Integrity of Manipur… Its nuances and ideas


Should the territorial integrity of Manipur be understood strictly within the realm of its literal meaning, read boundary of the present State of Manipur, or does it encompass something more than this ? There obviously cannot any easy answer to this, as the very question of the integrity of Manipur straddles issues which may not be possible to put down in black and white and hence the pressing need not to draw up half baked conclusions which may just run counter to the idea of a Manipur. If the integrity of Manipur can be understood strictly within the understanding of protecting the territorial sanctity of the political map of present day Manipur, then the Supra State Body model proposed by the Centre for the Nagas living in Manipur, should not pose much of a problem. However if the understanding of the integrity of Manipur extends beyond the sketch that appears on the Atlas, then the Supra State Body model may just run into opposition from the pro-Manipur groups and the last word on the seeming tussle between the idea of a Manipur and the concept of a Greater Lim may not be said yet. The same logic may also be applied to the understanding of a Greater Lim and that is whether the Lim question is primarily concerned with carving out portions of Assam, Arunachal Pradesh and Manipur or means something more than territory. It is significant to note that the NSCN (IM) has not yet given its agreed signature against the proposal of the Supra State Body for the Nagas mooted by the Centre but equally significant too, it has not rejected it either. This leaves the proposal of Delhi open ended and while it may be premature to predict which course the ongoing peace process between the outfit and the Government of India will take, what has emerged very clearly is that the Alternative Arrangement model mooted by the United Naga Council runs very close to the Supra State Body for the Nagas envisaged by Delhi. From total sovereignty to Nagalim to now Alternative Arrangement or to use the model proposed by the Union Home Ministry guys, Supra State Body, the peace talk between the NSCN (IM) and the Government of India has traversed through markedly different phases or evolution and this has come along with the proposal of a federal structure or relationship between the envisaged Naga dominion with the Centre. The interesting aspect of the federal structure or federal relationship is the growing indication that ultimately the parties involved in the projected federal structure may not be confined to Delhi and the Government of Nagaland but may extend to the States which have a stake in the Supra State Body for the Nagas. 

As far as the documents available with The Sangai Express suggest, the Supra State Body model envisages that the representatives of the hill areas may administer the subjects in their charge along with a Supra State Body for the Nagas for their cultural, social and customary practices. The breaking news report posted by the Seven Sisters Post had quoted an official of the Union Home Ministry as stating that law and order will be the call of the respective State Governments concerned but the Supra State Body will advise the State agencies on the implementation of different development projects in Naga areas. This in effect means some sort of a federal structure between Imphal and the areas known as Naga dominated districts of Senapati, Chandel, Tamenglong, Ukhrul. The same arrangement will apply to the States of Assam and Arunachal Pradesh too. Whether such an arrangement will work or not or will be acceptable to the States concerned is a matter of conjecture, at this moment, but it is worth noting that veteran MPP leader O Joy has gone on record and stated that the Supra State Body model is nothing but a first step towards the political concept of Greater Nagalim. The observation of O Joy merit serious introspection for it has not come without basis. That the claim to integrate all Naga inhabited areas under one administrative block has been drawn into mainstream politics in Nagaland is not new and apart from the resolutions passed by the Legislative Assembly of the neighbouring State towards this end, the Naga People’s Front has already made its intention clear on bringing all Naga inhabited areas under one administrative bloc and what is more NPF has already opened its Manipur unit, obviously with an eye on the upcoming Assembly election. It is against this reality that O Joy made his observation and while this is food for thought, reacting blindly to this observation or jumping to conclusion is not what the situation warrants. Ultimately what matters is to have a clear perspective of what integrity of Manipur really means.