‘Solution expected anytime soon’
From 1997 to 2021
Will 2021 be any different ? Will the line ‘solution expected anytime soon’ continue to hog the limelight as it did in 2020 and to a certain extent in 2019, or will 2021 finally see the final deal being inked between the NSCN (IM) and the Government of India ? This question is important especially in the backdrop of the assertion from the NSCN (IM) that a final solution cannot be left to time. Certain points may be read into the observation of the NSCN (IM). For one it stands that the political negotiations between the two entities have been dragging on for nearly 24 years now. This is a long time by any stretch of the imagination and to repeat an example cited here many times earlier, a child born back in 1997, the year the ceasefire agreement was inked between New Delhi and the NSCN (IM), would today be a 24 year old strapping youth or a lissome lady. In between, the NSCN (IM) has also seen the passing away of the I of the M in the death of Isak Chisi Swu in 2016, one year after the much touted Framework Agreement was signed in 2015. New Delhi has also seen the coming and going of a number of Prime Ministers starting from IK Gujral to Deve Gowda to Atal Behari Vajpayee, Manmohan Singh and now Narendra Modi. The people have also seen the coming and going of Interlocutors, Swaraj Kaushal and RN Ravi-to name just two. All indications that 24 years of political negotiations is a pretty long time and the natural question is, how long will it continue, or when will the final pact be signed ? At the moment the demand for a separate flag and a Constitution seems to be the disconnect between New Delhi and the NSCN (IM), but as stated here earlier, this could just be a ploy and no one can write off the possibility of the NSCN (IM) coming up with a different demand in lieu of the flag and Constitution when it thinks the time is right.
Uncertain. And at the same time it has also been a tricky ride, especially for those who have been batting for the understanding of Manipur as a geo-political reality. Much before the peace talk seemingly hit the flag and Constitution roadblock, it was the demand for a Greater Lim which sent Manipur into a tizzy, best exemplified by the uproar of June 2001 when the words, ‘ceasefire without territorial limits’ were inserted in the Bangkok Declaration on June 14, 2001. Greater Lim, Nagalim, Greater Nagaland, Pan Naga Hoho etc were all terms that came to haunt the collective psyche of the people of Manipur and exacerbating things all that more were the numerous instances that followed the 2001 June uprising. What is the best way forward is a question which should be raised not only by the NSCN (IM) and those who stand by the ideas of the outfit but also by all those who have been opposed to the idea of bifurcating Manipur to appease a particular outfit which identifies itself with one ethnic group. This is a question which the Government at Imphal too must have started exploring for it was not for nothing by Union Home Minister Amit Shah recently visited the State on December 27 and granted audience to many civil society organisations to get their feedbacks before the final pact is signed with the NSCN (IM). The NSCN (IM) has already made it clear that a final pact cannot be left to time and this could be an indication that a final pact may well be at hand.