No one sided solution Understanding Manipur and its history

People’s nagging anxiety and apprehensions bred by the secretive Framework Agreement signed between the Government of India and NSCN-IM which is intended to serve as broad parameters for a final settlement to the vexed Naga issue have been allayed to some extent by Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s statement that the Government of India will not adopt any one-sided decision on the Naga issue. It was indeed a big relief to the protagonists of the idea of united Manipur. The Prime Minister was also quite succinct but lucid that the final, official statement about any solution to the Naga issue will come only from the Government of India and it is this statement which the people of Manipur and the Northeastern States should accept as the official fact, and nothing else should be allowed to torment the people’s psyche. In another word, the Prime Minister’s statement implied that all the statements, reports, claims and speculations about the political dialogue and its solution which come from different quarters other than the Government of India should be dismissed. By analogy, the Prime Minister was saying that the final say rests with New Delhi. It is in records that the Prime Minister told the team of civil society delegates who called on him on December 28 that there was nothing to be worried about. But people are worried. Lakhs of people are worried about the future of Manipur. That is why, the civil society delegates went all the way to Delhi, camped there for several days and met many leaders of the Government of India including the Prime Minister. The Manipur State Assembly took two landmark resolutions recently because people are worried and a restive situation prevails in Manipur. The first resolution says that the Article 3 of the Indian Constitution should be amended by inserting a provision/clause that prior consent of the State legislatures of the affected State(s) shall be mandatory while forming new States, alteration of areas, boundaries or names of existing States. The second resolution says that the contents of the Framework Agreement should be disclosed to public.
The Government of India must be well aware that one persistent demand of NSCN-IM has been integration of all Naga-inhabited areas of the North East region to form a greater Nagaland or Nagalim which is an antithesis to the idea of united Manipur. The highly secretive nature of the Framework Agreement coupled with the NSCN-IM’s persistent demand for integration of Naga inhabited areas has been literally keeping a large section of the people of Manipur on tenterhooks. The course of Manipur’s history underwent drastic changes twice. First, it was the Anglo-Manipur war of 1891 which brought Manipur under British occupation. The second one was the Merger Agreement of 1949 which brought Manipur within the Indian Union. Even though these two historical events brought about drastic changes to the geo-political and socio-economic landscape of Manipur, Manipur did survive as a geo-political entity. But people now fear that the secretive Framework Agreement may further shift the course of Manipur’s history to such a degree that Manipur cease to exist as a geo-political entity. The Government of India and the Prime Minister may be aware about the socio-economic condition of Manipur but we wonder whether New Delhi has any comprehensive understanding of these historical facts and the contemporary political realities. As a Prime Minister, Mr Modi made a good assessment when he stated that Manipur is the least developed State in the North East. But the people’s primary concern at the moment is not economic development. It is the political future of Manipur. People’s deep rooted fear and pervasive apprehension can be understood only by those who have a comprehensive understanding of Manipur, its history and political realities and we hope, the Prime Minister is one among them. Everybody who cherishes the idea of united Manipur welcomes the Prime Minister’s assurance that there would be no one-sided solution. Yes, no solution should be one-sided. At the same time, New Delhi must take into account the historical circumstances under which Manipur was merged into the Indian Union while working out a solution to the Naga issue.

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