TODAY -

The Kuki-Zomi Insurgency in Manipur : Nearing Settlement
- Part 1 -

*



Introduction

Suspension of Operation (SoO) with the 'Kuki' and 'Zomi' armed groups in Manipur was preceded by 'Cessation of Operations' agreement with the union government which comes into effect from 01 August 2005. Later in July 2006, Shri OkramIbobi, the incumbent Manipur Chief Minister (CM) on 15 July 2006 while clarifying that the state government was unaware had stated, "I am totally blind in this matter and more so on the conditions maintained between the concerned underground group and the army." ('CM unaware of another Ceasefire with UG group', Imphal Free Press (IFP), Imphal, 15 July 2006.)

It mirrors the murky manner with which SoO began as the state government was being sidelined and not taken into confidence though law and order is a state subject. It was the army which initiated the move of suspending the operation against the Kuki and Zomi armed outfits. Previously Ceasefire under SoO was between the Indian army and central paramilitary forces and some armed groups belonging to Kuki and Zomi communities.

The Ministry of Defense in a press release dated October 7, 2005, disclosed that eight 'Kuki' and one 'Zomi' militant group in Manipur had entered into an informal 'ceasefire' with the Union Government. 'Cessation of operations' agreements was concluded with these groups with effect from 01 August, 2005. ('Insurgency & Peace Efforts in Manipur', G:/CDPS, Manipur Insurgency.htm, assessed on 21 June 2010).

In connection with it, the Manipur CM stated that the ceasefire between the "Indian security forces and some Non-Naga insurgents" was not acceptable as it lacks the state government's consent. Further he stated that the state government would form modalities and concrete ground rules for holding dialogues with insurgents groups operating in the state.('Indian Army-UG Ceasefire without State Govt's consent', IFP, 25 February 2006).

Pursuit for State Recognition

Kuki National Front (KNF) had issued a threat that "if the ruling state government did not apply the SoO (Ceasefire) pact in the state between Kuki revolutionaries with Center there shall be no room for Congress (I) in the forthcoming state election (Ninth Manipur Assembly Election, 2007) in the Kuki dominated hills in the state". The outfit spelled out that it would ban any Congress (I) workers, candidate and campaign in the Kuki dominated areas.( KNF to ban Congress, IFP, Imphal, 12 August 2006).

The Kuki Liberation Army (KLA) /Kuki Liberation Organization (KLO) also had stated that despite entering into SoO with the Indian army and the central security forces, the congress led state government refused to recognize and endorse the SoO agreement. KLO also alleged the state government for not taking any initiative of approaching the centre to start a peace talk. On these grounds, the KLO had imposed ban on the candidates of the ruling alliances who were contesting the elections. ('KLA na Congress ta athingbathamkhre', Poknafam, Vernacular Manipuri Daily, 8 January 2007).

The outfit also carried out bomb attacks at the residence of Minister, Ph. Parijat and the President of Manipur Pradesh Congress Committee (MPCC), MrGaikhangam.

The Kuki and Zomi armed outfits which entered into the said informal ceasefire include
Kuki National Organization (KNO) / Kuki National Army (KNA),
Zomi Revolutionary Army (ZRA) / Zomi Revolutionary Organization (ZRO),
KLA/ KLO,
Kuki Revolutionary Army (KRA),
Kuki National Front Zogam (KNF-Z),
Kuki National Front- Military Council (KNF-MC), etc.

Signing of SoO Agreement

The SoO between the conglomerate groups of KukidndZomi outfits namely, the United Peoples' Front (UPF), and the KNO, State Government and the Central Government was signed at Delhi on 22 August 2008. The state Cabinet presided over by the Chief Minister gave its approval to the said SoO agreement signed within the framework of Indian Constitution after the State Government rejected demand of the Kuki outfits for Kuki homeland or Zalengam to ensure the territorial integrity of Manipur. (Cabinet nod to SoO deal, TheSangai Express, 24 August 2008).

Since the signing of the SoO, it continued to extend from time to time. The latest one being the signing for extension of another one year which came to effect from 31 August 2017.

Profile of the Armed Outfits

While the KNO represents 11 groups, the UPF represents eight outfits. After a series of turns and negotiations and brain storming sessions, the ground rules for the suspension of operations between the Government and Kuki armed groups were signed on 22 August 2008. In it, Joint Secretary in the Union Government in charge of Northeastappended his signature on behalf of the Government of India (GoI) while the state government of Manipur was represented by Principal Secretary (Home). Eight members each from the UPF and the KNO also signed the SoO.

KNO comprises of 11 different Kuki and Zomi armed ethnic outfit. They are Kuki National Army (KNA), Kuki National Front-Military Council (KNF-MC), Kuki National Front-Zogam (KNF-Z), United Socialist Revolutionary Army (USRA), ZouDefence Volunteer-KNO (ZDV-KNO), United Komrem Revolutionary Army (UKRA), Zomi Revolutionary Force (ZRF), Hmar National Army (HNA), Kuki Revolutionary Army (Unification), Kuki Liberation Army (KLA-KNO) and United All Kuki Liberation Army (State Govt authorizes Principal Secy to sign SoO agreement with Kuki militants, IFP, Imphal, 4 Aug , 2008).

While the UPF represents eight outfits which include Kuki Revolutionary Army (KRA), Kuki National Front-P (KNF-P), United Kuki Liberation Front (UKLF), Zomi Revolutionary Army (ZRA), Hmar Peoples' Conference/ Democratic (HPC-D), Kuki Liberation Army (KLA/KLO), Kuki National Front-S (KNF-S),etc.( SoO with Kuki groups, IFP, Imphal, 6 September 2008).

The main objectives of the KNO/KNA is to bring together all the Kuki-inhabited areas separated by 'artificial boundary' created in 1935, specifically in the Kabaw valley of Myanmar and the Kuki inhabited areas in the hill districts of Manipur under one administrative unit called 'Zalengam' (Land of freedom). In case of the eventuality of such integration not materializing, the KNA aims at the creation of two Kuki states: one within Burma i.e. 'Eastern Zalengam' and the other within India, 'Western Zalengam'.

The KNA has an estimated strength of 600 cadres armed with an array of weapons like AK-Series, G-series, M-series and 60mm mortar (Kuki National Army, www.satp.org, assessed on 26 June 2010). ZouDefence Volunteer (ZDV) was said to be formed in 1997 however its existence came to be known in 2003. ZDV strives for maintaining their intermediary "Zou" identity without aligning to either the "Zomi" or the "Kuki".

KNF was founded on 18 May 1988 with the objective of the demand for Kukiland which consisted of the districts of Churachandpur, Chandel, parts of Tamenglong and parts of Senapati and to defend the Kukis from the atrocities and brutalities of the "anti-national Naga activists" (Aide-Memoir to the Prime Minister of India Shree AtalBehari Vajpayee for Immediate Creation of Kukiland, submitted by Kuki National Front on 8 April 1998).

KNF split in 1995, with one unit identifying itself as the "presidential faction" and the other as the "military council". The former again split into Samuel faction (KNF-S) and Zougam faction (KNF-Z). The total cadre strength of the outfit (inclusive of all factions) is estimated to be between 400 and 500 (Kuki National Front, www.satp.org, assessed on 26 June 2010).

United Komrem Revolutionary Army (UKRA) was formed on 23 October 2004 to protect the interests of the Komrem community ('Manipur Outfit rears head', The Telegraph, Calcutta, 26 october 2006).

To be continued......


* This article was sent to e-pao by Imphal Times
This article was posted on May 12, 2018.


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