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Respect voice of the people, don't listen to armed groups only: COCOMI to Amit Shah
Source: The Sangai Express

Imphal, September 22 2020: The Coordination Committee on Manipur Integrity (COCOMI) has categorically urged Union Home Minister Amit Shah to respect democratic voice of the people and not listen to only those who took up arms as it may lead to more taking up arms believing the Government of India listens only to armed groups.

In the backdrop of the Government of India's reported initiative to bring out a final deal under the Framework Agreement which was signed on August 3, 2015 with NSCN-IM and subsequently joined by other Naga Groups, the COCOMI submitted a memorandum to the Union Home Minister today and elucidated their position on the issue.

Citing newspaper reports that the final agreement between the Government of India (GoI) and the NSCN-IM will be signed by the month of September, 2020 and with the other Naga Groups by October, 2020, the COCOMI said that the people of Manipur are highly charged due to such reports.

It reminded of the discussion held between the Union Home Minister and representatives of COCOMI on November 25, 2019, in which the Minister of State for Home Affairs including many top officials of the Central Government and the Chief Minister and the Education Minister of Manipur were present where the COCOMI delegates expressed strong and vociferous opposition to merger of any territory of Manipur with Nagaland, creation of a pan Naga cultural body/province/territorial council or any separate administrative units or divisions or set ups with detailed grounds for such oppositions, and emphasised that even if the Gol accepts the Naga flag, it should be applicable only in Nagaland and not in any part of Manipur and that no act which will lower the dignity of the Manipur Legislative Assembly by bypassing would be accepted.

It further reminded of assurance given by Amit Shah at the same meeting that if any matter concerning the State of Manipur is involved, the matter will first be consulted with the CSOs of Manipur; in other words, no unilateral decisions will be taken by the Gol and that the people of Manipur must be made aware of the progress of the talks (by representatives of the GoI) if there is any provision which may impact the State of Manipur and its people.

"Despite these assurances, there is no communication to us till now on the progress of the ongoing peace talk thereby implying that the Gol had not accepted any proposal from the NSCN-IM which may have an effect on the State of Manipur and its people", the COCOMI said.

However various media reports on the finalisation of the final peace agreement within the month of September or October have caused apprehension among the people of Manipur, which led to the submission of this memorandum, it continued.

Enclosing a copy of the memorandum submitted to the Prime Minister of India on December 28, 2017 and the Union Home Minister on November 25, 2019, the COCOMI summarised the memorandum as follows.

1.Manipur is an old Nation with history and written records of more than 2000 years and its boundary which was retained from 1834 onwards must not be altered.

2.Manipur is a multi-ethnic, multi-lingual, multi-cultural and multi-religious State which had evolved through time in harmony and no action should be initiated to bring disharmony among the various communities.

3.The segregation of the hills men and plain people was started by the British under their divide and rule policy which was perpetuated by insertion of Article 371C. 4.The age-old symbiotic relationship was disturbed by the ethnic based identity politics practised by NSCN-IM which engulfed the entire region.

The Bangkok Agreement of 2001 sowed a series of violent agitation leading to the withdrawal of the offensive term "without territorial limits" from the agreement and thus the present talk should be confined to the State of Nagaland only as declared officially by the then Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee on July 27, 2001 .

5.Though the peace talks started with the NSCN-IM, it was extended to NNPGs and if the outcome will impact other States, it should have been a multilateral talks and any act which may impact Manipur without consulting Manipur as an equal partner cannot be accepted and will encourage taking up of arms by other ethnic groups.

6.The so called Naga National flag and pan Naga cultural body encompassing all Nagas in Nagaland and the three neighbouring States of Arunachal Pradesh, Assam and Manipur and creation of a Naga territorial council each within the three neighbouring States was vehemently opposed and the flag if permitted must be allowed to be flown only within the jurisdiction of Nagaland and not in other States; the pan Naga cultural body, if at all needed, must not be a Constitutional or statutory body as it is fraught with contradictions as to the nomenclature of the term Naga and will lead to further marginalisation of the smaller tribes.

7.The territorial boundary of Manipur as defined in the First Schedule of the Constitution presently must be protected through an amendment of Articles 3 & 4 of the Constitution.

8.The so-called pan Naga cultural body will ultimately get involved in politics like the case of SGPC leading to anti-National activities.

Therefore, no ethnic based statutory body/structure should be created. 9.Modern political history of India taught that once a territorial council was established it led to demand for separate Statehood and the Kukis will also demand similar council.

Any territorial council based on ethnicity in Manipur will communalise the territorial divisions leading to balkanisation of the State besides ethnic cleansing as seen in the new Nations carved out from the erstwhile Yugoslavia through violence; hence any administrative arrangements under the provision of the Sixth Schedule of the Indian Constitution is not acceptable under any circumstances.

10.The final agreement/talk should be considered only for Nagaland as the Naga plebiscite of 1951 did not cover Manipur and it was confined to Nagaland only.

11.The development of the hill areas which was slow due to sparse population and difficult terrain must be fast paced through generous financial support from the Centre.

And devolution of powers to the grass-root bodies must be carried out by amending the existing laws which had stood the test of time and not by new legislations.

Exuding confidence that there is no provision as yet which will have profound impact on the State of Manipur or its people in the proposed agreement, as assured last by the Union Home Minister, the COCOMI urged GoI to respect democratic voice of the people, and not listen to only those who took up arms as it may lead to more taking up arms believing Gol listens only to armed groups.


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