IMPHAL: In a significant development on Wednesday, the Indian government inked a landmark peace agreement with the United National Liberation Front (UNLF), Manipur's oldest militant organization primarily representing the Meitei community. This move follows the recent extension of the group's ban under the stringent Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA) for five more years.
Representatives from UNLF formally signed the peace agreement in New Delhi alongside senior officials from the Union Ministry of Home Affairs and the Manipur government, as confirmed by an official spokesperson. Notably, this marks the first instance of a valley-based Manipuri armed group opting to return to mainstream politics by renouncing violence and pledging allegiance to the Constitution of India and its legal framework.
Expressing his satisfaction with the achievement, Union Home Minister Amit Shah lauded the Modi government's relentless efforts to establish enduring peace in the Northeast. In a social media post, he hailed it as a "historic milestone" and welcomed UNLF to democratic processes, extending best wishes for their journey towards peace and progress.
The peace agreement holds the promise of not only ending hostilities between UNLF and security forces, reducing casualties on both sides, but also addressing longstanding concerns of the Meitei community. A crucial aspect of the accord involves the establishment of a peace monitoring committee tasked with overseeing the enforcement of mutually agreed ground rules. This development is anticipated to be a significant stride toward restoring peace and normalcy in the state.
With the formation of this historic accord, there is optimism that it will set a positive precedent and encourage other valley-based armed groups to engage in the peace process over time. UNLF, formed in 1964, has been operational within and outside Indian territory. The central government has been actively pursuing agreements with various armed groups in the Northeast since 2014, aiming to bring an end to militancy and foster regional development. This latest pact underscores the government's commitment to conflict resolution and the promotion of lasting peace in the region.