (KNA), and the Zomi Revolutionary Army (ZRA). However, only the JMG can decide on such matters, which indicates the state government's move was only a request to the JMG, sources said.

The over two dozen Kuki-Zo insurgent groups come under two umbrella groups - the Kuki National Organisation (KNO), and the United People's Front (UPF). These two representing the others have signed the SoO agreement.

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The ethnic violence in Manipur over disagreements on land, resources, political representation, and affirmative action policies has dragged on for nine months now.

While the Kuki-Zo tribes accuse the Meiteis of razing their vacant buildings and occupying them in and around Imphal valley, the Meiteis have pointed at entire localities of their community flattened and erased in the hill district Churachandpur.

Both sides accuse each other of atrocities. The Kuki-Zo tribes say their "village defence volunteers" have been repelling attacks by armed groups from the valley, who come to the hills across the "sensitive zone" with obvious intentions.

Both call themselves "village defence volunteers", a definition of the belligerents in Manipur that has become the most controversial since nothing stops these "volunteers" from killing people under the insurance provided by "in self-defence".

A similarity between the "village defence volunteers" of both sides is that they appear to be well-armed and well-equipped with modern battle gear. The security forces have frequently recovered Russian-origin AK and US-origin M series assault rifles, and gun models commonly used by both the junta's army and pro-democracy insurgents in neighbouring Myanmar.

Over 180 have died in the violence, and thousands have been internally displaced.