No Communication in Manipur

The ongoing economic blockade in Manipur and the hardship faced by people there is something that all of us should sympathize with as common people are suffering due to shortage of essential commodities. Prices of fuel and food have shot up and even life saving medicine is in short supply. All this is a matter of deep concern. The unfortunate thing about Manipur is that every year it suffers as a consequence of economic blockade imposed by some group or the other. Last year too, the State and its people had to face the brunt of the long economic blockade imposed by the Naga (civil society) groups. That was finally resolved only after the Union Home Minister and Prime Minister gave assurance to the Nagas on their grievances. This year it is a ‘double economic blockade’ one called by the Sadar Hills District Demand Committee (SHDDC) and the other by the United Naga Council (UNC). The former is demanding a full fledged Sadar Hills District while the latter is opposed to inclusion of Nagas land in the proposed new district. The third player here is the Manipur government, which has been unable to resolve the present crisis even after more than two months. And therefore what we have is a major deadlock and the unrelenting economic blockade on a hapless population. What we can suggest here is for the Manipur government to initiative some kind of formal dialogue with leaders drawn in from the SHDDC and UNC and try to hammer out a solution after taking the considered viewpoints of the concerned including the sanctity of all past agreements.
One of the problems with the state of affairs in Manipur seems to be that there is no proper channel of communication between the parties involved and also the complete failure of the present government in Manipur to reach out to the aggrieved parties. Even if the government makes the effort, there is a complete lack of trust. All this is leaving no room for negotiation and mutual understanding to take place. In this sense, the aggrieved parties have been alienated and therefore the government will find it even more difficult to come to a meeting point on the range of issues. One of the problems therefore seems to be the loss of credibility of the present government in Manipur, especially in the eyes of the people inhabiting the hill districts. Add to this is the huge communication gap and high trust deficit, which is hindering any sort of dialogue from even taking place.
So in all this, where does it leave the people of Manipur? Unfortunately here also the majority and minorities are not in talking terms and this leaves out any room for meaningful dialogue and reasoning to take place. It is still not too late for the Manipur civil society to reach out to the aggrieved communities. The Nagas in Manipur should also not shut its door for meaningful dialogue to take place whether with the Meiteis or other struggling peoples. As much as we do not subscribe to putting restrictions on the movement of people and goods, whether it is by the Assamese, Nagas, Kukis or anyone, the establishment in Manipur and civil society there should have realized by now that economic blockade cannot be wished away as long as people’s aspiration or grievances remain unaddressed.