Leaving out Manipur from the loop?
As stated by Neiphiu Rio himself, the Nagaland Chief Minister would be going to New Delhi to hold meetings with Union Home Minister Amit Shah as soon as the ongoing Nagaland State Assembly session ends. The two-day session began on Thursday. While inviting Neiphiu Rio to New Delhi, Amit Shah suggested the Nagaland Chief Minister to come together with his Assam counterpart Himanta Biswa Sarma who is also the convenor of the North East Democratic Alliance (NEDA). What invokes a keen interest among all the observers is not the proposed meeting between the Nagaland Chief Minister and the Union Home Minister but the agenda of the meeting and Amit Shah’s intention to hold the talk in presence of the Assam Chief Minister. Neiphiu Rio had made it clear that the primary agenda of his proposed meeting with Amit Shah is the Naga peace talks. He also stated at Kohima a few days back that Himanta Biswa Sarma is ‘involved’ with the Naga political issue. Again, it is not the involvement of Himanta Biswa Sarma with the Naga political issue which throws up some serious questions but it is the reason for his involvement. Is Himanta Biswa Sarma’s involvement in the Naga political issue and his presence in the proposed meeting deemed necessary for being the Chief Minister of Assam or the convenor of NEDA ? Whatever be the case, the State of Assam deserves to be taken into confidence before hammering out a final solution to the vexed Naga political issue. Going by the same logic, the people or State of Manipur should also be taken on board before the Government of India seals a final agreement with Naga rebel groups. As far as the Naga peace talk is concerned, Manipur is one of the biggest stakeholders. This does not mean that the Union Home Minister or any representative of the Government of India should talk with the Chief Ministers of Nagaland, Assam and Manipur together but the Government and people of Manipur must be taken on board before the final deal is signed otherwise the final solution may backfire disastrously.
The Government of India must be well aware that one persistent demand of NSCN-IM has been integration of all Naga-inhabited areas of the North East region to form a greater Nagaland or Nagalim and this was echoed by the Nagaland Chief Minister a few days back but this particular demand is an antithesis to the idea of united Manipur. The highly secretive nature of the Framework Agreement coupled with the NSCN-IM’s persistent demand for integration of Naga inhabited areas has been literally keeping a large section of the people of Manipur on tenterhooks. The people of Manipur have a deep apprehension that the secretive Framework Agreement may shift the course of Manipur’s history to such a degree that Manipur ceases to exist as a geo-political entity. As a Prime Minister, Mr Modi made a good assessment when he stated that Manipur is the least developed State in the North East. But the people’s primary concern at the moment is not economic development. It is the political future of Manipur. The deep rooted fear and pervasive apprehension of the people of Manipur can be understood only by those who have a comprehensive understanding of Manipur, its history and political realities. Everybody who cherishes the idea of united Manipur welcomed Prime Minister Narendra Modi when he assured that there would be no one-sided solution. Yes, no solution should be one-sided. At the same time, New Delhi must take into account the historical circumstances under which Manipur was merged into the Indian Union and its people should be taken on board while working out a solution to the Naga issue.