Of Territorial Council and Nagalim:
A classic case of only the Meiteis and Meitei Pangals identifying themselves with the geo-political reality called Manipur. The Kuki Inpi Manipur and other Kuki civil society organisations as well as the KNO and the UPF are yet to reply, but already the NSCN (IM) and the UNC have made it clear that the Territorial Council, which is being talked about as a probable solution to the ongoing talks involving the KNO, UPF, the State Government and the Centre should not in any way affect the land which they have identified as the land of the Nagas. As stated earlier, the Kuki side is yet to respond, but once it does then one may expect to see some interesting verbal duel between the two sides and to be sure in the series of debates that may follow, not one will talk about the need of respecting the geo-political entity which is called Manipur. An apt example that the two major communities of the State do not identify themselves with Manipur and this is a sorry state of affairs. It was not as conspicuous as this, but even decades back, say in the 1980s and 1990s, students from the Kuki community or the Naga community never did identify themselves with the Manipur Students Association/Organisation set up in different cities where there are sizeable number of students from the State. So students from the Naga community but hailing from Manipur unfailingly aligned themselves with the Naga Students’ Union/Association at Delhi, Chandigarh, Kolkata, Bengaluru, Chennai etc, while students from the Kuki community identified themselves with the Kuki Students’ Organisation/Association.
A classic case of the seeds of the present scenario being sown decades back. And it is this which is today seen in the debate over land, identity and interests being played out on the political and social turf of Manipur. No magic formula at hand to address this, but let it be clear whether it is a question of Nagalim or Territorial Council, Manipur cannot be put on the scaffold to please or arrive at an agreement with any group which represent the interests of only one single community. Manipur cannot be seen solely as the land of the Meiteis or Meitei Pangals or Kukis or Nagas. The hills-valley division is but for administrative convenience and it is the hills and the valley taken together that form Manipur. This is a point that should not be lost on anyone. Unfortunate it is but there are elements out there who will not hesitate to use this administrative convenience to raise their own banner of demands to the detriment of Manipur. At the moment the debate is from the side of the Naga community led by the NSCN (IM) and followed by the UNC and before long it would not be surprising if the Kuki Inpi Manipur and KNO and UPF too follow suit and reply with a barrage of words, justifying their stand. The interesting point is where does that leave the Meiteis and Meitei Pangals ? Or do the two latter communities have no stake in the place called Manipur ?