Waiting for the Union Home Minister Homework for the Govt
The date is May 29. How ready is the Government of Manipur to set the narratives right ? Or is it just going to be satisfied with ingesting what the Centre already thinks the issue is all about ? This would be a travesty and the proposed visit of Union Home Minister Amit Shah shoud be taken as the right time to set right the narrative that has been doing the round and which the media in other parts of the country has been lapping up. Indications are that the Centre is under the impression that the ST demand for the Meiteis is the reason for the ethnic clash that started on May 3 evening and this is borne by the fact that the Union Home Minister more than indicated this during his speech at Guwahati on May 25. The same point was carried forward by Union Minister of State for Home Affairs, Nityanand Rai during a media interaction at the Darbar Hall of the Chief Minister’s Secretariat in the evening of May 25. That this was pointed out by one reporter during the conference did not elicit any specific response from the Union Minister and this is saying something a lot. Or is it a case of sticking to a political line that says that the Centre will only stick to the less controversial point to resolve the whole issue ? And obviously the ST demand for the Meiteis would appear to be less controversial and much less colourful than the crackdown launched on the vast poppy plantations, the eviction drive at Reserved and Protected Forests, the destruction of places of worship built on Government land, the increasing call for a National Register of Citizens with the base year set at 1951 or 1961 and the demand that all illegal immigrants should be identified and weeded out. There may be serious political compulsions for the Centre to stick to the said line, but this is no reason for the State Government to stop short of laying out the whole unadulterated truth before the Union Home Minister. It should also be made clear that it is not a case of the minorty versus the majority nor is it a case of Christians versus Hindus, for this is a carefully crafted plot floated by those whose main interest is balkanising Manipur and the creation of a separate administration, an agenda which has been made clear by the open declaration of the ten MLAs who belong to the Kuki-Chin community.
The unsaid but loud point in the line, ‘solution first, peace next’ should also be laid clear before the Union Home Minister when he comes visiting. Solution here means a separate administrative set up for the Kuki-Chin folks and this could mean taking the areas which fall in Churachandpur district and Kangpokpi under the ‘separate administrative’ arrangement and this is also a point which should be highlighted before Amit Shah. More importantly will classifying Kangpokpi as the land of the Kuki-Chin community be acceptable to the Nagas of Manipur ? This is another point that should be spelt out to the Centre. The crux is, the State Government should do its job effectively and should prepare what it is that needs to be presented or submitted to the Union Home Minister. Civil Society Organisations, which have been at forefront, particularly COCOMI, should also get down to the job of preparing what points it can and should place before Amit Shah. The call to abrogate the SoO pact is one such point and let it be clear no slip-shod report would be entertained at all. Any case that is presented before the Union Minister should be water tight cases, else it would be back to square one. This is not the time to demonstrate one’s strength or muscle power on the streets of Imphal but to get down to the serious business of presenting one’s case before the Centre. The importance of the proposed visit of the Union Home Minister should not be lost on anyone.