In her book, “Mother, Where’s My Country?” award-winning journalist, Anubha Bhonsle captures the state of affairs of Manipur succinctly, saying, “The story of Manipur is that of a running, live scar of battle. It runs across the hills and through the valley. Apart from insurgent groups at war with the Indian State, protesting the original kingdom’s merger with India, there are several ethnic groups at war with each other. Arms are everywhere, and the distinction between heroes and villains is unclear”.
Manipur will continue to witness the “everyday tragedies” unless concerned authorities garner enough courage to discard adhocism to embrace realities.
Both in the hills and in the valley, issues continue to proliferate at a great pace, thanks to the adhoc policies of the successive State Governments.
The issue of Inner Line Permit (ILP), Manipur territorial integrity, Naga political question, tribal reservation and the new district creation are bound to dominate again in 2018. These issues are raked up from time to time by the various organizations averring attachment with their respective political future.
To the Nagas in the South, the immediate issue is the new district creation, apart from the larger Naga political question. Next month, both the Nagas and the State Government will hold the next round of talks on the issue. In the last talks held on November 10, 2017, the State Government of Manipur representatives agreed to come with a “concrete proposal” on the issue in the next round of talks fixed for February 23, 2018.
The November 10 meeting was the fifth and the last round parley between the two sides. It officially kicked off on March 19, 2017 followed by next three rounds on May 19, August 11 and on October 6 respectively.
Since the district creation issue attached sentimentally of the Nagas, attempts from any quarter to undermine facts will invite further troubles. If the Biren Singh Government wants peace, it cannot afford to ignore the chord that promotes the same in practicality. It also ought to learn a lesson or two from the mistakes committed by the Ibobi Singh Government. Misleading rhetoric was used as a key policy stand adopted by the previous government, often undermining the whole process.
It is worth citing here that, the Nagas in the South find some charms in the Biren Singh Government, when the latter admitted during the first tripartite talks on the district creation issue that, “The grievances of the United Naga Council which led to the imposition of the economic blockade by them was recognized as there was non-adherence to the four Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) and the Government of India’s assurance on the matter.”