Ban on seven Meitei groups extended by UAPA tribunal

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Ban on seven Meitei groups extended by UAPA tribunal

Imphal: A tribunal under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA) has upheld the central government’s decision to extend the ban on seven Manipur-based Meitei insurgent groups for another five years.

The tribunal in its order said that in the past five years, the seven outfits were responsible for 335 of 689 violent incidents reported in Manipur, in which nine security personnel and 21 civilians were killed, The Hindu reported.

The tribunal also noted their concerning ties to neighboring countries. The groups reportedly maintain bases in Myanmar and Bangladesh, facilitating activities like militant training and weapons acquisition.

Additionally, the tribunal acknowledged their connection to the National Socialist Council of Nagaland (Isak-Muivah) (NSCN-I-M), a group currently engaged in peace talks with the Indian government.

The Ministry submitted that in Manipur, militant activities are carried out by Meitei extremist organisations, also called Valley Based Insurgent Groups which include the Peoples’ Liberation Army and its political wing the Revolutionary Peoples’ Front (RPF); the United National Liberation Front (UNLF); the Peoples’ Revolutionary Party of Kangleipak (PREPAK) and its armed wing the Red Army; the Kangleipak Communist Party (KCP) and its armed wing, also called the Red Army; the Kanglei Yaol Kanba Lup (KYKL); the Coordination Committee (CorCom); and the Alliance for Socialist Unity Kangleipak (ASUK).

The Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) presented evidence of the government’s multi-pronged approach to counter these groups.

This included registering over 1,000 cases under UAPA against members of the banned organizations, along with arrests and arms recovery.

From November 2018 till December 2022, a total of 1,019 cases under UAPA were registered against them while chargesheets were filed in 11 cases and three persons were convicted. From 2019-February 2024, as many as 1,179 extremists were arrested, 95 surrendered and 205 arms were recovered.

In 2020, 2021, 2022 and 2023 the outfits were involved in 44, 60, 96 and 51 violent incidents respectively. In January and February this year, 24 violent incidents were perpetrated by these organisations in which seven civilians were killed and 13 were abducted.

The MHA also highlighted a significant development – a peace pact signed with a faction of the UNLF in December 2023. This agreement marks a potential step towards a peaceful resolution, though details remain undisclosed.

The tribunal concurred with the MHA’s assessment that lifting the ban would be detrimental to national security. The continued operation of these groups could lead to a surge in violence, including attacks on civilians and security forces.

The tribunal also expressed concern about the potential for “anti-national activities” and collaboration with forces hostile to India’s integrity.

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