In Nagaland the Government, NSCN (IM), NNPGs, Naga Hoho, NSF etc. are complementing each other for the breakthrough in the Peace Talk. In Manipur, the atmosphere is quite tense with the deployment of additional Central Security Forces and the alert rallies at various places. Personal attack has been made in the print media to the Chief Minister by some section of the civil society. The present situation would create immense stress in the mind of every patriotic Manipuri, especially the Chief Minister of the state. The Government of Manipur, the civil societies, the media and every section of the people are required to come together at this critical time to preserve the integrity, administrative arrangement and the interest of the state. A lot of homework is required as efforts will be made to finalize the final Indo-Naga Peace Accord before the Christmas.
The eligibility conditions for the Register of Indigenous Inhabitants of Nagaland (RIIN) clearly indicated that the average Naga in Nagaland have the territorial ambitions of the areas occupied by the Nagas in the adjoining states. However, they do not have any common value, sympathy and affinity with the Nagas of the other states. In spite of that, most of the Nagas of Manipur welcome the Framework Agreement due to the propaganda of threat to their land by the Naga insurgents.
The mass movement to preserve the integrity of Manipur should reach out to the Nagas and the Kukis. The movement should make an all out effort to address their concern for development issues of the hill districts and their insecurity of losing land to the majority Meitei community either by an amendment to the “Manipur Land Revenue and the Land Reform Act 1960”or by declaring Meitei as ST or Manipur as a hill state. It would be a challenging task for the Government of Manipur and the civil societies.
The situation is very grave and calls for extraordinary measures. However, we should be very careful that the present situation of tension, anxiety, alert rallies and uncertainty due to the deployment of a large number of Central Security Forces don’t build up anti India feelings. The anti India sentiment is not conducive for the development of young minds and it may permanently harm them. They would be highly vulnerable to the propaganda of various militant groups and anti social elements.
Every section of the society should restrain from becoming too aggressive and threatening for indefinite violence. It may severely harm the interest of the state. The situation should be kept under control and drastic steps should be prevented at this stage. If anti India feeling is generated by rumors and fake news the situation may go out of control.
As per the statement of the convener of WC of NNPGs, Mr. N Kitovi Zhimomi published in Nagaland Post on 06 October 2019 “ The GoI is not in a state to disintegrate neighbouring states and integrate to the Nagaland state. So, we have mutually agreed that the territorial issue should be kept open and continued with democratic process.” The GoI should make it very clear in the final Naga Peace Accord that the democratic process by the Nagas should not be under the fire cover of the insurgents and there should not be any more intimidation, taxation and extortion.
On the possible impact of the Indo- Naga Peace Talk to Manipur, there are two versions. One the Naga dominated districts of Manipur and Arunachal Pradesh would be converted into satellite territorial councils administered by a proposed bicameral Naga Parliament. This version appears to be the demand of the Nagas. The GoI is fully aware of the fact that the Nagas never existed as a Nation and the Naga movement was artificially created by unfriendly countries by exploiting the religious sentiments of the newly converted tribes to fight in the name of God or “ Nagalim for Christ”. Therefore, GoI is most unlikely to accept such a demand.
The other version is that the GoI is considering the proposal from certain sections to give economic package and constitute a Separate Development Authorities for 7, 2 and 1 Naga dominated districts of Manipur, Arunachal Pradesh and Assam respectively. It would discriminate the Nagas and the Kukis on ethnic lines.
In both the above cases, the administrative arrangement of the state would be affected and it would finally lead to the disintegration of the state in the near future. Therefore, both are not acceptable to the people of Manipur. However, in the second
version, if the GoI agrees to provide the economic package to all the 10 hill districts of Manipur and if the funds are allotted through the existing Hill Area District Council of Manipur respecting the integrity of the state it would be an honourable solution. It would also not discriminate the hill districts of the state on ethnic lines.
The Government of Manipur in consultation with the civil societies and professionals should prepare the best possible case for the above two possible scenarios. It would enable the Government of Manipur to put up the points in the correct perspectives during the discussion between the GoI and the stakeholders. In the meantime, it would also be prudent to conduct a special session of the Assembly and forward the resolution to the GoI as suggested by the Coordinating Committee on Manipur Integrity (COCOMI). This opportunity may be available only for a limited period.
If we examine all the peace agreements and accords of Nagaland since 1947, it would be evident that the Naga movement will continue even after the present Indo-Naga Peace Accord. The benefits from the present Indo-Naga Peace Accord would be used as a stepping stone for the next phase. The positive outcomes would be the generous economic package for Nagaland and the rehabilitation of the existing cadres of insurgent.
The people of Manipur have suffered more than 60 years due to violence, intimidation, ransom demand and illegal taxation by the Naga insurgents. The day to day live of the common people was adversely affected due to the collection of money from the commercial vehicles passing through Nagaland which in turn increases the cost of all essential items in the state. The GoI should compensate the people of Manipur for their prolonged suffering due to the Naga Insurgency. The GoI should also expedite the peace process and the rehabilitation of the Meitei and the Kuki militant cadres.
The veteran Naga politician, fourth time Chief Minister of Nagaland and the only surviving signatory of the 16 point agreement, J C Jamir, recently expressed his concern about the prevailing fear psychosis which even prevented the elected representatives from carrying out their constitutional duties in the state.
We can’t expect a drastic change in the attitude of the people immediately after the final Accord. Therefore, the GoI should also clearly lay down in the final Accord to stop the above mentioned illegal activities.
NSCN (IM) never honoured the commitment in the Ceasefire Agreement 1997 for stopping forcible collection of money and intimidation of individuals. In order to prevent recurrence, the final Peace Accord should also include a clause describing suitable penalty for the failure to honour any section of the Accord.
The insurgency will survive and flourish in the region as long as the people are vulnerable to extortion. The GoI should initiate adequate proactive measures to curb extortion and dismantle the existing networks for extortion. Otherwise, some factions of militants would continue with extortion forever. The common people in the region will get the true benefit of the Naga Peace Accord only when there is freedom from violence, intimidation, illegal taxation and extortion.
The writer is retired Captain Indian Navy, NM and can be reached at Email: [email protected]