Maoist insurgents claim responsibility for peace camp attack

Imphal, March 5 (IANS) Insurgents of the Maoist Communist Party (MCP) in Manipur have claimed responsibility for the Wednesday night attack on a “designated camp” of surrendered militants in Imphal east district.

Though the “designated camp” was attacked with automatic rifles, hand grenades and other lethal weapons for over 20 minutes, no inmate was injured.

A “designated camp” is a place inhabited by insurgent groups that sign Suspension of Operations — or ceasefire — with the state and central governments.

Under Suspension of Operations (SoO), the government forces and insurgents stop attacking each other and try to create conditions for a peace process and political settlement. The insurgents also start to get a modest amount of stipend from the government.

In Manipur, at least 18 insurgent groups have signed the SoO with the state and central governments. There are still dozens of other outfits that continue to wage guerrilla warfare against security forces (and sometimes other armed groups) in support of their demands.

The attack on Wednesday took place despite the camp being located within 500 metres of a police station, a police commando camp, as well as Border Security Force (BSF) and Assam Rifles camps.

The attackers were able to leave the spot without being confronted by the security forces. Police fear that other designated camps could also be attacked in future.

“The MCP will not pardon those who are defaming Marxism-Leninism-Maoism. There are reports that the inmates of the camp consume intoxicants, bully the villagers and workers nearby and extort money from the people under different names,” a spokesman of the MCP said in a statement here on Friday.

The inmates of the camp denied indulging in extortion or any other objectionable activity. They said they were somehow getting by on the meagre government stipend.

The government was now planning to shift the camp to a more secure place in Bishnupur district.

There is reportedly a mutual agreement among the insurgents to attack those who had come overground after signing the SoO.

Many former insurgents have been attacked, abducted and even killed in the past by the guerrillas who are outside the SoO framework.

The SoO signatories also have their grievances — ranging from mistreatment by the police and the meagre stipend to poor chances of finding gainful employment.

Besides, the central government has not taken steps to start talks with the former insurgents.

Starting peace talks with former insurgents becomes difficult when most of the insurgent outfits still refuse to sign the Suspension of Operations, officials here told IANS.

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