Naga Peace Accord : Serious discourse needed

Association of Premier State College Seniors (APSCS) *

This emergency meeting of the Committee was held today keeping in view the strong desire of the Govt. of India to bring about the long awaited settlement of the Naga issue in the end of this Oct. ’19 and prompt steps taken towards that end as seen in the pronouncement made by Shri RN Ravi the Governor of Nagaland who has been holding the post of Interlocutor prior to signing of the Framework Agreement on 3rd August 2015.

The settlement including all substantive issues and competencies as claimed, is ready for inking the final Agreement. It was also reported that Interlocutor held a detailed consultation meeting with the primary stakeholders of the Naga society on 18th October 2019 at Kohima. This is on the one hand .

On the other hand the Government and people of Manipur through organisations etc , more than ever are ready for facing and taking upon themselves every eventuality in defending the territorial integrity of their motherland Manipur. Our fear cannot be said to have no foundation. As seen in the past our natural instinct is our only tool to defend ourselves when we are pushed back to the wall situation.

We feel now more intensely than ever. It is very difficult to describe the scenario as the issue itself is very complex more so, when the Framework Agreement signed on August 2015 is still kept locked inspite of facing stiff opposition from many quarters including our own Association (APSCS) vide copy of the representation submitted to R N RAVI by APSCS in their face to face conversation with him. Vide also the Imphal Free Press (8-11-2015) Reporting on the Press Conference held following the conversation under the head line “Constitutional protection need of the hour to end claim and counter claim”.

It is simple logic to guess that as the Framework Agreement is maintained as the secret file containing controversial decision with far reaching consequences that there is every possibility that neibouring states will definitely oppose the Agreement tooth and nail.

Exclusion of the Chief Ministers of the State of Manipur, Assam and Arunachal Pradesh from the meeting and signing of the said agreement speaks louder. In fact they are the bonifide stakeholders and cannot be compared with other Organisations of the public who are treated as stakeholders by the Government of India. Still the same policy of side lining continues when the Centre is ready for inking final settlement soon.

From what the Interlocutor stated on Friday that “ They have mischievously dragged in the Framework Agreement and began imputing imaginary to it, “ it is obvious that as no people in general have the knowledge of the Framework Agreement as such are not witness to it – people’s opinion cannot be the same or common as Mr. Ravi likes now. The Frame Work Agreement between the Centre and one certain public organisation has already turned out to be a Framework Disagreement.

The Association today takes the occasion once again to appeal to all concern to work unitedly in the best interest of the people belonging to the North Eastern States of the Country. We are parts of the whole : to keep its part strong is in the interest of the whole. What the Association considers most important and need of the hour is to think and act honestly to settle the issue.

The issue is always in the uppermost mind and suggestions made by this Body of the Retired Teachers have been put forward to all the higher authorities concerned of this Nation from time to time since before 2001.

Resolutions: This meeting, therefore, in one voice welcomed the proposed settlement as per the stand of the Government of India to ink finally in the end of October 2019.

2. The Association resolved once again that the opinion of the bonafide stakeholders be taken without fail prior to the inking of the Agreement to ensure its finality.

To help understand the stand of APSCS, a representation submitted to R N Ravi in 2015 is reproduced below

The Association of Premier State College Seniors, a Body of the Retired State Govt. Teacher Employees hereby submits its view on the recently reached Peace Accord between the Government of India and a major Naga people’s Organization namely NSCN(IM). The agreement was signed by your good self on 3rd August 2015. The Peace Accord as declared by both sides is at the stage of a framework to be finalized later in detail after considering public opinions of the stakeholder states. Three months have passed since then.

To our surprise and dismay the elusive framework still remains as a classified document that cannot be studied by others. However, of the two major sections of people the Nagas as a whole and the rest including Manipuris, Assamees, Arunchalians are divided by keeping so the Accord as secret for the non-Nagas who have become increasingly restive over this silence of the Central Government.

We cannot even claim that we know the framework not to speak of understanding it under the situation when it is very much important for us to take part in the discussion with you to ventilate our opinions and grievances, if any. However, from the statement you have issued that the agreement is based on two points which will have a shared sovereignty model.

The model as envisaged by Nagas, if it is also your view is likely to be granted to them, (i) a special and separate budget (ii) a separate Naga Constitution, (iii) separate Flag and passport, (iv) joint foreign affairs, (v) reunification of Naga inhabited Areas (popularly known as Integration) so and so forth inter alia.

The State of Manipur, a sovereign Kingdom before the controversial Merger in 1949 is very much concerned with the question of reunification of Naga inhabited areas around Nagaland. Therefore, today we wish to take this as the premise of our discussion with you when other modalities are matters of interest between the two signatories in the Accord.

We see and have projected our views already times and again in/through our Representations to the Highest Office of the country the President of India, the Prime Minister of India, the Home Minister of India, the 2nd Administrative Reforms Commission (ARC) and all concerned.

