The conflict ridden state of Manipur is all geared up and raring to witness the final bout of the trilateral fight between the three major communities of the state under the nomenclature- the Naga, the Kuki and the Meitei. The very concept of Manipuri – which comprises of all the three communities in addition to those living in the state since time immemorial is now going to be history. The term Manipuri seem to be associated with the major community Meitei only which is not acceptable by the rest of the communities living in the state.
To the eye of the Indian government the root of all uncertainties in the region, particularly in the state of Manipur is the NSCN-IM led by Th. Muivah. A permanent solution with the group is considered the only way to solve the protracted issues stifling the progress of this region. This is perhaps the main consideration for the government of India to enter into a peace pact with the outfit in 1997 under the initiative of the then Prime Minister of India IK Gujaral. This episode of initiating peace talk with the NSCN-IM indeed seemed to have lifted some of the burden initially, but the turn events proved to be a scourge for this entire region particularly for the erstwhile kingdom of Manipur.
Ending the conflict with NSCN-IM serves many purposes for the Indian government. The struggle for restoration of the so called lost freedom of the erstwhile Manipur Kingdom by various insurgent groups like the MNRF, UNLF, RPF, PREPAK, KYKL, KCP, Maoist Communist Party, Manipur and other small proscribed armed groups will be sabotaged without actually fighting them. If the demand of the NSCN-IM to form a separate state or separate administrative unit for the so called Nagas of the North Eastern region is accepted and granted, then the rebels in Manipur will be put into dilemma. This is what the Indian government presumed without caring for the probable and unsavory outcome.
Mr. RN Ravi, the newly appointed interlocutor of the India government has a very detailed understanding of the outfit. In many of his writings the terrorizing activities of the cadres of the NSCN-IM has been well documented stage by stage. He knew that the solution to the NSCN-IM is not the comprehensive solution for the conflict ridden region. He also knew that there are many other major insurgent groups which cannot be left out if the Indian government really wants to solve the problem of the region.
With more than seventeen years of engagement with the Indian leaders, and having familiarised with the Indian style of functioning and politicking, the collective leadership of NSCN-IM is far ahead when compared to the rest of the rebel groups of the region when it comes to enticing the support and shoring up resources. This outfit knows that they need their men in the state assembly of all the states in North Eastern part of India they are claiming to be theirs- hence the reason for the abrupt about-turn on their earlier technique of boycotting the elections and the start for proposing their candidates both in Nagaland and in Manipur. In Nagaland the outfit succeeded, but in Manipur this outfit found it hard to penetrate the political arena. Luckily, with different techniques they managed to set up 4 MLAs of their own. These are the MLAs that they are utilizing at crucial moments.
Everyone knows that the four NPF MLAs who tendered their resignation yesterday were present at the August 31 Assembly session when the leader of the House, Chief Minister Okram Ibobi Singh, Revenue Minister Debendro and Labour Minister I Hemochandra moved the three Bills, there was no objection made from any of the members present. The three Bills were passed unanimously by the House without any opposition or objection. And why should it be opposed when all the Bills are well drafted for protection of the indigenous population of the state and the tribal community rights are not infringed upon? The Chief Minister’s Secretariat has already clarified on the subject many times.
Now, the framework agreement signed between the NSCN-IM and the GoI is not the final agreement as told by RN Ravi, the interlocutor, Home Minister Kiran Rijiju and even by the Prime Minister Narendra Modi. The agreement is a historic approach towards bringing a lasting solution with the outfit. But depending upon the objection from many parties it is likely that the government of India might be forced to halt the preceding of the frame work agreement.
This is the reason why Manipur needs to be stirred up into complete chaos.
On the other hand, the violent and vehement objection to the passing of the Bills in Churachandpur district is not surprising. And this anti-Meitei feeling is provoked by the hate speech of some of the Imphal based leaders (mostly retired Army personnel) who had openly declared that the Kukis are foreigners. It is right for the Kuki organizations to oppose the Bills if they are treated as foreigner. But then, there are separate laws to deal with the foreigners under certain provision so opposing the Bills is evidently engineered by some persons with vested interests to create misunderstanding amongst the major community and the various tribal group. Just as the Meiteis have a soft corner for other Meitei people residing in Bangladesh or Burma or some parts of Assam, the Kukis too have similar feelings towards those migrants from Myanmar. If anything is engineered to drive out the Kuki foreigners then the indigenous Kukis of Manipur would certainly have bad feelings.
No doubt Kukis of either Myanmar or India are indigenous people. We do certainly feel the needs for their protection, but the need of the hour is to protect the real residents of the state- be it the Kukis or the Nagas of Manipur.
The final bout is likely to commence sooner than expected if all unwarranted and seditious activities are stopped immediately and convene an urgent discussion with the representation of every community to sort out the misunderstanding and release the tension and suspicions.