Arrest of 8 mountaineers from Manipur Act before it becomes uglier

One can choose one’s friends but not one’s neighbours and it is under this fact that the two neighbouring States of Manipur and Nagaland should learn to co-exist. The latest development at Dzuko valley has led to this observation. It should now be more than clear that the 8 trekkers who had gone to Dzuko valley have not been detained, but arrested. The question now is what ? Will the Manipur Mountaineering and Trekking Association (MMTA) go ahead with the 24 hours deadline it had served earlier to release the 8 trekkers or will it work out an alternative ? And if the MMTA choose to go in for the first option, then will this mean another round of stand off between the MMTA and Nagaland police. Will it take on a bigger dimension and pitch one State Government against the other ? Or will it take an even uglier turn and pitch the civil society organisations of Manipur against the civil society organisations of Nagaland ? These are all just questions at the moment, but if the matter is not handled with the sensitivity that is demanded, then it has the potential to snowball into a bigger issue. A look at the manner in which the report of the 8 trekkers was covered by the Imphal based newspapers on November 28 should more than explain the point that is sought to be made here. The wide media coverage and the interest the arrest of the 8 trekkers evoked in the people here is also an indication of how fragile the relationship between the two States is and this is something which should be noted and see what steps to take so that the extremely delicate relationship is not rocked unnecessarily.
It is also important to keep in mind that the biggest festival of Manipur, Sangai Festival is on and it was in connection with this festival that the trekkers had gone to Dzuko valley. In a few days time from now, that is December 1, Nagaland will host the Hornbill Festival, again the biggest festival in the neighbouring State. Hands of friendship and neighbours that is what is needed at this point of time and not suspicion and tension filled days. The important question at this point is what points the Government at Imphal is planning to take up with its counterpart at Kohima. It is best that the two Governments get in touch with each other and see what can be done to resolve the issue. Having said this, it is also important for all to keep in mind that this is not the time to take on any confrontationist stand. It is with this mindset that the MMTA and the other CSOs of Manipur should explore means and ways to get in touch with the CSOs of Nagaland and see how they may sit down together and work out ways to resolve the issue. It is here that the Southern Angami Youth Organisation may be approached to see if the FIR they have reportedly lodged can be withdrawn for there cannot be any foolproof evidence to substantiate that the wild fire at Dzuko valley started due to the activities of the trekkers from Manipur. What if they just happened to be at the place at the wrong time and the blame was squarely put on them ? This is not the time for confrontation but to see how the issue may be resolved before it blows out of proportion.

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