Pulling in different directions The deep divide

It should be apparent to all. The divide now is deep. From the deep social divide when the hill people (Haos) were taken as a group of people to be kept at arms length by the valley dwelling people, the Meiteis/Meeteis, it has today come to mean a significant political divide too, best exemplified by the demand raised for a Greater Lim championed by the NSCN (IM) under the leadership of Thuingaleng Muivah. That New Delhi has given a thumbs up sign to the ‘uniqueness of the Naga history’ is another point for the aggressiveness seen behind the call for a Greater Lim. The only issue here is, the history of everyone or every community is unique and seen in this context there should be nothing much in the recognition of the uniqueness of the history of the Naga people. Everyone’s history is unique is the bottomline and if New Delhi recognises the uniqueness of the history of the Nagas, then the history of Manipur too stands out uniquely. It was this point which was underlined in the address of Union Home Minister Amit Shah a few days back when he recognised the fact that Manipur had her own written history before it merged with the Union of India. It was this point which led New Delhi to rename Mount Harriet in Andaman and Nicobar Island as Mount Manipur. Now if this is not in recognition of the unique history of Manipur then what would be more unique ? The interesting question is, ‘Is it a question of this uniqueness which is fomenting the deep divide between the Nagas and Meiteis of Manipur ?’ As in every year, Mera Houchongba was celebrated on a grand scale on October 20, underlining the spirit of oneness between the people of the hills and the valley and this is where the question of what has happened since the days of the Kingdom and now, with many in Manipur observing with interest the development in the peace talk between the Government of India and the NSCN (IM) ?
The question is, ‘Is the annual observation of Mera Houchongba’ just an event on the calendar with its significance lost on the people ? Or is it a question of the said day gaining in importance since the Lim demand continues to hang over the head of everyone ? In two weeks or so, Manipur will celebrate Ningol Chakkouba. As in the previous years, one may expect to see many social organisations inviting women from the hills to a grand lunch complete with all the gifts, all resting on the slogan that the hills and valley are one and they are brothers and sisters. The question is whether this spirit of oneness is confined to only one day in a year or whether it has managed to percolate into the consciousness of everyone. These are questions which The Sangai Express has been raising very often but so far no meaningful answer has been forthcoming from the numerous civil society organisations which are otherwise very active. To bridge the gap, the answer should lie in first accepting the fact that the divide between the hills and the valley runs deep and has taken a deep political hue and the perhaps the first step should be to bridge the social divide. For starters let it be clear that the derogatory understanding of the term Hao is misplaced and let it also be clear that the hill people are much more closely aligned with the Meiteis than with the people of Nagaland.