Putting Manipur on the map of normalcy An indifferent Delhi
A workable formula that could pave the way for Manipur to return to a semblance of normalcy. This is what everyone would want. Nearly 120 days in a state of conflict, with neither side giving the slightest hint that they are ready to come to the negotiating table and talk things over calls for the leadership of the day to think out of the box and see what may be worked out that may be acceptable to all. The National Register of Citizens as a demand is something which did not crop up after May 3. It did not come up after the military coup in Myanmar. The demand has been there for some time, though it may not be as vocal as today, but the central point remains the same. Illegal migration from across the border should not be limited only to the time frame after the military coup in Myanmar. The Naga-Kuki clash may be better understood in the context of the piling pressure on the ‘ancestral lands’ of the Nagas and one just has to recall how the United Naga Council came out strongly against the burial of a renowned Kuki academician, who succumbed to COVID-19 not so long back, on Naga land. A report received from the correspondent of The Sangai Express who belongs to the Kuki-Zo community had then identified the place of birth of the late academician as Myanmar. May the good soul rest in peace. Just one example that comes to mind and it is against this backdrop that the demand for the NRC should be understood and appreciated. As a Naga public leader opined in an informal conversation with The Sangai Express some time back and before the current violence broke out, NRC is necessary but the Government should go the extra-mile to ensure that it is not seen as being targeted at the Kuki community. Sane words of caution, one would say. The bottomline is, any exercise to weed out those who have entered Manipur illegally after a certain cut off year, should not be seen to be targeted against any community. It of course stands that the voice of opposition raised by some Kuki public personality against the proposal for an NRC, during their interviews does not help as many see it as a case of the guilty wiping his head (Kokta Napi Pakpa).
On the side of the Kuki-Zo community, separate administration is the demand that has been raised and which seems to have gained currency amongst them and served as the rallying point for the Meiteis against this. Many Kukis, if not all, would agree to the non-feasibility of this demand and the question is whether the supposed map of Zalengam would be acceptable to the other indigenous group, the Nagas. The NSCN (IM) and the United Naga Council and other important Naga organisations such as the Tangkhul Naga Long have more than made their stand clear. Or is the separate administration call a case of demanding Re 1 with an eye to settle for 50 paise or 25 paise ? Only time will tell, but fact is, situation cannot be allowed to go on like this forever. It should also be obvious that Delhi should step in to break the ice and pave the path for either side to come to the negotiating table. As an individual commented on his social media post, why not invite all the Legislators, including the ten Kuki MLAs to Delhi to talk things over, with the Prime Minister or the Union Home Minister presiding ? No MLA would dare go against such a summon to Delhi and it is from here that the respective MLAs may be asked to reach out to their people and the CSOs concerned to see the logic of a dialogue. Time to take the first step and Delhi is best placed to play referee and the initiative should come from the Centre. How can India allow such a madness to linger on for over 100 days ? The indifference is galling. In a clash of this scale calculated in the number of lives lost, properties razed to the ground and the fact that over 60,000 are currently homeless, there will be no winners. It should also be clear that in as much as Manipur has been scalded the image of New Delhi in the international fora will take a beating and the longer the indifference remains, the more alienated will the people become from all that Delhi stands for. A situation which the Prime Minister and the BJP leadership would definitely not want.