Taking the NRC call to Delhi Unifying factor
From the streets of Imphal marching towards the official bungalow of the Chief Minister, to the march and voice raised at the campus of Manipur University to now a dharna staged at Jantar Mantar demanding that an exercise on National Register of Citizens be conducted in Manipur and here is a strong case of students taking the prime spot in airing an issue which is deemed to be important for the future well being of the land and her people. First it was an attempt to march towards the official bungalow of the Chief Minister, followed by the coming together of students at Manipur University and now at Jantar Mantar in Delhi. Significant to note that this time around, it is not a lone student organisation or two or three student bodies collectively raising a voice but the coming together of at least 8 students of including the All Naga Students’ Association, Manipur (ANSAM), MSF, DESAM, KSA, SUK, AIMS and another student organisation and collectively demanding that the NRC be enforced in Manipur too. Not surprising to note too that as a student body based at Delhi, the Manipur Students’ Association, Delhi also took a prominent part in the demonstration. Giving more teeth to the call for NRC in Manipur, one may say for here is a case of student bodies coming together and voicing their stand at Delhi, where the eyes and ears of the Government of India remain on the alert, always. The circumstances under which the cry or demand for NRC has been raised needs no elaboration here, but it stands that Manipur is being torn apart by incursions from across the border, particularly Myanmar and Bangladesh. Assam has already gone ahead and enforced the NRC primarily with the aim of weeding out illegal immigrants from Bangladesh and while in the case of the neighbouring State the focus is on Bangladesh, in Manipur it will have to be on Myanmar too. Conducting or implementing the NRC cannot be a one or two year affair and Manipur will surely need time to make the exercise, if and when it is effected, effective and this is a point which should not be lost on anyone. Land and its resources are central to the demand for NRC and this is where the ST categorisation call for the Meiteis becomes important to note. At the moment, the Scheduled Tribe Demand Committee, Manipur (STDCM), the World Meetei Council (WMC), Kangleipak Kanba Lup (KKL) and others who have backed the ST for Meiteis demand seem to be lying low, but there are reasons to suspect or believe that the spell of silence could be a part of a larger scheme of things to give more teeth to their demand.
If the call for NRC, Population Commission, etc is primarily aimed at protecting the interests of the indigenous population, then it does not differ much from the ST demand raised by the STDCM, WMC, KKL and others. The dots connect. This is a point which should not be lost on anyone particularly the State Government. Giving the ST shield to the Meiteis is the same as protecting the interests of Manipur and one may recall the statement of the Chief Minister himself not so long back that the Meiteis have always been the torch bearer of the identity of Manipur. The Nagas are already under the ST shield and it is only right that the same ring of protection is also extended to the other group, which is indigenous to Manipur-the Meiteis. Perhaps some thoughts may be given by the champions of the ST for Meiteis demand to draw the connecting line between the ST demand and the demand for NRC in Manipur. To protect the land and her resources, it is important that the indigenous peoples are Constitutionally protected, for as the All Manipur Youth Protection Committee (AMYPCO) so logically deduced, it is the indigenes who are strongly attached to their land, its natural resources, its lakes and mountains and its rivers and streams. The coming together of at least 8 student organisations to raise a voice of concern collectively is a momentous event which should not be lost on anyone.