Straight from the NSCN (IM) leader
Take 50 paise first stand
Whether the talk between the Government of India and the NSCN (IM) breaks down or not is a different matter, but it is significant to note that the outfit is still very much wedded to the idea of a Greater Lim, Naga Integration or Greater Nagaland, whatever the name one may give it. The more one reads the interview given by NSCN (IM) leader Thuingaleng Muivah to Karan Thapar for The Wire and which made top story in all the major newspapers published from Imphal on October 17, the more it gets clear that integrating all the Naga inhabited areas under one single administrative unit is still very much on top of the agenda of the NSCN (IM). This much was revealed by Thuingaleng Muivah to Karan Thapar when probed on ‘Naga regional territorial councils for Naga inhabited areas of Manipur and Arunachal Pradesh, and these territorial councils would be part of the Sixth Schedule of the Indian Constitution,’ qualifying it with the term ‘transitional period. Step by step to reach the final goal, final settlement.’ Does not need rocket science technology to infer that the final settlement here means Nagalim. Not surprising for the NSCN (IM) has always gone by the mantra of ‘Take 25 or 50 paise now and the one rupee will follow suit, no matter how long it takes.’ And it stands that in Thuingaleng Muivah the NSCN (IM) has a far sighted leader who is ready to look 10, 20 or 30 years beyond. Maybe it is this line which the Centre may have got an inkling to, for a flag and a Constitution at this point of time can also mean first taking the 25 paise or 50 paise to get the one rupee, which would be the final goal and hence the stand off that one sees today. In a way it is also ironic that the talk should hit a sort of a stalemate after 23 years of negotiations, and this brings one to the question of why it took so long to boil down to the demand for a flag and Constitution. Only the Government of India and the top leadership of the NSCN (IM) can answer this and majority of the people who have thrown their weight behind the various demands or points raised by the NSCN (IM) will not know what those demands or points would be. Ironic it is but it is on behalf of the people who are in the dark of the details that these demands are being pursued. Beauty of peace talks ?
It is with a reason why the English edition of The Sangai Express has been serialising the interview of Thuingaleng Muivah ad verbatim which is now in its 6th edition. It will continue for the next few days, and one hopes that this will help the readers understand the position of the peace talk more clearly. This goes for readers on either side of the Lim divide-those who have been strongly advocating a Greater Lim and those who have been strongly standing by the idea of a united Manipur. So many things are still not clear, but what is amply clear is the stand of Thuingaleng Muivah and this is where one may raise a highly conjectural question, “What if the demand for a separate flag and a Constitution is used as a smokescreen to divert people’s attention away and a deal is struck along this line, ‘Okay we will give you some time to work out the separate flag and Constitution part, but in the meantime, give us something else in its place.’” What could possibly be that something which can be used as a bargaining chip instead of a separate flag and Constitution ? As stated earlier, this is purely a conjecture but given the highly opaque manner in which the peace talk has been proceeding, all possibilities need to be studied. Not clear how minutely the Government of Manipur is following the peace process, but it wouldn’t hurt to repeatedly ask the Centre why Manipur has so far not been taken into confidence. This is what the Centre had assured earlier and it is time to remind this earlier assurance.