10 Manipur tribal MLAs urge Centre not to cancel 'Suspension of Operations' pact with Kuki militant outfits

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Imphal, March 1 (IANS) A day after the Manipur Assembly unanimously resolved to urge the Central government to abrogate the Suspension of Operations (SoO) agreement with all the Kuki-Zomi militant outfits, 10 tribal MLAs on Friday condemned the resolution, terming it "biased".

Demanding not to cancel the SoO deal, the 10 tribal MLAs belonging to the Kuki-Zomi-Hmar community urged the Union Home Ministry to consider all aspects of the issue in a fair and just manner to check further discrimination and alienation of the Kuki-Zomi-Hmar.

The SoO pact was signed by the Central and Manipur governments and 25 Kuki militant outfits, Kuki National Organisation (KNO) and United People's Front (UPF) in 2008 and the deal extended periodically, thereafter.

Ten tribal MLAs, who have been, since the outbreak of the ethnic violence in Manipur on May 3 last year, demanding a "Separate Administration" (equivalent to a separate state) for the tribals, condemning the resolution termed it as "one-sided resolution emanating from prejudice, bias and hatred for our community that reflects a myopic view on the issue".

Of 10 tribal MLAs, seven belong to the ruling BJP party, two are from the Kuki People's Alliance (KPA) and one is an Independent. In a joint statement, the legislators said that without any report of the Joint Monitoring Group, the resolution, passed in the House, was based on an "overwhelming sense of animosity and hatred for a particular community".

After a series of protests and demands since the ethnic violence broke out in Manipur on May 3 last year, the state Assembly on Thursday unanimously resolved to urge the Central government to abrogate the SoO agreement with all the Kuki-Zomi militant outfits.

Chief Minister N. Biren Singh, who also holds the Home portfolio, said on X: "The 12th Manipur Legislative Assembly on the 2nd day of its 5th session unanimously resolved to urge the Central Government to completely abrogate the SoO pact with all the Kuki-Zo militant groups. This is in the interest of ensuring peace and security in the region."

Manipur witnessed a series of protests demanding abrogation of the SoO with the militant groups.

Several organisations, mostly belonging to the Meitei community, including civil bodies and women's vigilante groups, had sent several memoranda to both the Central and state governments raising the urgent necessity to abrogate the SoO between the Centre and the Kuki-Zo militant groups to reinstate normalcy in Manipur.

The organisations have claimed violations of SoO provisions by Kuki-Zo militant groups since the ethnic violence broke out in the state on May 3 last year.

It is claimed that the establishment of a 'Golden Triangle' in Manipur and the influx of Chin-Kuki-Zo immigrants from Myanmar is causing demographic changes, besides setting up unauthorised Kuki villages.

It is also alleged that foreign Chin-Kuki-Zo militant groups are supporting their counterparts in Manipur, posing a threat to India's internal security.

The Coordinating Committee on Manipur Integrity (COCOMI), a prominent civil society body in the state, had also submitted a statement to Prime Minister Narendra Modi last week to annul the SoO pact with the Kuki militants.