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Manipur Bleeding

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Manipur in far northeast corner of India burns again. Indeed, it burns round the year with multiple socio-political crisis and communal clashes. Three people killed yesterday at Nagaland ‘“ Manipur border town of Mao Gate in a protest against Manipur Government’s decision to disallow T. Muivah ‘“ a leader of National Socialist Council of Nagaland (NSCN ‘“ IM) to enter Manipur. The Naga communities which represent somewhere 17% of Manipur’s population anger against Manipur Government’s decision meanwhile the rest of the population is agitating against T. Muivah’s coming to Manipur.

National Socialist Council of Nagaland (NSCN) was formed in 1980 under the leadership of Isak Chisi Swu from Nagaland, T. Muivah from Manipur and S.S. Khaplang from Burma opposing Shillong Accord signed between Naga National Council and Government of India. Later in 1988, NSCN split into two fractions, namely NSCN-K led by S.S. Khaplang and NSCN-IM led by Isak Chisi Swu and T. Muivah. NSCN-IM is banned outfit militant group until cease-fire agreement made on July 25, 1997 between NSCN-IM and A. B. Vajpayee Government. When cease fire was extended beyond Nagaland, Manipur experienced volcanic communal violence when opposed by the public of Manipur. State Assembly burnt, 18 lives lost, and Manipur remained a month long burning with public irate until Government of India restricted the Naga Cease Fire within Nagaland state.

Manipur has over dozens of separatist militant groups apart from the one led by T. Muivah. Manipur once known for a peaceful state and harmony among the communities and it is gone and became a killing field today. All the militant groups and draconian security forces must hold responsible for the bloodshed in Manipur. Either militants or security forces kill everyday one or two. Every third day is public strike called by various communities, which affects the economics of the state and educational carrier of the youngsters.

The biggest concern, in connection to T. Muivah’s visit to his native village Somdal in Ukhrul district of Manipur is the fear of communal clashes among the public of Manipur. To Nagas of Manipur, T. Muivah is their messiah and they long to see him, to hear his aspiration to their decades’ old demand of Greater Nagaland and definitely his visits scheduled in Ukhrul, Senapati, Tamenglong and Chandel districts will revive that aspiration.

Naga peace talk with NSCN-IM and Government of India is one good gesture moving toward permanent solution to Naga issues. Everyone must support this and people of Nagaland long to see the permanent and lasting solution. All other outfits must negotiate for peace talk, because no gun brings solution except more bloodshed.

The concern had by the neighboring states of Arunachal Pradesh, Assam and particularly Manipur is the way in which Government of India has handled the Naga Peace Talk. Indian government decided cease fire agreement with NSCN-IM without consultation with any of neighboring states, which brought bloodshed in the state of Manipur in 1997.

This time, Ministry of Home Affair’s (MHA) decision to allow T. Muivah’s intension to visit Manipur without consulting the state Government of Manipur has led to irate. Three lives lost, twenty persons injured, two National High ways from Dimapur and Silchar to Imphal, which are lifeline for Manipur are blocked. Trucks carrying the essential commodities stopped and seven of them burnt. Public including all communities irrespective of tribes and ethnics are affected. Now MHA has reversed its decision to postpone T. Muivah’s visit to Manipur. If MHA wants to insist allowing T. Muivah to visit Manipur, in spite of the fact what happened when cease fire extended to Manipur in 1997, it will be like state sponsored genocide to the people of Manipur.

One of the biggest concern and allegation by the public of Manipur against T. Muivah is that he may be peace initiative for Nagas with Government of India but he has committed crime against hundreds and thousands of killings. In an open letter addressed to Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh, the Kuki Inpi Manipur blamed the NSCN (IM) leader for killing 900 Kukis, uprooting 350 Kuki villages and rendering over 100,000 Kukis refugees in their own land during the 1990’s. The rest of the public of Manipur believe that T. Muivah’s visit will be greatest threat to state integrity and will create enmity among the public of Manipur. One of the most unwanted bloodshed could erupt among different communities, if any unwanted incident happens to T. Muivah during his visit to Manipur. This should be kept in mind while making decision on his visit.

The more oppose to T. Muivah’s visit to Manipur is going to cause more hardship for the people of Manipur. Two National Highways will be blocked to stop bringing the essential commodity supplies to the state. The life of people will suffer more; this includes all tribes and communities. Looking at T. Muivah’s schedule to visit Naga dominated districts of Manipur, suggests that he has specific intension to achieve toward his cause.

What alternative could MHA propose and acceptable by Manipur Government and the public? If MHA wants to allow him to visit, then it should be with strict guidelines. First, restrict him to visit only his native village Somdal and not beyond. Second, restrict any public gathering and meeting during his visit. Third, restrict any communal statement either in word or written that will create or provoke enmity between any groups or hurt sentimental, which are offensive crimes under Indian Penal Code. Fourth, any member of NSCN-IM is outlaw outfit members beyond Nagaland and so is the same with T. Muivah.

*The article is written by Madhu Chandra.

*The author is a social activist and research scholar based in New Delhi and works as Regional Secretary of All India Christian Council (www.indianchristians.in), Spokesperson of North East Support Center & Helpline (www.nehelpline.net) and National Secretary of All India Confederation of SC/ST Organizations (www.scstconfederation.org).

*The article was earlier published May 2010.

(Courtesy: Countercurrents.org)

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