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Manipur’s UNLF has agreed to renounce violence and join the mainstream, says Amit Shah

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NEW DELHI: Union home minister Amit Shah on Wednesday announced that the United National Liberation Front (UNLF) — the oldest valley-based armed group of Manipur — has signed a peace agreement in New Delhi and will soon be “joining the mainstream”.

Hailing the achievement as a “historic milestone”, Shah said the Prime Minister Narendra Modi-led government has spearheaded “relentless efforts” to establish permanent peace in the northeast.

“The United National Liberation Front signed a peace agreement today in New Delhi. UNLF, the oldest valley-based armed group of Manipur has agreed to renounce violence and join the mainstream. I welcome them to the democratic processes and wish them all the best in their journey on the path of peace and progress,” Shah said on X.

“The peace agreement signed today with the UNLF by the Government of India and the Government of Manipur marks the end of a six-decade-long armed movement. It is a landmark achievement in realising PM Modi’s vision of all-inclusive development and providing a better future to the youths in Northeast India,” he added.

Manipur chief minister N Biren Singh welcomed the development and said that the “unwavering support and vision of PM Modi for a brighter and peaceful North-East has made this possible. May this collaborative effort contribute to a harmonious and prosperous future for Manipur and the entire region”.

In a statement, the ministry of home affairs (MHA) said that this was the “first time a valley-based Manipuri armed group has agreed to return to mainstream by abjuring violence and agreeing to honour the Constitution of India and laws of the land”.

The agreement will not only bring an end to hostilities between UNLF and security forces which have claimed precious lives on both sides over the last more than half a century but also provide an opportunity to address the longstanding concerns of the community. Return of UNLF to the mainstream will also encourage other valley-based armed groups to participate in the peace process in due course, the MHA stated.

Northeast violence

The UNLF and its armed wing, the Manipur Peoples’ Army (MPA), were among several Meitei extremist organisations in Manipur banned by the Union home ministry earlier this month.

The decision to declare many Meitei extremist organisation as “unlawful” was taken in the wake of ongoing violence in the northeastern state.

The development comes just days after Manipur chief minister N Biren Singh said his government was holding talks with an Imphal Valley-based insurgent group. He had ensured that a peace accord would be signed soon.

Manipur has been witnessing incidents of ethnic violence since May 3 this year, after a ‘Tribal Solidarity March’ was organised in the hill districts to protest against the Meitei community’s demand for Scheduled Tribe (ST) status. More than 180 people have been killed since the violence broke out in the state.

The Meiteis account for about 53% of Manipur’s population and live mostly in the Imphal Valley, while tribals, which include Nagas and Kukis, constitute 40% and reside mainly in the hill districts.

source by: The Times of India News

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