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EDITORIAL: Back To 1949: Is Delhi Up To It?

The first step and the most important, if we may add, towards solving an issue or a problem is to first recognize the fact that there is indeed something wrong that needs the immediate attention of the policy framers of the country. Once the problem is identified, then we can move on to the stage of treating it under standard and universally accepted practices. This was the idea that rang out loud and clear on the opening day of the colloquium on the theme Militarism and Future of Democracy in Manipur, organized by the Manipur Research Forum (Imphal and Delhi) in collaboration with the Department of Philosophy, Manipur University.

The question that now lies before us is whether Delhi has recognized or is ready to admit that there is a problem in the North East region, especially Manipur. If the Delhi mandarins do admit that there indeed is an issue that needs the undivided attention of the Government, then the natural process would be to study how and from where the problem or issue has germinated. Delhi has tried many approaches in the past to resolve the situation and by the situation we mean the conflict between those who have rejected the Constitution of India and Delhi with their military forces. No movement can sustain itself for decades, if it is not based on some basis or foundation. However till date, we have not seen or received the slightest hint that Delhi is ready to address the root cause of the conflict in the State, and only then can we hope to move ahead.

At the risk of crossing the borderline of seditious writing and calling a spade a spade, it should be an open and shut case, as far as Delhi and those who have raised their stakes for a Delhi free Manipur are concerned. The root cause for the conflict situation lies in the merger/annexation of Manipur by India in 1949, two years after the British left. It is not our case to say whether Maharaja Bodhchandra was made to sign under duress or voluntarily appended his signature to the merger/annexation agreement, but no one can deny the fact that the root cause of the upheaval and conflict situation, which has been the hallmark of Manipur for decades, can be traced to the piece of paper which continues to haunt us even after more than half a century. When things are as clear as this, why is Delhi shying away from publicly acknowledging this?

Delhiwallahs have always talked about finding a political situation or inking a pact after talking and listening to each others’ point of view, without even once acknowledging that it is not unemployment, or deprivation or a phenomena of ‘misguided youth’ but the 1949 document ?  Can we expect any sane person to fall for this hook, line and sinker? One does not need to apply rocket science technology to come to an answer here. Delhi can afford to adopt the ostrich like approach for the time being, but for how long? The Soviet Union has collapsed, the Berlin Wall has fallen, China has emerged as the largest economy in the world, global terrorism is today the biggest threat to world peace and not the any between two nuclear powers, Apartheid has gone, India has opened her economy and this has given birth to the twins, known as India and Bharat etc.

It is in this age and stage of history that Delhi refuses to address the crux of the matter and we really wonder why this is so? Is it apprehensive that the political intrigues, deceits of the highest order and plain use of intimidation would lie exposed before the world? This question needs to be understood and studied in its correct perspectives or else the idea of India as a Union will increasingly come under sharp scrutiny.  As things stand today, there is already a school of thought that Delhi is interested in the North East for the sake of its security and nothing else. This line of argument makes sense.

The North East region shares borders with Myanmar, China, and Bangladesh and is today considered the best option to open its gate to the South East Asian countries, for that is where all the action is right now. In the face of a not so friendly Nation in China, an unpredictable and unreliable Myanmar and a Bangladesh, which is understood to be one of the key suppliers of Jihadis to India and which is prone to change its foreign policy with every change of the Government, the North East region is important to India. The people? Damn them! Rape their women, treat them as second class citizens and address them in the derogatory term, Chinky. Subject them to some archaic, atrocious Acts like AFSPA and a clear picture emerges. There is more. Even if we grant that the Merger Agreement is valid, why did the rulers at Delhi deem it fit to heap one insult after the other on this once princely State, which had its own Constitution, an elected durbar and whose existence as a Nation predates the Union of India by centuries.

Remember India was born only on August 15, 1947 and it became a Republic only on January 26, 1950. After Manipur became a part of India, it was dubbed as a Part C State, which was nothing less than an insult. After years of demands and agitations, Delhi finally conceded and upgraded Manipur to a full fledged State in 1972. The grand old gentleman of Manipur politics, Mr. Haokholala, in an article published in this paper, recalled how Indira Gandhi reacted when the demand to upgrade Manipur to a State was put forward by a team from Manipur! And her reaction was not pleasant at all. In short the contentious 1947 document, exacerbated by Delhi’s haughtiness and the gradual militarization of the State, are all factors for the conflict situation. The only hitch is whether Delhi is ready to discuss the 1949 pact or not.

(Courtesy: The Sangai Express)

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