By P. Sharatchandra Singh
Better late than never, a Manipur (Political) Delegation is expected to visit Delhi soon for parleys with the Government of India (GOI) in the wake of Nagas intensifying their demand for an alternative (administrative) arrangement encompassing the political boundaries of Manipur, Assam and Arunachal Pradesh.
The Manipur Government, though it is not (until now) involved in the GOI-NSCN (IM) peace negotiation, should have known well about the framework of the deal being broached by the dialogue partners. Naga bodies’ provocative stance on this vexing problem, which many suspect to be a part of an overall political strategy, has perturbed the State’s “silent majority”. Good sense has prevailed and despite all kinds of provocatio, the people are soft pedalling the issue. But the question is, why GOI and Manipur Government should be so secretive about the Naga peace dialogue. Is there (otherwise) something sinister about the peace brokers in ignoring the most threatened state of Manipur and its people?
Interestingly, Assam, Arunachal Pradesh and Manipur – the three states that engage both the mind and the eye of NSCN (IM) – are under Congress governments, by accident or by design. Given that, one can’t discount the possibility of Assam and Arunachal Pradesh yielding to GOI/NSCN (IM) pressure and saying “Goodbye and Good riddance” to their Achilles’ heel – trouble areas on the fringe of the two states. It is Manipur / Manipuris who should be prepared for the worst.
The Naga tangle has indeed created a highly volatile situation in Manipur. Nagaland legislators’ political overture, to the extent of threatening their resignation en masse, has made the situation more complex. Both time and space are already the major limiting factors for us. The high level political delegation and all concerned for that matter, should seize the moment in order to occupy a critical space in the dialogue process and tell the GOI and the NSCN (IM) without mincing any words, that participation of Manipur as a dialogue partner is a just right and indispensable. The dialogue partners, especially the GOI, may also be advised to fall back on REFERENDUM in the eventuality of a stalemate. It needs to be cautioned that any brazen attempt to impose peace terms (arbitrarily) would precipitate the conflict situation and stir up turmoil in the region.
(The writer is a retired IAS officer and Former Principal Secretary, Government of Manipur)