(MENAFN) In a significant development, the United National Liberation Front (UNLF), the oldest militant group in Manipur state, India's northeast, has signed a peace agreement with the federal government. The truce, announced by India's Home Minister Amit Shah, is deemed a "historic milestone" and marks the first time a valley-based armed group from Manipur has chosen reconciliation by renouncing violence and committing to honor the Constitution of India. The move comes amid a deadly ethnic conflict that has persisted since May, displacing millions of people in the region.
The UNLF, representing the Meitei ethnic group, has been engaged in a guerrilla war since its formation in 1964, aiming to establish an "independent, sovereign Manipur." The group had sought alliances with China and pursued territorial claims, including the Kabow Valley in Myanmar. Over the decades, the UNLF operated from bases in Myanmar and parts of Bangladesh.
The peace agreement with the UNLF assumes significance against the backdrop of the government's recent extension of a ban on the group and other organizations in Manipur, designating them "unlawful associations" under the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA).
The development raises questions about the dynamics of the peace process, the aspirations of ethnic groups in Manipur, and the broader implications for stability in India's northeast.
This article explores the historical context of the UNLF's armed struggle, the complexities of the ethnic conflict in Manipur, and the potential impact of the peace agreement on the region's socio-political landscape. It delves into the challenges and opportunities for lasting reconciliation, emphasizing the significance of this development in the context of India's efforts to address longstanding ethnic tensions.
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