By Dr. Khomdon Singh Lisam
I was shocked to read an old article entitled “ Meiteis Betrayed –Former Chief Minister Rishang Keising was the first to sign the Naga integration memo to the Prime Minister “ published in the North East Sun, dated 15th July, 2005. (Pradeep Phanjoubam and Deepak Dewan) “
It is reported that Shri Rishang Keising, Rajya Sabha Member from Manipur and Shri Gaikhangam, Home Minister were the first to sign the Naga integration memorandum entitled “ Memorandum of Naga Members of Parliament and Members of Legislative Assembly from Manipur for strengthening the ongoing peace negotiation between the Government of India and the NSCN-IM” to the Prime Minister on 27 May, 2005. The text of the memorandums read as follows “ Hon’ble Sir- At the outset, we, the undersigned, the democratically elected Naga leaders wish to express our deep appreciation to the Government of India for acknowledging the “ unique history and situation of Nagas” and the progress of talks in the right direction. We, the elected Naga leaders once again reaffirm our total support to a favourable negotiated settlement of the Naga issue. It is our earnest and sincere desire that the ongoing peace talk between the Government of India and NSCN-IM will mature soon to expedite a fruitful, tangible and concrete settlement to the long cherished aspirations of the Naga. In the case of territorial integration of Naga areas, we believe that it is a sincere quest and basic fundamental right of the Naga people to be under one political entity and live together. We, therefore, fully support the aspiration of the Naga people in integration. It is our sincere hope and prayer that political wisdom of Government of India will prevail ushering in a favourable settlement thereby bringing about mutual benefits to both Naga people and the Government of India and bring about genuine peace and stability in the region. Signed by Rishang Keising, Member, Rajya Sabha, Mani charanamei, Member, Lok Sabha, Shri Gaikhangam, MLA, Francis Ngajokpa, MLA, A. Aza Shimray, MLA, B. D, Behring, MLA, D.K. Karunggthang, MLA, W. Keising, MLA, Danny Shaiza, MLA, Henry Paotei, MLA, R.K. Thekho, Samuel Jendai, MLA, Mangai Bou, MLA”
What is the unique history of the Nagas mentioned by Mr, Raishnag Keishing on 27 May, 2005 and reiterated by Mr. T. Muivah on 18 October, 2012 ? In fact the phrase “unique history of Nagas ” was used in 1918 for the first time by Mr. Charles Pawsay, the then Deputy Commissioner of Naga Hills who became Sir Charles Pawsay. Since then, the NSCN –IM and other active Naga groups are using this phrase to conceal their true identity. The unique history of the Nagas is that they do not have any written history before 1918. Nagas did not have a Raja or a King. Nagas did not have a well defined kingdom or territory or boundary or sovereignty. The Naga Hills was created out of Assam vide the Government of India (Excluded and Partially Excluded Areas) order, 1936 by the order of His Majesty at the Buckingham Palace dated 3rd March, 1936. The boundary of Nagaland was created by India with the attainment of statehood only in 1963. Can Mr. Rishang Keising or Mr Gaikhangam or Mr T. Muivah contract this statement ?
