Peace in Manipur? Time for Modi Govt to release all our jailed militant
brethren unconditionally and offer an unconditional peace talk

Dr Th Suresh Singh *

With the unbending Indo-Naga peace talk, it is again time for us to look afresh the militancy and its solution in our troubled state of Manipur. In my book The Endless Kabaw Valley, I have cited that 4 major causes of origin of militancy in our state –
i) British handing over of Kabaw valley to Burma in 1834
ii) British occupation of Kangla and subsequent public hanging of Bir Tikendrajit and Thangal General on 13th August 1891
iii ) forced Merger Agreement of September 1949 to dominion of India and
iv) Nehru’s final handing over of Kabaw Valley to Burma on 30th March 1953 at Kohima without the compensation clause.

These are besides many other secondary causes. I will not elaborate these here, details are given in the book.

It is also worth to remember that the 1 st revolt took place in 1950-51 at various places–Jiri, Bishenpur, Keibi, Lamlai etc. – by the Red Guard of the then Manipur Communist Party. With the death of Irabat in September 1951 in Burma, the armed struggle ended prematurely with the capture of its many leaders.

In 1953, the Manipur Nationalist Union declared Manipur as an Independent Buffer State at a meeting at Pologround attended by 1000s of people. By the end of 1964, Manipur show rise of militancy and by 1990, 5 major militant organisations – UNLF, PLA, KCP, PREPAK, KYKL are seen in the fertile land. At present , we have about 50 UG groups which is a record in the world.

With the preceding erstwhile form of AFSPA torturing our Ukhrul brethren in 1965-66 in the pretext of ceasefire and, enacting this inhumane act in Manipur since December 1979, it is as clear as the Gangotri that the Act cannot destroy militancy and inter-related problems. Also, with Indo-Naga parley not seeing any light at the other end of the tunnel, it is time Modi give special thought on Manipuri militancy.

We have seen about 40 militant groups in peace talks with the centre/state government, that too for namesake only. It is also common knowledge that for the last 20 years, the centre is having unconditional peace parley with the Nagas and offering (what not) to the Kashmiris !

For the success of the aforesaid peace talk, one has to understand Manipur past history. This is for Modi, Delhi elites and our less informed / pseudo historians and writers. Though your writer won’t dealt these in detail in this column, these people should know that – Manipur was never under British rule after its defeat in the only Anglo- Manipuri war of 1891 (Manipuris must understand it clearly), we remained a vibrant independent state with full internal autonomy before 1949 merger to India. This forced merger deprived us our sovereignty and lastly the forced merger was declared illegal by the 3rd session of Manipur State Assembly held on 28th September 1949.

Also, a deeper inside perspective, that – Manipur was the only state the British declared as a Protectorate State and an Asiatic Power in alliance with the queen in 1851- is not seen anywhere in erstwhile British India ( including Nagaland and Kashmir) is also to be understood.

By this declaration and with various Sanads and Agreements, Manipur remained a vibrant independent State with exception of defence, external affairs and communication. The 3 are domains with British to protect from external aggression and remained so till the forced merger of 1949. These are historical proofs, well documented and time tested.

While every olive branch is offered to the Kashmiri militants (Hurriat & co), an unconditional peace talk offering to the Nagas for the last 20 years (I am not against it, in fact welcome it), why a step-motherly treatment still linger for Manipur? Is not it worthy to ask?

In my article-Give Peace a Chance in Manipur – published on 11th January 2011 in Hueiyen Lanpao (English , Manipuri, Meitei Mayek ed.), I have suggested that if the centre take up Kabaw Valley with Burma, if we implement sub-clause (3) of the Article VIII of Merger Agreement and if arrested militants are released unconditionally and offering an unconditional peace talk, Manipuri mindset may be changed; a new beginning for peace may be seen on the horizon. I still stuck to that. These are also repeated in my book.

We, Manipuris’ inability is not to read and understand history properly and thereby unable to present facts correctly. We follow pseudo historians and writers blindly. We are fare inferior in negotiation while comparing with others.

At present, while Kashmir is burning about Article 35 A etc. of the constitution and demanding cession from India, we Manipuris remain timid and silent spectator. Civil societies and intellectuals are so timid and dormant. Only our militant brethren suffer.

Of course, there is a lot of discussion about pre-merger status in various fora these days. I also participated to some. I have educated quite a lot through my speech , in my book and writings. I am quite happy, though these people don’t give me 1st credit for the same . But your writer’s writings, book and speeches will be testimony to history and future generation will bear to that this poor doctor is the 1st person to redefine true historical perspective. Please do not take that I am exaggerating too much.

Hence, my appeal to Modi to stop the step-motherly treatment melted out to the Manipuris by preceding governments. He is bold enough to release all arrested our militant brethren and offer an unconditional peace talk as suggested above. I earnestly appeal to him. What reaction the UGs offer, we can examine and discuss later on.

At least give the olive branch. Having an ardent follower of Modi by predicting of his becoming PM long before election through this column, I have faith in him. A dialogue is the only means to bring peace.

While discussing the pre-merger status, all (including militant brethren) should understand that Manipur had full internal autonomy (independent) except defence, external affairs and communication. This has to be the main substance. Something like the present Bhutan-type. Manipur has far more legal and historical documents than Nagaland and Kashmir. If a dialogue is possible as stated above, your writer is willing to participate to that if both sides agree so. Your writer remains optimistic.

*Dr Th Suresh Singh wrote this article for The Sangai Express
The writer is ex-Director of Health Services, Government of Manipur
This article was posted on August 21, 2017.

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