Massive rally says no to extension of SoO
Source: The Sangai Express

Imphal, February 22 2024: A massive rally was held today on Imphal-Saikul road demanding abrogation of Suspension of Operation (SoO) pact with Kuki militant groups and restoration of normalcy in the State.

Notably, SoO is a tripartite agreement between Government of India, Government of Manipur and 24 Kuki militant groups clubbed under two umbrella bodies namely; KNO and UPF.

The SoO pact is set to end by February 28 or 29 as the case may be.

The rally held under the banner "Mass Rally Against Extension of SoO between Government of India and Kuki Militant Groups" and participated by thousands of people started from Sambei, Imphal East at around 11.30 am and it made its way toward the Raj Bhavan.

Massive rally says no to extension of SoO
Massive rally says no to extension of SoO

The rally was jointly organised by the Village Protection Force (VPF), Eramdam Kanba Lup (EKAL) and the United Committee of Pukhao and Makeng Dolaithabi GP.

Women protesters who took part in the rally carried the Indian National flag as well as the seven-coloured Meitei traditional flag.

They also carried placards and banners which read as "Don't extend SoO with Kuki militants", "No separate administration in Manipur", "Abolish hereditary Kuki chieftainship", "Abrogate SoO pact with Kuki militants", "Remove Scheduled Tribe status of Kuki-Chin-Zo nomadic people", "Integrity of Manipur is not negotiable" and "Insert Meitei/Meetei in the ST list of India" .

After marching for about 5 Kms, the protesters were blocked by a large number of police at Pangei Bazar.

The protesters somehow breached the police barricade but they were again blocked by a strong team of police and Rapid Action Force (RAF) in front of the 6th IRB camp, near Manipur Police Training College, Pangei.

After a brief standoff there, 15 representatives of the three organisations which organised the rally were allowed to proceed to Imphal and meet Governor Anusuiya Uikey.

The 15 representatives including two women called on the Governor at the Raj Bhavan and they submitted a memorandum addressed to Union Home Minister Amit Shah.

Anusuiya Uikey assured the delegation that she would highlight the people's will and aspiration to the relevant authorities of the Central Government.

Another memorandum was also submitted to Chief Minister N Biren.

The memorandum urged the Chief Minister to either prepone the fifth session of the 12th Manipur Legislative Assembly by two days so that the House can deliberate and abrogate the SoO pact with Kuki-Zomi armed militants operating in Manipur or for the Chief Minister to move a motion in his capacity as the leader of the House on February 28 itself so that the House can adopt a resolution to the effect that the SoO pact is abrogated.

The memorandum further urged the Government of Manipur to immediately send a copy of the House resolution favouring termination of SoO pact to the Government of India for their notice and appropriate action.

As the 15 representatives went to talk with the Governor, the huge crowd which took part in the rally waited for their return at Chingkhu High School ground, Khundrakpam.

Tonjam Somorjit, a member of the coordinating committee of the three organisations which jointly organised the rally, said that the principal demand of the rally was termination of the SoO pact after its expiry at the end of the current month.

Conspicuously violating the SoO ground rules, Kuki militants have been shooting innocent Meitei people and they have burnt thousands of Meitei houses since May 3, 2023.Meitei people who were living peacefully have been terrorised and traumatized by the Kuki militants, he said.

In view of the blatant violation of ground rules, the Government of India must not extend the SoO pact.

As the Kuki militants have been waging a war against the Meitei people, instead of confining themselves within their designated camps, there is no meaning to SoO, he said.

"We beseech the Government of India not to extend the SoO pact any more", he said.

He decried that the Government has not been properly monitoring the SoO groups.

Heavily armed Kuki militants have been continuously attacking Meitei villages in the peripheral areas of Imphal East, Imphal West, Thoubal, Kakching and Bishnupur districts adjoining Kuki areas, Somorjit pointed out.

Although the Government created buffer zones, Kuki militants have constructed a number of bunkers all along the hill ranges surrounding the valley districts.

Kuki militants are not present in their designated camps.

From the bunkers they built in buffer zones, Kuki militants have been attacking Meitei villages with sophisticated weapons including bombs, Somorjit said.

The Government must take up strong action against violation of SoO ground rules, facilitating influx of illegal Kuki immigrants from Myanmar and extensive poppy plantation in the hill areas of Manipur, he demanded.

He asserted that there is ample evidence of the direct involvement of Kuki militants under SoO pact in the protracted Manipur violence.

They (Kuki militants) are also involved in drug trafficking either directly or indirectly, Somorjit continued.

Kuki militants under SoO pact have been indulging in rampant extortion and abduction for ransom on National Highways.

They are also involved in massive poppy plantations in the hill areas of Manipur in collaboration with narco-terrorists who infiltrated into Manipur from across the international border.

The Kuki militants and their associates have been scheming to create a new Golden Triangle in the North Eastern region of India by creating a separate administration in the name of Zalengam in the region, he said.

By importing large number of Chin-Kuki-Zo people from Myanmar who have vast experience in poppy plantation, the Kuki militants have also been posing a serious challenge to the demographic balance of Manipur.

The influx of illegal immigrants from Myanmar led to mushrooming of new villages in Churachandpur and many other places of Manipur, Somorjit said.

There are also enough evidence of the involvement of foreign Chin-Kuki-Zo militants in the Manipur crisis, thereby posing a serious threat to the internal security of India, he asserted.

The Manipur crisis can be resolved once SoO is abrogated and foreign narco-terrorists are flushed out from the soil of Manipur.

This would also strengthen the internal security of India, he added.

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