By -Sh Ajit
Manipur’s Interest is core issue in today’s political atmosphere, at least in Manipur. Even the Chief Minister is ready to sacrifice his life if Manipur’s interest is not respected by the Centre. The backdrop of Chief Minister’s self-declaration of self-sacrifice for being a Manipuri is the Naga Peace Process. The peace talk between Naga leaders (all of them are militant organizations who are in the Peace Process with Government of India) and Government of India, represented by an interlocutor who represent India and Indian Interest. The talk came to an end on the National Unity Day of India which is birth day of Iron Man of India who integrated all the princely states into Republic of India. This symbolic achievement is reported by different media in India with different colors and shades. PIB release having no date and no signature says that before final agreement is being signed by the concerned parties, all the stakeholders will be consulted. The interests of Assam, Manipur and Arunachal Pradesh will be taken into consideration.
Many Indian media reports that the onus of Nagalim formation will be on NSCN which can be done politically later; some media are silent over formation of Greater Nagaland but more focus on flags. Some reports mention where the Naga flag can be used. Though PIB release mentions that there are tensions in some parts of the country because of rumors and unfounded news in media and social media, Chief Minister of Nagaland congratulated both interlocutor and Naga leaders for coming to a final agreement. It is a universal fact that no one believes rumor if he knows the reality. The tragedy, in this case, is that neither the Government of India nor NSCN (IM) discloses the content of broad agreement at the closure of peace talk. Even the historic Framework Agreement of 2015 is still not disclosed to any person. Chief Minister of Arunachal Pradesh expresses his happiness over the PIB release; Chief Minister of Manipur strongly believes Central Home Minister who told the content of the PIB release.
Taking things together spirit reflected in PIB release and other media, we believe the stakeholders will be invited by NSCN (IM), Interlocutor or Home Minster to place their interests on the table. One may wonder who will be stakeholders of Manipur. Anybody who has an opinion or a vision of united Manipur? Will it be somebody who likes to gain something out of the Naga solution? Will it be CSOs of any color or Assembly which adopted several resolutions over the Manipur’s integrity? Another dimension is the definition of Manipur’s integrity. Boundary only or set up of new administrative bodies on ethnic lines with or without ethnic names such as Naga Territorial Council or Northern Territorial Council? What is our interest over Sixth Schedule to Indian Constitution? We should understand that we have a historically rooted political sentiment. The hardest task of stakeholder from Manipur is to put this sentiment into political words in a multi-party dialogue.
From a national perspective, let us focus on Naga solution. It is a solution that will bring Naga insurgents or insurgent groups to Indian mainstream. Mainstreaming Naga movement is not that easy because the Naga identity or Naga groups are not a crystal clear outside the boundary of present day Nagaland. The push and pull of identify formation of lesser Manipuri tribes clearly shows that the artificiality of Naga identity in Manipur so also Kuki identity. Perhaps, Indian middle class do not understand the fluidity of these identities and the process of Pan Tribalism in North East India that fuels ethnic tensions out of the ethnic kaleidoscope. This kaleidoscope is possible because of various overlapping of ethnic, linguistic or cultural systems. Or should the mainstreaming be based on BJP’s mantra Sabka sath sabka vikash or principle of Naga integration with NSCN (IM)’s definition? Should it be tribal development or Naga nationalism at micro level? And where should the interest of Manipur be located in search of Naga solution. The beauty of the peace talk with Naga insurgents is that everything is hidden from the people who would be sitting ducks when anything goes wrong on the part of Government of India or NSCN (IM) or any Naga group in NNPG.
Keeping these things in mind, the people of Manipur, irrespective of their ethnic or linguistic affiliation, political ideology or religion, should think now what would be the interest of Manipur in any eventuality like formation of territorial councils that would minimize the State into mere arithmetic sum, formation of Pan Naga body that will lower down the dignity of Manipur as State and her State Assembly, extension of sixth schedule to some parts or entire State of Manipur that is against the historical experience of Manipur. On the other hand, beware the tendency of some groups in Manipur that think to take some gain out of the Naga movement. We should always remember that Chief Minister of Manipur, Shri N Biren expresses boldly he loves Manipur. Let us love Manipur without bargaining for some gain out of somebody’s peace talk. Let us help Naga if possible or let us not give anything if that will harm our historical legitimacy of being a State. Let us love our neighbors, of course and ask them too to love us and respect our unity and interest.
By -Sh Ajit