Former Mizoram chief minister and Mizo National Front (MNF) president Zoramthanga has said the ceasefire agreement between the government and the rebel groups was the only way to bring peace in Manipur.
“There was no ceasefire agreement between the Centre and the rebel group which was involved in the ambush on an army convoy on June 4 in Manipur. If there was a truce, such a violent incident would not have happened,” Zoramthanga told a media worker over telephone from Aizawl .
He said the rebel group had resorted to violence, because there was no ceasefire agreement in place.
“And when there is any attack, there will be a counter attack. It’s natural,” he said, while responding to a question regarding the retaliation by the army against the rebels inside Myanmar.
The Centre has been talking to the NSCN (Isak-Muivah), while observing a truce with its rival, the NSCN (Khaplang).
The government sources claim that Khaplang “unilaterally” ended the ceasefire in March and that his cadres were part of the June 4 ambush that inflicted the greatest casualties on the army in the past two decades.
Zoramthanga said that the Centre had extended suspension of operation (SoS) with the United People’s Front (UPF), an umbrella of 8 underground groups active in Manipur, for another year.
The former Mizoram chief minister, who was one of the interlocutors between the members of the underground organisations and the Centre at the meeting held on June 9, said the talks with the groups had been upgraded to a “political level”.
“The government has agreed to a political settlement with the members of eight underground groups,” he said, adding that the ceasefire between the Centre and the outfits had expired nine months ago.
“I am neither an interlocutor nor an official mediator. My rule was to build mutual trust between the government and the groups. I just helped both the sides take part in the meeting,” he said.
The United People’s Front (UPF) comprises the Kuki National Front (KNF), Zomi Revolutionary Army (ZRO), Kuki Revolutionary Army (United), Zomi Defence Force (ZDF), United Kuki Liberation Front (UKLF), Kuki Revolutionary Front (KRF), Zomi Defence Volunteers (ZDV) and Hmar People’s Convention (Democrats). Most of the members of the group are of Zo descendants.
In the meeting with the Centre, the UPF was represented by Aaron Kipgen of the Kuki National Front, Calvin of ZRO, P. Chongloi of KRA (U), Kamkhanpao of ZDV, L. Sanga Hmar of HPC (D), David Haokip of UKLF, Hemkholal Doungel of KRF and P.S. Hangshing of the ZRF.