Suspension of Operations pact with Kuki-Zo insurgent groups

News Excerpt:

Two months after the Manipur government refused to send a representative to a meeting called by the Centre to extend the Suspension of Operations (SoO) pact with Kuki-Zo insurgent groups, there is a “status quo” on the agreement on the ground.

Suspension of Operations (SoO) pact:

  • Suspension of Operations (SoO) pact is a tripartite agreement signed by the Centre and Manipur government to reach an agreement with 25 Kuki insurgent groups in 2008.
    • Of these 25 insurgent groups, 17 come under the Kuki National Organisation (KNO), and eight belong to the United People's Front (UPF).
  • The agreement was signed in the wake of the Kuki-Naga clashes in the 1990s when hundreds were killed. The insurgent groups demanded an independent land for the Kuki-Zo.

What are the terms of the SoO pact?

  • The period of the Suspension of Operation agreement is one year, it is extendable according to the progress of its implementation.
  • To oversee the effective implementation of the SoO pact, a committee called the Joint Monitoring Group (JMG), with representatives from all the signatories, has been formed.
  • According to the pact, the Centre and state governments agreed that the security forces would not launch any operations against these groups. In return, the insurgent groups will also not launch any such operation.
  • The pact also requires these groups to abide by the Constitution of India, the laws of the land and the territorial integrity of Manipur.
  • The SoO pact further bars these groups from committing any activity that amounts to atrocity or extortion, or any other unlawful operation.
  • The militant cadres are to be confined in designated camps identified by the Government. Arms are deposited in a safe room under a double-locking system. The groups are given arms only to guard their camps and protect their leaders.
  • As a rehabilitation package, the cadres living in the designated camps are given a monthly stipend of 6000 Rs. Financial assistance is also being provided to maintain the designated camps.

Demand for suspension of the Pact:

  • After ethnic violence between the Kuki-Zo people and the Meitei people erupted in the State in May, 2023, there were strong demands from the Valley areas to abrogate the SoO agreement.
  • The Manipur government had claimed that SoO groups violated ground rules and instigated the violence. 
  • Meitei civil society groups have also demanded that the MHA not extend the pact.
  • The Manipur Assembly has also passed a resolution to urge the Central government to abrogate the SoO pact with Kuki-Zo insurgent groups.

Current Status:

  • The Manipur government did not send its representative in the last meeting held to discuss the extension of SoO.
  • Without the participation of the Maniour government, the SoO pact could not be extended on paper. As of now the status quo exists.

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