The Kuki-Zo tribal bodies of Manipur's Tengnoupal district have welcomed the recent 'Peace Agreement' between the Government of India and the Meitei militant faction, the UNLF (Pambei). However, they have vehemently opposed the proposed establishment of designated camps for surrendered insurgents in Kuki-Zo tribal areas.
The Joint Kuki Civil Society Organisations of Tengnoupal District, comprising Kuki Inpu Tengnoupal, Kuki Chiefs Association Tengnoupal, Kuki Students' Organization, Tengnoupal, and the Hill Tribal Council Moreh, applauded the 'Peace Agreement' as a significant step towards integrating banned extremists into the mainstream. "We believe that the recently signed 'Peace Agreement' would pave the way for a peaceful environment in the trouble-torn Manipur valley," they stated.
Expressing concern over the aftermath of the agreement, the Kuki bodies revealed that proposed designated camps for UNLF cadres include Kakching Khunou, Ingourok, Jiribam, Kwatha, and Moreh, with all except Kakching Khunou falling within tribal areas.
The joint Tengnoupal CSO voiced serious reservations about the establishment of designated camps for surrendered Valley-based Insurgent Groups (VBIG) in or near Kuki-Zo tribal areas. The Kuki-Zo public of Tengnoupal District welcomed the truce but vehemently rejected the inclusion of Kwatha, Moreh, Jiribam, and Ingourok as designated camps for any valley-based militants.
According to the Kuki-Zo bodies, such a move is perceived as a sinister attempt by Chief Minister N. Biren Singh to threaten the existence of Kuki-Zo tribals and other tribal communities in the state. They argue that sheltering valley-based militants in tribal-dominated hill areas could bring more harm than good in the future.
While the Kuki-Zo tribals have restrained from reacting to provocations from the Biren-led Meitei government, the statement made it clear that they will oppose any plan to set up designated camps for valley-based militants in the hill districts of Tengnoupal and Jiribam.
The joint Tengnoupal CSO emphasized that any designated camps for Meitei extremists should be confined to the Manipur valley (Kangleipak) area. Attempts to establish such camps in the hill districts would be seen as an act of intrusion, inviting strong opposition.
Against the backdrop of the ethnic cleansing campaign against the Kuki-Zo people, the Kuki bodies highlighted the establishment and maintenance of a clear boundary, acting as a frontline/buffer zone between the Meiteis and the Kuki-Zo people. They strongly advised that this boundary be strictly honored and maintained while identifying designated camps for the Meitei militant faction. The Kuki-Zo tribals warned that any violation of this demarcation would be met with a fitting backlash.
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