GOI and NSCN (IM) Settlement Process Challenges Before Manipur Media and Civil Societies

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By Rajkumar Bobichand
Now, it appears that the Government of India (GOI) and lsak-Muivah faction of National Socialist Council of Nagaland, NSCN (IM) are rushing to make a settlement between them by hook or crook by March 2013.

In the present context of Manipur, there a number of challenges before the civil societies and the media-persons if they feel that they have stakes in the process and should take the responsibilities.

The present development of the “Peace-Talk” is after the transformation of NSCN (IM) leaders’ position of aiming for a Sovereign Greater Nagaland to Greater Nagaland. Because the states of Arunachal Pradesh, Assam and especially Manipur stand firmly that their historic territorial integrity must not be disturbed while welcoming any settlement between GOI and NSCN (IM). The most violent opposition to the expansion of the present Nagaland by carving the swathe of Arunachal Pradesh, Assam and especially Manipur was witnessed in 2001 with the killing of 18 persons in Imphal by the bullets of Indian security forces.

Now, the GOI also has clearly stated that the territorial integrity of Manipur will not be disturbed. It is has been reported that the GOI has categorically rejected the formation of “Nagalim”, a Greater Nagaland or territorial integrity of the “Nagas” of the North-Western Region of South East Asia (Nowersesia) taking into account the opposition to NSCN (IM) claim by the peoples of the region especially Manipur. It has also been reported that the leaders of the NSCN (IM) has agreed in principle to strike out a solution within Indian Constitution.

For this, Indian Home Minister Sushil Kumar Shinde is using whatever means available to him by asking “what’s the harm in giving Alternative Arrangements to the Nagas”? – to the Chief Ministers of Nagaland state’s neighbouring states – Arunachal Pradesh, Assam and particularly Manipur.

Some reports or proposals of Government of India for a settlement with the leaders of NSCN (IM) have been leaked to the mainstream media at first that a Supra Nagaland State will be formed. Then sharp reactions naturally came from the peoples of Arunachal Pradesh, Assam and particularly Manipur and governments of the three states. 

On the other hand, in the process of the “peace-talk” between the GOI and NSCN (IM), for every stages of development, the polarisations between the different ethnic groups the region has been sharpened. While all the three provincial governments and ethnic groups of the region stand and embrace for coexistence with equity share, responsibility, development and justice respecting different distinct identities, the NSCN (IM) stick to their gun for unification of the “Nagas” and the frontals of the NSCN (IM) in Manipur demand and campaign for Alternative Arrangement for the “Nagas” by severing with Manipur Government. Here, it is pertinent to ask – Are they demanding Alternative Arrangement for the “Nagas” so that they can later take decision to unify with Nagaland to realise NSCN (IM)’s “Nagalim” nor could they see their future in a Greater Nagaland or “Nagalim”? Are they planning to form a Southern Nagaland in future? 

However, in the latest interview to Newmai News Network, Muivah stated that there could not be a solution without unification of the “Nagas”. The United Naga Council is saying that they are not parochial. They insist that peaceful divorce of the “Nagas” of Manipur with an Alternative Arrangement in Manipur as good neighbours is the solution.

Now, the speculation as the most probable solution for settlement between the GOI and NSCN (IM) or as the proposal from the GOI and its Chanakyas is a “Non-Territorial Integration” of the “Nagas” in the form of Socio-Cultural and Development Apex Body exercising its power beyond the present State of Nagaland.  But, the question is that – Do the Socio-Cultural and Development of a group of peoples not inherit territorial boundaries? The answer is very simple, it is a big NO. How can a society, a culture and development of groups of peoples be defined without territories?

As the “Peace-Talk” between the GOI and NSCN (IM) has been continuing for the last 15 years as a secret business between them and the concerned stakeholders and peoples in general are kept in total darkness. This makes more tensions and divides amongst the peoples of the region particularly Manipur.

However, the Pangals, the Meiteis, the Kukis, the Nagas except the frontal organisations of NSCN (IM) desire and stand for an undivided Manipur where different ethnic groups coexist with equity share, responsibility, development and justice respecting different distinct identities. The moves of the GOI and NSCN (IM) pose many challenges to the peoples who stand for a United Manipur particularly Civil Societies like, United Committee Manipur (UCM), All Manipur United Clubs’ Organisation (AMUCO), All Manipur Muslim Organizations’ Co-ordinating Committee (AMMOCOC), Kuki Inpi Manipur (KIM), the Zeliangrongs, the Tangkhuls, the Maos, the Marams, the Komrems etc.  The civil societies have to make the peoples of Manipur aware that the different ethnic groups are inseparably linked together and cannot survive in exclusivity. The civil societies have to commonly understand the present context and envision a common future.  The civil societies have to work hard to redress the misperceptions and misunderstandings so that the peoples are empowered and face the divisive forces from within and without.

It seems that the GOI considers that it would be easier to tackle the peoples of Manipur if their territorial integrity is maintained and protected as the UCM and AMUCO always vocal on the territorial integrity of Manipur. Here, it is very pertinent to ask – Will only territorial integrity of Manipur hold any meaning if the integrity among different ethnic groups of Manipur has been shattered and the peoples are divided and administered under different authorities?

As the businesses of “Peace-Talk” between the GOI and NSCN (IM) are kept secret and the peoples are left in total darkness, the greatest challenge before the media-persons of Manipur is to do at their level best to make the secret deals public and transparent. And also to dig why Manipur Chief Minister Okram Ibobi has left Manipur in this very critical juncture? Is it purely a private visit to Australia or is there something related with the present problem? Another challenge for Manipur media is to report and write with clear understanding of fundamental concepts of conflict and peace while dealing with issues concerning the integrity of Manipur so that the misunderstanding among different ethnic groups is cleared and help peoples envision a common future to live in active coexistence.

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