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Op-Ed

The Indo-Naga issue must be settled at the earliest for the good of every stakeholder

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By EMN Updated: Nov 30, 2014 8:35 pm
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[dropcap]T[/dropcap]he first Indo-Naga Cease-fire which came into effect from Sept. 6th 1964 and lasted till 1967 was operational in the entire Naga areas of the north east region but could not proceed with concrete progress due to lack of political will of the Government of India(GoI).
The second Indo-Naga Cease-fire agreement signed in 1997 between the GoI and the NSCN as two entities without any pre-conditions was welcomed by the Naga people with great hopes for permanent peace after decades of the Indo-Naga armed conflict. With the recognition of the unique history and situation of the Nagas by the then NDA Government under the dynamic leadership of Shri Atal Behari Vajpayee, it was felt that an honourable and acceptable settlement would emerge from the peace process at the soonest. Unfortunately the current peace process has dragged on for the last 17 precious years with no tangible result for the want of the same political will on the part of the GoI.The delay in the settlement of the Indo-Naga issue has created space for the communal Government of Manipur (GoM) and the dominant elements that inform their policies to put spanners in the peace process in order to derail it. The events of 1997, 2001 and 2005 that engulfed Imphal valley of in chaos and violence, which was projected as entire Manipur, was engineered by the GoM and communal forces with a view to disturb the peace process. The situation that was created in Ukhrul recently on the pretext of maintaining law and order is purely the machination of the GoM and is aimed towards the same end. On 6th May, 2010 a peaceful public rally at Mao Gate to protest against the ban of the GoM on the visit of the chief Naga negotiator, Th. Muivah to his native place and Naga areas in Manipur was fired upon by the state police force killing two promising students and injuring more than hundreds, most of whom were women folks. The contempt and disrespect of the GoM for the Indo-Naga cease fire has been the cause of the militarization of Naga areas, killings of innocents and attack upon our human rights and identity. The hard earned peace process and the Indo-Naga peace talks of 17 years is being sabotaged and undermined by their belligerent posture.
The communal actions and policies of the GoM on the Nagas and tribals is not confined to the use of brute force and violence alone but is well orchestrated with notifications, legislations, administrative orders & Acts that seeks to usurp our inherent rights over our ancestral lands and also to perpetuate the denial of identity, due opportunities and political empowerment of our people and to destroy the traditional institutions/village republics of the Nagas/tribals. The GoM has very clearly defined their relation with the Nagas with the following positions – There are no Nagas in Manipur. No to Indo-Naga cease-fire. No land belongs to the Nagas and therefore no protection of ancestral lands of the Nagas/tribals which otherwise is granted by law. No to the constitutional rights of employment and educational opportunities of the Nagas/tribals. No to development of the tribal areas on the pretext of law and order and absence of land laws.
The Nagas in Manipur, therefore basing on the unmistakable facts that it is impossible to protect their right to life, land, time-honored institutions, customary practice and have their identity and dignity recognized and respected under the existing political and administrative system of the dominant and communal GoM, declared on 1st July, 2010, that the Nagas will sever all political ties with the communal GoM and demand for an alternative arrangement outside the GoM pending settlement of the Indo-Naga issue. Consequent to this declaration and submission of the demand to the GoI, the latter initiated the democratic process of dialogue at the tripartite level of the GoM, GoI and the UNC which has logically progressed to a stage where in the 7th round of talk it was agreed that the GoI would set up a high powered committee to translate the demand into a political reality.
On the other hand in the four Imphal valley districts, hundreds of innocent mainland Indians, mainly petty traders, professionals and skilled workers have been killed, bombed and maimed under the very nose of Mr. O. Ibobi, the Chief Minister of Manipur. At this very moment non-locals are being herded like cattles in Imphal valley in pursuit of the Inner Line Permit demand. Bombings and shootings are routine and even the Chief Minister’s official residence has been attacked 4 times. But the Disturbed Area Act has been conveniently lifted from 7 Assembly segments of greater Imphal. In sharp contrast, in the tribal hill areas where there is “cease-fire” and “suspension of operation” and peace, there is militarisation by the GoM. It is this Imphal centric worldview and communal exclusiveness of the State Government and the dominant community that has created the irreparable situation in the failed state of Manipur.
In the given scenario, the Nagas in Manipur have called for the political intervention of the Government of India with a change in the system. The entrenched social divide and suppressive system has to be supplanted with a political solution. Surely and irrefutably this impossible situation of strife and conflict will continue in greater aggravation with the spirited younger generation should GoI continue to abdicate it constitutional and moral responsibilities. How long must be GoM be allowed to reap funding dividends as a disturbed state while blaming the Nagas who are struggling for their political aspiration and rightful place for the myriad ills of the state that is deteriorating by the day.
The state is not the property of any individual or any particular community. An alternative arrangement that brings changes to accommodate the identity, dignity, rights and political aspirations of all will be a boon for all concerned. Without respect for the human person and our people, development cannot and will not take place. The magnanimity of recognising this imperative will push up all concerned collectively to the spirit of brotherhood of mankind, where there is mutual respect and honour, free from oppression, subjugation and dominance upon each other.
The Naga situation in Manipur must of necessity be addressed in the settlement of the Indo-Naga issue to secure lasting peace in the region. The GoI must therefore go beyond assurances and platitudes, which has been never wanting in the 17 past years and must expedite an acceptable and honourable settlement of the Indo-Naga issue based on the unique history and situation of the Nagas.
( L. ADANI ) President(Outgoing) United Naga Council

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By EMN Updated: Nov 30, 2014 8:35:32 pm