On the occasion of UNLF’s foundation day, the rebel group announced that they are ready to start a dialogue for ‘peace’ if the government is honest in its concern and commitment

After Paresh Baruah-led United Liberation Front of Assam- Independent (ULFA-I), one of the oldest rebel groups of Manipur, United National Liberation Front (UNLF) declared its motion on peace talks with the central government on the ‘Sovereign Manipur’ issue. On the occasion of UNLF’s foundation day, the rebel group announced that they are ready to start a dialogue for ‘peace’ if the government is honest in its concern and commitment.

A statement made by UNLF central committee said, “If the Government of India is honest in its concern and commitment, and that the issue of lost sovereignty of Manipur is put on the agenda, UNLF is more than willing to start a dialogue for ‘Peace’.”

“On many occasions, the Government of India and its puppet government in Manipur talk about a permanent solution to the insurgency problem in the region through ‘Peace Talk’. The Government of India constantly makes its pretentious claim that it is committed to the welfare and prosperity of the people, and habitually casts aspersions on the revolutionary organisations as talking a path of violence,” the statement added.

Meanwhile, UNLF observed its 57th foundation day on November 24 in an undisclosed location inside Myanmar. The counter-insurgency operation in Indo-Myanmar international border has been intensified by the Indian security forces after the deadly attack on Assam Rifles on November 13 in the Singhat sub-division of Manipur’s Churachandpur district by the People’s Liberation Army and Manipur Naga People’s Front, where Assam Rifles Commanding Officer Viplav Tripathi, along with his wife, son and four other Jawans were killed.

On November 15, three cadres of Yung Aung-led NSCN-K were gun downed by Assam Rifles in Arunachal Pradesh bordering Myanmar. Last month, four cadres of the Kuki National Liberation Army (KNLA) in Manipur were killed by security forces. A few days later, a rebel group killed four civilians in Manipur.

As per data from the security establishment, there are 162 violent incidents carried by rebel groups in the Northeast from January 1 to October 31 this year. Of these, Manipur reported the highest number of incidents at 90, followed by Arunachal Pradesh at 22 and Assam at 18.

Meanwhile, UNLF said, “We firmly appeal to the youth of our land to desist themselves from harmful drugs and intoxicants which paralyse our youth force and deter the forward movement towards our freedom. This is like collateral bombing. The time is not far from action is being taken against drug smugglers, manufacturers, peddlers, users. Adequate measures will be taken to save the lives of our youth, and punish the criminals as they deserve.”

The outfit was founded on November 24, 1964, and its armed wing Manipur People’s Army (MPA) was formed on February 9, 1987. In 1991, the UNLF picked up arms, and its first armed action against security forces was carried on December 15, 1991, at Lamdan on a CRPF Convoy. In 2005, the strength of the MPA was estimated to be about 2,000 armed cadres. According to the UNLF, by 2005, the UNLF was engaged in a battle against about 50,000 armed personnel from the Indian Army, that are deployed against the organisation in the forest regions of Manipur. The cadres of the group are drawn largely from the Meiteis and the Pangals communities.

The UNLF is known to be heavily involved with extortion, arms trading, and income-generating projects to finance their armed movements. They have several training camps near the Indo-Myanmar border and neighbouring Myanmar and Bangladesh.

The grouping to which the UNLF belongs, CorCom (Coordination Committee), is itself a powerful body of seven rebel groups of Manipur’s Imphal Valley that operates from the soil of Myanmar in coordination with other rebel groups from the Northeast.

Manipur has over 40 insurgent groups but a large number of them have been lying low for a long time following their signing of separate suspension of operation agreements with the central government.