People’s Aspiration and Territorial Integrity
July 18 2011
The citizen’s aspiration for basic human freedom and dignity is often overlooked and meticulously manipulated by the people in power, the Government in the name of sovereignty or territorial safeguard of nation or state. The citizen’s aspiration to define its destiny to realize and restore their dignity is often miscalculated and underestimated by the people in power and loosely considered as secession and forces are used to suppress the people. This often undermines an individual’s freedom to live with dignity as a free world citizen. The nation state is composed of a group of individuals in form of tribe, race or ethnicity. Nation or state cannot exist in vacuum without the composition of group of individuals put together. Therefore, individuals are prior to a nation or state.
The Naga people since the formation of Naga Club way back in 1918 has been voicing for their political self determination consequentially giving birth to Naga National Council and later on split to NSCNs (IM & K) in 1980s. A peaceful and non-violent mass based movement started by Naga people was made to a retaliatory defensive arms struggle movement when the legitimate aspiration based on historical and political rights for self determination is being suppressed with violence and brute force killing thousands of lives, destroying millions worth wealth, properties and natural resources during the last many decades of Indo-Naga conflict. Literally, the peace loving Naga people are taken hostage as prisoners in their own land, in their villages and homes (in most recent memory, the Oinam Incident 1987 and Mao Incident May 2010).
The division of Naga people to various states of north east
The hill people have to run from pillar to post in the Imphal city to take even a simple recruitment forms. Just a simple matrix here to justify the points why the hill people can never be able to progress and develop under the administration of Manipur Government among many other political, social, cultural and religious reasons. If an estimated 14000 Village Authority members (from Hill Districts of Manipur) travel to Imphal atleast 8(eight) times in a year to get their work done (collection of work order, meeting officers, submission of paper works, etc. excluding bribery paid to the officers concerns) spending Rs.1000/- per trip including fare, food, lodge and others, then simple calculation says, 14000x8x1000=11,20,00,000/-, 11.20 Crore Rupees is being spent annually. If 60,000(minimum) patients suffering from Malaria or other treatable diseases from hill districts go down to Imphal to be treated in RIMS, JN Hospital and other Private Hospital with atleast 3-4 attendants spending a week or more at Imphal will cost atleast Rs.30,000/-, then it comes to (60,000x30,000= 180,00,00,000/-, 180.00 Crore Rupees. If 10,000(minimum) serious patients (for major operation and the like) has to spend at Rs.80,000/- then it comes to 80.00 Crore Rupees. If the 1000 contractors from hill pursuing their contract works at Imphal for an estimated days of 20(twenty) in hotel to get contract works done spending roughly Rs.1000/- per day then it comes to nearly 2 Crores Rupees. Approximately 273.2 Crores of Rupees have to be spent annually by the hill people of Manipur simply because, Manipur is not beyond Imphal valley and Manipuris are only Meities and not Tribals (Naga, Kuki-Chin-Mizos) and others. If Government well-fare centrally sponsored schemes and state government assistance given to 5(five) hill districts with an approximation of 60 crore rupees on an average for each of the hills districts, it comes round about 350 Crore Rupees. Then, it is not so surprising that how hard the tribal people struggle for their survival even in the economic terms forget about promoting their political, cultural, social, educational and other human freedoms. The slogan ‘Peace and Development’ by the valley ruled Manipuri (Meitei) Government (because of 40 majority valley MLAs) is simply a farce and just a political rhetoric.
It is not surprising to observe that there is not a single civil society where the hill and valley people shared a common platform. To be precise the Naga and Meitei civil societies do not have any common platform after having being in the same state since Manipur merged with Indian Union in 1973 onwards. To substantiate the point, UCM, AMUCO, MSF, AMSU, Meira Paibis represent the valley based Meities community whereas UNC, ANSAM, NWUM, NPMHR represent the civil societies of the Naga community and the Kuki Inpi and KSO represent the civil society of Kuki-Chin-Mizo groups. This also indicates that not only the Government has a step motherly treatment to the hill people but also the people themselves have a wide divide. The people also feel alienated among themselves as a group to live together excepting the just individual friendship and relationship. Also AMWJU- All Manipur Working Journalist Union confines its activities and roles in Imphal valley itself, this lead to even the divided opinion in the media house of Manipur state which aggravates the situation where there are already complexities. Their activities revolving round sitting in the chairs to churn the words to mend Manipur’s territorial integrity has got far more damaging ramifications inciting anger with their half truth reports and writings (classic example the Imphal based PTI reporter reporting in the national media that the two students who were killed in the last Mao 2010 Tragedy Incident reported to be killed in stampede.) As such banning of Imphal Free Press by the ANSAM some years back and the NPO warning to ban The Sangai Express recently are some few cases that substantiate the argument. It will do much good by getting their legs going around reporting the hardships and true suffering of the people in remote corners shaking the government to take actions for betterment of the whole state. But alas that’s a far cry to happen in the state like Manipur where the Government and all Meiteis are synonymous when it comes to trampling and thwarting the voice of the hills.