This memorandum openly supported NSCN-IM concept of Nagalim ( Greater Nagaland). This is the second time that Mr. Rishang Keishing has put his weight behind the move for Naga integration. The first time was on 4 August 1972 when he signed the merger of the United Naga Integration Council(UNIC) with the Indian National Congress. This merger agreement was signed by Rishang Keising, MLA, E. Envey, Vice President, UNIC, James L. Kolakhe, General Secretary, UNIC, K. Huriang, Khasung Jajo,, N.L Thumsing representing UNIC, Shri Hawaibam Nilamani Singh, President, MPCC , and Sheelvadra Yajee AICC, Secretary for Manipur, Tripura, Mizoram. The merger agreement specifically mentioned that “ the Congress Party does not oppose the Naga integration movement and does not consider the Naga integration movement as anti-party, anti-national, anti-state and unconstitutional activity. This merger has resulted to the meteoric climb of Rishang Keishing to the state politics under the blessings of Congress Party High command in Delhi. He was the Chief Minister of Manipur thee times spanning more than 15 years. When the news of signing the memorandum to the Prime Minister broke out in June, 2005, there was a heated discussion in the Manipur State Assembly but all the Naga MLAs were conspicuous by their absence. The House passed an unanimous resolution that no territory of Manipur would be sacrificed. But the House never thought of declaring the merger agreement and the memorandum null and void. The NSCN-IM started blaming Manipur Government to be extremely communalised. The battle between Naga integration and Manipur integration is entirely due to (1) signing of merger between UNIC under Rishang Keishing and All India Congress (2) submission of memorandum by Rishang Keishing and Gaikhangam regarding integration of Naga inhabited areas of Manipur. I never believed that Shri Rishang Keishing whom the Meities loved so dearly would have betrayed the Meities so badly. Mr. Gaikhangam is still holding the post of President of MPCC till today and he is working as the Deputy Chief Minister in charge of Home. Mr. Rishang Keishing and Mr. Gaikhangam knows very well that Meiteis are very divided and Meiteis will never unite. Meiteis do not have a common voice, common objective and common strategy. Mr. Rishang Keishing and Mr. Gaikhangam must be under the impression that it is very easy to manipulate the Meiteis against one another. But the Meities are very loyal to both Mr. Rishang Keishing and Mr. Gaikhangam. They have reached the zenith of their political career only with the help and support of the Meteis. In return, they are planning to disintegrate Manipur into pieces and destroy the integrity of Manipur as evident from the memorandum and agreement they have signed. Shall we call them patriots who vigorously support their country? Mr. Rishang Keishing and Gaikhangam have to give the answers. Are they like the Trojan horse which brought ruins to the city of Troy or like the General who secretly open the fort for the enemy to defeat the king and destroy the country? There are instances in history where the people turned against emperors, kings and rulers who turned out to be traitors.
What is the solution now ? Shri O. Ibobi Singh was the Chief Minister in 2005 when the memorandum regarding Naga integration was submitted to the Prime Minister and Mr, Gaikhangam was the MPCC president. They cannot feign ignorance. They are vey much involved and responsible for the past blunder.
The merger agreement and the memorandum signed by Shri Rishang Keishing, Shri Gaikhangam were the root cause for initiating the NSCN-IM demand for Alternative Administrative Arrangement which now threaten the territorial integrity, communal harmony, social integration, solidarity and unity of Manipur. These two documents clearly shows that the Manipur Congress Party under Mr. Gaikhangam and for that matter, the Manipur State Congress Ministry under O. Ibobi Singh are entirely responsible for initiating the NSCN-IM demand for alternative administrative arrangement. They must be held responsible for any untoward consequences regarding the demand for Alternative Administrative Arrangement
I have written many articles in different newspapers suggesting the line of action to be taken, Again I am drawing the attention of Shri Rishang Keising, Shri Gaikhangam and Shri Ibobi Singh to the following actions :-
1. Shri Rishang Keising, Shri Gaikhangam may please clarify to the public whether they have signed the memorandum to the Prime Minister along with other Naga leaders ? If not I may be punished for writing this article.
2. If so, under what circumstances they have submitted the memorandum and why are they working against the state. Shri Rishang Keising, Rajya Sabha Member, Shri Gaikhangam, president MPCC should immediately submit another memorandum to the Prime Minister invalidating the earlier memorandum with the promise that the Manipur Congress is totally committed to safeguard not only the territorial integrity but also the emotional integrity, communal harmony, solidarity and unity of all ethnic groups in Manipur.They should correct the past mistakes so that people may excuse them.
3. Shri Rishang Keising, Rajya Sabha Member, Shri Gaikhangam, president MPCC should immediately apologise to the people of Manipur for having betrayed the people and for attempting to destroy the integrity of Manipur. Or they should resign honourably from the present posts before the anger of the people is directed towards them.
