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EDITORIAL: Manipur’s Mayday! Naganised Trojan Horse

There is no point in beating around the bush for as we had noted in this column on May 27, diplomacy as a policy is dead, it is passé’.  The proposed visit of Mr. Nephiu Rio and his Cabinet colleagues to Senapati today is something much more than opening a chapter of the Naga Peoples’ Front in Manipur. It is nothing short of a version of the legendary Trojan Horse, the difference being the author here is not Homer, but the NSCN (IM) and the shield is the political party which goes by the name of the NPF under the stewardship of Nephiu Rio and not the character in Iliad, Achilles.

In other words it is a Naganised version of the Trojan Horse, not to take back a Helen from Manipur, but to take away the six by six feet area of land, to refer to an evergreen observation of human existence and the meaningless obsession of mankind with the materialistic world. This observation however exists only in the realm of the philosopher, the diehard believer in the innate goodness of man, the poet, the romantic and has no buyers amongst the people in general. And so it is that today we see people divided over the Lim issue, which in its unadulterated version is nothing but land and land and more land.

Make no mistake about it. Nagalim is as much to do about territory as it has to do with the grand idea of bringing a group of people under one administrative unit and this stands true in equal measure for the proponents of a Greater Lim as well as those opposed to it. Acknowledging this fact is then the first step towards working out a formula to break the stalemate and the time calls for some plain talking, which will not be to the liking of all. History is an often abused term by the people sitting on either side of the Lim divide and if the proponents of a Greater Lim today talk about the declaration of the Naga People’s Convention in 1959, which envisaged the integration of all Naga inhabited areas under one administrative unit, it should be remembered that this was followed by the 16 Point Agreement of 1960, which paved the way for the formation of Nagaland as a State.

Moreover there is also the question of who exactly constituted the Nagas in 1959, for it is a standing testimony that the very term Naga is inclusive in nature and many a small community, which initially did not fall within the understanding of the Naga family are today regarded as Nagas. Likewise, those against the demand for a Greater Lim need to sincerely search their heart and question how true is the talk of brotherhood that existed from the days of their ancestors. It also needs to be asked who are the martyrs of the bygone era, who shed their blood to protect the place we know as Manipur today. As we have said, there are questions which will not be pleasant at all but this is not the time to please anyone or butter anyone, but to raise pertinent questions, however unpleasant it may be.

Proponents of a Greater Lim may argue that it is the historical rights of all Nagas to live under one administrative unit and that the Nagas were an independent people. This line of thought is full of flaws and maybe a return to the classroom to understand the salient features of a Nation or a country is what the present situation prescribes. The idea of Naga Nationalism has its roots in the 1951 plebiscite and it was on this premise that the NNC under the late AZ Phizo raised the banner of revolt against Delhi. The strength of the plebiscite lies in the argument that 99.9 pc of the Naga people voted against the rule of India. This is fine but this gives rise to another equally and very important question that needs an explanation.

Did any of the community living in Manipur, who are now identified as Nagas, take part in the plebiscite? The obvious answer is no. How then is it said that 99.9 of the Naga people voted for a sovereign country for the Nagas in 1951? Can we say that the plebiscite was restricted only to a handful of people and did not cover all the Naga people? If yes, then it stands that the premise on which the banner of sovereignty of the Naga people was raised, is baseless. If no, then can we say that there were no Nagas in Manipur, Arunachal Pradesh and Assam in 1951? The answer is simple, if we care to remove the blinkers from our eyes. As we have said, Naga is an inclusive term and the idea of Naga Nationhood and by extension the demand for a Greater Nagalim gained currency due to the successful campaign launched by the NSCN (IM) leadership, particularly Mr. Thuingaleng Muivah. On the other hand we may well ask why Mr. Muivah has been so successful in giving life to the idea of Naga Nationhood?

Apart from the political vision of the man from Somdal, Meitei chauvinism has got a lot to do with the turmoil that Manipur finds herself in today. It is not only the Nagas, but a good section of the Kukis too has been toying with the idea of a Kukiland. Why have the Meiteis, the majority community in Manipur, not been able to take along the hill people with the idea of Manipur as a political and social entity? Why is it that the term Manipuri has become synonymous with the Meiteis alone? And why should Manipuri dance be associated only with the Meiteis? Why can’t a Tangkhul folk dance be known as Manipuri dance? These are unpleasant questions, no doubt, but raise them we must for the sake of Manipur.  However these are internal issues and we do certainly do not need a Mr. Rio to come here and meddle in our internal affairs.

(Courtesy: The Sangai Express)

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