(A common man’s reasoning on extension of ceasefire in Manipur)
One of the most contentious political issues that has plagued Manipur is the National Socialist Council of Nagaland (NSCN–IM) issue and the issues this banned underground outfit has emanated. Once such outcome is the Naga ceasefire agreement signed between the Government of India (GoI) and NSCN(IM) in 1997 and having had over 80 rounds of talks or discussion between the parties.
In June, 2001, there was a massive uprising in the Imphal Valley largely by the Meitei community over the Bangkok Declaration, the ceasefire agreement between GoI and NSCN(IM) ‘without territorial limits’ as it was seen as a step towards disintegrating the territorial integrity of Manipur towards the formation of a Greater Nagaland. The uprising led to the death of 18 people apart from the hundreds of injured. This ceasefire agreement ground rules allowed the NSCN(IM) to establish camps and free movement of its armed cadres in the areas where the ceasefire is extended. Subsequently, the words ‘without territorial limits’ were removed from the agrrement officially.
It is a general knowledge how extortions have been conducted on the highways and areas dominated by NSCN(IM) with absolute impunity in the state of Manipur. The common people have been forced to pay a hefty price over the illegal activitiesof this underground group which has been on peace talk with the GoI. Economic blockade is one such menace where the common people are made to pay the heftiest price due to over inflated price of essential commodities as the state depends on outside produces for these items. The truckers of the highways brave perpetual harassments and threat to their lives due to the forced illegal taxes imposed upon the transiting trucks and goods. These activities take place under broad day light in a highly militarized region where there are police, military and paramilitary check posts every few kilometers.
On 28th September, 2016, the PIB (Defence Wing) confirmed the arrest of three high ranking cadres of NSCN(IM) during an operation between Senapati and Henbungby Assam Rifles, Maram Battalion along with weapon, ammo and cash. The arrested high ranking cadres (identified) have been accused of indulging in extortions and nefarious activities on the highway. As per the legal procedure, the arrested cadres were handed over to Lamphel Police Station, Imphal West. Huge enragements broke out on Imphal-Dimapur highway. But, by late evening of 29thSeptember, 2016, it was reliably learnt that the arrested cadres have released on bail by the police on medical ground.
From the aforesaid factors, the questions that come up are: Whether the state government is in active collusion with the NSCN (IM) in throwing dust on the eyes of the general public towards making them believe that the ceasefire is not extended to Manipur? If the state government is conniving with the central government and NSCN(IM) to deceive the people of Manipur who are against the extension of the ceasefire to Manipur?Are the interests of the collective interests of the people of Manipur being sold out by its own government? What is the ramification of letting of these extorters go off the hook so easily by the state when the people have been reeling from their violent assertions and dictates? How could a government as powerful as the one in Manipur (ending its uninterrupted third term) enjoying absolute majority in the State Assembly simply forsake its accountability by letting these big shot criminals from their accountability by violating all the rules of law? It may be mentioned here that law and order is a state issue. Law and order have taken worse turns in this state where extortion of every form is rampant and the common people are its worse victims. The government has failed to maintain peace and tranquility in the state due to its covert and overt divisive policies and programs which lack vision and coherence. All these point to the state of a fascist dictatorship wherein absolute power is concentrated in the regime head and people having no fair share of power and the right to hold the culprits accountable for their acts and omissions that constitute some of the worse crimes against humanity. Thus, law and order being state subject, the state is answerable for the letting off of these high ranking cadres who have been arrested for extortions and nefarious activities in a state where they claim there is no ceasefire agreement.
Leader Writer: Paojel Chaoba