TODAY -

Indo Manipur talks : The core issue

Lt Col Laishram Lokendra Singh (Retd) *

Fifth round of tripartite talk between the Central Govt, State Govt and United Naga Council at Senapati :: 12 February 2013
Fifth round of tripartite talk between the Central, State Govt and UNC at Senapati on 12 Feb 2013 :: Pix - Bullu Raj



Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh expressing concern over the Naga issue to the CM of Mizoram Lal Thanhawla during their meeting at Delhi on Feb 25, 2013 was an interesting piece of news. Did PM solicit the CM's help to solve the Naga Problem? Or did he mention the problem in passing ? Or was it a deliberate attempt to address the Christian Community that the PM is indeed seized with the problem of meeting a particular demand of the Community ? After all "Nagaland for Christ" is the slogan of NSCN (IM) and the PM of India dare not ignore the Christian lobby at the Centre; he may do so at his own peril.

Missionaries bid to create a Christian belt in the frontier region of the NE met with a stumbling block in the Hindu majority State of Manipur. From Arunachal in the North to Nagaland in the South, skipping over Manipur and then further South to Mizoram is the Christian belt.

However, if northern hill districts of Manipur were to be amalgamated one way or the other to Nagaland and if southern region of Manipur demanded by Kukis as their Homeland be separated out from the State, then Manipur would cease to exist and of course there would no more be a Hindu State. Thus the Christian lobby's dream of creating a Christian belt in the North Eastern Frontier region would have been fulfilled in letter and spirit.

Does this arrangement make any difference to the Indian Union to the people of mainland India ? No. Boundaries would have been redrawn. Citizens would have been cloistered on religious lines. Territorial integrity of India nonetheless would still be intact. That's all. Only Meiteis who cherish the idea of Ima Leibak (Motherland) Manipur would have been delivered a death blow by the disintegration of what was handed down to them by their fore fathers as the Nation State of Manipur- a Hindu majority State.

Perhaps knowing India's mind, UNC has gone a step further after the last tripartite talk on Feb 12, 2013 at Senapati that the next round of talk would be at the political level as UNC's demand for an alternative arrangement before the Indo Naga issue is settled is a separate legislature, separate administration and financial freedom from that of the communal Government of Manipur. And in this context UNC's claim that the Nagas are not communal is true to the last letter. The so called Nagas of Manipur are not communal in any way except the few leaders with vested interest who claim to speak for the entire tribal communities of different language, culture as one entity.

Now as if on cue and not to be outdone by the so called Nagas of Manipur, Kukis have gone ahead with their Public Blockade from midnight of Feb 24, 2013 demanding political dialogue with GOI for carving out a Kuki State from Manipur. And it does not matter to them that Higher Secondary Examinations are on and this form of agitation at this juncture will cause tremendous hardship to the students who may have no choice but to walk miles to reach their examination centres.

Christian lobby at the Centre would perhaps be watching with amusement the entire development in present day Manipur with increasing ethnic divide, ever widening social chasm amongst the so called Nagas of Manipur, Indian Kukis (as they now call themselves) and Meiteis.

In all this high decibel cacophony is the sepulchral silence of the Meiteis. NSCN (IM)/ UNC is engaging GoI in talks based on their so called Unique History, the details of which are not known to anybody outside of their clique. Likewise a political dialogue with KNO/KNA is in the offing as the Centre has already committed in public notwithstanding KSDC's Public Blockade or otherwise.

Meitei's problem by itself is an interesting phenomenon. It is a divided house divided into a number of leaders, each claiming to be the indispensable and undisputed leader of the Meitei community, there is no question of thinking in unison leave alone working together. Each chauvinist leader is of the view that his idea is the only idea, the final idea and no one is entitled to come out with a second/another idea. That's why there are as many civil society organisations as there are leaders. Ironically, this is true of the Underground Organisations too.

UG movement of the Meiteis as of today as seen from a bird's (eagle's) eye view is that they seem to be rudderless, not knowing which direction and how to sail. Should they continue with their rhetoric of fighting for the independence of Ima Leibak (Motherland)? Question arises, "which Ima Leibak?" Is it the 2000 odd square kilometres of the plateau area called valley districts ?

Or is it the Manipur, the map of which is drawn in School Atlas ? Propaganda is easy. Reality is different. In today's Manipur, which section of the Manipuri society is buying their propaganda being dished out on regular basis in local dailies from time to time ? It's time they faced the reality. It's time they accepted the truth that they are seen by the people as nothing more than extortionists who are out to make money. People only envy the money they make and the houses they construct, nothing more.

Therefore, if and when a thinking insurgent, a serious insurgent who truly cares for the wellbeing of his Ima Leibak wants to continue the struggle for the so called Ima Leibak Manipur, then he must take the battle or the people's war from the military front to the political level where astute diplomacy will be the final step. The core issue in the Indo Manipur talk then would be, as things stand today, to protect and preserve (before any one can think of fighting for its independence) the physical integrity of Manipur as has been handed down by their forefathers.

Not an easy task. It's a tall order by any standard. Needless to say ways and means to bring about emotional integrity of all the ethnic sections of Manipur society will have to be worked out. May be there will then be a requirement to demand for the declaration of Manipur as a Hill State considering the geographical fact that Manipur valley is geomorphorically a plateau covering approximately 8% of the total area of Manipur which essentially makes it a Hill State.

Alternatively a demand may be put up for making Meiteis schedule tribe to be placed at par with their brethren in the hills and live under one State one Law. In the final count co existence as heretofore is the only solution to the myriad problems of Manipur which is like a mini-India with its diverse ethnic groups, language and culture. Is anybody listening?

(NB: Critical comments on Indo-Manipur Talks: The Core Issue solicited at lokendra_laishram(at)yahoo(dot)com )


* Lt Col Laishram Lokendra Singh (Retd) wrote this article for The Sangai Express
The writer can be contacted at lokendra_laishram(at)yahoo(dot)com
This article was posted on March 02, 2013



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