Muivah’s Visit to Manipur: Steps towards a Meaningful Reconciliation

Discussion in 'Politics & Society' started by nandu, May 12, 2010.

  1. nandu

    nandu Senior Member Senior Member

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    Muivah’s Visit to Manipur: Steps towards a Meaningful Reconciliation

    Manipur is back in the news once again, but for all the wrong reasons. Tension has flared up in the state since last week due to the impending visit of the General Secretary of the National Socialist Council of Nagalim—Isak-Muivah [NSCN (IM)], Thuingaleng Muivah, to his native village Somdal in Ukhrul district of Manipur. Ukhrul is inhabited by the Tangkhul Nagas, the tribe to which Muivah belongs. Denied entry to Manipur due to the strong negative reactions from the Meiteis and especially the Manipur state government, Muivah has been camping in Viswema village near the Nagaland-Manipur border since May 5. The Manipur state government has turned down the Union Government’s request to provide security to Muivah during his visit to Ukhrul on the ground that the absence of a ceasefire with the NSCN (IM) in Manipur absolves them of such responsibility.

    This response by Manipur to Muivah’s planned visit is predictable. The Meities, the dominant community in Manipur, are wary of the NSCN (IM)’s demand for a common unified Naga homeland, which includes the four hill districts of Manipur, namely Senapati, Tamenglong, Chandel and Ukhrul. Also, the NSCN (IM) has been demanding that the existing ceasefire agreement with New Delhi be extended to all Naga-inhabited areas in Manipur. This is a highly emotive issue in Manipur. In theory, a ceasefire automatically means the giving up of violence in favour of peaceful negotiations to a conflict. In this case, the extension of the ceasefire to Manipur would theoretically mean the end of violent resistance by the NSCN (IM). However, a larger more ‘diabolic’ fear pervades the minds of the people of Manipur. Any extension of the ceasefire to Manipur, with its large Naga population, is perceived as a springboard for the Naga territorial unification process. The Meiteis fear that lurking behind the extension of the ceasefire is a legitimization of the NSCN (IM)’s demands on Manipur’s territory. The 2001 protests in Manipur were one such reaction after the ceasefire was extended to Manipur, and later had to be revoked when Meitei protests turned violent.

    Muivah is also caught up in a political dilemma of his own, the resolution of which perhaps informs his decision to visit Ukhrul after all these years. A large number of NSCN (IM) cadres belong to Ukhrul in Manipur. Therefore, in his inability to clinch an extension of the ceasefire to the Manipur hills, Muivah faces the possibility of being sidetracked. However, the fact remains that claims to parts of Manipur hills lie at the core NSCN (IM)’s agenda. Therefore, although the group has appeared silent on the sovereignty issue in recent years, it would be quite difficult for it to give up the demand for a unified Naga homeland. If the demand for unification were to be given up, the NSCN (IM) would face the fatal prospect of losing the very reason for its existence. The militant group knows well that without the unification card New Delhi might not talk to it, notwithstanding its larger struggle based on historical ‘uniqueness’. Even more obvious is the fact that without including the Tangkhul Naga base in the larger Nagalim project, the present NSCN (IM) leadership possesses limited influence in Nagaland per se—particularly given that these areas are dominated by the Ao, Angami, Chakesang and Konyak Naga tribes whose loyalty to the NSCN (IM) is suspect. Hence, the need for the visit now to strengthen loyalties, which might be getting rusty due to the lack of direct contact between Muivah and his Tangkhul constituency.

    It is however naïve on Muivah’s part to expect that he would be welcome with open arms in Manipur. If he is indeed serious about visiting his birth place, the wiser thing to do is to make a statement of unilateral concession in which he expresses the desire to have a dialogue with the Meiteis towards finding an amicable settlement on the issue of Naga territorial unification. This would build a relationship in which open negotiation would become possible on conflicting issues. For their part, the Meiteis also need to practice reciprocal restraint and refrain from painting the Nagas as their enemy.

