Fresh gunfight erupts in strife-torn Manipur as tribal bodies up ante

The Centre had signed separate SoO (suspension of operations) agreements with various Kuki rebel groups.
A woman protester blocks a road during a 48-hour general strike in Imphal on Sept 19, 2023, as they demand restoration of peace in Manipur after ethnic violence.
A woman protester blocks a road during a 48-hour general strike in Imphal on Sept 19, 2023, as they demand restoration of peace in Manipur after ethnic violence. (File Photo | AFP)

GUWAHATI : Violence in Manipur continued as two unidentified groups were engaged in a gunfight for several hours on Saturday.

No casualties have been reported yet. The gunfight broke out at around 6 am when armed men entered the vicinity of the Satang Kuki village in the Kangpokpi district and opened fire and stopped at around 11:30 am. Later, shots were fired intermittently till 4 pm.

Meanwhile, in a declaration, the Indigenous Tribal Leaders’ Forum said that the Kuki-Zo tribals should approach the Mizoram government for their ‘future political way forward.’ “We cannot be under the government who killed and destroyed our churches and properties, who separated us physically and demographically and also who took an oath under militia group Arambai Tenggol. The Centre should directly administer us from Delhi,” the declaration read.

The tribal organisation opposed the Centre’s move to scrap the free movement regime agreement and fence the India-Myanmar border.

India and Myanmar had signed the FMR pact to facilitate the movement of people residing along the border and encourage people-to-people contact. It allowed them to travel up to 16 km inside each other’s territories without travel documents.

The other decisions of the ITLF were to continue any form of agitations and actions as the need arises, support and cooperate with any plans, projects and policies made by ITLF to strengthen the movement, among others.

The Centre had signed separate SoO (suspension of operations) agreements with various Kuki rebel groups. “Meeting with SoO groups and our MLAs should be held with the initiative of Zo United as soon as possible. MHA should be questioned on the status of our political demand by joint signatures of SoO, MLAs and CSOs (civil society organisations),” the declaration added.

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