Where has abrogate SoO demand gone ? Read between the lines
The year was 2005 and it was then that the Suspension of Operation (SoO) pact between the Government of India and the Kuki armed groups under the conglomerates of Kuki National Organisation (KNO) and United People’s Front (UPF) came into effect. Jog one’s memory a little and it should not be forgotten that the then Congress led Government under Chief Minister O Ibobi Singh came on board the SoO ship only in 2008, rather reluctantly. Fast forward to March of 2023 and the State Government under Chief Minister N Biren abrogated the SoO pact with the Kuki National Army and the Zomi Revolutionary Army. The abrogation came close on the heels of the protest rallies held in the Kuki dominated districts of Churachandpur, Kangpokpi and Tengnoupal after the State Government evicted a number of encroachers from Protected Forest. Back then, that is just six months back, the Chief Minister had gone on record to point out that the president of the ZRA, Thanglianpau Guite, is a Myanmarese while the president of the Kuki National Army PS Haokip is a resident of Nagaland. It was not any Tomba, Hongba or Chaoba who said that the president of the ZRA is a foreigner, but the Chief Minister himself and the question here is how seriously has New Delhi taken the public pronouncement of the man chosen to head its Government at Imphal ? At one point of time, that is in the earlier part of the five months old clash between the Kukis and the Meiteis, the demand that the SoO pact with the Kuki groups be abrogated or scrapped filled the air at Imphal and the valley districts, but down the line, this cry has somewhat become muted. It is clear that the agenda of India is bigger than just merely muting the guns against the Kuki armed groups and one has to take the geo-political reality of the day into consideration to understand the bigger ramifications of the SoO pact, but when the different arms of New Delhi start singing in tunes that are not compatible with the overall understanding of the SoO pact, what is Imphal doing to capitalise on the tunes that do not match ? It was only as recent as October 3 that the National Investigation Agency, an important arm of New Delhi, had submitted before a Delhi Court that an accused in the ongoing clash, Seiminlun Gangte, is involved in ‘transnational conspiracy by terrorist outfits based in Myanmar and Bangladesh to wage a war against the Government of India by exploiting the current ethnic unrest in Manipur.’ NIA has not yet said that Seiminlun Gangte is a member of any of the outfit under the SoO pact, but common sense more than says that no ordinary being would be in a position to involve himself in a transnational conspiracy to wage a war against the country.
Chief Minister N Biren has probably picked up from the observation of the NIA in loudly declaring that the ongoing violence in Manipur is a war declared upon the Union of India. The war on the Union of India may be better understood in the backdrop of the fact that on May 3, elements armed with sophisticated weapons were seen marching towards Torbung to the loud cheers of others, underlining the participation of cadres belonging to armed groups. The car bomb which exploded on a bridge near Kwakta on June 21 could not have been the handiwork of any village volunteer, a term used so conveniently by the Indigenous Tribal Leaders’ Forum and the Committee on Tribal Unity to refer to their gun wielding folks, and one wonders why the State Government has not capitalised on the arrest of the suspect by the NIA and drive the nail harder into the ‘coffin of the SoO pact ?’ Only the State Government can answer this but these are points which every thinking citizens of the land should raise now. A point which all those who have been mounting pressure on the elected representatives of the State should be raising now. One wonders why the call to abrogate the SoO pact based on the findings so far have not been raised in a coherent manner ?