Less than 4 months after Home Minister Amit Shah declared the “historic milestone” when a peace agreement was signed with the United National Liberation Front (UNLF) on 29 November 2023 in Delhi, reports have emerged that escalating violence in Manipur is being perpetrated by the banned United National Liberation Front (UNLF). This, according to a news agency PTI report, has been reported by security agencies on Sunday.

Amit Shah
Amit Shah

The ceasefire agreement, brokered with UNLF (P) leader Kh Pambei, became the first Meitei armed group in the Imphal Valley to enter into a ceasefire agreement with the government and agreed to renounce violence. However, officials said the UNLF (P) has reportedly failed to disclose the number of its cadres as agreed upon, nor have they surrendered their weapons. Instead, according to the officials, reports suggest that the group’s members have been setting up camps in areas predominantly inhabited by the Kuki population, indicating a shift towards targeting tribal communities.

Based on ground reports, security agencies have observed UNLF (P) cadres engaging in violent activities against both security forces and civilians. As per the PTI report, the cadres were implicated in the looting of arms and ammunition from the 5th India Reserve Battalion (IRB) at Chingarel in Manipur East on 13 February. Subsequently, six individuals, including two UNLF cadres, were apprehended by the police, and the case is expected to be transferred to the CBI for further investigation.

Recent sightings of UNLF (P) cadres in areas such as Moirangpurel, Tumukhong, and Itham have raised concerns, with reports indicating their involvement in reconnaissance activities to establish camps in these regions. On 7 February 2024, UNLF (P) cadres allegedly opened fire at vehicles heading towards Churachandpur, a district predominantly inhabited by the Kuki community. The situation escalated with reports of a shooting incident in Maphou village, primarily inhabited by the Kuki ethnicity, allegedly carried out by individuals associated with the Arambai Tenggol and UNLF (P) cadres. These cadres reportedly provided live updates on social media, claiming to target the Kuki community.

Despite the ceasefire agreement aimed at ending hostilities between UNLF (P) and security forces, recent incidents suggest that UNLF (P) cadres continue to operate freely with their automatic weapons, seemingly immune to arrest. Officials recounted an instance where armed UNLF (P) cadres were stopped by central security forces and handed over to local authorities, only to be released shortly thereafter on the grounds of the ceasefire agreement. Ahead of the recent unrest in Churachandpur, officials reported sightings of UNLF (P) cadres in uniform near Terakhongsangbi, their vehicles marked with UNLF insignia.

MTNews Desk

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