Let us help Mr Muivah sign an Agreement
By Sh. Ajit
This is the Framework Agreement as revealed bythe Week, 23 April Edition. The content may be right or wrong. The Week may violate the game rules of politics in Naga world; the Government of India may or may not be happy as a party cannot keep the secrecy of the controversial Agreement. With a smile, let us read the content as published by the Week:
The final accord will spell out permanent resident status for the Nagas, like in Jammu and Kashmir. Only permanent residents will have the right to vote and acquire land in Naga territory.
The exploration and exploitation of oil, natural gas, coal, minerals, forest and other natural resources will be in the state’s domain. Some subjects may shift from the concurrent list to the state list.
The Union government will clarify about the deployment of its armed forces keeping in mind the fact that law and order is a state subject.
The Union government will create an autonomous district council with financial autonomy on the lines of the Bodoland Territorial Council for the four hill districts of Manipur (Senapati, Tamenglong, Chandel and Ukhrul). Whether it will be done under 6th schedule of the Constitution or a state act is yet to be discussed.
A Naga regional council will be set up, which would look after the religious, cultural, traditional and social interests of all Nagas. NSCN(IM) general secretary T. Muivah may be made its chairman.
A separate flag for the council is under negotiation.
A formula for the rehabilitation and absorption of the 15,000-strong Naga army is under negotiation. Its soldiers will surrender their arms and may be inducted into newly-formed battalions of the Border Security Force and Rashtriya Rifles.
Whether the Nagas would be allowed to have a new nationality called “Indian Naga” in their passports is being explored.
NOW, Let us re-open the debate over Framework Agreement which was initiated by All Manipur Students’ Union (AMSU) just before the Manipur Assembly Election 2017 with the newly revealed contents by NSCN (IM) and the Week. AMSU launched its campaign, Protection of historical and political Identity of Manipur. They demanded to bring out Framework Agreement which was signed on 3 August 2015 between NSCN (IM) and GoI. Many BJP spokespersons, at the election times, said that there was nothing to worry about in the Framework Agreement. Their statements were guided by loyalty to their party. NarendraModi, Rajnath Singh and many BJP national leaders expressed at election rallies that not even word, Manipur, was not in the Framework Agreement and promised Manipur’s integrity would not be compromised while finding out a Naga Solution.The State leaders wanted to defend what national leaders said out of fear of losing Meitei and Kuki votes in the forthcoming Election. One of their spokespersons further added that Framework Agreement was just an agreement to draft an Agreement. That was election days and political logic was different from that of normal days. AMSU and many civil society organizations did not buy BJP explanation and asked Government of India the reason why the Agreement what Prime Minister of India called historic agreement, was kept secret. Their questions were not simply related with the Meitei interest or Manipur’s interest but also around the solution to pains and sufferings of the Naga working class, the jhumias.
The week before was flooded with statements on Naga peace talks, issued by NSCN (IM). The organization even threatened India that it would go to China (as if China would welcome them at any time). The GOI’s recognition of history, identity and territory of the Naga in the Framework, if the claim by NSCN (IM) is true, is a direct threat to the very existence of India as a Nation. India, if it is a Nation, cannot recognize the unique history, identity and territory of particular groups of people. One can note here that NSCN (IM)’s words: If India wants to keep the Nagas under Indian Constitution, it would accept.
The special provisions in Indian Constitution like Art 371 are not for Naga or tribes of particular States have uniqueness in history and territoriality. I think the legal fiction of these provisions is that these areas are inhabited by ‘uncivilized’ peoples whose development requires special intention. While BJP State leaders in Manipur tried to defend Modi, Rathnath or Kiren Rijiju’s statements in election rallies, the Party expressed of their commitment to Manipur’s integrity – both emotional and political. However, in the post-election period, though they have a BJP-led government in the State, any State or National BJP leaders do not say anything to clarify the NSCN (IM) statements so far. Even the UNC conditions in which the recognition of Naga’s ancestral land in Manipur is profound very much are not negated. They overlook the politics of recognizing ancestral land; instead, they try to draw public attention to the opening of National Highways by negotiating UNC, the previous Government wanted to declare unlawful organization. The Chief Minister was publicly asked to support the Naga Integration meaning Nagalim in Ukhrul. He took the memorandum which was, literarily, Death Sentence to the existence of Manipur. During the Election, BJP candidates including present Chief Minister rebuked Okram Ibobi who had come back without taking action when a group of youths welcomed him with a banner saying “Welcome to South Nagaland.”
AMSU’s campaign for projection of historical and political identity of Manipur provoked the critical minds of the Manipuri intelligentsia. The discourse over the one-ness of Manipur and threat from Framework Agreement is suppressed by ongoing government’s endless announcement of doing this or that in the name of transparency, anti-corruption or “Go to the Hills.” The discourse is still needed in Manipur. The people of Manipur, for that matter of India too, have to discuss on how India deals with violent struggle and the endless process of creating new tensions between the ethnic groups in one or another State. Will Framework Agreement or any agreement deduced from it bring any change in Nagaland? Is it a move to save its face, NSCN (IM) tries to gain a state within State of Manipur by defining ancestral land of the Nagas? Will Naga poor families gain anything out of the agreement? Many questions are before us. Here, don’t we need an informed debate for a solution to the problems of all the ethnic groups and the Meitei? The urgency is due to the situation as reported in the WEEK:The Union government aims to offer an accord and give Muivah time, maybe six months, to build consensus among the Nagas. The hope is that Muivah, 83, wants to ink the deal in his lifetime. With elections due in Nagaland early next year, the process is likely to gain pace by the end of this year. Why should not Manipuris help Muivah signing an accord based by bringing up a consensus of all the peoples before his last breath? He suffered a lot; Nagaland may discard him but Manipur cannot. He is one son of soil. This can be done only when we have a debate at social forum only. For this, Prime Minister of India should hand over the Framework Agreement to the people of India.