From bandh to mass prayers Need to look beyond

From bandh to prayer programmes. This is a significant shift from the years gone by when the Nagas of Manipur under the aegis of the United Naga Council generally  used to call a bandh on June 18 to demand an early resolution to the ongoing political dialogue between the NSCN (IM) and the Government of India. This is how June 18, 2019 may be remembered. Such a change in posture may also be attributed to the fact that the BJP led Government at Imphal is today no longer the ‘communal Government of Manipur’ in the eyes of the UNC and other Naga civil society organisations and the change in stance should be acknowledged by those on the other side of the Lim divide. So even as thousands turned up to pay respect to the persons who were martyred  in the people’s uprising against the insertion of the words ‘ceasefire without territorial limits’ in the ceasefire pact between the NSCN (IM) and New Delhi on June 18, 2001 at Kekrupat, many held prayer programmes in the Naga dominated hill districts of the State. This is a big departure from the earlier years when the June 18 observation at Kekrupat was met with a bandh at the Naga dominated districts, thereby reflecting a deep divide. The important question is, which way do the people proceed ? A final pact will be inked any day in the near future and what  is the likely impact on Manipur when such an agreement sees the light of day ? And it stands that something will have to be given after all these years of negotiations and what is it that will be found to be acceptable to the people of Manipur ? This is perhaps the most crucial question.
Let June 18 then be the day for all to look forward and see which direction all should proceed towards. The many civil society organisations which have strongly stood by the idea of Manipur as a distinct geo-political reality must have given serious thoughts to this and so too the CSOs on the other side of the Lim divide. What is it that would be deemed to be a respectable settlement after more than 20 years of political negotiations ? And this poser should apply to those on either side of the Lim divide. A tough walk it will be for the Government of India to chalk out a final solution, which would be acceptable to the Naga people, which the NSCN (IM) represents  and at the same time ensure that it does not rub the people of Manipur and Assam and Arunachal Pradesh the wrong way. A wrong step, a miscalculation cannot be good for anyone and perhaps it is due to this why a final pact has taken so long to ink. The difficulty faced by the Government of India and the top leadership of the NSCN (IM) should be acknowledged and yet at the same time the aspirations of all people on either side of the Lim divide should also be appreciated. This is for the Government of India and on the other hand it is important that people on either side of the Lim divide too march forward with more vision, for it stands that whatever the final outcome the people will have to live together.