I appreciate GS Oinam for his tireless efforts to broker the Sadar Hills impasse since the last two months. However, there are lots in his article entitled ‘One Way for No Way land!’ that need reexamination.
He made some archaic suggestions for solution to the Sadar Hills stalemate where the ethnic communities should be in tandem on the issue, has produced some illogical presumptions. Had such things being considered the opinion of the Kukis in Ukhrul and Tamenglong would have been taken before forming these districts. Was it done in those two districts when they were decided to be upgraded to a district? Such metaphorical statement is easier said than done.
Sanjoy Hazarika in his recent article ‘Mizoram’s 25 Years are more than the Blink of an Eye’ termed the Mizos as ‘pragmatic’ while the Kukis, Nagas and Meiteis in Manipur and Nagaland as ‘emotional’. If we can go back to history and have a deeper look on the Mizos during the height of the Mizo National Front movement in the then Lushai Hills, it would indubitably reveal that the Mizos would have been emotional on the movement; on each human rights abuses made by the Indian army, as well as on the issue of language chauvinism of the Assamese.
A Naga nationalist will be slushy on the issue of more than six decades of, what they termed, oppression by India on the Nagas. Likewise, a Manipuri separatist might say that the ‘coax and coerced’ tactics of the Indian agents integrate Manipur as one of the Indian colony. On the same plane, nearly forty years of denial of granting district status to Sadar Hills might be painful to the majority community of Sadar Hills. The angst within them has erupted as an emotional fever, as we see, resulting in the non-reconcilable path towards the achievement of their goal through blockade.
If the long arm of the law can issue arrest warrant to the Sadar Hills Districthood Demand Committee (SHDDC) leaders for their activity, then why not it stretches its arm to implement the Manipur (Hill Areas) District Council Act 1971 in full by way of ordering the present government to inaugurate Sadar Hills as district? GS Oinam needs to be reminded of the peaceful means of protests since the formation of SHDDC in 1974 which yielded no result and of the popular legal maxim ‘Justice delayed is justice denied.’
Understanding the intricacies of the ethnic aspirations, no district had been created so far on ethnic lines. As such, as per the Manipur (Hill Areas) District Council Act 1971, Ukhrul, Tamenglong, Tengnoupal (Chandel), Churachandpur and Senapati ADC territorial areas had been upgraded to a district and there was no opposition as it was the implementation of the legal enactment of the central government. Likewise, an easy solution to the Sadar Hills issue is the implementation of the Manipur (Hill Areas) District Council Act 1971 by way of granting district to Sadar Hills. Doing this way will be the non-ethnicisation of the issue and it will be a clear message of spreading goodwill to all and not hatred.
The tirade on economic blockade and assuming it as inflicting the valley people only is dubious. The blockade equally hurt the people of Sadar Hills and all other hill communities as much as the valley dwellers. GS Oinam talks about growing and successful organisations being flexible. The flexible SHDDC leaders of the past withdrew the bandhs after receiving the promises of the Chief Ministers. However, the tall lies of the successive governments continue till date.
Terming the Sadar Hills issue as ‘your’ instead of ‘our’ is something that needs serious rethinking. It is this type of reckless words that breed more of centrifugal forces. And terming the issueless Sadar Hills as giving ‘multi conflict’ messages is painting much more ethnic colours on the walls of Sadar Hills, rather than giving a breather to it.
With regard to the timing and strategy of the agitation, just ridiculing the agitation to a mere idea of amateur strategists and suggesting to them like a witty ‘Birbal to the King’ tantamount an over estimation of one’s virtue having cognizance of the impasse. Who knows there might be a back-up strategy that if this agitation fails to achieve the goal within this legislative term, Sadar Hills issue will be the centre of the next electioneering? And the ten coordinated Kuki MLAs can do lots in this coalition era.
Oinam made sweet suggestions for solution. However, as the main opposition to Sadar Hills district comes from the Nagas, it is pertinent to examine Sadar Hills based on their methodology. Nagas often talk about history and its uniqueness. The unique history of upgrading districts in Manipur involves ‘administrative convenience’ based on the Manipur (Hill Areas) District Council Act 1971, regardless of the ethnic communities that settle in the area. This unique process points that Sadar Hills demand is genuine and needs to be upgraded.
GS Oinam said that the Congress party is ‘getting advantage and playing vote bank politics in valley for coming assembly election from your demand (Sadar hills).’ How will a political party which has failed to solve the Sadar Hills issue make use of the issue they can’t deal with to convince people to vote for them?
As against the suggestion of Oinam, relying fully on the Committee on Reorganisation of Administrative and Police Boundary (CRA & PB) on the Sadar Hills issue is doubtful. Rishang Keishing had once formed administrative boundaries reorganisation committee decades back but without any result. Will the present committee be able to submit report that can satisfy the aspirations of all the ethnic groups of the state? This herculean task is something unachievable.
There is no solution to the Sadar Hills issue other than implementation of the Manipur (Hill Areas) District Council Act 1971 by upgrading the present Sadar Hills areas into a district.In this type of emotionally charged situation ‘appeals’, to either the state government or SHDDC, will be more effective than euphemistic ‘suggestions’.
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