Dated Tahamzam, 22nd January, 2013
1. The Indo-Naga ceasefire was put in place to facilitate a negotiated settlement of the Indo-Naga issue. The peace process has been premised on the unique history and situation of the Nagas. After more than 15 years of the peace process, a settlement of the complex issue is impending.
2. The demand for an alternative arrangement for the Nagas in Manipur outside the Government of Manipur(GoM), pending settlement of the Indo-Naga issue was registered in the 1st July, 2010 Naga People’s Convention based on the unmistakable facts that it is impossible to protect our right to life, land, time-honored institutions, customary practices and values under the administration of the dominant and communal GoM and our history with it has clearly confirmed the harsh reality that it has never recognized and respected the identity and dignity of the Naga people.
3. That there is a sharp communal divide between the Meiteis and the Nagas/tribals has been understood by the world notwithstanding the persistent attempts, particularly by the communal GoM to whitewash away the same through various means. In the last few days some issues have been brought out in this regard by the GoM to which we comment as follows –
a) The 14 political parties delegation to Delhi does not include the NPF nor the PDA and therefore was only an all Meitei political parties delegation. The reported assault of Momoko by Livingstone, an NSCN cadre has merited discussions in the State Assembly, condemnation by valley based political parties and civil societies and also occasioned the much hyped delegation to Delhi. But the humiliation and assault of thousands of tribals in Imphal valley between 22nd to 29th December by Momoko bandh supporters, 2012; the assault on tribal students and attempted rape of a tribal girl Ms M. C. Ayur at Napetpali by KCP(City Meitei) cadres led by Col Amit on the 23rd December, 2012; the killing of 2 Kongkan villagers by the UNLF, an unlawful organisation on the 28th December, 2012 – only elicited silence from the GoM and the civil societies of Imphal valley, clearly exhibiting their communal mindset. The sentiments of the Nagas and tribals are deeply hurt but restraint has been exercised. Unmindful of this, salts have been rubbed into the wounds. Instead of reaching out and addressing the hurt sentiments of the Nagas and tribals, the communal GoM sponsors a delegation to Delhi on the Momoko-Livingstone incident just to put a spanner in the Indo-Naga peace process.
b) CM Ibobi has reportedly cited the fair representation of Tribal IAS, IPS and MCS officers in the State Government to convince the Government of India(GoI) that Meiteis are left far behind and are in an unfavourable situation. These tribal officers enter into their services through competitive exams or seniority and meritorious service records and not by depriving non tribals. On the other hand, many tribal officers have been mistreated with punishment postings. We do not know why Ibobi’s government is targeting tribal officers but what we know is that, as on 31/3/2007 the total number of ST employees should have been 20,031 but they are actually only 15,489. How the shortfall of 4,542 tribal employees has been appropriated by the non-tribals has to be explained by Mr Ibobi. With regard to ADC teachers recruited in 1999, 2006 and 2010, large number of non tribals were stealthily recruited by the GoM, while it maintains that there is no quota here for the Meiteis. The self evident deprivation will be borne out by statistical facts which we intend to expose in due course.
c) That non tribals cannot own land in the hills but tribals can do so in the valley is granted by an act of Parliament to protect disadvantaged tribals. Instead of encouraging tribal settlement in the valley for emotional integration, this fact is being used in the communal agenda to project that Tribals have encroached upon the rights of the Meiteis people. The options now being explored by the GoM is for extending the Manipur land Reform and Land Revenue Act to the hill areas, to declare the state of Manipur as a hill state or to obtain ST status for the entire Meitei community.
d) Whichever party or whatever combination forms the Government in the State, the 40 MLAs from the valley, across party lines determines everything in the interest of the valley people and against the constitutional and democratic rights of the tribals who own 90 % of the land in the state. The rights of the tribals will never be upheld nor protected under the GoM. Mr Rishang Keishing was Chief Minister and Mr. Gaikhangam is Deputy Chief Minister not because they are Nagas but through party decisions in Government formation. Naturally they do not uphold the interest of the tribals and worked in the party interest only, fitting very well into the communal GoM’s scheme of things.
e) The statements of Ibobi and the GoM over the last few months harps on ensuring equal development in the hills and by this very admission, it indicates that the tribals have been denied their rights to development. But in Delhi, with maps and selected but irrelevant statistics Ibobi has projected that tribals in the state have more than their share.
f) Ibobi says that the opinion of the people of Manipur matters the most. Who are the people of Manipur and does it include the Nagas and tribals in Ibobi’s vocabulary. If so the Nagas and tribals want alternative arrangement outside the GoM, which are already established positions, and the opinion of the people of Manipur must include the same.
g) Ibobi states the need to maintain the capital status of the state as an excuse for the admitted contrast in the development of Imphal valley and the hills. But what about all the facilities, infrastructures, communication system, the sanctioning & disbursement authorities etc which have all been concentrated in Imphal valley on the pretext of law and order in the hills when Imphal valley has more than 20 militant groups. To add to the flavor, as admitted publicly by the state home minister, anti-social elements have infiltrated into the state Police force as borne out by the acts of terrorism they have been committing in the capital under the very nose of the state government.
4. The civil society, militant groups and political parties of Imphal valley and the entire state machinery of the GoM have all been employed to sabotage the Indo-Naga peace process which seeks to address the political aspiration of the Nagas.
5. In the given situation, the Governor who is the agent of the Union, instead of discharging his constitutional duties remains a mute spectator and becomes an agent of the communal GoM.
6. Nagas are not communal and ours is a political issue. What we do not wish for is for any communal conflagration to take place because of the inability to accept the inevitable and the logical conclusion of the Naga peoples’ movement for their political aspirations rooted in their history and situation. What we wish for is the peaceful parting of ways and the securing of good neighbourliness for all times to come.
7. We are reaching out to other tribal communities for their solidarity towards the political aspiration of the Nagas just as we would like to assure them of our respect and support for their genuine and rightful aspirations.
8. We remind the Naga people, wherever and in whatever situation they may be, to be in readiness and to assert our political aspirations as a people at this critical and defining moment of history.
United Naga Council