It also appeared in local dailies from time to time, the recent one under the title “Conflict resolution in respect of Manipur and some suggestions for Administrative Reforms” submitted to ARC on the issues of Sangai Express Daily (Eng.) from 19th to 24th Oct. 2015 (clippings annexed).

The discussion surrounding the issue of Manipur’s territorial integrity was also there with the then Hon’ble Home Minister of India Shri P.C. Chidambaram during his visit to the State. In all the writings and said face to face discussion, we have made out our case as the only heart aching issue that has been occupying our topmost mind as it involves our history, tiny hillock land, living and existence.

Historically our neighbours particularly Burma(Awa)/Myanmar used to threaten quite often and notably we waged war to defend successfully our sovereign kingdom, that during the 56 years of British rule over the Kingdom since 1891 upto the time of handing over the Sovereignty to the King of Manipur, His Highness Maharaja Budhachandra Singh on 14th August 1947, the Kingdom never faced the same situation again that we enjoyed peace and tranquility.

We wish that the situation of peace and tranquility will not be disturbed again. We are thankful to the Government of India for protecting our territorial integrity following the merger of this Kingdom with the Union of India. The ongoing issue of integration of Naga inhabited areas and their movement leading to the recent Naga peace Accord involving the land of Manipur will remain as an eternal regret in the history if it is practically translated into action as purportedly envisaged in the Accord. The basis you cannot deny; is based on the taxonomy of ethnicity and biological segregation.

Should it be recognized, the country will have to reorganize itself on the same basis. We know if it is effected too, we will also be greatly benefitted; Cachar, Silchar, Hojai etc. the Manipuri inhabiting areas of Assam are bound to be integrated with Manipur to make it a greater Manipur. Can it be allowed by the Government? You should think twice.

We have been facing two conflicts, perhaps the Center is fully aware of this; the one being with itself in the form of vertical conflict and the other the horizontal conflict with Nagaland. The Accord reached by siding with the neighbouring state has now clearly confounded the confusion. Also morally and legally the Accord cannot be legitimate as the other stakeholders are left out as if they are not concerned at all. The conflict can never be solved/resolved under the circumstances, we feel.

The entire world will agree that this conflict involves the people of Manipur’s biological instinct that is to fight for defense and protection of their habitat. This truth should be accepted by all the superior forces and power be it. The United Nations Organisation has already ratified this understanding of biological nature exhibited by people in all the countries and their histories of conflicts and wars.

Insurgent activities in Manipur and Nagaland are nothing but instances and legacies of the past history. Ironically, it seems that Center has ultimately recognized and conceded the demand of the Nagaland.

It should not and cannot be at the cost of the tiny state like Manipur under the normal circumstances. Here the Center is taking advantage of the Article 3 of the Constitution of India that provides the possibility of fission of a state to establish new states or fusion of its part with another state in the name of state re-organization. Manipur is not a big state like U.P, Bihar Andhra Pradesh that it can afford to cede a major part of it in the interest of other state and people.

As records tell us the erstwhile kingdom of Manipur with the merger of India was reduced to a part C state before it attained Statehood in 1972. It was not qualified to be a state as the Union Government made the policy on the basis of its small size territorially, economically backwardness etc. to run the state to survive as a viable state.

This plea of the Union though we were not convinced, did not raise hue and cry. Our simple and apolitical view it seems the Center has heard already but is not still convinced. It seems that you are presiding over the conflict situation to agree with the other signatory that there will be no harm if the tiny state is fragmented further into pieces to appease them and thereby turning the horizontal conflict from bad to worse. Manipuri people have been facing now the heat more than ever.

The situation today is volatile and we fear that the inevitable will follow. 2001 uprising should be read carefully. The Center instead of ending the vertical and horizontal conflicts; should not be responsible for further development of anti-incumbency feeling against the Center and inter-state ill feeling to increase the intensity of Horizontal conflict.

Now that there is no room at all for ending the two conflicts to give peace and stability in the north-easternmost part of the Country a chance to live cordially and peacefully. We still wish that after hearing the Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi that he has a vision for the transformation of the North-East region and expresses confidence that the agreement will open a glorious new chapter for the Naga people to build a bright future for the Nagaland.

May we expect from the same Hon’ble Prime Minister to extend a similar announcement to end all the conflicts, vertical as well as horizontal. If our request finds favour with the Hon’ble Prime Minister, the whole complexion of the situation in the North-Eastern India will be completely changed and forgotten and will enter a new era of full understanding and living and sharing together happiness and prosperity never dreamt before.

We do not forget our history good neighbourliness. Surely it will be in the best interest of all concerned and the nation.

APSCS will conduct a press conference on Nov 7 2019 at its office at 1:30 pm.

* Association of Premier State College Seniors (APSCS) wrote this article for The Sangai Express
This article was webcasted on October 26, 2019.

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