By- Sh. Ajit
India’s Union Minister of State for Home, G. Kishan Reddy, has expressed in Lok Sabha that since the talk with NSCN(IM) is yet to come to a conclusion, it is not the right time to clearly speak on the matter. What does it mean? Prime Minister has also expressed the signing of the Framework Agreement between the leader of NSCN(IM) and Government of India to be very historic. What does it mean? Does it mean that the talk, which has been in a confused state to continue, is now going to have further steps to proceed? Or is it because of the signing done on a simple, plain piece of paper with the so-called Naga leaders? Earlier, during his visit to Manipur for election campaign for BJP, central government’s former Minister of State (Home), Kiren Rijiju, said that the reason for not bringing the agreement to the public is because the Framework Agreement is not ripe yet and an incomplete agreement. On the other hand, on the day of signing, the Prime Minister said that the agreement was “historic”. Being a doubtful matter, it gave rise to some serious concerns. Was the agreement signed in a hurry with nothing good to come out of it for naga people, but just to portray that Isak Chishi Swu, who was ill for a long time, did something when he was alive? Since (IM)’s political agenda had failed to make a proper mark in Nagaland, was it done as an initiation of a future agreement following Isak Chishi Swu’s Framework Agreement without any substance? After Isak’s demise, was there an attempt to allow the implementation of the final agreement in Nagaland on August 3? Was it an attempt to trick people of Nagaland into celebration for no reason with such an agreement that has no substance in it and put an end to their movement? Is the reason for keeping such an agreement hidden behind closed doors its irrelevance to the toils and troubles of nagas and its agenda being unrelated to bringing a fully democratic life to the people? It is a framework agreement with a lot of questionable matters.
Saying that the agreement has nothing harmful, yet keeping it as a secret, makes people of the neighbouring states of Nagaland extremely worried. The worry is also regarding the concern that it might disturb their historical and political structure. Their concern is also that the attempt to settle a movement by a Naga revolutionary group might bring about the disintegration of the relationships amongst various communities in their own states rooted in a historical line, which took thousands of years to build
On top of the confusion and the doubt, what needs to look into is the idea strongly enforced onto the people of Nagaland by (IM) to create an independent Nagalim and form a new Naga community. But there is no word for independence and the idea of Nagalim seems impossible. Thus, (IM) is planning for a new strategy by sending out a message of a united Nagalim in Nagaland and land and power for nagas in Manipur. Keeping this in mind, since United Naga Council (UNC)’s attempt of trying to not allow Manipur government administer in the hills of Manipur and to divide the land in the name of communities, is by itself exposing (IM)’s new dream. This politics that does not affect much to the people of Nagaland, is becoming a reason to create chaos amongst the communities in Manipur. Ever since this (IM) disease has started spreading in the hills of Manipur, there has been various communal thoughts coming forth. Not only this, the disease seems to have affected communities other than the Manipuri nagas in the last one decade. As a result, meiteis are starting to worry of losing their land while kukis are demanding for a home land just for themselves. As the disease starts to spread far and wide, there is an attempt to portray Manipur as a mere junction of the nagas, kukis, and the lands of nagas. When the land starts to be divided on the basis of community, the political legitimation of all the movements of Manipur is going to disappear. It is thus going to portray in history that Manipur never have had unity of various communities.
We need to look into the politics of engineering issues, like never seen in any part of the world, on creating community-based districts and an independent Nagalim only for nagas. Manipuris are saying that the communities were not just mere neighbours. Those who want the land to be divided on community basis are trying to cover up the fact that these communities collectively lived together under a ruler. In the name of “Unique history,” there is an attempt to erase this history. In this matter, India is not paying any heed to this. In India’s context, division of land based on communities can also be seen in 1947 when India and Pakistan got separated. It was divided on the basis of religious communities. This politics of dividing land on community basis can be seen in India until 1951. Thus, a time came to create a nation on the basis of language. But even India realised that it does not work to try to divide on community basis, especially after the uprisings in Kashmir and other reasons. However, in this crucial time, it is necessary to understand the motive behind India’s recent attempt in the north-eastern region to bring in the politics to create a community-based Manipur, Assam, and Arunachal Pradesh. By painting a picture that the communities that do not agree with this politics are Manipuris and Assamese, nagas’ politics of thousand years of struggle to make a better living is turned into a conflict between Manipur and Assam. This can be viewed as India’s success in conflict transformation.
