Nagalim : Casting its shadow over the State Passing the baton to CSOs

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Not exactly an extension of the last commentary in this column here, but this is about an issue which is most likely to grip the State in the near future on top of the other issues which are currently besieging the State. As observed here earlier, apart from the demand to enforce the Inner Line Permit System or a similar mechanism to protect the interests of the indigenous people and the strong voice of opposition against a Bill which may impinge on the interest of the tribals, the demand for Nagalim or a Greater Nagaland will cast  its long shadow on the State anytime in the near future. And so it is that despite the Government of India initially assuring that the territories of other States will not be compromised while working out a solution with the NSCN (IM), the Naga outfit has more than made it clear that the demand for Nagalim is very much there on the agenda. Now comes the stand of the New Delhi based Naga Scholars’ Association, (NSA) which has unequivocally stated that the integration of all Naga inhabited areas under one administrative unit is a must. In the same vein, it has also gone on record to state ‘a solution to the Naga issue should not be diluted and sabotaged on the pretext of protecting the territorial integrity of the neighbouring States.’ This is perhaps the first time that the NSA has so vocally spoken out on an issue and while it may not be a mass based organisation like the United Naga Council or any of the other civil society organisations of the Nagas, it stands that this small group is a gathering of the better brains of the Naga society and this is where their stand needs to be noted.
The Sangai Express has on more than one occasion made its stand clear on the question of the territorial integrity of the State and so have numerous civil society organisations of Manipur. The same will be true in the case of Assam and Arunachal Pradesh, the two other States which have large swathe of land which have been claimed by the NSCN (IM) in their Nagalim map. Difficult to say how Delhi will respond to this challenge but it would do well for everyone to remember that Manipur was not gifted by any other external forces but existed as it was for centuries. Having said this, it has to be acknowledged that the NSCN (IM) has been able to spread its agenda amongst the Naga people quite effectively. This may be seen in the context of the fact that today it is not only the outfit but other civil society organisations which have been raising the banner of Nagalim. This fact should not blow over the heads of the three State Governments, particularly the Government of Manipur. To be sure this is an issue which will grab headlines in the near future. The important question is whether the State Government has had the time to study how it will deal with the situation when the time comes.

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