Radhabinod Koijam, former Chief Minister of Manipur, in his recent article in one of the leading English dailies newspaper, writes his concern of ongoing Naga Peace Talk between one time Naga rebels and Government of India. He narrates some of the events that lead to the anxiety over the disintegration of oneness of Manipur. The article was serious reacted by COCOMI recently as being untimely and anti-Manipur. As Radhabinod Koijam has a wide range of knowledge in administration, politics and laws, his concern of the peace talk becomes more concerned in political arenas.
We understand, the assumption in this writing is that Meiteis are still living in historical past and are still having their hegemonic ideology of feudal times. He does not like the feudal mindset of the Meitei as being a liberal thinker as he poses in the article. Now the assumption in the article is dangerous because the pro-Manipur movement is depicted as an expression of Meitei hegemony or of Meitei feudal mindset. He is correct the history of Manipur passes through various stages of human civilization, from pre-historic phase, to tribal stage, proto-history, feudal stage and modern nation (or nation stage in colonial situation). He is right to say that there was a strong Meitei hegemony when the Meitei ruling class ruled the State with different state apparatuses in medieval period. However, it will be wrong to conclude that anything speaking of by Meitei is linked with those feudal elements. To fight back the Naga expansionism under the shadow of guns of NSCN (IM) in Manipur is not necessarily linked with feudal outlook or Meitei hegemony which became a historical relic after historical experiences of 18th century. Since the emergence of new political consciousness in the first quarter of 20th century, Meitei feudal mindset does not operate in every anti-colonial movement.
Likewise, the current movement for integration of Manipur or voice of oneness of Manipur is not even targeted to the tribal aspiration; it is neither anti-tribal movement, as shown by some Civil Society Organizations of hill areas nor anti-Naga movement. The interests for which the people of Manipur are driving are simple: No ethnic administrative arrangement, no political or otherwise arrangement that would lower down the dignity of the State and State Assembly. Is there any feudal element in such an interest? Any arrangement in Manipur should be welfare of the communities in the State. For such a new arrangement, the State should take initiative and should have a clear foundation for such a new arrangement. Manipur cannot be at receiving end in any political negotiations that would affect the ethnic harmony, administrative disorder, historical legitimacy and geographical disturbances. Here, Mr Radhabinod Koijam should understand at least history is not all about past only.
Mr Th Muivah suffered a lot for a political cause. His dream of Independent Nagalim is shattered down. At the end of the political negotiation in which he was a key negotiator, his past political activities are remembered negatively by many sections of Nagas of Nagaland. Even his tribe is considered outsiders by the State of Nagaland. We feel the sense of humiliation and share his sadness. However, we would like to invite Radhabinod koijam and many others who think Muivah should be compensated for his sufferings and sacrifices to rethink the organic links between different groups in North East India right from pre-historic to feudal to modern life. He cannot be given compensation at the cost of Manipur’s existence.
The more worry over the article is that Mr Radhabinod Koijam is one of the two-men Consultative Committee, set up by Government of Manipur. The Committee is supposed to brief the interest of Manipur (irrespective of her ethnic aspirations) to the Government of India so that India should understand the political aspirations of Manipur as a political person. As Mr Radhabinod Koijam has a prejudice to Meitei as living in past hegemonic world and shows his readiness to give something to Muivah as compensation (losing ground in Nagaland) or trophy for his long struggle for the Nagas, the only question that comes in the collective mind of the State is over the neutrality of Consultative Committee. Did State of Manipur already take a decision to grant Naga autonomy in the State of Manipur? Will State Government be able to keep Manipur’s Interest on the negotiating table? Does Government of Manipur have a strong Naga Bias?