TODAY -

Indo-Manipur Talks : Now What?

Lt Col Laishram Lokendra Singh (Retd) *

Swu explains changing approaches of NSCN-IM
Swu explains changing approaches of NSCN-IM :: Pix - Hueiyen Lanpao



Whenever GOI comes up with a fresh initiative in apparent pursuance of Naga appeasement policy, the monster of physical disintegration of Manipur rears up its head. There is no love lost between GOI and NSCN (IM), who claims to speak for all Nagas. However, compelled by the need to buy peace in the region and perhaps suffering from a policy drought, GOI time and again comes up with a different facet of the appeasement policy that sows a fresh seed of distrust tending towards enmity between ethnic groups in Manipur who had otherwise been co-existing peacefully for centuries.

How long this policy will continue is anybody's guess. Meanwhile life in Manipur trudges along with the proverbial Damocles' Sword of physical disintegration hanging on its head.

On March 21, 2013, during the 34th Republic Day function of NSCN (IM) at Camp Hebron, Chairman Isak Swu said the approach of NSCN (IM) has changed in time with the changing times. The approach to the Indo - Naga problem has changed from military to political. Profound gratitude was also extended among others to UNC for its support.

In the memorandum submitted to President of India Pranab Mukherjee during his visit to Imphal on April 15, 2013 UNC reiterated its demand for alternative arrangement for the Nagas in Manipur outside the Govt. of Manipur pending settlement of the Indo-Naga issue. Pre-supposition is clear in this context that when the Indo - Naga solution does come about, so called Nagas of Manipur residing in the four Northern Hill Districts would have one way or the other become a part of the new entity of Nagaland by whatever name it may be.

Apprehending not without reason such a situation becoming a reality in view of the special attention of GOI towards NSCN (IM), Kukis had jumped into the fray of dividing Manipur on ethnic lines by demanding Kuki State. They want their issue to be settled before the Indo - Naga problem is resolved perhaps because no hill district of Manipur is inhabited exclusively by the Nagas.

In this context, Calvin H, External Affairs Secretary of ZRO and member of the Joint Monitoring Group stated on March 17, 2013 that the demand of the United Peoples Front is clear and that their demand for a State within a State is as per what is laid down in the Indian constitution under Article 244. The process to begin a political dialogue between KNO and GOI is underway, said Dr Seilen Haokip, spokesman KNO. And on March 25, 2013 KNF (N) spokesman KS Elson said that they would create KUKILAND as desired by their founder President Nehlun Kipgen.

Thus, as things stand today even hardcore optimists will conclude that redrawing the geographical map of Manipur on ethnic lines is perhaps a foregone conclusion and time seems to be the only deciding factor. GOI no doubt would be examining the practicality of this division in solving the militancy problem in the region. In politics, the policy of divide and rule is as applicable today as it was applicable during the British colonial days.

In this milieu conspicuous by its silence is the Meiteis who constitute the majority population of the State and who inhabit the miniscule valley like plateau of the region. Past incidents indicate that Meitei's response to crisis like situation is largely reactive and not proactive. Everybody wants to douse the fire once the house becomes a towering inferno, whereas nobody contemplates a pre-emptive measure to prevent such a fire.

Having said so, it is however not possible that Meitei insurgents are oblivious to the unsavory political developments around them. What is possible perhaps is that they do not look at the writing on the wall for their own vested interest making the idea of Ima Leibak Manipur (Motherland) a debatable issue today. This is not to say that every one of them is blind to the inevitable truth. Those who genuinely love their Ima Leibak Manipur would definitely want to change their party principles constituted during a different era 3-4 decades ago, to suit the changing times so as to be able to remodel their strategy taking a cue from the fact that people of Manipur by and large do not toe their line anymore.

Meiteis today are in the rat race for government contract works, new model cars and SUVs, android mobile phones, buying up consumable goods brought through Moreh market; their mindset telling loud and clear that they have no time for anything else other than consumerism which has become a fashionable way of life. Significantly, in the last Assembly election a year ago CORCOM banned the public from voting for Congress(I) and the party secured a historic majority - an absolute more than two third majority, a clear resounding NO to the diktat of CORCOM.

People's pulse is there for everybody to read. In fact, it is late in the day for serious insurgents to introspect what has been achieved till date and what is likely to be realistically achieved in the near future. Besides loss of precious human life and avoidable bloodshed there is nothing in their kitty to substantiate that "yes, in the last 3 or so decades we have achieved this." On the contrary Meiteis today are poised to lose what their forefathers dearly handed down to them as "Ima Leibak Manipur".

Of course, there would be elements who, under the guise of fighting for Ima Leibak Manipur, would continue to make money through the barrel of the gun or for that matter through the pin of the grenade. It will be na´ve to expect anything worthwhile from them.

However questionable to those serious insurgents who do love the idea of Ima Leibak Manipur are what steps are they going to take to save Manipur from the brink of physical disintegration and social disaster? What measures are they going to adopt to counter GOI's Naga appeasement policy which has a direct bearing on the future of Manipur? Or should the Meiteis wait for a repeat of June 18 incident?

Need of the hour for every Meitei, therefore, is to talk about Indo - Manipur Talks without waiting for the next episode of agitation of either UNC or a Kuki organization, so as to chart out a workable road map for future course of action if the idea of Ima Leibak Manipur is to be preserved and cherished. Is anybody listening?

NB: Critical comments on 'Indo-Manipur Talks: Now What?' solicited at lokendra_laishram@yahoo.com


* Lt Col Laishram Lokendra Singh (Retd) wrote this article for Hueiyen Lanpao (English Edition)
The writer can be contacted at lokendra_laishram(at)yahoo(dot)com
This article was posted on April 19, 2013



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