By Jimmy Pamei
Manipur is like tiny India with varied communities, colorful traditions and diverse tastes. Though there were tensions from time to time, the state had managed to hammer out solutions and so continue to exist as a harmonious colorful state. There had been various ethnic
clashes in the state. But they all limp back to normalcy as time goes by. One community that often haunts the most upon the state integrity is the Naga community. When they do, they usually strike at the foundation of the state. Their independence movement or the so called ‘Framework Agreement’, ‘Alternative Arrangement’ or whatever stirs the water of Manipur. The latest move by the state in creating 7 new districts is a new salt rubbed to the unhealed wounds of the Naga’s sentiments.
In states like Andhra Pradesh and West Bengal new districts or state were created on the basis of administrative convenience, population size (about 1 million for a district), distance of district headquarter, urbanization factor etc. However the Manipur Government recent move in creating new districts was in the garb of administrative convenience, but the real intention seems to be political. And this step is somewhat likens to ‘fools rush in where angels fear to tread’. And it is conjectured that the decision makers saw the danger while taking such bold steps, and that they have not scan the state thoroughly to see beyond their political walls. The move was bold, but is not the wisest. In order to appease one group, the whole state is plunged into the wagon of suffering.
For a long time some community have been clamoring for separation or severing of ties with Manipur state for various reasons. The Nagas in particular have their own point and the desperate hope of integrating their kith and kin as envisaged in their pursuit for sovereignty or whatever, and the so called ‘Framework Agreement’ of 2015 have given much fillip to their hope – for separation from the present Manipur state. That they ‘mean business’ is oft repeated in their various statements that ‘not an inch’ should be touched while creating new districts, especially referring to Sadar Hills and Jiribam. The All
Meitei Club Organization Manipur (AMCOM) and Meitei Youth Front South East Asia (MYFSEA) too have stated that the Manipur State Darbar Act 1932 should be looked into while creating new districts to protect the Meitei agricultural land.
But the state government has blatantly flexed its muscle by creating not only two but 7 districts in Manipur.
While seeming to take revenge against one group or organization, and while flexing the muscle to indicate dominance the other end of the state is put on the furnace. The situation now looks as if it is going to end up like the comic of Tom and Jerry.
Several reasons can be cited, besides the ethnic issues, as a writing on the wall for disintegration of Manipur from being a single entity.
The administration of the former or old districts was so bad and pathetic. Government schemes did not reached the target groups, there were instances much red tapism, rampant corruption in appointment to jobs and schemes distribution, nepotism, favouritism, and apathy towards the tribal communities have been lingering issue for many decades. For example the pathetic road condition of all the hill districts of the state speaks volume about it. They are so pathetic.
Who is responsible for such condition in this so called welfare state? What about the appointment to various posts through written or oral test? How many genuine people have been? In addition to all these doldrums what is the meaning of the attempt to inaugurate an incomplete project? What is the meaning of Passing Bills while some communities are deadly against it? The intention could be for benefit of one community, but the affected community has kick back so badly that the very foundation of state integrity is already at risk now.
What is the meaning of ‘breaking ceasefire ground rules while Manipur has said ceasefire doesn’t extend to the state’? What is the meaning of the valley community trying to become ‘Tribal’ people while attacking the hill Tribal community? Didn’t this valley community have sanskritized so high up in the hierarchy and have acted ‘holier than thou’ for decades and have they not treated the tribal communities as the ‘pariah’ for ages?
The creation of new districts was, for sure, not really for administrative convenience. There are several reasons for that argument. Even the former districts do not have sufficient officers and doctors and specialists and engineers. And even those appointed to the post at the hill district do not come to report at their stations.
What is the meaning of increasing the number of district when the earlier districts were not administered efficiently and conveniently?
What is that convenience for administration now? Therefore the logical conclusion is that the intention behind new districts creation is simply either political or communal. If it is political it is at the cost of communalism. If it is at the cost of communalism it is communalism in toto. Therefore the impact is predictable: it is another move towards disintegration of the state.
However there is also solution to every problem. Now since the discussion has filter down to the issue of communalism, the last hope for regaining trust of every community is to listen to their stories.
The government should have, at least in principle, listened to the complaints of the stakeholders while creating new districts. And that can still be done at this crucial stage. One biggest danger in the disintegration of Manipur is the Naga issue. Their struggle for the so called ‘sovereignty’ or ‘alternative arrangement’ or the ‘supra state’ ‘framework agreement’ and the likes have given this community that false or true hope. And when such hopes are already indicating danger, instead of pacifying them the Government action of instigating communal feeling is adding strength for their assertion. Instead give coax them and assure them with genuine promises, and faith that measures will be taken up to protect their interest. Make good use of the so called Goodwill Commission or other intermediaries who are willing to give peace back a chance. Recall those old traditions where the valley community has to engage the tribal people to complete some of the rituals. Actually everyone and every communities were one people in the first place.
Source: Imphal Free Press