TODAY -

Politics of inking the SoO pact : Assembly takes a stand
- The Sangai Express Editorial :: March 02, 2024 -



It was a political decision and it is with a political objective that New Delhi has continued with the Suspension of Operations (SoO) pact with the armed Kuki groups coming under two broad groups, the Kuki National Organisation (KNO) and the United Peopleís Front (UPF).

The political decision may be understood in the context of the fact that the peace deal or dialogue deal was inked though the Kuki armed groups had never ever raised its hands or trained its guns against the Indian security forces or demanded anything that falls outside the Constitution of India.

So why was the peace deal signed then ?

Different theories have been doing the round, such as the pact falling within the larger political objective of the Government of India to neutralise the Naga armed movement spearheaded by the NSCN (IM) and later the other Naga armed groups which have come under the NNPGs and the Manipur armed groups or Meitei rebels.

There could be other reasons, such as leveraging the changing political dynamics in Myanmar, more so after the latest military coup and the armed revolt launched by different ethnic armed groups in the neighbouring country.

The growing clout of China in Myanmar and Indiaís Act East Policy and the larger political ambition of spreading its influence and clout in South East Asia, of which Myanmar is the gateway in so far as India is concerned could be another reason.

Nothing has been laid in black and white on why SoO was first inked between New Delhi and the Kuki armed outfits in 2005 with Imphal made to come on board in 2008 and since then it has traversed the path of others known as peace process with an Interlocutor being appointed and the pact being renewed every year by the end of February.

Call it a coincidence for want of a better term, but even as the Manipur Assembly passed the resolution to urge the Centre to scrap the SoO pact, there has been no official statement on whether the pact has been extended, as is normally announced by February 28 or in the case of a leap year by February 29.

Manipur has solid reasons to demand that the SoO pact be scrapped or abrogated and the push given to this demand as the Gregorian calendar inched towards the last day of February this year should underline this point but the matter of greater import is whether the State Government will be able to present a politically viable proposal before New Delhi to have the pact scrapped.

Early days as yet, but remember this is the first time that the State Assembly has taken such a decision and this significance is something which should be sold to the powers that be at New Delhi in a convincing manner.

Perhaps this is where the political acumen of Chief Minister N Biren and his men will be tested. A test by fire, one may add.

That the SoO cadres have been violating the groundrules of the pact should be clear and the groundrules is one of the fundamentals of the pact.

What evidence the State Government has been able to collect on this count remains to be seen but to the people of Manipur, this is something as clear cut and simple as 2+2 equals 4.

Go back to the Tribal Solidarity March of May 3, 2023 and the video recording of gun toting men in full battle fatigues taking part in the rally has gone viral on the social media.

Eyes donít lie and New Delhi too must have taken note of it.

Plus no one would buy any story that the sniper rifle that was fired and killed Moreh Police SDPO Chingtham Anand on October 31, 2023 was executed by a village volunteer.

Ask anyone well versed with the use of firearms or a jawan of the Assam Rifles or Border Security Force and the standard reply would be that it takes a trained person to be able to fire a sniper rifle with such precision.

Plus the attacks launched on the security personnel and State police personnel at the border town should leave no one in doubt of the involvement of motivated persons who could only have been trained in the use of firearms.

If not the SoO outfits then which entity would have the expertise and the resources to train such persons ?

Just some points that come to mind, but remember the Assembly has already taken a decision and approaching the Centre to get it abrogated will need political acumen and present a case not only on behalf of Manipur but also on how it poses a threat to the integrity and sovereignty of India.



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