Promoting human freedom should be the deep conviction call of any individual to spread democracy. However, it is as sad to see the people who are called the intellects of the society follow the old norms ‘might is right’ and continue to try to dominate the other with suppressive attitude and mindset. This intellectual bankruptcy limiting to see only the horizon of the valley is the darkest moment in the journey of civilization to enlightenment that should promote the basic human idealism and values. Rather concealing the true human values of liberty, freedom, fraternity, tranquility and peace to dust only attempting to thwart the hill people’s will is but just a mere servant to protect rising immediate perceived threat for one own survival and fearing to loss the control and comfort derived out of somebody’s unfreedom. This is but the saddest and darkness moment when the enlightened groups manipulate the facts to their own advantage.
The wide divide between the Hills and Valley are self evident in every spheres of live. This divide is beyond the rhetoric of ‘Territorial Integrity’ of present state of Manipur. There is no emotional unity, there is no sense of belongingness, there is no sense of ownership, there is no sense of participation in Manipur today. This disqualifies the basic democracy where participation is the backbone (Last ADC Election in Naga Hills Districts, NPC July 4th Declaration of Severing ties with Government of Manipur). Suppressing the citizens’ aspiration in the name of territorial integrity undermine the basic human law of right that questions the very foundation of the democracy itself. In the contestation of the territorial integrity and the constitutional provision, the premise needs to be established. The premise to put forth the argument rest on the Article 3 of Indian Constitution which says, ‘Formation of new States and alteration of areas, boundaries or names of the existing States-Parliament may be law- (a) form a new State by separation of territory from any State or by uniting two or more States or parts of States or by uniting any territory to a part of any State. Advocating territorial integrity of present
The antagonistic attitude and movement from the valley people especially the Meiteis, however, should be taken as good stand for Nagas to move ahead more resolutely in asserting their rights and demand. That should strengthen the collectiveness and unity of Naga people to pursue their rightful aspiration. Such strong opposition should make the Naga more resilient and stronger people to defend their rights and promote their cause. The recent Arab world revolutions that usher in new era of democracy have proven that the people’s ‘right is might’. Naga people asserting their rights do not undermine the right of other people and their neighbours.
One wonders how one can support the Meghen, R.K.Sanayaima, the UNLF chief who is jailed and oppose Th.Muivah who is negotiating with the Government of India at Prime Ministerial Level? Is this only expose the dilemma that the Manipuri leaders/writers are living with? On one hand banning Th.Muivah as criminal and on the other hand patronizing Meghen as the Meiteis hero is so duplicitous of the Government of Manipur, Meiteis Civil Society and Meiteis Media. Is it so, because Th.Muivah happens to be the Naga and from the hills and Meghen is Meitei and from the valley, that is why the Government of Manipur discriminate the former and favor the later? This is a million dollar question the Government of Manipur has to answer before the world. Therefore, it is time to get the facts right and re-write what has been written wrong for all these years belittling the Naga People movement for Integration to just ‘Greater Lim’ issue ridiculing as IM’s agenda. This is far from truth. The Naga aspiration for Naga’s Integration is strongly founded and written with blood and tears. Generations after generations Naga people will never give up their history of blood and tears. If Naga Nationhood is only fueled by few leaders as projected by the Meiteis media, why not the Naga surrendered en mass while their villages were burnt to ashes for several times, why people speak up for their rights and live out their cause in the face of such brutal force, again repeat, it is never a one or few leaders idealized dream given to people but indeed it is a reverse, the people’s aspiration for their freedom carried out by some few dedicated and visionary leaders, that’s why the aspiration of the people cannot be inked away still by the Manipuri writers. People’s aspiration was there yesterday, it is here today and it will be there tomorrow. Perhaps, it should and will shine brighter. People’s aspiration for freedom is the deepest human longing. That longing for freedom is never forced from outside, it is from deep within individuals. People sacrifice their lives for those aspirations. Any Naga/Meiteis/World Citizen who come to know, understand and encounter the deep Naga’s aspiration for freedom will never wish away in writings as a mere idealized dream, which is illusive or a mirage in the desert. The million dollar question to the proud Manipuri writers is, how proud are they when the mainland Indian asked which country is Manipur located? Those who know Manipur, they knew either as the worst trouble torn state of bomb-blast, fake encounters, militants ridden place with rampant extortions and corruptions, jobs are auctioned with money the list goes on. In the land where the State is run by someone the Congress high command has to pick and keep as Chief Minister, what proud have they become, that’s a question for the Meitei’s intellectuals. It is a tragedy to note that destroying the Naga people’s history and aspiration seem to be the last resort for the Meiteis’ survival as people. What is the Meitei’s respond to the world when the Indian do not count them as people but want their land (Meitei’s land) to be part of
Therefore, the pursuit for ‘alternative’ outside the given present State of Manipur by Naga people needs a clandestine understanding by the Central Government (Ministry of Home Affairs- which has taken the initiative for convening Tripartite Talk) and all concern. The creation of separate administrative unit out of the present State of
Like it or not, it is indicative that there seems to be no other way for Naga people in Manipur but to find alternative outside the present State of Manipur. As long as this contentious contestation is not been solved, there will be endless tensions and conflicts. Solving this long standing issue through democratic means and ways will add another feather to the pursuit of peace and stability in the north east region of