Framework Agreement: A cry for territorial integrity of Manipur is not the solution, the ultimate is what Manipur can accept

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Dr Th Suresh Singh

Past link: Before the Framework Agreement of Modi Govt., it is worth to remember that i) former CM Ibobi met UPA Chairperson Sonia Gandhi at her 10 Janpat residence at 10-11.30 am on 11/11/2013. Sonia team included her political secretary Ahemad Patel, Home Minister SK Shinde, Defense Minister A.K. Antony and Finance Minister P. Chidambaram. In the evening the CM met PM Manmohon Singh.

According to various press reports – our CM had a healthy heated argument with the Union Home Minister in front of Sonia Gandhi. The CM also totally rejected Home Minister’s proposal to apply Sixth Schedule of the constitution to Manipur. Besides telling Sonia of the Centre’s one sided approach, its secrecy and keeping Manipur in the dark, Ibobi further told Sonia team to give in writing about the Sixth Schedule so that he can keep the proposal to the people of Manipur, and if the people agree, he would have no objection. It is further reported that Sonia was a little unhappy about what was going on in the then present Indo-Naga parley. According to one close aid of our CM, he was reported to have expressed- “January 11 is the happiest day in my life.”

ii) All party delegation (14 parties excluding NPF) had a meeting with the PM and HM on 17/1/2013 at 6.10 p.m. and 1 p.m. respectively. The Manipur delegation was led by our CM Ibobi Singh. Three clear-cut decisions were communicated by the delegate to the Prime Minister and Home Minister i.e. a) no disturbance in Manipur boundary b) abolition of unauthorized NSCN (IM) camp in Manipur and c) handing over of Livingstone to Manipur Govt. At present, I am only concerned with the peace talk in this article.

The delegation further submitted a memo to PM & HM “to amend the constitution and adding a proviso to Article 3, clarifying that its provisions will not be applicable to the N.E. states, including Manipur, and that their territorial boundaries will never be altered without the consent of the State legislatures concerned” This be done before any solution to the Naga issue, the delegation further argued.

iii) CPI National Executive Committee urged Central Govt. to include Manipur representative in the present peace talk. It was taken at its meeting held at Bhubaneswor on 11-12/01/ 2013 iv) The other development was State BJP leaders’ meeting with its central leaders which included L.K. Advani, national spoke person Javedkar and opposition leader Sushima Suaraj on 25/1/2013 and urging their commitment to preserve Manipur integrity at all cost.
Presently, i) CM Biren constituted a drafting committee on 28/10/2017 as per the decision of the all political parties and it has completed the process of a draft memo. Unfortunately, state Congress did not take part. It is reported that the draft will be submitted to the CM very soon for onward transmission to PM. ii) 3 civil organizations, vice-AMUCO, CCSK & UCM held an open public dialogue on 18/11/2017 at Lamyanba Shanglen, Palace Compound. The huge gathering took 3 resolutions – a) to insert a new provision to article 371 (C) to check polarization of different communities b) If Parliament invoke Article 3 of the constitution, state ratification should be made compulsory c) Any structural bodies like pan Naga cultural body/territorial council/financial autonomy etc. which directly or indirectly acknowledge NSCN (IM)’s demand should not be formed.

Your Opinion Maker is not in the habit of writing something without having some background knowledge of the topic. Hence, let me share the same with the readers.
i) Kashmir type of rider : There seems to be a conflict of what various party delegations/NGOs demanded under Article 3 and the Kashmir rider under article 370 of the constitution. The Kashmir specific was made in exercise of the powers conferred by clause (i) of article 370 of the constitution and the said was added to article 3 of the constitution.

Let me quote the exact words contained in the constitution book referred to at page 418 (The Constitution of India 11th Edition by P.M. Bakshi) :- (1) The preamble (2) part 1. To article 3, there shall be added the following further provision, namely : “provided further that no bill providing for increasing or diminishing the area of the State of Jammu and Kashmir or altering the name or boundary of that state shall be introduced in parliament without the consent of the legislature of that State.” This is effective from 26/1/1950.

