Manipur Government withdraws from SoO Agreement

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    In Context

    • Recently, the Manipur government withdrew from the Suspension of Operations (SoO) agreement with two hill-based tribal insurgent groups citing that they were “influencing agitation among forest encroachers”.

    About

    • The government  alleged that the protests were influenced by two hill-based insurgent groups.
    • As a result, the state government withdrew  from tripartite talks/SoO agreements with three hill-based insurgent groups, namely the Kuki National Army (KNA), the Zomi Revolutionary Army (ZRA) whose leaders hail from outside the state.

    Background

    • The Kuki National Organisation (KNO) and United People’s Front (UPF), two umbrella groups of Kuki militants, had signed a tripartite SoO agreement with the governments of India and Manipur on August 22, 2008. 
    • Since then, the government has been extending the agreement after it expired. 
    • The KNA and ZRA are signatories of KNO.

    Suspension of Operations (SoO) agreement 

    • SoO was a ceasefire pact between the Government of India, the Manipur government, and the two umbrella groups of Kuki militants.
    • The Kuki militants had demanded a separate Kuki state within Manipur and had recently sought a Kuki territorial council.
    • It was first signed in 2008 and extended periodically.

    Ethnic groups in Manipur

    • The Kukis are an ethnic group including multiple tribes originally inhabiting the North-Eastern states of India such as Manipur, Mizoram and Assam; parts of Burma (now Myanmar).
    • The people of Manipur are grouped into three main ethnic communities – Meiteis those inhabiting the valley and 29 major tribes in the hills dividing into two main ethno-denominations, namely Nagas and Kuki-Chins.
    • In Manipur, the various Kuki tribes, currently make up 30% of the total 28.5 lakh population of the State.
      • The rest of the population is made up mainly of two other ethnic groups — the Meiteis or non-tribal Vaishnavite Hindus who live in the valley region of Manipur, and the Naga tribes also living in the hilly areas of the State.
      • Most of the state’s population concentrated in the valley.

    Background of Kuki Insurgency

    • On January 21, 1972, Tripura, Meghalaya, and Manipur became states under the North Eastern region reorganization act of 1971.
    • The resentment over the “forceful” inclusion into India and delay in granting statehood led to the rise of various insurgent movements.
      • In the Post-independence insurgent movements various groups demanded self-determination and separate statehood for Manipur.
    • The roots of Kuki militancy lie in conflicts of ethnic identity.
      • First was the demand for self-determination by  forming a Kukiland which includes Kuki inhabited regions of Myanmar, Manipur, Assam and Mizoram.
      • The second reason lies in the inter-community conflicts between the Kukis and the Nagas in Manipur. 
        • Wanting to dominate trade and cultural activities in those areas the two communities often engaged in violent standoffs.
        • While some militant Kuki outfits demanded Kukiland, including parts which are not in India, some demanded Kukiland within India.
    • As a result, it intensified after Manipur was declared a ‘disturbed area’ in 1980, under the Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA), which gives sweeping powers to the military and has led to excesses.
    • The Present scenario
      • The demand resulted in the formulation of an independent district—Kukiland Territorial Council within the purview of the Indian constitution.

    Steps taken by the Government

    • Armed forces Special Powers Act:
      • In 1980, the Centre declared the entire Manipur as a “disturbed area” and imposed AFSPA to suppress the insurgency movement, which remains in force till date.
    • Operation All Clear:
      • Assam Rifles and the army had conducted operation “All Clear” in the hill areas, most of the militants’ hideouts had been neutralised, with many of them having shifted to the valley.
    • Ceasefire Agreement:
      • The  National Socialist Council of Nagaland (NSCN)-IM entered a ceasefire agreement with the Government of India in 1997, even as peace talks between them have still been continuing.
      • The Kuki outfits under two umbrella groups, the Kuki National Organisation (KNO) and United People’s Front (UPF), also signed the tripartite Suspension of Operation (SoO) pacts with the Governments of India and Manipur on August 22, 2008.

