Talks of Peace in Manipur in 2013

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By Chitra Ahanthem

(contd)

Imphal, December 05 2013: The general secretary of the Lallumba group of KCP (MC), Wahengbam Ramananda alias Rousow (38) along with another accomplice has been arrested by the Imphal East police on the charge of abducting a non local man, Suresh Prasad alias Suan (31) of Bihar according to a statement fromImphal East police SP, Kamei Angam Romanus.Two mobile phones, one red coloured Maruti (800) car bearing registration number MN/05A-3001, one cartridge of 70 mm were recovered from the abductors. Significantly, the police statement did not mention that Rousow is a member of the Lallumba group of the KCP (MC), which has come to the negotiating table. Cadres of the group had earlier claimed that Lallumba had disappeared from the designated camp along with cash and other items and since then Rousow had taken over the leadership of the outfit.

Imphal, December 05 2013: The Joint Working Committee (JWC) of the Kuki National Organisation (KNO) and United People`s Front (UPF), the umbrella organisations of Kuki armed groups on tripartite SoO pact, has decided to determine its own course if political dialogue is not initiated before the coming Lok Sabha election. Apart from deciding to rejuvenate the Joint Working Committee of UPF and KNO, a decision was made during the meeting that the UPF and KNO need to go together on issues common to them inspite of the differences in political ideology and demand.

Imphal, December 06 2013: KCP-MC (Lallumba group) has dismissed the report that its general secretary Ramananda alias Rousow was arrested by Imphal East Police in connection with the abduction of non-local businessman Suresh Prasad as baseless and fabricated. The outfit`s chief of army Yoiheiba alias Nabakumar Luwang said that Wahengbam Ramananda alias Rousow left the outfit`s designated camp opened within 7th MR complex, Khabeisoi as the Imphal East SP sent an SI and called the general secretary to talk some matters. Ramananda, contrary to the news report, was the one who helped in rescuing Suresh Prasad, Yoiheiba claimed.

New Delhi, December 10 2013: Violence has considerably come down in Manipur, while there are many issues that need to be addressed, said the Joint Secretary (NE), MHA, Shambhu Singh who returned to office after a two-day visit to Manipur. On the long drawn process, with the NSCN (IM) already submitting its charter of demands two years ago in July 2011, Singh reiterated that the process requires the involvement of all stakeholders, emphasising that this is a must in a democratic system. This, the Joint Secretary said, is in fact a time consuming process.

Imphal, December 10 2013: A cadre of URF which has signed an MoU with the Centre and the State Government was today caught by some people on the charge of stealing battery from a truck. Sekmai Police have registered a case against him and initiated investigation.

Imphal, December 11 2013: Showing angst over the alleged indifferent attitude of both the Manipur and Central Governments towards welfare policy for them, United Revolutionary Front (URF), which has recently signed Suspension of Operation (SoO) with the Governments to start peace parley, today threatened to return to jungle. The outfit`s chairman Lalheiba Meitei said that the armed group has entered into the national mainstream after laying down arms as it believes in peace and stability. Lalheiba alleged that the state Government has put the peace process at risk by ignoring the group`s welfare policy, and informed that cadres of the outfit have not been given their monthly stipend regular, thus, leaving them in an awful condition.

Dimapur, December 14 2013: The recent statement of Union Home Secretary North East in-charge Shambhu Singh on the Indo-Naga peace talks has irked the National Socialist Council of Nagalim, Isak-Muivah (NSCN-IM) which has advised the Union Home Sectetary to restrain himself from commenting on the Indo-Naga `political` talks. The NSCN-IM also noted that Shambhu Singh`s statements were also published in a section of Imphal media with the captions “Delhi-NSCN (IM) political dialogues No immediate solution in sight: Shambhu Singh” and “In a democracy, all stakeholders need to be involved: Shambhu”.

Imphal, December 14 2013: Reacting to the statement of Sambhu Singh, Joint Secy (MHA), North East in-charge, on the issue of the Kukis` political demand, particularly the assertion that the NE states are already tiny states and it is hard to even entertain the idea of carving out new states from the existing one, the UPF, an umbrella organization of eight Kuki revolutionary groups contended that there are no hard and fast rules/condi-tions to create new state based on population, resources and others but the necessity of socio-political and economic environment and people`s concerned are to be counted which are more important than all other issues.

Imphal, December 18 2013: A cadre each of two different UG groups under SoO pact who went to extort money at the Manipur Forest Department office, Sanjenthong have been arrested by a team of 8th IR Cdo Battalion who were on duty at the area today. Reports culled from the spot said that the two cadres belonging to the Zou Defence Volunteer (ZDV) and KNF (Z) both within the fold of KNO, a party to the SoO agreement were arrested around 1.30 pm today. Two mobile phones and eight SIM cards were recovered from the duo, the report said.

Imphal, December 20, 2013: The Government has instructed all parties under SoO pact not to use their letterheads without valid reasons and also confine all their cadres in their respective designated camps. A meeting of the joint monitoring group was held this morning at the banquet hall of 1st Bn MR with Principal Secretary (Home), Dr Suresh J Babu in the chair and was attended by Kuki armed groups as well as other armed groups under SoO pact deliberated on violation of SoO ground rules and problems encountered by the groups.

Road to peace:

Given the context of the ongoing peace initiatives in the state, it is no surprise that there is no real change on the ground. The absence of any of the major armed groups stepping forth to enter into peace talks with the Government casts shadows on the intent of the Government and its various ongoing processes. If at all the government is interested to resolve the conflict in Manipur through peaceful and democratic means, then the first and the foremost step is initiation of a process for identifying the common problems, which are acceptable to both the conflicting groups, through an inclusive mechanism. Mere appeals for peace talks from time to time along with military engagements cannot bring about any tangible solution and least of all, addressing the problem. A charter of demands submitted by United NGOs Mission-Manipur, a conglomerate of over 100 grass NGOs operating in both the hill and valley area pointed out specific pre negotiating measures to be adopted by the government: (i) “Constitute an Independent Commissions for Conflict Resolution in the state; (ii) develop a framework on pre-negotiation, negotiation and post negotiation with special monitoring mechanisms with due representation from civil society, NGOs and also by engaging International Community as a Third Party to settle the long standing political conflict in the state”. The most important one is to constitute the committee to identify a possible common meeting point within a time frame. However, the process of constituting the committee should be done under the Prime Minister Office or Ministry of External Affairs with the state government particularly the Home Minister and/or elected legislators as facilitators. This will increase the commitment of the government to the AOG (armed opposition group).

With various ‘civil society groups’ and pressure groups already taking their stands on the nature of peace processes operating in the state on ethnic lines and their affiliations, the road ahead for real term peace looks challenging to say the least given the number of armed groups operating in the state and the ethno centric politics driving them. The onus lies with the Government to come clean on the mandates of the peace talks that they are currently engaged in along with a time frame and what concrete steps the talks are aiming to arrive at for without these in place, the event centric approach of SoO and MOU being signed and armed cadres being left to languish in army camps can only backfire, putting the talks and the fragile ‘peace’ in peril. (Concluded)

(A longer and referenced version of this text is being included in the eighth annual report of Armed Conflicts in South Asia collated and undertaken by the Institute for Peace and Conflict Studies, New Delhi)

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