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Manipur-India Question

Allow me to evaluate myself. My knowledge of India —not Bharatvarsh—is a poor 20 per cent. But my knowledge of Manipur is a fair 60 per cent. As a layman, Manipur-India conflict, as it was widely reported in the media only last week, one or two questions were raised in my mind. How does India know Manipur or in other words how India looks at Manipur? And the reverse, how does Manipur know India or how Manipur looks at India? One may also question the maintainability of the questions on the ground that the two are not two separate entities.

Now, in a layman’s view, how does one go about it? It will be too unrealistic to try to quantify India or Manipur for that matter. But to simply present it in a layman’s view of sorts, Delhi—the Government of India may represent India and two centers of power,—let us be real,—the Government of Manipur and the Government of the associated groups of insurgents, the MPLF (Manipur People’s Liberation Front) may represent Manipur, for visionary clarity. However, it should be clear that the present considerations confine only and only with the insurgents who fight against the Government of India.

On the sidelines, one feature of politics in Manipur is, those in the Opposition including national party members, have the habit of blaming Delhi, more than the Manipur Government for the failure of Manipur and the suffering of the public. But once in power, they will find a whipping boy.

Interestingly to fool the public, Ministers even used to blame the State Government, as if they are not the Government and the Chief Minister too, on his part indulge in heavy talk like telling “we will not beg Delhi, but would take our due forcibly” legitimizing lawlessness and playing one-upmanship with the insurgents—a silly case of impropriety on the part of the Chief Minister O Ibobi Singh.

Last month, the Union Home Minister sent his message to the UNLF—one of the major MPLF associates, for talks saying that groups like ULFA and UNLF were carrying out violent activities and urged them, “give up the demand of sovereignty, and give up violence and we can talk of anything”. The message reflects the mind of the Government of India which is applied to the cases of Kashmir and Nagaland.

The response of the UNLF to the appeal of the Home Minister is also not unexpected. In fact, the response is rather expected from the MPLF associates whose stand has been professed in no uncertain term that the people should have the right to determine how they want to live which can only be answered by holding a plebiscite. The argument of the MPLF associates is, Manipur, an independent country then, became a part of India, in 1949, not by choice but by force and therefore the people should be given the right to chose either to live with India, or be an independent country as before. And verdict of the people should be respected by the Govt of India, and the MPLF would also respect the verdict of the people.

The Government of India also has its say. The unity and integrity of India cannot be questioned. The Constitution of the country is supreme. There is no provision for the right to self-determination in the Constitution. The demand for right to self-determination by MPLF is unconstitutional and therefore cannot be accepted.

It is also true that there is no international law as such, in this regard, which is binding on any country. To put in layman’s term, it is like a Leikai Warep—resolutions of a locality which has no sanction of law and which any Khutkanba Emung—a powerful family can violate at will. To be specific there is no law against the law of a country—may be of Bhutan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, China, India, etc. Indeed, International law reflects the noble aspirations of the international community and not much more than that. Cases of Kosovo or East Timor came up not because of any International law but because of the specific situations that had favored them and the subtle diplomacy of the Kosovars or the East Timorese and their commitment to their cause, apart from the interests of the big powers involved.

Now, the stand of the MPLF and the Government of India do not have a meeting point. There is no diplomacy or politics between them. The game is neither over nor started. This is Manipur-India conflict or call anything. Now, the question is, how do a political process be initiated. Fact is, the two are not connected in any manner except for an encounter, once a week or so between their forces, making the 22 thousand-something square kilometers with a population of 2.3 million one of the most deadliest spot in the world which go unnoticed and unheard to the outside world but not to wonder a hot money spinning spot too, for those in power.

Two contending parties need a third party, say a facilitator—seen or unseen—to initiate a process. This is true of any conflict situation to find a political solution. Naturally, questions come up. How do the elected representatives look at the problem? What have they been doing to understand the whole gamut of the question? Besides creating a dubious and dishonest atmosphere what else, have the people’s representatives, who rule the State done to create a healthy political atmosphere? Is it not true that the political leadership of Manipur can facilitate any prospect of any possible political initiative? The Ibobi Singh Government has two more years to show its sincerity to approach to the Manipur-India question.

*The opinion is written by Heigrujam Nabashyam.

(Courtesy: The Sangai Express)

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*The Sangai Express- Largest Circulated News Paper In Manipur
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