Guwahati, Nov 29: In a historic development that marks the end of a six-decades-long armed movement in the Northeast, the Centre and Manipur government signed a peace agreement with the United National Liberation Front (UNLF), the oldest valley-based armed group of Manipur, in New Delhi on Wednesday.
The tripartite agreement was signed by senior officials of the Union ministry of home affairs, Manipur government and representatives of the United National Liberation Front.
Formed in 1964, UNLF has been operating both within and outside Indian territory.
Terming the agreement as a historic milestone, Union home minister Amit Shah said the pact marks a landmark achievement in realising Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s vision of all-inclusive development and providing a better future to the youths in Northeast India.
Shah welcomed UNLF to the mainstream and wished the cadres well in their journey towards peace and progress.
Notably, this is for the first time a valley-based Manipur armed group has agreed to return to mainstream by abjuring violence and agreeing to honour the Constitution of India and laws of the land.
It may be mentioned that the central government has signed agreements with several armed groups of the Northeast region over the past decade in a bid to end militancy and promote development. Political settlements have been finalised with several ethnic armed groups of the region as part of conflict resolution initiatives of the Centre.
The agreement, sources said, will not only bring an end to hostilities between UNLF and security forces which have claimed precious lives on both sides over more than half a century but also provide an opportunity to address the longstanding concerns of the community.
Apparently, there is optimism that the return of UNLF to the mainstream will also encourage other valley-based armed groups to participate in the peace process in due course.
According to sources, a peace monitoring committee (PMC) will be constituted to oversee enforcement of the agreed ground rules, a move that is likely to be a significant step in restoring peace and normalcy in Manipur.
Commenting on ‘X’ (formerly Twitter), Assam chief minister Himanta Biswa Sarma said, “The UNLF peace agreement stands as a historic milestone, set to invigorate peace and progress in the North East.”