September deadline has expired
Politics of piling pressure
Already October 4 and it is more than clear that the numerous reports hinting at September as the deadline has turned out be just that, a hint and nothing more than an empty deadline. As the NSCN (IM) has been repeatedly saying, there can be no deadline to a talk process which has dragged on for more than 20 years. Now that the world has stepped into October, it has become more than likely that the September deadline was floated around to pile the pressure on the NSCN (IM) to sign on the dotted line and wrap up a peace process that has been on since August 1, 1997. Read the September deadline along with reports from New Delhi that the final pact may just be signed with the Naga National Political Groups (NNPGs), comprising of seven armed Naga underground outfits, sans the NSCN (IM) and a method to the line of pressure becomes all that more clear. No final deal yet and the political dialogue is still on and this more than says that some points are yet to be still ironed out. To the people of Manipur the interesting question is whether the NSCN (IM) would settle for the flag and a Constitution sans its other major demand, the creation of a Greater Lim. Or does the demand for a flag and a Constitution a sort of a smoke screen to divert the focus of the people and raise the banner of something else ? What if the NSCN (IM) leadership comes out with the line, ‘Okay no flag and Constitution and instead give us Nagalim’ ? Will the Government of India accede to this demand ? This poser may be dismissed as an exercise in shooting in the dark, but all possibilities should be looked into and as repeatedly pointed out here in this column, Thuingaleng Muivah is a far sighted personality and any pact that is signed will most probably be done with an eye on twenty, thirty or even fifty years down the line. This is a distinct possibility and this is what the people of Manipur should take note of.
The line of the NNPGs is clear. They are ready to sign the final pact and their focus is on Nagaland and not on the neighbouring States. Bringing them on board the negotiating table in 2017 may be seen as a master stroke on the part of RN Ravi, the Interlocutor who was yet to be appointed Governor of Nagaland. The line of the NNPGS will certainly go down well with the people of Manipur, for here there is no question of a Nagalim or a Greater Nagaland and this is exactly the line which civil society organisations of Manipur have repeatedly stressed on. Keep the final agreement within the State of Nagaland and do not disturb the neighbouring States is the bottomline. There is where the BJP led Government at Imphal will need to do more. The Centre had reportedly assured delegates of civil society organisations from Manipur that the State will be taken into confidence before a final pact is signed, but till date there is no indication that the card has been laid on the table. Does this mean that the final pact is still some time away or does it say something significant ? This is where the BJP led Government at Imphal will need to step in and ask New Delhi the status of the peace talks and when Manipur will be taken into confidence. Taking Manipur on board when everything is finalised will not exactly amount to taking the State and her people into confidence.