UAPA tribunal upholds MHA ban against seven Meitei extremist organisations  

Outfits involved in 335 violent incidents in the past five years, with cadre strength of around 1,250; the groups operate from Myanmar and Bangladesh, says the order

Published - May 25, 2024 11:16 pm IST

Union Home Ministry said that the insurgent groups were initially declared as unlawful associations in 1979 and since then the declarations have been continuously extended.

Union Home Ministry said that the insurgent groups were initially declared as unlawful associations in 1979 and since then the declarations have been continuously extended. | Photo Credit: The Hindu

A tribunal under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA) has upheld the Centre’s decision to declare seven valley based Meitei extremist organisations as “unlawful associations” for the next five years.

The 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 outfits that espouse the secession of Manipur from India operate camps from Myanmar and Bangladesh to provide arms training to cadres and a safe sanctuary for procurement of arms and ammunition. The order mentions that the insurgent groups are closely linked with the Nationalist Socialist Council of Nagaland (Isak-Muivah) that is engaged in peace talks with the Centre since 1997.

The Union Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) informed the tribunal that the outfits through their front organisations and civil society groups are also engaged in “targeting non-local population, protesting against peace talks of authorities with other ethnic groups of the State, boycotting national days like Republic Day, and opposing merger of Manipur with Indian Union.”

The incidents reported during the 2023 ethnic violence which involved the valley based outfits were not separately mentioned by Ministry. At least 221 people have been killed and more than 50,000 people displaced in the State since May 3, 2023 after ethnic violence erupted between the tribal Kuki-Zo and the Meitei people.  

The Ministry submitted that in Manipur, militant activities are carried out by Meitei extremist organisations, also called as 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 SocialistUnity Kangleipak (ASUK).

It said that the insurgent groups were initially declared as unlawful associations in 1979 and since then the declarations have been continuously extended, last on November 13, 2018.

The Ministry said the groups are involved in violent and illegal activities including attacking and killing security forces, government employees, extortion, collection of illegal taxes from employees, commercial establishments, kidnapping for ransom, arms and drugs smuggling, among others.

“The Union of India has brought to the notice of this Tribunal that the cadre strength of these extremist organisations is approximately 1,250. These extremist organisations have highly sophisticated weapons, arms and ammunitions, explosive devices with weaponry numbering 1,559 approximately,” the order said.

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 Manipur government and the Ministry entered into a peace pact with one of the factions of UNLF - the Pambei group - on December 29 last year, the details of which are yet to be known, days after banning the outfit. It was the first time a valley based Manipuri armed group had agreed to return to mainstream by abjuring violence, the Ministry had said.

The Ministry submitted that the UNLF after its formation in 1964 to establish a socialist society decided to launch an armed struggle in 1990 for the “liberation” of Manipur from India. It formed an armed wing called the Manipur People’s Army (MPA). “On 22.05.1990, the UNLF, along with other insurgent groups operating in the Northeast – the National Socialist Council of Nagaland – Khaplang (NSCN-K), the United Liberation Front of Asom (ULFA), and the Kuki National Army (KNA) – floated a pan-Mongoloid coalition called the Indo-Burma Revolutionary Front (IBRF) to wage a ‘united struggle for the Independence of Indo-Burma’. The UNLF has training camps in Myanmar and Bangladesh. It also maintains a close association with the NSCN-K,” MHA said.

Manipur Police submitted that from November 13, 2018 to November 12, 2023, as many as 254 First Information Reports (FIRs) were registered against the members of the organisation.

An order by Justice Sanjay Kumar Medhi said that the tribunal concurs with the opinion of the Central government that if there is no immediate curb and control of the seven outfits, they will take the opportunity to “mobilise their cadres for escalating their secessionist, subversive and violent activities; propagate anti-national activities in collusion with forces inimical to India’s sovereignty and national integrity; indulge in killings of civilians and targeting of the police and security forces personnel; procure and induct illegal arms and ammunitions from across the international border and extort and collect huge funds from the public for their unlawful activities.”

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