Antithesis: Naga exclusive solution & pluralistic Manipur

With the Christmas season in, the festive mood is palpable and the air is filled with anticipation; anticipation for a final settlement to the protracted political dialogue which has been going on between the Government of India and NSCN-IM. Many groups/organisations and Naga political leaders have been urging the Government of India to present the final settlement as Christmas gift. No doubt the political dialogue has finally started taking a concrete shape. Other than NSCN-IM, six other Naga armed opposition groups attended the latest round of political dialogue held at Chumukedima, Nagaland and it was the first time the political dialogue was held on the soil of Nagaland. It was way back in 1997 when NSCN-IM came to the negotiating table and started political dialogue with New Delhi. Since then, around 80 rounds of talks have been held, a few of them at Amsterdam, Bangkok and most of them at New Delhi. As per a news report carried by the Hindustan Times, the Naga outfits have scaled down their demand from a sovereign State to greater autonomy for Naga people and integration of Naga inhabited areas under Greater Nagalim. Even as a statement issued by NSCN-IM on May 9 this year said that the Nagas, as of now, have agreed to co-exist with India under shared sovereignty, recent media reports said that the Government of India has ruled out both sovereignty as well as integration of Naga inhabited areas. There were also reports about the Naga rebel outfit insisting on using a separate flag and separate passport. It is not yet clear how far these demands were/can be incorporated in the framework agreement signed on August 3, 2015 which NSCN-IM General Secretary and principal negotiator Thuingaleng Muivah said would be the basis for a final solution to the Naga issue. There are so many reports, statements, comments and prognoses about the secretive Framework Agreement and possible solutions based on it but they are contradictory, incoherent and inconsistent.
Assuming that sovereignty and integration of Naga inhabited areas have been ruled out, the latest speculations among the masses particularly keen observers of the dialogue process are greater autonomy or a pan Naga development council or 6th Schedule or a similar provision. But all these ideas are unacceptable to the champions of the idea of united Manipur for any such arrangement would undermine the status of Manipur as a State. The protagonists of united Manipur have made it clear that they will oppose any form of demand like the pan-Naga cultural, provincial, territorial council or financial autonomy or ethnic administrative division as reflected in one of the resolutions adopted at the open dialogue of November 18, 2017. Seemingly, Kuki militant groups are also not happy with the idea of any special treatment to the Nagas at the cost of their own interests. If Manipur is seen as comprising of two geographical divisions viz; hills and valley, separation of Nagas and Kukis for any special treatment to either of them would be highly problematic for they settle together in the hills of Manipur. There is no (hill) district in Manipur which is exclusively inhabited by either Nagas or Kukis. No doubt, the negotiation is between New Delhi and NSCN-IM which has been struggling for the rights and future of Naga people but any Naga exclusive solution is most likely to impinge upon the interests of neighbouring communities particularly in a pluralistic State like Manipur unless New Delhi chooses to confine the much talked about solution to the present State of Nagaland.

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