My common sense as a simple medical doctor tells me that the rider is to be made under clause (i) of the article 370 of the constitution and to be added to article 3. In fact Article 2-Admission or establishment of new states, Article 3- Formation of new States and alteration of areas, boundaries or names of existing states and Article 4-laws made under article 2 and 3 to provide for amendment of the First and the Fourth Schedules and supplemental, incidental and consequent matters, are closely related. Many provision are to be added/deleted to article 2/3/4 and others once the amendment is made under clause (i) Article 370. Hence it is better to clarify whether the rider is to be done under article 370 or under article 3. Presently, Kashmir has a lot of debate regarding Article 35A of the constitution. It was inserted through a presidential order in 1954. It gives J&K Assembly to define permanent resident of the state along with their rights and privileges. It was modified more than 40 times through various presidential orders. Present hot topic is that it has never been brought through constitutional amendments as required under Article 368 of constitution or never presented before parliament for approval. The supreme court has set up a 3-judge bench to hear it. The centre wants the court to settle it, J&K govt. favoured maintaining status quo. If 35A is done away, Article 370 may not be used to prevent outsiders from settling in Kashmir- this is a favoured one by RSS & BJP. ii) Sixth Schedule : What is this Schedule? It contains provisions as to the Administration of Tribal Areas in the States of Assam, Meghalaya, Tripura and Mizoram. It contains various wide ranging powers/provision. What we common people should understand is that various Autonomous District Councils for the above mentioned states are made under this schedule. Manipur is not included in this schedule.

iii) The District Council Act, 1971 : Everyone, including self, is miss-using its nomenclature. I got a copy of the District Council Manual, Volume I, published by Planning & Development Department, Imphal, 1972 publication and would plead all to use the exact title i.e. – The Manipur (Hill Areas) District Council Act, 1971. It was amended 3 times – 1975, 2006 and 2008. It was not mentioned under which article and schedule of the constitution the Act is enacted. Coming to its specifics – this act has wide ranging powers. That there is still dis-satisfaction in the hill areas in spite of its 45 yrs. existence is another matter. People’s angry and anxiety is due to sere lack of farsightedness, inefficient administration and corruption by various Governments who run the state from time to time. If the DC members knew how to use their powers under the Act, there will be a lot of all round development and satisfaction.
Solution : It is 2 yrs. & 4 months since the Framework Agreement was signed with much fanfare on 3/8/2015 with Modi govt., but with no chance of solution seen on the horizon at present. As done in my previous 2 articles, the following lines are kept for our govt. and for our civil societies : i) to protect territorial integrity, under article 370 of the constitution, a relevant clause be added to article 3 not to disturb geographical boundary of Manipur without the consent of state assembly. At present, I don’t see any issue in territorial integrity as PM and other central leaders repeatedly assured for the same. It seems to be the only political slogan now with no substance left, hence let us left it to the politicians for their public game. However, this Kashmir type of rider is a must for future protection. ii) Sixth Schedule : I have repeatedly said that we should not be afraid of it, what is important is the contents to be added. We have already the District Council Act 1971. There is no harm if we give more power to our hill brethren for their welfare under the District Council Act 1971 or under the Sixth Schedule. Hence, it be left for discussion, we have to be flexible iii) similarly, we have to sought more powers for our Pradhan, upapradhan and municipality level (Panchayati Raj System) in the valley for all round devt. This will check to some extent those corrupt politicians and bureaucrats iv) funding through NEC- we have already an institution and a mechanism. All budgets can be marked separately by the centre through this. I am surprised that this option is not considered either by the centre or by the state. I really appeal to our hon’ble CM Biren to take up this issue as both parties will have no objection. In fact, this may be the winning hit in the present fluid situation if centre earmarks more money through it for specific region. The centre is bound to agree to that.

Conclusion : This column has repeatedly mentioned that Manipuris are bad negotiators. We lost our internal autonomy (and through it subsequent freedom) and Kabaw valley because of this. Naga brethren are far superior in this aspect. We are never able to present historical facts with figure and words. We have repeatedly to tell that i) hill + valley belonged to the same origin i.e. 1st we settled in the hills and later on came down to the present valley (once a lake). These are scientifically proven archeological records that we settled 1st in the various hilly caves long before 40-30,000 yrs. back ii) repeatedly, we have to mention that Kohima and surrounding areas belonged to Manipur before it was handed over to British Viceroy, Lord North Brook on 11/08/1874 at that famous Jilla Darbar (meeting). That, since 1835, the forest between Doyeng and Dhunsiri river are Manipur’s boundary up to that Jilla Darbar meeting . This is found repeatedly in many books of British writers and is on record. Had not that unpatriotic king Chandrakirti handed over the same at that time, ½ of Nagaland brethren and Manipuris would have lived peacefully forever iii) we have to remind this repeatedly to our Nagaland brethren, to ourselves and to Delhi. We missed this opportunity because of past mistakes. We have the flair for demonstration, rallies etc. in the beginning, but very poor follow up in the end. This is repeatedly seen. Now is time for us to learn, time to go to Delhi with history, facts and figure and tell our historical perspective. The overall objective be- to bring a permanent solution so that all tribes/caste in Manipur live peacefully and through it we co-exist peacefully with our neibouring states. (The writer is ex-Director, Health)


Source: The Sangai Express

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