There is no indication that the United Naga Council (UNC) will roll back the economic blockade any time soon. At the same time, it is also not known when the JAC for Sadar Hills will launch its own version of protest to demand that Sadar Hills be upgraded to the status of a district. What however can be said with certainty is the fact that the suffering of the common people has reached its zenith. Presently all school vans have suspended service for there is no fuel at the petrol pumps. Prices of essential commodities have also sky rocketed and adding to the discomfiture of the people is the decision of the Centre to demonetise Rs 500 and Rs 1000 notes. What however is interesting is the war of words between the JAC for Sadar Hills and the president of the UNC. It was a few days back that UNC president Gaidon Kamei, during an interaction with The Sangai Express, had openly stated that only the Meiteis and the Nagas are indigenous people of Manipur. Implied here is the point that the Kukis, who are at the forefront of the demand that Sadar Hills be upgraded to the status of a district, are immigrants. As per the argument of Gaidon Kamei, immigrants have no business to demand the creation of a district. Whether Sadar Hills is meant only for the Kukis or not is a different matter, but what is significant is classification of the Kukis as immigrants in Manipur. That the JAC for Sadar Hills has not taken the observation of Gaidon Kamei lightly can be gauged from the lengthy statement issued to the press on November 15.
It is not the case of The Sangai Express to take sides and say which side of the debate carries more weight but it is interesting to note that the JAC for Sadar Hills was not merely shooting from the hips but had taken care to delve into history and dig out some records. How well the arguments of the JAC go down with the people is a different matter, but they have already delivered a powerful statement. In one line, the JAC sought to neutralise the claim of the UNC president by asserting that the Kukis are the second largest community in Manipur, after the Meiteis. How the UNC respond to the JAC for Sadar Hills remains to be seen but it is significant to note that the target seems to have shifted and the State Government does not seem to be at the centre of the debate. ‘To claim the Nagas (referred to as Kachcha Nagas by the JAC) as one entity, with one history, one wave of migration, with complete ownership rights over the entire hills of Manipur is a blatant lie and negation of history’ line of debate put up by the JAC is interesting. It is also interesting to see how the JAC tried to belittle the ‘severance of ties with the State Government (Manipur Government)’ call championed by the UNC. The justification for belittling this claim is what gives that interesting edge to the debate. Let the debate ensue but the need to take care to ensure that things does not go out of hand is needed.
Source: The Sangai Express