By creating doubts on both sides, are India and (IM) making a fool of the people, is what various organizations of Manipur are wondering. If we look at it from this point of view, then, it is not a hollow agreement with no purpose. It is performing various political purposes. Creating specific doubts on both sides itself is the purpose of this politics. To strengthen the politics, NSCN(IM) is saying something while Indian government is saying something else. Providing different narratives itself can be considered as the fruition of the politics of this framework.
Knowing that the idea of Nagalim cannot be successful for now, NSCN(IM) wants to mark certain areas within Manipur to be of nagas. India does not see any problem in this. Because it does not go against India’s constitution like how an independent Nagalim does. Thus, India supports (IM)’s attempt to mark certain areas in Manipur as only for nagas. (IM) is trying to snatch land, only for nagas, from Manipur by creating an organisation to take the role of a negotiator, making it all look like a civil movement. On top of that, in order to create a separate government only for nagas, there is a great attempt, ranging from demanding for an alternative arrangement to trying to make Manipur look like a communal group. To this, India is not bothered for it does not majorly affect its image and integrity.
(IM) is also trying to politicise and create a communal narrative out of the tradition around purity of meitei Hindus. It is usual for any religion to have such tradition. However, there is no attempt to provide a narrative of the secular events, with no relation to religion, that Manipuri kings, deeply religious for Hinduism, and hill leaders collectively performed. Instead, there have been attempts to put the blame on meiteis by turning the pages from history on how other communities are not allowed to enter Hindu places. Since such politics could not last for long, a new tactic has been implemented to fabricate various events just to show that meiteis are torturing the nagas. Not just this, it has also been constantly claimed that the history of Manipur is limited only to the valley. There is an attempt to construct a historiography with its foundation on shallow viewpoints.
All of this is just a dream of (IM), constructed beyond the historical details, but could not successfully establish in Nagaland. The very fact that there is a huge conflict on whether Rongmei and Kabui are socially accepted communities or not in Nagaland, clearly proves that (IM)’s dream of a new Nagalim is not a means to bring welfare to all of naga communities. Nagas have a lot of hardships, there are more disappointing matters even after Shillong Accord. All of this is not related to the religion of meiteis. It is brought by the current political economy. Therefore, in order to overcome these hardships, whether it is of nagas, meiteis, kukis, or all the other communities that meiteis call Manipuris, it is necessary to bring a change in this political economy. This is what we call the historical ethos. When (IM) asks for a means unrelated to this ethos, India is going to easily agree to it because there is a difference between the ethos of India and that of the people of north-east.
This being the reason, even if it is said that the Framework Agreement does not have any harmful elements, the people of this region cannot trust it. Even if it is concerning only the nagas, the attempt to compensate and overcome the historical hardships of nagas by signing an agreement with no substance, is nothing but (IM) deceiving the historical process. Even the nagas of Nagaland are asking to bring forth the Framework Agreement for the same reason. On the other hand, the reason behind people asking for the agreement to bring forth in public eye is because of the doubt that are Assam and Manipur trying to fool (IM) or is India trying to break Manipur, who usually keeps quiet in (IM) asking for its demands that are not problematic.
In today’s time, it is hard to agree to believe on something that is not visible. In a time when even the existence of unseen god is questionable, people of Manipur and Nagaland cannot blindly trust either (IM) or Narendra Modi, since they are not even god. Therefore, what people of Manipur now want is to bring forth the Framework Agreement, analyse it, and take people’s opinion. If not, it will be forced to bring to public, analyse every bits and pieces in detail, and make a strong decision. It is then that the people of Manipur will show their duty.