    Source:TH

    In Context

    • Recently, the Manipur government withdrew from the Suspension of Operations (SoO) agreement with two hill-based tribal insurgent groups citing that they were “influencing agitation among forest encroachers”.

    About

    • The government  alleged that the protests were influenced by two hill-based insurgent groups.
    • As a result, the state government withdrew  from tripartite talks/SoO agreements with three hill-based insurgent groups, namely the Kuki National Army (KNA), the Zomi Revolutionary Army (ZRA) whose leaders hail from outside the state.

    Background

    • The Kuki National Organisation (KNO) and United People’s Front (UPF), two umbrella groups of Kuki militants, had signed a tripartite SoO agreement with the governments of India and Manipur on August 22, 2008. 
    • Since then, the government has been extending the agreement after it expired. 
    • The KNA and ZRA are signatories of KNO.

    Suspension of Operations (SoO) agreement 

    • SoO was a ceasefire pact between the Government of India, the Manipur government, and the two umbrella groups of Kuki militants.
    • The Kuki militants had demanded a separate Kuki state within Manipur and had recently sought a Kuki territorial council.
    • It was first signed in 2008 and extended periodically.

    Ethnic groups in Manipur

    • The Kukis are an ethnic group including multiple tribes originally inhabiting the North-Eastern states of India such as Manipur, Mizoram and Assam; parts of Burma (now Myanmar).
    • The people of Manipur are grouped into three main ethnic communities – Meiteis those inhabiting the valley and 29 major tribes in the hills dividing into two main ethno-denominations, namely Nagas and Kuki-Chins.
    • In Manipur, the various Kuki tribes, currently make up 30% of the total 28.5 lakh population of the State.
      • The rest of the population is made up mainly of two other ethnic groups — the Meiteis or non-tribal Vaishnavite Hindus who live in the valley region of Manipur, and the Naga tribes also living in the hilly areas of the State.
      • Most of the state’s population concentrated in the valley.

    Background of Kuki Insurgency

    • On January 21, 1972, Tripura, Meghalaya, and Manipur became states under the North Eastern region reorganization act of 1971.
    • The resentment over the “forceful” inclusion into India and delay in granting statehood led to the rise of various insurgent movements.
      • In the Post-independence insurgent movements various groups demanded self-determination and separate statehood for Manipur.
    • The roots of Kuki militancy lie in conflicts of ethnic identity.
      • First was the demand for self-determination by  forming a Kukiland which includes Kuki inhabited regions of Myanmar, Manipur, Assam and Mizoram.
      • The second reason lies in the inter-community conflicts between the Kukis and the Nagas in Manipur. 
        • Wanting to dominate trade and cultural activities in those areas the two communities often engaged in violent standoffs.
        • While some militant Kuki outfits demanded Kukiland, including parts which are not in India, some demanded Kukiland within India.
    • As a result, it intensified after Manipur was declared a ‘disturbed area’ in 1980, under the Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA), which gives sweeping powers to the military and has led to excesses.
    • The Present scenario
      • The demand resulted in the formulation of an independent district—Kukiland Territorial Council within the purview of the Indian constitution.

    Steps taken by the Government

    • Armed forces Special Powers Act:
      • In 1980, the Centre declared the entire Manipur as a “disturbed area” and imposed AFSPA to suppress the insurgency movement, which remains in force till date.
    • Operation All Clear:
      • Assam Rifles and the army had conducted operation “All Clear” in the hill areas, most of the militants’ hideouts had been neutralised, with many of them having shifted to the valley.
    • Ceasefire Agreement:
      • The  National Socialist Council of Nagaland (NSCN)-IM entered a ceasefire agreement with the Government of India in 1997, even as peace talks between them have still been continuing.
      • The Kuki outfits under two umbrella groups, the Kuki National Organisation (KNO) and United People’s Front (UPF), also signed the tripartite Suspension of Operation (SoO) pacts with the Governments of India and Manipur on August 22, 2008.

    Source:TH