By Witoubou Newmai
From the perspective of the Naga people in the South with regard to regressive affairs confronting them, precious time seems to have been wasted leaving behind trails of frustration, if not humiliation. This situation is a vivid discouraging indication for posterity. This, perhaps, is impeding the way forward to peace.
Picking a single case (district creation issue) will clearly illustrate the whole affairs – how Naga people, perpetually, have been the prime victims of the state ‘rejectionism’ and age-old smokescreen policies of the successive governments.
To the Naga people, the district creation issue is simply not the district issue per se. To them, the land is just more than a commodity: Land is them and they are the Land (echoing the Fijian saying, “We are the land and the land is us”).
Amidst such prevailing scenario, it would be sagacious on the part of the United Naga Council (UNC) to check its apparent waning enthusiasm on the issue, if it is to remain relevant. Any high political strategies or sophisticated diplomatic reasons, if not conveyed or understood by masses in time will come to a cropper, and things will be thrown to the realms of great danger. The UNC has been staring at such scenarios for some time.
This trend should have impelled the UNC, with a nerve of urgency, to introspect, if there is any disconnect between the council and the masses and address it accordingly. The repair, if needed, should be the prime focus of the day for the UNC.
Unless “it takes willful blindness” of anyone not to feel the pulse of the people there is nothing like bringing justice to the victimized section of the people, for the chutzpah of an organization comes from the people’s faith and confidence reposed in it. This is what the UNC also needs to remind itself.
The Nagas had signed four Memorandums of Understanding (MoUs) with the State Government of Manipur, wherein the MoU of 1998 states that “resolution to the conflict on the issue of Sadar Hills will be brought about through a consensus of the peoples concerned in the interest of bringing about lasting peace and harmony…”. The 1998 Memorandum of Understanding agreed to honour the memorandum/agreement entered into 1981, 1992, 1996 and also recognized as the “issue of land.”
Also, it is appropriate to remind that the Manipur Government had admitted, during the first tripartite talks on the district creation issue on March 19, 2017, 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 (to the Naga people) on the matter”.
Given this background of the issue, the Naga people have every reason to be disappointed with the prevailing trend, which the UNC needs to address with utmost urgency.