Territory intact but autonomous councils for the Nagas of Manipur and Arunachal Pradesh. This is the likely solution after the final pact is signed between the NSCN (IM) and the Government of India. The final pact may be signed any day soon, but no one seems to know when this any day soon will be and this is where the meeting between the supremo of the NSCN (IM) Thuingaleng Muivah and leaders of Coordination Committee on Manipur Integrity (COCOMI) a few days back at Camp Hebron gains importance. Significant to note too that this meeting took place a few days before the autonomous councils of the Nagas in Manipur and Arunachal Pradesh news got splashed in the media in the North East. It is probably in line with the meeting with Th Muivah and the autonomous council news that came a few days later, that COCOMI felt constrained to address the media on January 23, that they had urged the NSCN (IM) leader not to pursue any separate administrative unit for any particular community but to let Manipur exist as a single and unified political entity. A strong no to Territorial Council or any separate administrative set up, this is the point that COCOMI has laid down but it remains to be seen how well this stand would go down either with the NSCN (IM) or New Delhi. The apprehension felt by COCOMI and the people of Manipur over the ‘autonomy arrangements’ is understandable for there is no guarantee that the NSCN (IM) will stop at this point as the years proceed.
Two steps down from sovereignty and one step down from Naga integration. This is what may be read into the ‘autonomy deal’ if and when it happens and there is a reason why many understand Th Muivah not only as a rebel leader but also an astute politician with a farsighted vision and this is something which just cannot be waved away. Take 50 paise now, if not Re 1, for it can be the launch pad to get 75 paise from 50 paise and then get to Re 1, can be a distinct political line of thought and this is what can be read into the concerns raised by COCOMI. On the other hand, it also stands that something will have to be given after all these years of political negotiations but the moot point is, what is it that may be acceptable to all the stakeholders. The interesting question at this point is, what about the areas which the NSCN (IM) had claimed as areas settled by the Nagas in Assam ? No mention of Assam was made in the report that talked about the autonomous councils in Arunachal Pradesh and Manipur. It is also important to ask whether the ‘autonomy model’ report that has been talked about will be acceptable to the Nagas who are not inhabitants of Nagaland. The days ahead can certainly be interesting but yet at the same time it can be dicey too, but let the meeting between members of COCOMI and Th Muivah be the first move to sow the seeds of understanding and mutual respect for each others’ stand.