Dialogue with insurgents

(contd from previous issue)

On request of the President Baines Johnson, President Eisenhower made several recommendations covering the following two points among others.

a) “Point out first that you have come to this office unexpectedly and you accept the decision of the almighty, who in his inscrutable wisdom has now placed you in the position of highest responsibility of this nation.

b) You are sworn to defend the Constitution and execute the laws. In doing so you will follow the instincts, principles and convictions that have become a part of you during many years of public service. No revolution in purpose or policy is intended or will occur. Rather it will be your purpose to implement effectively the noble objectives so often and so eloquently stated by your great predecessor.”

In fact Manipur Government should have its own established policy to solve the insurgency problem. The transitory and temperamental policies of a chief minister in this regard will not serve the purpose. It is not a game of mystery and the Chief Minister should lessen the hurdles as far as possible in the continuation of the policy so that his successor can bring its positive result. In the parliamentary democracy a Chief Minister is like one of the players of a team in the game of relay race and he should always be as energetic as those players who are more careful to win the race. He need not worry to be a champion in solving the insurgency problem since the post independence political history of India had many examples of armed rebellions ending through negotiations.

In a democracy, the Government and its opponents including the insurgent organizations can and should have much to talk about among themselves. It should be a particularly welcome development if armed insurgent groups decide to talk instead. Most governments in the world have talked to groups which once seemed irrevocably sworn to violent means. There should be no problem for the Prime Minister at the Centre and the Chief Minister in the State to respond positively to the offer of talks of Manipur’s armed revolutionary organisations.

It is clear that the insurgent groups are ready to negotiate if Indian government agrees to discuss the issue of Manipur’s sovereignty, the proposal to conduct plebiscite, withdrawal of the Indian army and paramilitary forces and negotiate in a foreign country under the aegis of the United Nations. If India is proud of its indomitable strength and incomparable dynamism of democracy, it should be responsively prepared to hold dialogue matching the insurgents’ strategy of talks.
In similar situations, Indian policies of ceasefire agreements with the Naga rebels have been more definitive and transparent. Even though the rebel groups have used ceasefires in order to rebuild their organizations and rearm themselves, the Govt has accepted the challenge carrying on the ceasefire agreements. After all, even a bad peace is better than a good war.
In the case of Assam, the Centre is firming up a strategy in consultation with Dispur to initiate talks with ULFA. Union Home Secretary G.K. Pillai revealed in the 58th meeting of North Eastern Council held on 9 February 2010 that exhaustive discussions were held with Assam Chief Secretary P.C. Sharma and Director General of Police Shankar Barua on how to proceed on the ULFA talks front. Pillai said, “We are in the process of firming up a strategy to deal with ULFA. There are several options before us. We will submit these to the home minister who will then discuss these with the Assam chief minister before they take the final call on the talks issue.”

Pillai’s revelations indicate that the Centre is unlikely to move ahead on the talks front without taking the state leadership into confidence and that official-level consultations between the centre and Dispur are complete. Assam Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi said that his Government would do everything possible to facilitate talks with ULFA and that there were no differences between Delhi and Dispur.

Now the people of Manipur are in the dark as regards the state government policies to create situations for dialogue with the insurgent outfits. But they know a fact without concealment that the centre knows very well the ins and outs of the Manipur insurgency issue and since the insurgents have taken armed struggle, there can be absolutely no question of letting the guard down and thus the centre will not afford to call off the fight against them. But this is not the solution. This is against the wish of the people who want the end of the rebellion in the pursuit of development of the State.

However, the people are helpless because the state politics is at the mercy of the Centre. In short, the fate of a person of the state while in power is determined by the ruling elite at the centre. Now, there lies the question : who will overcome these situations. Indeed the perspectives of the peace hunt in the state will be of no use if the chief minister thinks of himself as genius.