States conditions for the UNLF's offer to lay down arms

The jailed chairman of the outlawed United National Liberation Front (UNLF), Rajkumar Meghen alias Sanayaima, on Monday renewed the offer made to the Centre that the outfit would lay down arms before United Nations authorities if the Centre allowed a plebiscite in Manipur in the presence of UN representatives and arrange for the deployment of UN peacekeeping forces in the troubled State.

Mr. Meghen told The Hindu when he was brought by the National Investigation Agency (NIA) for production before the Court of the Special Judge here: “Before the plebiscite is held, the Army and paramilitary forces should be withdrawn and the UN peacekeeping forces should be deployed. The UNLF will deposit arms to the UN authorities on a date prior to the plebiscite and will abide by whatever decision the people give. The UN authorities should hand over power in accordance with the verdict. It is the only way to resolve the conflict.”

He said that the UNLF had made the offer in 2005 and that he had reiterated it during his interrogation in Delhi following his arrest, but the outfit was yet to receive any response from the government. “We want a democratic solution to the conflict. We will honour the plebiscite verdict. We expect the Centre also to honour it,” Mr. Meghen added.

Over 200 human rights and women activists from Imphal and other parts of Manipur staged a sit-in outside the court premises.

The protesters raised ‘UNLF Long Live' slogans when the 65-year-old insurgent leader was brought to the court and when he left the premises.

A postgraduate in International Relations from Jadavpur University in Kolkata, Mr. Meghen is the great-grandson of Manipuri patriot Prince Tikendrajit Singh, who led the army of the Manipur kingdom in the Anglo-Manipur War of 1891.

“The UNLF is not waging a war against the Centre but is struggling for the restoration of the State's sovereignty. The people never approved the integration of Manipur with India in 1949 as it was not ratified by the 53-member elected Assembly. Besides, the then Maharaja of Manipur was made to sign the merger document under duress,” Mr. Meghen said.

Mr. Meghen has been named as one of the 19 accused in the charge sheet filed by the NIA in a case registered against UNLF members involved in “criminal conspiracy to wage war against the nation by indulging in fundraising and heinous terrorist acts, and threatening the unity, integrity, security and sovereignty of India by terror strikes.”