Manipur in Chaos Once Again, Ibobi’s Own Creation
While Ibobi’s communal fascism and cheap greed for land is ripping his “police state” Manipur apart, the paid valley-based media are manufacturing cheap propaganda and spreading lies, venom and distorted news, facts and history to communalize the issue to project Ibobi as the Hero and to demonize UNC and shift the blame on the Nagas.
The ongoing agitation of the Nagas erupted in protest against the creation of Sadar Hills and Jiribam districts bifurcating the Naga ancestral areas without consulting the Nagas as in violation of the four MoUs signed between the Nagas and the Government of Manipur, wherein it has been clearly stipulated that not even an inch of Naga ancestral territory shall be parted with, dissected or bifurcated without consulting the Nagas. UNC launched the ongoing indefinite peaceful partial shutdown in protest against the same demanding immediate roll back of the two districts.
However, Ibobi ingeniously coined the term “economic blockade” to criminalise the Naga political issue and illegally arrested the President and the Information Secretary of UNC and further shockingly announced the creation of seven new districts, namely Jiribam, Kangpokpi, Tengnoupal, Pherzawl, Kakching, Noney and Kamjong, despite the staunch protest and opposition from the Nagas and in violation of every constitutional norm leading to intensification of the agitation by the Nagas. The Nagas perceived the move as an attempt to grab their ancestral territory reducing the Nagas to a mere minority in all these seven districts, thereby considered the same as a threat to their identity and culture.
Ever since then, the State Government and the valley-based organizations, UCM in particular, have been sponsoring and instigating communal violence against the Nagas, committing daylight robbery of properties and luggages of innocent Naga passengers, desecrating and vandalizing Naga Churches. One Church at Pangei was also torched. More than 70 private vehicles were vandalized, destroyed and burnt down. Naga passengers were physically assaulted and attacked with stones, slingshots and bottled petrol bombs injuring hundreds and all their belongings and luggages including valuable gifts and presents meant for loved ones during Christmas were looted, ransacked and burnt down. Hundreds and thousands of Naga passengers are still being stranded and are being held hostage as transit captives not even permitting them to leave Imphal valley.
The whole sequence of events is a deliberate creation and a handiwork of the State Government for gaining cheap political mileage in the upcoming state legislative election. Ibobi has been rabidly pursuing communal policies targeting the tribals and in particular the Nagas exploiting the anti-tribal and anti-Naga social psychology of the Meiteis to cling on to power and the Meiteis are patterned to perceive any anti-tribal and anti-Naga policy as a protection of the interest of the Meiteis.
Ibobi has been targeting tribal lands as the valley rapidly gets over populated through various unconstitutional legislative actions as Meiteis cannot legally buy tribal lands in the hills. The recent sudden creation of the new seven districts is a part of this machination which amounts to redrawing of Naga boundaries without any constitutional jurisdiction and mandate as it violates Article 371C of the Constitution and the Manipur Legislative Assembly (Hill Areas Committee) Order, 1972 as the subject of land directly comes under the purview of the Hill Areas Committee (HAC) alone and it is impermissible for the State Government to touch the issue of tribal land without consulting the HAC.
In creating these new seven districts, the State Government does not even consult the HAC, let alone the affected villages. The route of passing a proper Bill to that effect was not even followed and the mandate of charting a proper survey, research report and scientific demarcation taking into proper account of its social, cultural and demographic impact was also completely given a go-by.
It is true that Kukis have been demanding upgrading Sadar Hills as a full-fledged district, however, Sadar Hills historically belongs to the Nagas and the Kukis are considered as late immigrants whose stay in the area are subject to payment of tax to the respective Naga Chiefs. Thus, to the Nagas the question of giving away of their ancestral land or creating new districts in favour of the Kukis lies with the Nagas alone and Manipur has no right to touch even inch of their ancestral territory.
Sadly, while the State Government has turned a deaf ear to the legitimate demands and sensitivities of the Nagas, the situation gets tenser day by day and even a spark could trigger a full-blown out ethnic clash any time soon and the Nagas are determined to agitate and oppose any attempt to implement the districts to “the last man standing” and vows not to part even an inch of their ancestral territory as “Nagas and land are inseparable”. Interestingly, UNC has already rejected the seven districts as illegal, null and void ab initio in its last People’s Convention on 12th December, 2016.
Whereas, Ibobi justifies his action as constitutional arguing that district creation is a state subject. However, it is undeniable that Naga issue is a political issue and the Naga ancestral territory being a subject of political negotiation between the Nagas and the Government of India at the highest political level as two high contracting parties, Manipur Government has no constitutional mandate to redraw the boundaries of the Nagas and the Government of India alone has the prerogative to deal with the land of the Nagas. Government of India has thus failed the Nagas once again by failing to intervene in favour of the Nagas amounting to dishonoring of the 3rd August Naga Framework Agreement.
Ibobi’s unimaginative governance and total disregard for the tribal rights alone are to be blamed for this avoidable situation. Time and again, history has proved that the Nagas and the Meiteis can no longer co-exist and the only permanent solution to this chronic issue for now is total separation of the Naga areas from the State of Manipur. In the immediate circumstance, however, in order to defuse the already explosive situation, a sensible step towards releasing of the two arrested UNC leaders and immediate rolling back of the seven districts is not an alternative but a political compulsion.