House adopts unanimous resolution on SoO abrogation
Source: The Sangai Express

Imphal, February 29 2024: The Manipur Legislative Assembly today adopted a unanimous resolution to ask the Government of India to abrogate Suspension of Operation (SoO) agreement with Kuki-Zo militant groups.

Call attention motions raised by Th Shanti (Moirang AC) and K Ranjit (Sugnu AC) on the public demand for abrogation of SoO were converted into a short duration discussion by the Speaker and clubbed together with another short duration discussion moved by Opposition leader Okram Ibobi on the current crisis of Manipur and its impacts on the law and order situation.

After deliberating on the motion threadbare, the Speaker announced that the Manipur Legislative Assembly has unanimously resolved to ask the Government of India to abrogate SoO agreement with Kuki-Zo militant groups.

House adopts unanimous resolution on SoO abrogation
House adopts unanimous resolution on SoO abrogation

The Suspension of Operation agreement was first signed between Kuki militant groups and the Indian army in 2005.SoO became a tripartite agreement with the involvement of the State Government in 2008 .

The SoO ground rules say that the Kuki militant groups must not pose any challenge to the integrity of Manipur and they must be confined within their respective designated camps while their weapons are locked in a depository.

However, the Kuki militant groups, in total violation of the SoO ground rules, have been attacking and killing many Meitei people in addition to burning down thousands of Meitei houses, MLA Shanti said.

Raising the call attention motion, Shanti said that Kuki militants under SoO agreement have been indulging in rampant acts of looting and extortion on National Highways.

On the other hand, the Government has so far spent around Rs 150 crore in paying remuneration to Kuki militants under SoO.

As the Kuki militants have been attacking and killing innocent civilians, there is no point in sustaining the SoO agreement, the NPP MLA said.

The Kuki militant groups under SoO, instead of upholding the integrity of Manipur, have been scheming to disintegrate the State.

They have been scheming to create an exclusive independent State for Kuki-Zo people by carving out territories from India, Myanmar and Bangladesh, Shanti said.

He pointed out that the Kuki militants have been posing serious threats to both the internal and National security of India.

Congress MLA K Ranjit pointed out that the current term of the SoO agreement signed between the Government of India, Government of Manipur and 25 Kuki militant groups under two umbrella bodies namely; UPF and KNO expires on February 29 .

The Government of India would come out with a decision whether to abrogate SoO or extend the term of the agreement today itself.

The Congress party and the people had earlier suggested to prepone the Assembly session by a few days so that the House could adopt a resolution in favour of abrogation of SoO and send it to the Government of India before it takes a decision on extension or termination of SoO, Ranjit said.

Nonetheless, the Congress MLA urged the House to adopt a resolution in favour of abrogation of SoO and send it to the Centre today itself.

Taking undue advantage of SoO agreement, Kuki militants even threatened Assam Rifles troops and placed a bomb on a Casspir vehicle at Moreh somedays back, Ranjit recalled.

Kuki militants started the ongoing conflict by taking undue advantage of SoO.

If SoO agreement is sustained for two/three years, the entire Meitei community is likely to be annihilated completely, Ranjit said.

Armed with sophisticated weapons and explosives, Kuki militants attacked Meitei villages of Sugnu from Lailoiphai and Dongyang for seven consecutive days recently.

Even though Central forces are stationed near Lailoiphai and Dongyang Kuki villages, the Kuki militants, under SoO agreement, relentlessly attacked the Meitei villages in front of their own eyes.

Since the Kuki militants launched their aggression, Meiteis have not been allowed to move beyond Awang Sekmai in the North, Kakching Lamkhai/Pallel in the South, Kangchup Chingkhong in the West and Yaingangpokpi in the East, Ranjit pointed out.

He asserted that Meiteis will be able to move to the hill districts of the State once SoO is abrogated.

Leaving aside the 10 Kuki MLAs who are absent from the State Assembly, 50 MLAs are present in the House and 45 of them belong to the ruling bench, the Opposition MLA said.

Altogether 35 MLAs of the ruling parties held a meeting on January 21 with Chief Minister N Biren in the chair and the meeting resolved to exert pressure on the Centre to the effect that the SoO agreement is not extended beyond February 29, Ranjit reminded.

He asserted that the first step towards ending the 10 months old violent conflict is abrogation of SoO.

K Meghachandra said that SoO agreement was signed quite a long time back in 2005 and 2008.Kuki militant cadres who were there at the time of signing the agreement must be old now.

But most of the Kuki militants who are directly involved in attacking Meitei people and villages are youth.

It only implies that the Kuki militant groups were recruiting new cadres by violating the ground rules, Meghachandra said.

Karam Shyam said that Kuki militants have been engaging in poppy cultivation, protection of poppy cultivators, encroachment and deforestation of reserved forests to make space for poppy plantation, all in the name of SoO.

Had there been no SoO agreement, the present crisis might not have taken place, he said.

Opposition leader O Ibobi stated that the Government of India must be convinced on how the Kuki militants have been blatantly violating the SoO ground rules and its disastrous impacts on Manipur.

If an all-party delegation must go to Delhi to convince the Prime Minister and the Union Home Minister, the Congress party is well prepared, Ibobi said.

He suggested the House adopt a resolution against any demand which challenges the integrity of Manipur.

Ibobi also appealed to the 10 Kuki MLAs to drop the demand for separate administration and come to the negotiating table for a peaceful solution.

Destruction of poppy plantations physically using sticks would not be effective.

As done in other countries, poppy plantations can be destroyed by using helicopter and chemicals, Ibobi said.

Responding to the points raised by the Members, Chief Minister N Biren stated that Manipur has been burning today because of the violent attempt to disintegrate Manipur.

He said that 14 designated camps of Kuki militant groups were built all around the valley districts and their camps were opened quite close to highways.

The Chief Minister said that forensic reports on sophisticated ammunition fired by Kuki militants were sent to the Centre and the State Government has been asking the Centre to abrogate SoO.

He said that many cases involving SoO cadres have been already handed over to the NIA and CBI.

Although no concrete evidence could be gathered about Assam Rifles troops trying to incite unrest in the State in collusion with Kuki militant groups, reports based on statements made by different organisations and social media posts have been sent to the Centre.

Altogether 926 new villages sprung up between 2006 and 2020.The total cadre strength of SoO groups is 2181 .

"It would be wrong to demand abrogation of SoO with those groups which are not violating the ground rules.

Let us work together to see that SoO is terminated with those groups which have been violating the ground rules", Biren said.

The State Government would also start paying special attention to the reports that cadres of the particular group which signed a ceasefire agreement recently have been roaming around with arms and extorting money from the public, the Chief Minister stated.

A major insurgent group which was waging war for more than 60 years has been brought to the path of peace.

Steps have been initiated to bring some other insurgent groups to the path of peace, he said.

The State Government has already adopted a decision not to allow opening of any camp of militant groups near National Highways and large villages, Biren said.

Information has been received from the Centre that a separate military force would be sent to the State for guarding the international border, Biren told the House.

Responding to a point made by N Biren, O Ibobi pointed out that BJP Government was formed at the Centre in 2014 and in the State in 2017 and asked what was the BJP Government doing all these days even if it was said that the Congress Government signed the SoO agreement in 2008 and the Kuki militants have been violating its ground rules since then.

He went on to ask why the former ADC Chairman who was arrested with a huge quantity of drugs was set free although it was later said that the drugs were seized from the possession of his driver.

Later, Speaker Th Satyabrata declared that all the Members of the House have unanimously agreed to ask the Centre to abrogate SoO with Kuki militant groups.

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