TODAY -

Territorial integrity of Manipur

Dili Solomon *



The Government of Manipur is very much in the news on the issue of the framework Agreement between the Government of India (GOI) and NSCN-IM. The government of Manipur says that it has no objection if the GOI and NSCN-IM strike a political deal provided it does not affect the territorial integrity of Manipur. The GOI interlocutor Mr R N Ravi said that Framework Agreement (FA) is about special status for Nagas wherever they are and that it will not affect the territory of the neighbouring states whereas the NSCN-IM claims that Naga integration is on the agenda.

The Naga Political issue is an assertion that Nagas are not a part of India and Nagas are not demanding Sovereignty from the GOI. The present negotiation between the GOI and the NSCN-IM arises because the GOI had forcefully annexed the Nagas including their land, forest, rivers, minerals, culture, traditions etc into the Union of India.

The Nagas declared Independence on 14th August 1947, one day ahead of India and this declaration was faxed to United Nations and it was acknowledged. Thereafter the nightmares of the Nagas started. Thousands and thousands of innocent Naga public were massacred by Indian Armies, villages were burnt, and women were rape, etc etc in the 1950s and 1960s. Those years were the darkest years in the history of Naga Freedom movement.

The latest nightmare was the Oinam village incident on 9th july 1987 where hundreds of villagers were herded at local ground and tortured, women were rape, pregnant woman had to deliver babies in the public, and men folks were tortured to dead.

It was only in 1995 through the initiative of the GoI, that P V Narasimha Rao, the then PM of India met the leadership of the NSCN in 1995 at Zurich and invited for ceasefire and hence the present peace talk. In 1997, former PM of India, Deve Gowda again met the NSCN leadership and in Sept. 1998 former PM of India Mr. Atal Vajpayee met the NSCN leadership in Paris and thereafter declared the Unique History of the Nagas.

Now, when reading through the local news papers and recollecting the events that happened in recent years in Manipur state after the ceasefire agreement between the NSCN-IM and GOI, I find that the political parties and politicians are taking advantage of this Naga Political issue to stay in power in Manipur State at the cost of the general public.

They propagated that if the GOI and Nagas strike a political deal, Nagas will take away their land and Manipur will become very small. Former chief Minister of Manipur Shri late Reishang Keishing stated that not an inch of land from Manipur state will be sliced away and given to others. This must have pleased the non Naga politicians and he retained chief ministerial post for many years.

At present, the burning issue is the Manipur Territorial Integrity. Manipur territorial integrity and what late Reishang Keishing said is the same thing in different words. The present chief minister is busy calling cabinet meetings on the Framework Agreement between GOI and NSCN-IM. The Congress party is busy going to Delhi and threatening the central government that Manipur Territorial integrity should not be touched even if the GOI and NSCN-IM struck a political deal.

So both these political parties are busy using this emotionally attached territorial issue to stay in power. If by any chance the GOI and NSCN-IM struck a political deal on the Naga issue, the political parties will fire the Manipur territorial integrity RIFLE and the emotions of the valley people will burst and the Nagas living in Imphal will run to the hills. By doing this the political parties will try to win the hearts of the valley people of Manipur.

The Territorial integrity of Manipur, not an inch of Manipur territory will be sliced away etc is all political gimmicks to fool the public. The politicians and the intellectuals understand the importance and the need of the political negotiation between the GOI and NSCN-IM but what is disturbing is the complete silence by the intellectuals and the learned people of Manipur particularly the Meiteis and the politicians taking full advantage of the innocent and ignorant public and thereby organizing dharnas, strike, bandhs etc. with an illusion that dharnas, bandhs etc can save the Manipur territorial integrity.

The negotiation between the GOI and Nagas can be stopped only if the NSCN-IM is negotiating with the GOI for only some Nagas leaving aside the Manipur Nagas or any other Nagas or leaving aside their land and resources. Then in that case there will be a civil war between the Nagas themselves and the GOI will not accept NSCN-IM to be representing the Nagas on the negotiating table and the negotiation will automatically break down.

So to think of stopping the negotiation between the GOI and Nagas by shouting territorial integrity of Manipur, not an inch of land will be sliced from Manipur State territory is simply to fool the general public by politicians and political parties to benefit them to stay in power and to benefit them monetarily.

The politicians and political parties all over the world are known for their naughtiness unless the public is vigilant. They will create social tensions whereby the public will go on strikes and bandhs will be carried out for days and months in the state, government offices will be stalled but at the end of the year, government will present a deficit budget to the central government. So when did they get time to spend the money?

In conclusion, my humble opinion is that the hill people of Manipur particularly the Nagas and the Valley people (Meiteis and Pangals) must respect each other because they are permanent neibours in terms of territory. Meiteis are more than hundred years ahead of the Nagas in civilization. So the question of competing between the two does not arise.

There are many folk tales/folklores that narrate the good relationship between the Nagas and Meiteis in the past. It is only very recently that the relationship is becoming bitter and therefore the civil society(s) must work hard to mend and remain good neibours instead of giving chances to the politicians and their parties to use the public as football to be played by them.

Moreover, who are the ultimate sufferers whenever dharnas, bandhs, strike etc are carried out? Educational institutions, shops, business etc are the target to be closed. The children of politicians can pay for very costly coaching institutes but not the common people. The shops and other small businesses are run by poor and marginal people and they are affected by these bandhs and strikes.

The politicians are supposed to uplift this section of people but they are using them to stay in power by making them to remain poor.


* Dili Solomon wrote this article for The Sangai Express
This article was posted on August 07, 2018.


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