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Manipur Congress Retracts From 1972 Naga Integration Pledge

DIMAPUR, Oct 15: After several decades, the Congress party leadership of Manipur has virtually retracted a pact made in 1972 empathizing with ‘˜Naga integration.’ A recent statement of Manipur Pradesh Congress Committee (MPCC) president Gaikhangam in September has pointed to his stance against ‘˜Naga integration’ and his appealing for territorial integrity of Manipur, soon after a Manipur political party, Manipur People’s Party (MPP) urged for retracting from the 1972 pact.

The current Secular Progressive Front (SPF) state government of Manipur is a Congress-led coalition. The statement has the MPP lauding the Congress but has ruffled Naga youth organizations in Manipur.

On August 4, 1972, leaders of the United Naga Integration Council (UNIC), the All-India Congress Committee (AICC) and the Manipur Pradesh Congress Committee (MPCC) reportedly entered into an accord agreed. The statement in a copy of the 1972 agreement released to the Media by the MPP states: ‘It is agreed upon that the Congress party does not oppose Naga Integration movement and does not consider Naga integration movement as anti-party, anti-national, anti-state and unconstitutional activity.

Further, it is agreed upon that no Congress party member will be subjected to disciplinary action on the ground that he or she as the case may be, is involved in Naga integration movement. It is also agreed upon that the Naga integration problem should be discussed and settled at the government level. The party members can also discuss the matter at different part levels.’

The MPP had said on September 8, that unless the Manipur Congress party declares the ‘merger agreement’ as null and void, the latter would be associated with the policy to disintegrate the territory of Manipur. The agreement also stated that ‘participants of the merger talk after free and frank deliberations formally reached an agreement to merge the United Naga Integration Council (UNIC) with the All India Congress Party.’

The signatories of this agreement were named as the-then AICC secretary for Manipur, Tripura and Mizoram Sheelbhadra Yajee, vice president of UNIC E Envey, general secretary of UNIC James L. Kolakhe, Rishang Keishing, K. Huriang, Khasung Jajo (UINC), NL Thumsing (UNIC) and the then MPCC president H. Nilamani Singh.

Attempts were made to contact senior Congress leaders in Manipur, including MPCC chief Gaikhangam and former Manipur Chief Minister Rishang Keishing (in Delhi).

The calls were not taken. Also contacts made with Manipur Chief Minister’s office and residence as well as the SPF government spokesman’s, were unreturned since September second week.

On September 21, news portal Kanglaonline quoted Gaikhangam as stating that only ‘a section of Naga community of the state favors the policy of Naga integration’ but ‘the majority of Naga people cherish a peaceful and harmonic co-existence of all communities in the state.’ He was speaking during a reception program organized by ADC and DCC of Tamenglong district at Langol Tarung following Gaikhangam’s re-election as the president of MPCC.

As a Naga leader of the state, he receives ‘˜many intimidations’ for standing against Naga integration, but he would continue to propagate the ‘feelings of oneness and brotherhood amongst the people of the state,’ the report quoted him during the program.

Following the statement, the MPP on October 5 congratulated the MPCC president on his stand that the territorial integrity of the state will not be compromised.

MPP general secretary (Media) Y Mangi Singh in his congratulatory message quoted Gaikhangam: ‘I have received threats due to my firm stand that the state’s boundary will not be compromised, but I will be resilient on my principles, come what may.’

The statement however, attracted flak from the Naga Youth Front (NYF) at Gaikhangam’s statement that ‘some self-centered elements have been persistently scheming to upset the integrity and territorial integrity of Manipur and called upon all the people of Manipur to identify all those self-centered people and remain alert against their designs.’ In The Sangai Express, September 28, the NYF slammed the MPCC president for allegedly going against the ‘basic tenets of Congress party.’

The August 4, 1972 joint agreement was also quoted. The Congress party had stated that it does not oppose Naga integration movement nor considers the Naga integration movement as anti-party, anti-national, anti-state or unconstitutional, the NYF had contended.

(Courtesy: The Morung Express)

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