SoO agreement with Kuki rebel groups to be extended for six more months likely

"We are ready for settlement," says KNO which has 15 Kuki militant groups under it.

 

The Suspension of Operation (SoO) agreement between the Government of India, government of Manipur and Kuki militants is likely to be extended for another six months.

Representatives of the two groups of the Kuki militants, the United People’s Front (UPF) and the Kuki National Organization (KNO) held separate meetings with the state representative as the SoO agreement expiring on August 31.

The first meeting was held on August 17 with KNO and the second meeting with the UPF on Thursday. However, representatives from the Centre did not attend meetings due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The two umbrella groups and the state after a threadbare discussion agreed to further extend the agreement for another six months till February 28, 2021. The final confirmation of the extension, however, will be made by the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA). It is learned that the proceedings of the meeting were sent to the MHA.

An official source from the state Home department while confirming about the meeting said the extension will be finalized by the MHA. Dr Seilen Haokip, spokesperson KNO said, “We are ready for settlement.

Talks with the governments have been comprehensive. We are waiting for the situation to improve”. Clarifying on the opposition made by civil voluntary organisations of the valley, Seilen Haokip said that there is nothing to be alarmed of the demand of the outfits.

“Our demand is under the Indian Constitution and within the state of Manipur. We are not demanding something out of the ordinary. We are asking for our constitutional rights,” KNO spokesperson added.

The Kuki militants began their armed rebellion demanding a separate state for the Kukis scattered in different parts of the Northeastern states and parts of Myanmar. Later, the umbrella groups stepped down from their earlier demand to “Territorial Council (TC)”. They submitted the outline of the TC during their sixth round of political talks on January 10, 2018.

Of the total 25 armed Kuki groups operating in the state, 17 are under the KNO and eight under the United Peoples’ Front (UPF). KNO and UPF signed the tripartite SoO agreement with the Government of India and Manipur on August 22, 2008. Since then, the Government has been extending the agreement.

First Published:Aug. 21, 2020, 8:15 a.m.