UCM general secretary Khuraijam Athouba said that talks are very important to resolve various armed conflicts and bring peace in the state Credit: Representational image

Imphal: Days after Manipur chief minister N Biren Singh made an open appeal to the insurgent groups of the state for a political dialogue, civil society organisation United Committee Manipur (UCM) on Tuesday said that any peace process with armed groups must be initiated by the Centre.

Moreover, it cannot be mere initiation, the Centre must have a proper layout to accommodate the aspirations of Manipur-based outfits, it said.

Speaking with EastMojo over telephone, UCM general secretary Khuraijam Athouba said that peace talks are very important to resolve various armed conflicts and bring peace in the state. “However, without sincere approach and transparency in the talks, insurgent groups may not like to start the peace process with the government,” he added.

“The Centre should come out with full-proof strategic plan with a white paper on what and how they are willing to do, and up to what extent they are going to listen to the aspirations and discontentment of various armed groups,” Athouba said.

Citing an example of the ongoing talks between the National Socialist Council of Nagaland (NSCN-IM) and the Union government, in which 23 years of peace negotiations have seen no concrete solution except signing of the 2015 Framework Agreement, Athouba said: “The way the peace process between the NSCN-IM and the Centre is progressing is not giving a good message. For the last two decades of talks, they (Centre) haven’t come out with any kind of honourable solution.”

“So, if this kind of talks continues, no other insurgent groups will be willing to join the negotiation table,” he added.

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Most of the major Manipur-based outfits like United National Liberation Front (UNLF), People’s Liberation Army (PLA), People’s Revolutionary Party of Kangleipak (PREPAK), Revolutionary People’s Front (RPF) and Kangleipak Communist Party (KCP), among others, have openly announced their struggle for complete ‘sovereignty’ in Manipur and the UCM leader feels that it might be difficult for the Centre to bring on board these groups for talks without the agenda of sovereignty.

“As a civil society, we can make a holistic appeal; however, I feel that it’s not going to make any sense for now,” Athouba stated.

“So, to make more realistic and practical, the willingness and initiation should be from the government of India’s side because they (Centre) are the ones who are taking more responsibilities in the peace process,” he added.

Referring to the signing of peace accord with the Bodos in Assam as a great achievement of the government at the Centre, CM Singh, as per reports, had said that the time has come in Manipur for insurgent groups to come forward and initiate talks with the Centre.

Singh had also urged people from various walks of life to urge armed groups to come to the negotiating table for a long-lasting solution.

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