Imphal, 28 July: Manipur which hosts around three dozen active militant groups and a dozen inactive proscribed armed groups is inching towards peace and normalcy. After BJP came to power in 2017, the government initiated steps to dialogue with militant groups and even opened a single window initiative to facilitate armed militants to return to the mainstream.
The rehabilitation of militants was again accelerated with the assurance of Union Home Minister, Amit Shah that not a single bullet would be fired at those militants who want to return to the mainstream and even a single FIR would not be lodged against them unless they are involved in a heinous crime.
Soon after the formation of the BJP-led government in Manipur, 68 cadres belonging to different groups surrendered before the Chief Minister of Manipur, N Biren Singh on 14 August 2017. The Chief Minister welcomed those militants with open arms.
The Chief Minister has been able to prove himself as a real changemaker with his acumen and experiences. Showing trust in his leadership, twelve Liberation Tigers of Tribals (LTT) members laid down arms and ammunition before the Chief Minister during a homecoming ceremony held at the Banquet Hall of 1st Battalion Manipur Rifles on 27 July 2022.
The homecoming LTT cadres include its Chairman, Seiminthang Gangte aka Alex aka Thangboi Gangte (28), Deputy Chairman Letkhosat Lupho aka Marshel Hangmi (26) and Army Chief Janghen Khongsai aka Hencha (26).
During the Homecoming Ceremony, the Chief Minister said that the government is committed to ending militancy within 3-4 years through political dialogues, discussions, homecoming or by any other means. The statement and appeal of the CM reaffirmed the stand of the Prime Minister, Narendra Modi-led BJP government and the Biren government’s firm political will to end the issue of insurgency once and for all in the region.
The explicit instruction from the government to ensure rehabilitation benefits to homecoming cadres and open appeal to all armed groups to join hands in “nation-building” and making “One India” is a welcome move and a sign of moving towards peace and normalcy in the state.
Rehabilitation of militants:
To wean away the “misguided youth” who strayed into the fold of insurgency and later found themselves trapped in that net, the Scheme for Surrender-Cum-Rehabilitation of Militants in the North-East (except Sikkim and Mizoram) has been implemented since 2018. The scheme also seeks to ensure that insurgents, who have surrendered, are not lured into joining insurgency again.
Under the scheme, an immediate grant of Rs. 4 lakhs (fixed deposit in the name of the surrenderee), a monthly stipend of Rs 6000 for 3 years, incentives for weapon/ammunitions, funds for the construction of rehabilitation camps and vocational/skill development training for each one of them is ensured.
Under the scheme, IG (Special Branch) will act as the Surrender and Rehabilitation Officer (S&R Officer) and other agencies including Army, Central Para Military Force and even a nominated NGO will be involved in the process of surrender and rehabilitation.
The law and order in Manipur have improved significantly and many militants have surrendered and joined the mainstream. Recently, 14 cadres of the United Tribal Liberation Army (UTLA) (James faction) including its chairman, laid down their arms before the Chief Minister of Manipur on June 1, 2022.
A high-ranking member of the banned armed group Revolutionary People’s Front (RPF) identified as Irom Ibotombi Meitei, surrendered before the Chief Minister on June 13, 2022.
Two cadres of the National Socialist Council of Nagaland-Khaplang (NSCN-K) (Yung Aung faction) surrendered at Somsai of Ukhrul District in Manipur on July 1, 2022, with arms and ammunitions before the Somsai Battalion of Assam Rifles and Manipur Police.
In 2021 twenty militants belonging to proscribed militant groups Thadou People’s Liberation Army (16), United National Liberation Front (2), People’s Liberation Army (1) and People’s Revolutionary Party of Kangleipak –pro (1) surrendered on March 9 before Manipur Chief Minister in a ‘Homecoming Ceremony’ held at the Banquet Hall of 1st Manipur Rifles battalion on March 9.