Elucidating ‘peaceful co-existence’ in Manipur

Witoubou Newmai

Amid the hill-valley ‘bhai-bhai’ impression projected by the Manipur Government, the events surrounding June 18, both in the hills and in the valley, have demonstrated the world that the factor carrying potential catastrophe, is yet to be exposed to probing examinations.


Consequently, as long as the situational exegesis of Manipur is missed in the discourse, there is little chance for the way forward.


Having had observed the situation, Dr Angomcha Bimol Akoijam of Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi, has written a newspaper article saying: “Manipur is a state with a fractured society and/or polity. And its fault lines are many. Even a day like 18 June carries that signature of those fault lines”.


The United Committee, Manipur (UCM) and the All Manipur United Clubs Organisation (AMUCO) have been observing June 18 as ‘Unity Day’. On this day, in the year 2001, there was an intense and violent protest against the so-called ‘Bangkok Declaration’ or ‘Ceasefire extension without territorial limits’ between the Government of India and the NSCN-IM, resulting in the death of 18 protestors. Due to this protest, New Delhi rolled back the ‘without-territorial-limits’ tag from the ‘ceasefire.’ Every year on this ‘Unity Day’ in Imphal, participants ‘reaffirm’ their position to protect the ‘territorial integrity of Manipur’.


Concurrently, the United Naga Council (UNC), on the same day, has been calling some sorts of bandh or the other under its jurisdiction for some years now, claiming that it is doing so in connection with the Naga political issue. This time too, too, the UNC had imposed a 12-hour ‘chakka bandh’ along the national highways and district highways under its jurisdiction ‘demanding the early settlement of the Naga political issue’.


The All Naga Students’ Association, Manipur (ANSAM) sponsored ‘Remembrance Day’ which falls on the following day of the UCM-AMUCO sponsored ‘Unity Day’ also illustrates the difficult situation of Manipur. Those Nagas who lost their lives “in the line of duty” (in the language of ANSAM), thwarting the various ‘detrimental measures’ of the Manipur Government, are remembered on this day.


On the issue, Dr Akoijam has deftly articulated in the newspaper article that, “the fault-line has been deepened and reified the divide during the last two decades.” According to Dr Akoijam, “…the situation is unlikely to change in the foreseeable future either…that the two events continue to mark 18 June till date is a testimony of that possibility.”


Attempts from any quarter to conceal the whole affair with the much used two-word phrase ‘peaceful co-existence ’ is never an effort to resolve the problem. Such lofty idealism will not take anyone to progression as long as the principles guiding of both the Nagas and the Meiteis on the ‘peaceful co-existence’ are not elucidated, recognised and discussed.


A reasoned exercise has to be valued if we are to see the way forward.