In a landmark development, the United National Liberation Front (UNLF), the oldest valley-based armed group in Manipur, has signed a peace accord with the Government of India after nearly six decades of conflict.
The momentous agreement was signed on November 29 in New Delhi, representing a crucial step toward fostering peace and stability in the strife-ridden state.
The accord, which comes after extensive negotiations, holds significant promise for the region, as it marks a watershed moment in the longstanding efforts to resolve the complex issues that have plagued Manipur. The UNLF, having been a key player in the state’s history of conflict, has now committed to a path of reconciliation and peaceful coexistence.
The signing ceremony in New Delhi was attended by representatives from both the UNLF and the Indian government, symbolizing a collective commitment to building a future free from the shadows of violence and discord. The accord is expected to pave the way for inclusive dialogue, addressing the grievances and aspirations of various communities in Manipur.
The UNLF, formed in 1964, has been a prominent player in the region, operating both within and outside Indian territory. The decision to renounce violence and embrace mainstream politics is a pivotal moment for the organisation and holds the promise of ushering in a new era of tranquillity in Manipur and the broader Northeast region.
Expressing his delight on this historic occasion, Union Home Minister Amit Shah took to a microblogging site ‘X’ to welcome the UNLF to democratic processes. “I welcome them to the democratic processes and wish them all the best in their journey on the path of peace and progress,” wrote Shah, acknowledging the significance of this step towards achieving Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi’s vision of inclusive development in Northeast India.
The peace agreement signed today with the UNLF by the Government of India and the Government of Manipur marks the end of a six-decade-long armed movement.
— Amit Shah (@AmitShah) November 29, 2023
The signing of this accord reflects a broader strategy by the Government of India, led by Prime Minister Modi and guided by Home Minister Amit Shah, to resolve conflicts and promote development in the Northeast. Since 2014, various agreements have been reached with armed groups in the region, but this marks the first instance of a valley-based Manipuri armed group returning to the mainstream by renouncing violence and committing to uphold the Constitution and laws of the land.
A crucial aspect of this accord is its potential to bring an end to hostilities between the UNLF and security forces, which have claimed lives on both sides for more than half a century. The agreement not only paves the way for peace but also provides an opportunity to address the longstanding concerns of the community. This development is anticipated to set a positive precedent, encouraging other valley-based armed groups to engage in the peace process.
To ensure the enforcement of agreed ground rules, a Peace Monitoring Committee (PMC) will be constituted, adding a layer of oversight to the implementation of the accord. The establishment of the PMC is expected to contribute significantly to restoring peace and normalcy in the state, addressing the grievances that have persisted for decades.
In his posts on ‘X’, Home Minister Amit Shah emphasised that the agreement is a historic milestone and aligns with Prime Minister Modi’s vision for the region. The return of UNLF to the mainstream is not only a step towards peace but also a promise of a better future for the youths in Northeast India.
As Manipur embraces this newfound era of peace, the hope is that this historic accord will serve as an inspiration for other armed groups in the region to consider dialogue and peaceful resolutions, ultimately contributing to the holistic development of the Northeast.