EDITORIAL: The Lim Divide On June 18- A Bridge too Far?

One man’s food is another man’s poison or to give it a more practical touch, U Morok or Bhoot Jholakia may be a favored item on the dining table of a North Easterner but it may be something which a Gujarati will not touch with a barge pole or end up giving him or her a severe stomach upset. This is one way of asserting that no two men’s likes and dislikes will be similar or opinions will differ between two individuals and to view it on a larger canvas this may be understood as no group of people or two Nations sharing the same outlook on an issue.

In short a universal acceptance of a school of thought is something which is outside the realm of the 21st Century man and hence the existence of different faiths and political ideologies. As long as these differences are not antagonistic to each other then there is no cause for concern but the trouble starts when two different schools of thought or opinions take the collision course and it is here the beauty of Democracy comes to the fore for this is a system of governance which gives enough room to different ideas and beliefs to co-exist together.

However, Democracy is not the only answer to put the collision course in reverse gear for ultimately what counts in the end is the mentality of the people and the ability to respect each others’ point of view and adopt an accommodating outlook. The term integrity has come to mean different things to different people in the backdrop of the growing demand for the integration of all Naga dominated areas under one administrative unit and on the other hand the audible voice raised against any design to compromise with the territorial map of Manipur. It is under the shadow of these two diametrically opposing viewpoints that the people are going to witness another June 18.

This date made it to the pages of the history of modern Manipur ten years back, when the people rose as one, took to the streets and literally turned to ashes the offices of a good number of political parties to protest the Bangkok Declaration of June 14, 2001 which rendered the cease fire pact between the Centre and the NSCN (IM) as a pact not bound by any territorial limits. There were no hazy points here. June 18, 2001 was a demonstration that Manipur’s territorial integrity cannot be compromised at any cost and the death of 18 persons in police firing on this day, ten years back, has come to serve as the rallying point for the pro-Manipur integrity group.

And it has been like this for the last ten years and the question that is begging an answer at the moment is whether the past ten years has been able to bridge the chasm that lies between the two groups of people along the Lim divide. This question is perhaps the most apt now, this day, as people come out to pay their respect and acknowledge the selfless sacrifice of the 18, who died on the altar of preserving the territorial integrity of the State. On the other hand the May 6, 2010 incident at Mao Gate in which two students were killed in police firing has come to serve as the rallying point for the advocates of Nagalim.

This may sound blasphemous and preposterous, but the demand for integrating Naga inhabited areas is a matter of political expediency and adding that needed muscle and meat to this demand are numerous social, religious and economic factors. It is a given that territorial integrity should be preceded by social integration or the oft repeated term emotional integration. This calls for an unbiased understanding of this term and a fitting question that may be raised on this day, that is June 18th, 2011, is whether any lessons have been learnt during the last ten years or not. It is important that all need to be brutally frank and honest with oneself and with each other and the first step towards this should be to acknowledge certain realities, which cannot be simply wished away.

The slogan Chingtam-Amattani sounds hollow and without any substance today. This is a fact that should be acknowledged along with the acceptance that tokenism has outlived it days. Inviting women, particularly women from the hills on Ningol Chakkouba is fine for sharing a meal has its positive points, but when this comes wrapped with the Chingtam-Amattani slogan, it only goes to highlight the stereotype which does nothing except reduce the wonderful feast to an ornamental social do. This is something which no one needs, least of all the proponents of an intact Manipur and in the same vein we may add that no one needs to be fed with information that the message of Manipur’s integrity has been delivered in Senapati district while that same message was delivered at Langol, which technically falls under Senapati district.

There are reasons why Chief Minister O Ibobi and his men, including all the tribal Ministers deem it so important to talk about equitable development of both the hills and the valley. Does this then in any way indicate that equitable development was not heard or practiced in the preceding years? A look at the reality will confirm this. There is the need to accept this and the Congress led SPF Government ought to be told in no uncertain term that there is nothing to crow about ensuring equitable development.

On the other hand a reality check is called for when anyone starts shouting about the oneness of the Naga people or Naga Nationhood. Nothing can be more fallacious than this. Has everyone forgotten the manner in which a student from Mao was denied a prize for topping the HSLC examination conducted by the Nagaland Board following a hue and cry raised in the neighboring State that the award was about to go to a resident who is not from Nagaland sometime in the early part of the 90s ? This may be just one example but it does speak volumes about the notion of oneness of the Naga people.

(Courtesy: The Sangai Express)

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