SENAPATI, MANIPUR: In Manipur, crippled by an economic blockade for over the three months, the agitating United Naga Council (UNC) and the ruling Congress have drawn swords at each other. With Manipur Congress Legislature Party (CLP) writing to Prime Minister Narendra Modi to declare UNC, the top body of Nagas living in Manipur, as an “unlawful organisation”, the UNC has hit back claiming Congress is playing a ‘communal’ politics.
In poll-bound Manipur, UNC has clamped economic blockade in two highways since November 1 in protest against the state government’s decision to create seven new districts by bifurcating the Naga areas of the state.
In an exclusive interview to NDTV, UNC General Secretary S Milan said that under no circumstances the land of the Naga areas in Manipur can be divided, calling it a “non-negotiable” position.
Here are excerpts from the interview with UNC General Secretary S Milan:
NDTV: After over 100 days, the economic block continues. There were rounds of talks and then the Manipur government alleged that you backtracked. Is that the case?
S Milan: The reality is that the on-going economic blockade is the expression of the Nagas for having bifurcated the Naga ancestral lands in Manipur for creation of seven new districts in the state without consulting the land owners who are the Naga people.
NDTV: The centre called you for a talk and after the talks claimed that “substantial process” was made. Everyone expected UNC to call off the blockade. But that did not happen?
S Milan: The core issue should be the rollback of the creation of seven new districts which was created by the Ibobi Singh government. If the government addresses the core issue, lifting of economic blockade might not be a tough job.
NDTV: With election just around the corner, it seems the blockade has become a rather political with both the Congress and the BJP playing a blame-game. How does UNC see this situation?
S Milan: I would like to appeal to all political parties to respect the sentiments of the Naga people. They must not use this for political gains. They must say, ‘let us respect the sentiments of Naga people’ – meaning all the political parties and the government must uphold the letters and spirit of the Memorandums of Understanding and the written assurances in past that Naga areas will be safeguarded.
NDTV: So what is UNC’s final stand? What will make you lift the blockade?
S Milan: They must rollback their decision of new district creation. We are the landowners; The Government of Manipur is not the landowner of our ancestral land. They must respect this. That is the only solution. Or if there is a better solution we will see in future, we will discuss with all Naga tribes but one thing is clear that Naga ancestral land is non-negotiable; We cannot compromise on our land under any circumstances.