    One of the most important ingredients in the process of reconciliation is social integration. The Meiteis and the Nagas have for too long now overstated their differences despite a history of cultural commonality between them. Significantly, most Naga tribes in Manipur speak Meiteilon while conversing with each other. Trade between the hills districts and the Imphal valley is also critical for the survival of the tribes. In the present context, due to increasing tension, basic commodities like rice and pulses are in short supply and common people are the worst sufferers. Social integration can be accomplished by the realization that violence between the Meiteis and the Nagas has stunted Manipur’s progress. While neighbouring states like Assam, Mizoram, Meghalaya and Tripura are walking steadily towards a better future, Manipur remains mired in ethnic tensions.

    The final step in the process of reconciliation is the generation of new political narratives of inclusion. Till now, the existing narratives between the Meiteis and the Nagas create strong barriers against any common meeting point. A recasting of held identities is required. The generation of these new narratives should begin at the elite level with policy makers at the state level altering the language used against the other. Adversarial language between the Meiteis and the Nagas should give way to a language that validates partnership and friendship. There has to be a new interpretation of the past, one in which conflict is relegated to the fringes while ties and common values are brought to the centre-stage of the new narrative.

    Once these processes are in place, Muivah can hope to visit Manipur and be welcomed. The NSCN (IM) cannot coerce Manipur into submission by belligerent statements that have been issued by Muivah like “there is an impression now among the Nagas that Government of India is using the Manipur Government against the Nagas.” Similar to the Forum for Naga Reconciliation (FNR) working for harmony between the Naga tribes in Nagaland and Manipur, we urgently require a Forum for Naga-Meitei Reconciliation (FNMR) before visits such as Muivah’s can be imagined in Manipur without creating political tensions and social conflicts.

    http://www.idsa.in/idsacomments/Mui...ardsaMeaningfulReconciliation_ngoswami_110510
     
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  3. A.V.

    A.V. New Member

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    too much of infighting going on even in the northeast which is hampering the growth not withstanding the age long negligence from the consecutive central regimes its better the NE comes up as a block together with a stronger voice the growth story of india has to penetrate to deer levels in that region for a better future its only possible when this infighting stops
     
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  4. Phenom

    Phenom Regular Member

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    ^^ Very true,
    These are the most neglected states in the country. Its also sad to see ordinary people treating those from NE as foreigners.
    People in this country needs to be taught that NE is as much Indian as any other part of the country, IMO our history books needs to be changed and they should start teaching NE history as well. Today don't read much about NE, we read about Mauryas, Mughals, Vijayanagar, cholas and so on but none from NE. So the concept of Ancient India some how misses all of NE.
     
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  5. nandu

    nandu Senior Member Senior Member

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    Centre renews plea to Muivah

    GUWAHATI: Union Home Secretary G.K. Pillai on Wednesday met general secretary of the National Socialist Council of Nagalim (Isak-Muivah) Thuingaleng Muivah and told him about the decisions taken by the Manipur government and the Centre's renewed appeal to postpone his visit to his ancestral village Somdal in Manipur's Ukhrul district.

    Nagaland Chief Minister Neiphiu Rio, some of his Cabinet colleagues, representatives of civil society organisations and Centre's interlocutor for the Naga peace talks R.S. Pandey were present. The meeting took place at Viswema, 10 km away from the Mao Gate, entry point of Manipur.

    “Mr. Pillai informed Mr. Muivah that the Manipur government has decided to withdraw commandos of the Manipur Rifles from the Mao Gate and revoke the curfew to facilitate the return of 1,000 people who had fled from Manipur and taken refuge in Nagaland,” Mr. Rio told The Hindu over phone from Kohima.

    Probe into deaths

    The Manipur government had also decided to institute a probe into the circumstances leading to the death of two persons at the Mao Gate on May 6 during a protest over Manipur's refusal to allow Mr. Muivah to enter the State.

    Asked about Mr. Muivah's response to Mr Pillai's request, Mr. Rio said the NSCN (I-M) leader was determined to visit Somdal. “It is for the Centre to prevail upon the Manipur government.”

    Mr. Rio said he also handed over to Mr. Pillai a video footage purportedly containing brutalities committed by Manipur Rifles personnel on peaceful protesters at the Mao Gate.

    Mr. Pandey told journalists that officials requested Mr. Muivah to wait till the situation became congenial.

    http://www.hinduonnet.com/
     

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