As per the newspaper report, the Union Home Minister Amit Shah assured the Chief Minister N Biren and his team that before a final solution is sealed, the Government of India (GoI) will consult all Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) and their concern would be taken into account. The stakeholders in Manipur may be broadly divided under the following four groups:
1. The people of the valley and various CSOs who are against any possible impact of the Naga Peace Accord to the integrity, administrative arrangement and the interest of Manipur.
2. Naga of Manipur influenced by NSCN (IM) and political organisations that are for the integration of the Naga inhabited areas of Manipur to Nagaland or formation of South Nagalim. In case the above two options are not immediately possible, for the time being they would pursue for the formation of a Separate Territorial Council for the Naga dominated districts of Manipur.
3. Kuki organisations who are against any possible impact of the Naga Peace Accord to Kuki dominated areas. They want the GoI to take action against the NSCN (IM) for their crime in 1990s before the final Accord and to give priority to the political dialogue with them. They also want Kukiland or a separate Territorial Council for the Kuki in the hill districts of Manipur.
4. A section of the Nagas and the Kukis who cherish the common value of our ancestors and are for peaceful coexistence. They are less vociferous and tend to remain in the background. However, they have some aspirations and grievances which affect the development of the hill districts. At the same time they are also apprehensive about the various notifications issued to “The Manipur Revenue and Land Reform Act 1960” and the movement for the inclusion of Meitei in Schedule Tribe. Some of their aspirations / grievances /apprehensions are listed in the succeeding paragraphs.
The Hill Area Committee of Manipur (HAC) has failed to work in the interest of the tribal and for the development of Hill district. The members of the HAC are not performing their job properly and the office of the Governor has not been ensuring proper functioning over the years. The manpower and resources in the office of the Governor may be augmented for proper monitoring of the working of the HAC and the administration of the hill areas.
The State Government recommended for inclusion of Manipur in the Sixth Schedule of the Constitution of India in 1991, 1992 and 2001 with certain modifications. The GoI has notified the Manipur State Government to furnish details of the specific areas to be included in the Sixth Schedule. The proposal has been stuck for many years as the State Government has not clarified the required local adjustment /modifications. If included in the Sixth Schedule, it would enhance the functioning of ADCs through sufficient devolution of funds and functions. It would ensure rapid development of the hill districts.
The tribal feels insecure by the movement for the inclusion of Meitei in Schedule Tribe. Some of them are of the view that “Manipur Peoples’ Protection Bill 2018" and the Inner Line Permit system are adequate to protect the interest of the indigenous people of Manipur if the Meitei are not keen for the tribal land, reservation quota of ST in studies and the Government jobs.
The Naga and the Kuki of Manipur are also apprehensive about the various notifications issued to “The Manipur Revenue and Land Reform Act 1960”affecting the tribal villages or the provision for the transfer of land from the hill areas to a co-operative society. Amending the condition for the acquisition of land in the valley would ensure balance utilization of land in Manipur and avoid arbitrary notifications.
As per the above statement of the Union Home Minister, the GoI will consider the concern of all the stakeholders of Manipur. There are many conflicting interest among the above stakeholders. Any decision which takes into considerations the requirement of all the above stakeholders would affect some interest of the other.
The GoI can’t be seen as neglecting any of the above stakeholders. There are also some significances of the other statement of the Union Home Minister that the solution to the Indo-Naga Peace Accord would not be necessarily in the way the GoI desires.
Love for the territory alone can’t preserve the integrity of a state forever. However, genuine love, affinity, empathy and concern about the well being among the inhabitant of the territory will preserve the integrity of the state. Therefore, it is essential to look into the above genuine grievances of the Nagas and the Kukis who want to preserve the integrity of the state. The opinion of this group of stakeholder is extremely important and it will make the difference in the case of Manipur. The number of this group would increase many fold if the State Government addresses to some of their aspirations, grievances and apprehensions.
The Coordinating Committee on Manipur Integrity (COCOMI), the Left parties, some Congress MLAs and former Chief Minister O Ibobi demanded for a special session of the Assembly. However, the BJP Government decided to send again the old resolution of the state Assembly to preserve the integrity of the state to GoI. There may be some limitation, as the BJP Government in the state is formed with the support of a party working for the integration of Naga inhabited area to Nagaland. Considering the above limitation of the State Government, all political parties in the Government and the opposition, and CSOs should now move forward and work together to protect the interest of the state.
Ningol Chakkouba for all ethnic groups was organized recently in many locations and it immensely helped in the promotion of integrity. The Sangai Festival may also be used by the Government and the CSOs including COCOMI to promote integrity. Special stall may be opened where meetings, lectures, entertainments, interactions between the various sections of the valley and the hill including students can be arranged.
This is an opportunity for promoting integrity, harmony, love and affection between the people of the valley and hill; and the people of the valley are the host.
The Government of Manipur, CSOs, and the experts in the respective fields should discuss the aspirations and the grievances of the hill districts with the Naga and the Kuki who are keen to preserve the integrity of the state and they should be assured of immediate remedial measures. All should work to arrive to a consensus for pursuing with the GoI during the meeting of stakeholders. Since this group tends to remain in the background, special effort should be made by the State Government to make their presence felt during the stakeholders meeting.
The writer is Retired Captain Indian Navy, NM.Email: [email protected]