Reducing Armed Conflict In India (Manipur)
Year(s): 2005 – present.
Location: Manipur, India.
UN Regional Group: Asia-Pacific.
Type of Conflict: Horizontal (non-state) Intrastate Conflict, Vertical (state-based) Intrastate Conflict.
Type of Initiative: Mediation of a peace agreement and stabilising borders.
Main Implementing Organisation(s): The Government of India.
Summary: The level of armed conflict taking place in the complex social and military environment of Manipur has been reduced thanks to a gradual peace process led by the Indian government.
Description of Case
Located in the Northeast of India on the border of Myanmar, the state of Manipur is one of the most diverse in the country. The Meitei people make up around half of the population of the state, while the rest is composed of an array of relatively small communities, most of whom speak Sino-Tibetan languages. This unique polity enjoyed a high degree of self-determination for much of its history, including under British rule. However, upon integration with the Indian Union in 1949, Manipur was placed under the jurisdiction of the governing administration of Assam. In 1964, armed groups committed to Manipuri independence began launching insurgencies against Indian security forces. The location of Manipur (at the crossroads of ongoing armed conflicts in Assam, Nagaland, Mizoram, and Myanmar) and the presence of groups who advocated union with neighbouring territories (such as Naga seeking the creation of a “greater Nagaland”) combined to make the state particularly unstable. Throughout the 1970s, more armed groups emerged in Manipur, with the most powerful being composed primarily of Meitei people and advocating complete independence for the state. These groups included the United National Liberation Front (UNLF), People’s Revolutionary Party of Kangleipak (PREPAK), and the People’s Liberation Army of Manipur (PLAM). After being brought to the verge of defeat during Indian military operations during the 1980s, these groups were back in action during the early 1990s, thanks in part to alliances that were forged with other armed groups in the Northeast and Myanmar. Since then, dozens more armed groups pursuing a variety of objectives have emerged.
The Government of India attempted to bring the main opposition groups to the negotiating table in 1996, 1998, and 2001 to no avail. However, in 2005, several groups agreed to a Suspension of Operations Agreement with the Indian army and three years later formalised this accord with civilian authorities. Over 30 separate armed groups have since joined this peace process, although little headway has been made in finding a resolution to the conflict. In the context of ongoing setbacks on the battlefield and the loss of rear bases in neighbouring states, many of the original armed groups such as the PLAM have ceased to operate. Coupled with the various ceasefires, which have been renewed annually since 2008, this has reduced the level of armed conflict in Manipur. A resolution to the pervasive conflict in the state hinges in many ways on developments in the peace process in neighbouring Nagaland, which has recently showed signs of promise.
 Swarna Rajagopalan. “Peace Accords in Northeast India: Journey over Milestones.” East-West Center Policy Studies, No. 46. (2008) p.33
 E.N. Rammohan. “The Insurgent Northeast.” in Sanjoy Hazarika & V.R. Raghavan, eds. Conflicts in the Northeast: Internal and External Effects. (New Delhi: Vij Books, 2011) p.104
 Chitra Ahanthem. “Peace Audit Northeast: The Road to Peace in Manipur.” Institute of Peace and Conflict Studies Special Report, No. 156. (2014) pp.5-6