Imphal, Feb 13 (IANS) In a first step towards ushering in peace in insurgency-ravaged Manipur, a tripartite Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) was signed Wednesday between the central and Manipur governments and three secessionist outfits.
The three outlawed rebel outfits which signed the agreement include United Revolutionary Front (URF), Lamphel faction of the Kangleipak Communist Party (KCP-L) and the MDF faction of the Kanglei Yawol Kanna Lup (KYKL-MDF).
The three outfits have been waging war against the Indian state, seeking an independent Manipur.
The Union government was represented by the joint secretary of the home ministry in-charge of north east affairs, Shambu Singh; and the Manipur government was represented by principal secretary in-charge of home, J. Suresh.
The URF was represented by its chairman, Khwairakpam Gopendro Singh, the KCP-L by its military chief Naorem Brojen Meitei, and the KYKL-MDF by its chairman Maisnam Athouba.
A total of 197 rebels belonging to the three outlawed outfits - the URF (90 rebels), KCP-L (40 rebels) and KYKL-MDF (67 rebels) - surrendered before Chief Minister Okram Ibobi Singh with 138 weapons.
As per the MoU, the rebels will have to ensure that their private armies and arms are surrendered within 90 days of the signing of the MoU.
Welcoming the rebels, the chief minister urged them to make a new beginning, renouncing violence.
"I do not consider you enemies of the state. Let us forgive and forget, and start anew," Singh said at the function.
The chief minister assured the rebels that the government would ensure their safety and offer them proper rehabilitation.
Manipur Deputy Chief Minister Gaikhangam termed the signing of the agreements a ray of hope.
KYKL-MDF chairman Athouba, however, sounded a warning to the government, saying that it must implement schemes announced for the rebels; otherwise, they would just return to the jungles.
"If talks are not held properly and if the government fails to implement the agreement (MoU), the cadres (rebels) may return to the jungles. So, it is important that the government honestly implement the schemes ," the KYKL-MDF chief said.
Naorem Brojen Meitei of the KCP-L said that his outfit was forced to come out for peace talks with the government to fulfill people's desire for peace in Manipur.
"There is peace within every soul, let us try to gift peace to others," URF chairman Khwairakpam Gopendro Singh said.
Meanwhile, the rebels who have joined the peace process will be rehabilitated as per the Rehabilitation Policy notified by the Ministry of Home Affairs and approved by the state cabinet.
"These surrendered rebels will be temporarily stationed with army or Assam Rifles camps and later shifted to the designated (peace) camps, which will be constructed," home ministry joint secretary Shambu Singh said.
The surrendered rebels will get a monthly stipend of Rs.4,000 each for a period of two years. Shambu Singh said an amount of Rs.2.5 lakh would be paid to each surrendered rebel to facilitate his rehabilitation.
"This amount will be kept in fixed deposit in the name of the cadre (rebel) and will be paid with interest to him after a lock-in period of two years," Shambu Singh said.
He added that the sum would come of use if a rebel sought to be self-employed. "If the cadre wishes to seek self-employment before the expiry of the lock-in period of the deposit, the government will facilitate loans from banks against the amount."
Shambu Singh said the rebels would be provided vocational training and training in the art of living. The government would also make efforts to employ surrendered rebel cadres in paramilitary forces, subject to eligibility.