North-East India – Security and Developmental Issues

Centre and Manipur signs Peace Agreement with UNLF


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: UNLF, Meitei Tribe

Mains level: Read the attached story


Central Idea

  • The Union and Manipur governments have signed a peace agreement with the United National Liberation Front (UNLF), a banned Meitei extremist organisation.
  • UNLF is the oldest armed group based in the Manipur valley, marking this agreement as a notable event in the region’s history.

Understanding the UNLF

  • Formation: Established on November 24, 1964, under Arembam Samarendra Singh‘s leadership, the UNLF is the oldest valley-based insurgent group in Manipur.
  • Diverse Leadership: Initially led by a mix of ethnicities, including Naga and Kuki leaders.
  • Armed Wing and Activities: The Manipur People’s Army, formed in 1990, and has been responsible for multiple attacks against Indian security forces.
  • Current Status: The UNLF, now split into two factions, is estimated to have 400-500 cadres, operating primarily in the valley areas of Manipur and some Kuki-Zomi hill districts.
  • Base of Operations: Largely operating from Myanmar, the group has faced setbacks due to conflicts with the Myanmar military and other Ethnic Armed Organisations (EAOs).

Precedent for the Peace Agreement

  • Historical Context: This is a significant development as Meitei Extremist Organisations (VBIGs) have traditionally not engaged in peace talks with the Centre.
  • Previous Instances: Smaller groups like UPPK, KCP, and Maoist Communist Group have disbanded or diminished in influence, but the terms of their agreements are unclear.
  • UNLF’s Internal Dynamics: The group underwent splits in the mid-1990s and 2021, leading to the formation of factions under different leaders. The faction led by Khundongbam Pambei has been open to negotiations since 2020.

Status of Other Insurgent Groups

  • Broader Insurgency Landscape: The UNLF is one of several Meitei insurgent groups and is among the seven banned by the Union government.
  • Opposition to Talks: The UNLF faction under NC Koireng remains opposed to peace talks.
  • Agreements with Other Groups: A Suspension of Operations (SoO) agreement was reached in 2008 with Kuki-Zomi insurgent groups, but the Manipur government withdrew from agreements with some groups in 2022.


  • The peace agreement with the UNLF marks a critical step in addressing the long-standing insurgency in Manipur.
  • It reflects a shift in the approach of Meitei insurgent groups towards dialogue and potential reconciliation.
  • The success of this agreement could pave the way for further peace initiatives in the region, contributing to stability and development in Manipur.

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