Manipur-based militant group United National Liberation Front on Wednesday signed a peace agreement with the Central government, agreeing to renounce violence, Union Home Minister Amit Shah said.
“The oldest valley-based armed group of Manipur has agreed to renounce violence and join the mainstream,” Shah said in a tweet. “I welcome them to the democratic processes and wish them all the best in their journey on the path of peace and progress.”
The United National Liberation Front is a Meitei armed group that is among seven other militant organisations that had been banned by the Centre on November 13 for five years under the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act. They were banned for advocating the secession of Manipur through armed means. The groups are collectively referred to as Meitei Extremist Organisations.
The development came as the northeastern state continues to reel from the ethnic violence between the Meiteis and the Kukis that began on May 3 and killed 175 people and displaced 60,000 persons.
The peace agreement comes a day after the Union home ministry constituted the Unlawful Activities Prevention Tribunal to adjudicate whether there are adequate reasons to declare several Meitei militant groups in Manipur as “unlawful associations”.
These groups are the Peoples’ Liberation Army and its political wing, the Revolutionary Peoples’ Front, the United National Liberation Front and its armed wing, the Manipur Peoples’ Army, the Peoples’ Revolutionary Party of Kangleipak and its armed wing, the Red Army, the Kangleipak Communist Party and its armed wing, also called the Red Army, the Kanglei Yaol Kanba Lup, the Coordination Committee and the Alliance for Socialist Unity Kangleipak.
The ministry had said that the factions, related wings and front organisations of these groups are also banned.
In the past, Chief Minister N Biren Singh has been accused by several Kuki groups in Manipur of giving patronage to violent Meitei groups, who have been allegedly involved in several incidents of violence in the state since May.
Several Opposition leaders and even Bharatiya Janata Party MLAs in Manipur had also demanded Singh’s removal, who belongs to the Meitei community.