The recommendations made by Government of Manipur for Naga Solution are nothing but farce or sign of insensibility of people’s admire and aspirations. What the people of Manipur like is nothing but unity and oneness of Manipur. The unity of Manipur has passed different historical tests over times. The oneness of Manipur has been evolved through constant interaction of ethnic groups since time immemorial. Though the State faces difficulties in harmonizing ethnic aspirations due to colonial intervention and misadministration, the State still has a common pulse of the people.
The Government Recommendations have three basic things: declaration of Manipur as Hill State, division of Manipur into three regions on the ethnic lines, extension of controversial 6th Schedule to entire State of Manipur. The most farcical thing is that the Government Recommendation dictates there should not be any more demand from the people of Manipur. Will the Naga Agreement be the end point of history?
In search of Naga Solution, the Government likes to give full autonomy to those tribes who are identified as Naga in Manipur. The Government of Manipur, without considering history and social reality, thinks that such autonomy can be given only when the same autonomy is given to Kuki and Meitei. So it likes to divide Manipur with formation of three Autonomous Councils: Northern mainly for Nagas, Southern for Kukis and Central for Meiteis. Extension of 6th Schedule to entire State of Manipur is also recommended. Reading the lines together, Government of Manipur thinks Naga can be given full autonomy only when Meiteis are made happy with Schedule Tribe Status and Kuki with the same autonomy. In short, the Manipur will be divided into three tribal groups: Naga, Kuki and Meitei in search of Naga Solution. The historical legitimacy of the State of Manipur will be destroyed in such a quixotic search. Here one should remember, even during the British colonial period, Manipur was not part of undivided Assam and had its own status as Princely State.
The Government recommendations also assume that the strong protest against any administrative change in Manipur in the name of Naga Solution can be subsided using the ST Status of the Meitei. There will be rift among the Meitei over the demand of ST status. A large number of CSOs do not subscribe the demand of ST Status of the Meitei, rather oppose the demand. Some CSOs have strong commitment to the demand. Moreover, almost all the tribal groups are opposing this demand strongly. Using this ST Demand Card, Government is playing with CSOs, expecting that there will be in-fight among the CSOs and ethnic-based groups; hence, the Naga Solution will have smooth sailing. Why should the Meitei become Scheduled Tribe to appease one ambitious Naga leader?
The Government of Manipur, without considering the age-old sentiments of oneness of Manipur and any consultation with the stakeholders, took the recommendation. The Government is not fair to recommend such a divisive move only for appeasing one warring Naga party. The principle of dividing Manipur into three Autonomous Councils and bringing contentious 6th Schedule (the amendment of which is in the offing) to Manipur is suspicious. The only question that is raised is: is Government of Manipur acting under pressure from outside? How could Government take such a decision which is anti-history, anti-Manipur? The recommendation is itself a time-bomb.
The people of Manipur are shouting for integrity of Manipur and no administrative change on the ethnic line. Though the autonomous councils are named after geographical terms like Northern, Southern and Central, the ethnic division is clearly seen in the arrangement. Jiri in Central and Kangpokpi in the Southern Council show the hidden agenda of the Government. The avoidance of ethnic names, Naga, Kuki or Meitei in naming Council is but to befool the people of Manipur. It is high time to debate over the Government Recommendations.
The people of Manipur should remind the State Government and asks to act bravely to safe the oneness of Manipur, to adopt the principle of development rather than one for appeasement of ethnic groups. Why should Meitei be considered as Scheduled Tribe in search of Naga Solution? While a Naga party is demanding unification of the Nagas with their own flag and constitution, the Manipuris are recommended to be divided by their own Government. The State of Manipur will be reduced to only sum total of three Autonomous Councils. It will lower down the status and dignity of the State and its Assembly. This is most ridiculous act in the history of Manipur. The voices of the people of Manipur are sidelined with these recommendations.
The destroying of Manipur and its history, dignity and oneness, historical legitimacy of its people as one is in the offing. One time Asiatic State is minimized into an arithmetical sum. Is it because of insensitive government or leaders of civil society organizations whom the people have full faith or political parties (including non-state organizations) who are supposed to lead the people towards brighter and stronger Manipur for their inaccurate action against the Government stands on this solution?
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