AMUCO, UCM, CCSK say no to Article 371 (A)
Source: The Sangai Express

Imphal, July 21 2018: AMUCO, UCM and CCSK have categorically stated that Article 371 (A) should not be applied in Manipur for it is tantamount to expansion of Nagaland.

Notably, Article 371(A) is presently enforced in the State of Nagaland.

Speaking to media persons at their Kwakeithel office today, AMUCO president Ph Deban reiterated that unity and integrity are the two most fundamental issues of Manipur.

In the aftermath of the controversial merger of Manipur into the Indian Union, a number of insurgent groups came into being.

In the meantime, one Nagaland based insurgent group namely NSCN-IM expanded its activities to Manipur and recruited a number of cadres from Manipur too.

The particular insurgent group entered into a ceasefire agreement with the Government of India on August 1, 1997.Sensing that the ceasefire agreement might challenge the integrity of Manipur and the sanctity of its territorial boundary, more than five lakh people of Manipur took out a mammoth mass rally on August 4, 1997 at Imphal.

The ceasefire agreement which was confined to the State of Nagaland was extended to Manipur and elsewhere after NSCN-IM and the Government of India signed the Bangkok Declaration on June 14, 2001.A spontaneous, massive civil protest movement erupted in Manipur in the course of which the Manipur Legislative Assembly, the Chief Minister's Bungalow and offices of many political parties were set ablaze.

Altogether 18 persons lost their lives, Deban recounted.

Later, on August 3, 2015, the Government of India and NSCN-IM signed a Framework Agreement.

Even though the people of Manipur have been persistently questioning the contents of the Framework Agreement, there has been no concrete response till date.

Subsequently, a joint delegation of AMUCO, UCM and CCSK went to Delhi in December 2017 andmet Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh, BJP president Amit Shah and also the Opposition leaders.

The delegation made it clear that prior consent of the people of Manipur and the State Legislative Assembly should be obtained before hammering a solution to the GoI-NSCN(IM) political dialogue in case the solution or the Framework Agreement harms the interest of Manipur in any manner, Deban said.

At that time, Prime Minister Narendra Modi asserted, "I'm the Prime Minister.

My last word would be final.

Don't be panicky for no harm would be done to Manipur", recalled the AMUCO president.

In spite of the Prime Minister's assurance, the Hindu and the Times of India carried news reports a couple of days back which said that the special status bestowed upon Nagaland under Article 371 (A) would be further galvanised by adding extra provisions and similar special status can be explored for Naga inhabited areas of neighbouring States.

If any Act or statute which is applied only in Nagaland is also enforced in Manipur, the whole arrangement is nothing but Greater Nagaland.

Article 371(A) guarantees the people of Nagaland to govern and control their customary practices, cultural rights, land, resources etc.

If the same is applied in Naga inhabited areas of Manipur in the form of autonomous territorial council or pan-cultural body, it is exactly what many people call 'State within a State', Deban said.

But the people of Manipur have made it clear that they would never tolerate creation of any new State within Manipur.

Notwithstanding the people's position, all the political parties active in Manipur must deliberate on the applicability or non-applicability of Article 371(A) in Manipur on the floor of the State Assembly on July 23.Each and every political party should lay down their positions in unambiguous terms.

After studying the positions of the political parties, CSOs will announce their common position on the issue, he said.

Saying that AMUCO, UCM and CCSK are well prepared to launch mass civil movement any time, Deban appealed to all the people to be very watchful of the unfolding situation.

UCM president Sunil Karam recalled that they met Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh and interlocutor RN Ravi and made it clear that any autonomous territorial council, pan-Naga cultural body, regional council or any division based on ethnicity would not be tolerated.

Coming back from Delhi after meeting Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Chief Minister N Biren and Rajya Sabha MP K Bhabananda recently told media about the Prime Minister's assurance to them that the Framework Agreement contains nothing inimical to the interest of Manipur, Sunil Karam said while asking the Rajya Sabha MP to come out with a clarification on the Prime Minister's assurance .at the earliest.

The Chief Minister must also state his position regarding enforcement of Article 371 (A) in Manipur, he added.

CCSK vice-president Jitendra Ningomba remarked that what RN Ravi told the Parliamentary Standing Committee on the contents of the Framework Agreement are of utmost significance.

There is a widespread speculation that Article 371(A) would be enforced in Manipur and other neighbouring States of Nagaland once a solution is worked out based on the Framework Agreement.

Enforcement of Article 371(A) will mean multi-layered division of the socio-political fabric of Manipur based on ethnicity and this is against the people's collective will, Jitendra said.

BJP Manipur Pradesh president and MP K Bhabananda is a member of the Parliamentary Standing Committee but there is a great variance between what he told media about his meeting with the Prime Minister and the 213th report on the Framework Agreement presented at Rajya Sabha yesterday.

There were many points in the report which are quite disturbing, Jitendra added.

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