TODAY -

Growing call to abrogate SoO pact : Ultimately it is Delhi’s call
- The Sangai Express Editorial :: February 23, 2024 -



Ultimately it is Delhi’s call, but that has not stopped the demand that the Suspension of Operation pact signed with the Kuki militant groups, which come under the Kuki National Organisation (KNO) and the United People’s Front (UPF), be scrapped.

The Kuki-Zo community on the other hand must be banking hard on the SoO dialogue to realise the Separate Administration call, although the integrity of Manipur is clearly mentioned in the clause of the tripartite agreement signed between the Centre, the State Government and the Kuki outfits in 2008.

Note the stress on 2008 for it was only in 2008 that Imphal was convinced to come on board, while the SoO agreement was actually inked between the Kuki outfits and the Government of India in 2005.

Again the italicised was convinced should tell the story of how Imphal was made to come on board the SoO pact.

This is the story of the SoO pact for the past 15 years or so and the most stupefying point is there is no visible reason to understand why a peace pact should be signed with a bunch of renegades who have never ever raised the battle cry against the security forces or raised any demand outside the Constitution of India.

This is where rooms have been created for conspiracy theories to fly thick and fast and the more one tries to understand the rationale of the peace pact with the Kuki militants the more it seems to come close to the understanding that the Kuki militants are being fed and nurtured to help neutralise the armed groups of Manipur and the Naga rebels, particularly the NSCN (IM).

Plus remember the Zomi Revolutionary Army is headed by a gentleman who has come from Myanmar and set up shop here in Manipur.

Now with Manipur up in flames since the evening of May 3, 2023 and with more than enough indications that cadres of the SoO outfits are in the thick of it all, having killed State police personnel as well as Central security personnel, the demand that the SoO pact be abrogated is gaining ground.

The urgency in the ‘Scrap SoO’ demand can be understood in the backdrop of the fact that the pact is set to be reviewed by the end of this month, probably by the 28th or 29th of February and this demand should be viewed in the backdrop of the recent decision to do away with the Free Movement Regime (FMR) as well as the announcement that the Indo-Myanmar border would be fenced.

The rationale behind the decision to do away with the FMR and fence the Indo-Myanmar border should be understood and stretch this understanding a little bit, it should be clear that these two steps would not mean much as long as the armed outfits are engaged in a political dialogue with the Government.

This is the line of thinking for Manipur and it is not without reason.

It was with a reason why Imphal decided to withdraw from the SoO agreement with the Zomi Revolutionary Army and the Kuki National Army and it would do good for Delhi to try and understand why Imphal decided to take this line.

Again it is with a reason why Imphal sees the hands of the SoO groups in the infiltration from across the border as well as the emergence of new settlements in Reserved and Protected Forests, with B Sonjang village emerging as the right example.

Remember the massive protests and rallies organised across all Kuki dominated places to decry the eviction of the said village from a Protected Forest and things should fall into place.

Using the illegal immigrants as labour force for poppy plantations as well as for arms running and drug trafficking under the influence and directives of the SoO outfits are charges that have been raised and perhaps these charges can be validated by what a Kuki gentleman, a certain Paolienlal Haokip, wrote back in 2002 in a publication of the Institute of Peace and Conflict Studies under the heading ‘Suffering in oblivion : Burmese refugees in North East Region of India.’

Citing many factors, Mr Haokip in the said article underlined, ‘some among them took to drugs and arms trafficking across the border’ and capped this off by assessing that 20,000 Kukis entered Manipur as refugees.

This was in 1967, as mentioned in the said article and there is nothing to suggest that things have changed.

It is against this reality that the call to scrap the SoO pact has been raised and which Delhi should note.



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