In less than two weeks’ time, the Naga team led by the United Naga Council (UNC) will engage in another round of tripartite talks with the State Government of Manipur and the Government of India on the district creation issue.
It is worthwhile to recall here that, on November 10, 2017, the representatives of the State Government of Manipur agreed to come with a “concrete proposal” on the issue in the next round of talks slated for February 23, 2018.
The vexed district creation issue is extremely important for the Nagas in the South and its resolution holds vital implication for future of their social organizations, particularly the UNC. The issue involves not just the creation of new districts but several other political underpinnings in the context of the Naga people in the south.
Resolving the issue once and for all will also be in the best interest for Manipur Government as the policy of adhocism employed by the successive governments in the state has been the major cause for discords and strife between different communities for decades now.
The Nagas had signed four Memorandums of Understanding (MoUs) with the State Government of Manipur, wherein the MoU of 1998 states that “resolution to the conflict on the issue of Sadar Hills will be brought about through a consensus of the peoples concerned in the interest of bringing about lasting peace and harmony between the Nagas and Kukis”. Besides, agreeing to honour the memorandum/agreement entered into 1981, 1992, 1996 and the 1998 MoU also recognized the issue of land.
Now, given the initial over-brimming enthusiasm of the UNC on the issue, and the kind of measures it took to oppose the decision of the Manipur Government, and then the apparent waning in campaigning vigour of the Nagas on the issue in the latter period, have been the causes for anxiety.
The participants of the tripartite talks also need to be reminded that the State Government of Manipur had admitted during the first tripartite talks on the district creation issue on March 19, 2017 saying, “The grievances of the United Naga Council which led to the imposition of the economic blockade by them was recognized as there was non-adherence to the four Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) and the Government of India’s assurance on the matter.”
Given this admission of the State Government of Manipur, it will be sagacious on its part to exhibit its courage loudly by working on the line of its admission. At the same time, it will be prudent on the part of UNC, to recognise and check the apparent waning of enthusiasm on the issue, if it has to remain relevant. This is because the chutzpah of an organization comes from the faith and confidence people reposed in it. Or, if the UNC is into some sort of higher diplomacy, it needs to find ways to penetrate the conversations at the grassroot level.