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Hope And Despair

Naga HoHo Chief M.Vero has pointed out that “The Meiteis have nothing to fear. We do not demand that the state of Nagaland be extended into Manipur. What we have asked for is an extension of the ceasefire.”

The question arises now as to what is the connection between the stand taken by NSCN (IM) vis-a -vis this stand taken by the Naga HoHo. The Naga HoHo is incidentally an offshoot of the NNC. Mr. Vero also talks about the treatment of the Nagas in various states where they are a minority and he makes special mention of Manipur.

It is of course a fact that the hill districts are not given the same kind of treatment as the valley districts, but then again all valley districts are not treated the same either. Mr. Rishang Keishing has the distinction of being the longest serving Chief Minister of Manipur and he happens to be a Tangkhul. Tangkhuls are the second largest community in Manipur after the majority Meitei community and they are Nagas. NSCN (IM) supremo TH. Muivah is a Tangkhul.

It will be well to say that the Naga Community in Manipur is fairly represented in all walks of life. Of the 400,000 odd Nagas residing in Manipur, I would say that most of them at one point of time have lived in the Greater Imphal area. The lingua franca is Manipuri pretty much, which also happens to be the native tongue of the majority Meitei community.

The problem in the present scenario is the lingering fear and irritation felt by the people of Manipur that the ceasefire extension would give legitimacy to the creation of a Greater Nagaland in the future. This is of course the stand of the NSCN (IM). Mr. Muivah in an earlier interview stated that the Nagas are not demanding ‘anymore’ or ‘any less’ land than what they have at present. It brings us to the oft-repeated term ‘Naga-inhabited areas’. If that is taken into account, then obviously he is driving home the point that basically there is a Greater Nagaland happening down the line with of course the co-operation of the Government of India, which actually is a confused one every time they deal with issues of the North-East. (North-East is a collective term used for the seven states in the North-Eastern part of India.

Mr. Vero also talks about ‘bloodshed if the ceasefire is withdrawn’. I am not too sure as to where that is coming from. Looking at it, it could be blood drawn between the NSCN (IM) cadres and the Indian security forces or it could be bloodshed between the Nagas and other communities in the North-East that opposes the Ceasefire extension. We will have to wait and see on that one.

In conclusion, I sense a differing perspective on how this whole ceasefire issue is approached by the Naga HoHo and the NSCN (IM). Naga HoHo to my knowledge is a Nagaland-based group run by Nagas from Nagaland and NSCN (IM) is run by TH. Muivah, a Manipuri Naga. The latter of course know more about Manipur and we are all aware as to what he really wants. (I am not sure as to the extent of influence of Mr. Isaac Swu, who belongs to the Sema Tribe, which is from Nagaland).

On the other hand, the statement of the Naga HoHo chief seem to reflect more on the Ceasefire issue and its assertion that it does not want to see the territorial integrity of any state violated is a welcome sign. I am sure there is no one in the North-East, which does not want peace, and for the Nagas to have their legitimate struggle brought to an end with an amicable solution. But how that solution can be brought about is another issue altogether.

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