The time has come to place the position of the Naga people in Manipur on the ensuing General Election, 2017 in the public domain. The communal Government of Manipur(GoM) and the Manipur Pradesh Congress Committee (MPCC) have –
(a) Imposed the Manipur(Hill Areas) District Council (3rd Amendment) Act, 2008 which allows for District Councils to occupy and sell village lands, take away forests, interfere in the appointment/succession of chiefs/ headman/chairman and on matters relating to inheritance of property, marriage and divorce and control and regulation of customs and traditions.
(b) Sabotaged the delimitation exercise in the name of all Manipur political parties forum and prevented the increase of 5 tribal seats in the State Assembly.
(c) Stated that there are no Nagas in Manipur and that all land belongs to the state and no land belongs to the tribals, thereby denying the land ownership of tribals which is constitutionally protected.
(d) Objected to the demand for Naga integration, the aspiration of Nagas, based on their history.
(e) Objected to the Indo-Naga ceasefire of 1997 and the extension of cease-fire without territorial limits in 2001. They desire that violence and conflicts should continue.
(f) Objected to the extension of any constitutional provisions that will benefit the tribal people and instead have imposed acts, rules, orders and suppressive measures in all walks of life by establishing legitimacy and blatantly carried out mass scale injustice, deprivation and oppression of the tribals. GoM enacted the Manipur(Village Authority in Hill Areas) Act, 1956; the Manipur Hill Areas (Acquisition of Chiefs Rights) Act, 1967 and the Forest Rights Act, 2006 – to destroy the self-governing system, rights and land holding system of the tribals.
(g) Objected to the visit of Th. Muivah, the Naga leader and chief negotiator with Govt. of India, to his native place.
(h) Objected to the launching of Manipur unit of the Naga Peoples’ Front, a political party registered with the Election Commission of India under Peoples’ Representation Act and to the visit of Mr Neiphiu Rio, a democratically elected Chief Minister to attend the same.
(i) Objected to the historic signing of the 3rd August, 2015 Framework Agreement for finalising and honourable and acceptable settlement of the Indo-Naga issue.
(j) Schemed ceaselessly to extend the MLR& LR Act of 1960 to the hills areas, lift the Manipur Liquor prohibition Act 1991 from the hill districts and impose Manipuri language.
(k) Passed the infamous three anti-tribal bills on 31 August, 2015 leading to deaths of 9 tribal.
(l) Refused to respond to Naga demand for clarification on covert moves to declare Sadar Hills and Jiribam as full fledged districts for which the ongoing economic was enforced w.e.f. 1st November, 2016. On the contrary, Mr Ibobi arrested the President and the Information & Publicity Secretary of the UNC on 25th November, 2016 and placed them in Police Lock-up for 56 days before handing them over to judicial custody till date.
(m) Declared surreptitiously on 8th December, 2016 7 new districts of Kangpokpi, Kamjong, Tegnoupal, Kakching, Pherzawl, Noney and Jiribam in utter disregard to the 4 MoUs it had signed with Naga Organisations and also written assurance given by the Government of India that such decisions would not be taken without consulting the stakeholders. GoM also did not consult the Hill Area Committee nor the Autonomous District Councils disrespecting constitutional provisions and the local self governance institutions.
(n) Refused to dialogue and resolve the issue of arbitrary declaration and wilfully absented from the 15th November, 2016 Tripartite talk at Delhi convened by the Government of India. When GoM was cornered into attending the 3rd February, 2017 tripartite talk at Delhi, they declined from discussing the core issue of arbitrary declaration of new districts on the plea that no political decision was possible with the election Model code of conduct already in force. Mr Ibobi, CM of communal GoM has on 21st February, 2017 given out in the media that GoM tried to resolve the issue through dialogue but that UNC did not respond and further stated that he was willing to talk to the Nagas. This is a blatant lie unbecoming of a Chief Minister. He never was for consultation or dialogue or resolution of issues. He tinkers with untruths to keep the core issue unresolved and divide communities to retain power which he has abused to the hilt for the last many years.
(o) Recommended to the GoI to declare UNC, the apex tribe based organisation of the Nagas in Manipur as an unlawful Organization for leading the people’s movement for protection of their land, identity and future while avoiding engagement for resolution, troubling the water to fish with communal ideology.
In view of the above, in the forthcoming 11th General Election, the Nagas in Manipur will participate to give greater effect to the severance of political ties with the communal GoM. This General Election cannot be about individual village or tribe interest but for securing our legitimate rights and enabling ourselves to shape our collective future and destiny as a people where we can live with dignity and honour.
The Communal GoM led by the MPCC under Ibobi has pushed the Nagas to the wall. The legitimate and democratic rights of the Nagas and tribals are being taken away through acts, legislations and legal measures against natural justice. Our students and youths have been shot dead, hundreds wounded and the general Naga populace harassed and insulted for protesting the GoM’s suppressive policies. Our leaders have been arrested and tortured and declared wanted as if they are criminals. Our frontal organisations are sought to be banned by the GoM as outlaws. Therefore Ibobi and the MPCC will be opposed by the Nagas and confronted headlong.
As reaffirmed in the 1st conference of the Naga Village Authority of 19th October, 2016, the decision of the UNC Council Assembly of 2nd January 2012 to support the Naga People’s Front(NPF) because of the commonality in principle and political ideology will stand without reservation for the Naga people in the 2017 MLA election. The NPF which seeks to work and assist in any possible manner on any approach for a peaceful solution of the Indo-Naga political issue and for integration of all contiguous Naga areas under one administrative roof will be the bandwagon on which the Nagas in Manipur will face the 11th General Election to the Manipur Legislative Assembly.
In this endeavour, the Naga people are against any use of money, force and violence in the election campaign and request all concern to refrain from resorting to any undemocratic means.
United Naga Council
This article is submitted by Milan Shimray . He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.