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Need to discuss way forward as state assembly is endorsing the Kangla declaration

by Editorial Team
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Need to discuss way forward as state assembly is endorsing the Kangla declaration

Yesterday, two positive developments took place in the assembly. Firstly, a resolution was passed indicating the state assembly’s intention to approach the centre regarding the abrogation of the suspension of operations. Secondly, Chief Minister Biren Singh announced that the role of the Assam Rifles would be restricted to counterinsurgency operations in Manipur, as another force would be deployed specifically for border management. It seems that the most contentious matters are now being addressed in the state assembly.
These are the key issues outlined in the Kangla declaration that have been addressed in the state assembly, and the assembly intends to push these matters to the central government. Regarding the suspension of operations (SoO), the Chief Minister and his cabinet initially decided to abrogate it from the state’s side, but the central government did not agree. However, there are ongoing discussions, and there are indications that the central government is now contemplating the possibility of abrogating it as well. Such is the indication from certain quarters who are active in this ongoing conflict. If this is indeed the case, it will be interesting to observe how the central government navigates through the aspirations of the Kuki-Zo community.
Any resolution on the suspension of operations and related matters will likely involve careful consideration of various interests and perspectives, most importantly the national security. If we delve into the history of these groups under the Suspension of Operations (SoO), they were armed, trained, and deployed against communities perceived as posing challenges to the Indian armed forces. Therefore, their existence could be intricately tied to national security, at least from the perspective of the central forces, even if the state government and the populace in Manipur hold differing opinions on the matter.
Therefore, there might be resistance to this move by the state government from both central forces and Kuki-Zo organisations. If the central forces were in disagreement with the Kuki-Zo underground groups under SoO, they likely would have made it public or issued warnings. However, no such information has been disclosed. Moreover, there is a demand from the side of Kuki-Zo organisations, especially the ITLF, that this time the Suspension of Operations should be signed without the clause safeguarding the territorial integrity of Manipur. Most importantly, no one in a position of power in the Home Department at the centre has publicly committed to this. Now, the question arises: Are we being told different things?
The extension or non-extension of SoO can happen any time soon. Many also are sceptical saying that it is very unlikely that SoO will be abrogated. If it is abrogated, will there be another agreement in place so that these groups can still fight Meitei underground groups which are still active. There is also NSCN IM in this mix whose peace agreement with the Indian state has taken an unexpected turn where their cadres have no choice but to return to Manipur. The cease fire with Nagas and SoO with Kukis and the armed insurgency of the valley based underground groups are all tangled together. So, any change in the equation of one with the centre will lead to changes in others too.
Therefore, we need to carefully discuss the way forward beforehand, particularly how we approach any eventuality so that we have a peaceful and prosperous outcome for everyone involved.

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Imphal Times is a daily English newspaper published in Imphal and is registered with Registrar of the Newspapers for India with Regd. No MANENG/2013/51092


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