4. The Manipur State Government under Shri O. Ibobi Singh should immediately publish a White paper mentioning the present scenario of the Indo-NSCN-IM Peace Talk, what the Government of India wants and how they intend to bring about an honourable settlement with the NSCN-IM, how does it affect the vital interest of Manipur, how it is likely to affect the communal harmony, social integration, solidarity and unity of all ethnic groups in Manipur, strategies likely to be adopted by the Government of Manipur to neutralise or minimise the pressure exerted by the Government of India and to help in settlement of Naga issue without sacrificing vital interest of Manipur.
5. The Manipur State Assembly under Shri O. Ibobi Singh should take a State Assembly Resolution regarding constitutional amendments that (1) The whole state of Manipur should be declared as hill state(2) All the ethnic groups in Manipur may be brought under one uniform Land Law (3) The Article 3 of Indian Constitution regarding alteration of state boundaries shall not apply to Manipur to protect the 2000 year old territorial integrity of Manipur (4) The rights, identity, customs, culture, traditions, religion, land, language, script, mineral resources of indigenous people of Manipur will be protected (5) All indigenous religions of the Manipur may be recognized by the Government of India (6) The Manipuri script ( Meitei Mayek) should be included in the coins and currency bank notes. The Indian Constitution may be perfect in many aspects but certain provisions are extremely discriminatory, dangerous and harmful towards the Manipuris. These provisions encourages us to fight in the name of hill and valley and schedule tribe and general and prevents us from being united. Those provisions which are extremely discriminatory, dangerous and harmful to Manipur should be amended without further delay to restore the dignity and respect of the Manipuris, build up emotional integration with mainland Indians and the solidarity and unity of India. Hence amendment of the Article 371C of the Indian Constitution incorporating the above mentioned proposals should be proposed This should be submitted to the Prime Minister, the Home Minister and others with a strong warning that these amendments should be taken up before considering the question of Naga peace talk. Please remember that Nagaland election is not more important than the integrity of Manipur. Please also remember what B.R Ambedkar said in the Rajya Sabha on 2nd September, 1953 “ , “my friends tell me that I have made the Constitution. But I am quite prepared to say that I shall be the first person to burn it out. I do not want it. It does not suit anybody….”
6. Referendum on the Alternative Administrative Arrangement. The Chief Minister may boldly assert that a referendum should be held under supervision of the Government of India to know whether the people of Manipur wants Naga integration or for that matter the alternative administrative arrangement for the Naga inhabited areas. The land belongs to the state –not to the Nagas or Meiteis or Kukis. The hill areas are not yet surveyed and demarcated. They are many valley areas like Khoupum valley and Saji Tampak in the hills and many hills in the valley. The districts need to be re-organised to ensure solidarity and unity of all ethnic groups. Districts should not be divided on communal lines. Nobody in the hills areas have got pattas or even Dak Chitta, How can they claim that the land belongs to the Nagas. The State Government needs to initiate a bold step even if there is a economic blockade for 10 years.
7. Sending an Official delegation. Recently the Manipur Government has sponsored an all political party delegation on 16th January, 2013 to Delhi to plead to the Home Minister for permission to arrest a criminal like Livingston Anal. As a citizen of Manipur, I feel very much ashamed to hear this. This shows the standard of intelligence and acumen of our ministers and political leaders. If the Manipur Government can sponsor a delegation to Delhi to meet the Home Minister for arresting a criminal, why not send an official delegation to meet the Prime Minister, the President and Home Minister for countering NSCN-IM demand or Pan Naga Development Council demand of Alternative Administrative Arrangement. The Chief Minister may kindly consider the OSUNE-India, Manipur as one of the organisations who is competent and capable of doing this kind of work. We will be in a better position to place our grievances and proposals in the right perspectives to protect the vital interests of Manipur in greater public interest.
(The writer is President of the Organisation for solidarity and Unity of North East India, Manipur. The views expressed in this article are personal.)