Why Does Manipur Fear of the Naga Peace Process?
| IOP Desk - 23 Oct 2019

The Naga Peace Process to be Concluded by October 31

  • Manipur will send an all-party delegation to Delhi with a memorandum to make the Central Government aware of its concern over the Naga peace process
  • The Naga peace process to be concluded by October 31 and there will be no separate national flag or constitution for the Nagas: Interlocutor & Nagaland Governor R.N. Ravi

By Onkareshwar Pandey with Brown Nongmaithem from Imphal

DELHI /IMPHAL, Oct 22, 2019: Manipur is seriously worried. The state is concerned about the ongoing Naga peace process. And the concern is so much so, that it has decided to send an all-party delegation to Delhi with a memorandum to make the Central Government aware of its concern over the Naga peace process.

This was decided in an all Political Party meeting held under the chairmanship of Chief Minister N. Biren Singh in the Cabinet Room of the Chief Minister to discuss the Indo Naga Peace Talks in Imphal on Tuesday on 22nd October 2019.

At the outset, Chief Minister N. Biren Singh appraised the house of recent developments based on media reports and inputs from the Consultative Group on the issue of the Indo-Naga Peace Talks.

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After intense deliberations on the subject, the house adopted the following resolutions:

(1) The house resolved to protect the territorial integrity and oneness of the State.

(2)The house resolved to send a political party delegation to urge the Central leadership by submitting a memorandum.

(3) The house resolved to constitute a drafting Sub Committee under the Chairmanship of Shri Y. Joykumar Singh to draft the memorandum in this regard, with the following leaders as members from all political parties of Manipur. The members are - Shri Thangminlein Kipgen, NPP;Dr. M. Nara Singh, CPI; Dr. Ng. Bijoy Singh, NEIDP; Shri P. Sharatchandra Singh, BJP; Shri K. Devabrata, MPCC; Shri N. Ibohal Meitei, LJP; Shri H. Gitajen Meitei, MPP; Shri M. Tombi Singh, Shiv Sena.

The all-party meeting was called three days after the Interlocutor for the Naga talks and Nagaland Governor R N Ravi said that the Central government is determined to conclude the decades-long peace process without delay.

On Oct 18, the Union Govt said it was determined to conclude the ongoing Naga peace process without delay and asserted that ‘endless negotiation under the shadow of guns’ was not acceptable.

In a statement, the government's interlocutor for Naga talks and Governor of Nagaland RN Ravi said a mutually agreed draft comprehensive settlement, incorporating all substantive issues and competencies, is ready for inking the final agreement.

“The Centre will conclude the Naga peace process by October 31 and there will be no separate national flag or constitution for the Nagas,” interlocutor R.N. Ravi had told the media.

Taking serious note of Governor R N Ravi’s statement on a final solution to the Naga peace process that is likely to be signed by October 31, an all-party meeting decided to send a political party delegation to the Centre.

The meeting resolved that any solution to Naga talk should not affect the integrity of Manipur in any manner. Manipur, a neighbour of Nagaland has a sizeable number of Naga population.

The all-party delegation from Manipur is likely to meet Union Home Minister Amit Shah, who is also the president of the Bhartiya Janata Party, other Ministers and BJP leaders in Delhi. The date of the delegation’s visit to Delhi has not been announced so far. 

Meanwhile, the opposition Congress has reiterated its stand on the issue. “The stand of the Congress is very clear. Any agreement with the government to bring a solution is welcome. But we cannot agree to any agreement that affects the state of Manipur,” said Gaikhangam, the president of the Manipur Congress unit, former deputy chief minister, and Congress MLA.

A day ago, the Education Minister of Manipur, Th Radheshyam, who is also the spokesperson of the state government, had said the government was still standing for the integrity of Manipur.

The United Committee of Manipur had organised an emergency public meeting on the peace talks in Imphal on Monday.

It was decided in all party delegation entire state of Manipur has seriously worried over the ongoing Naga peace process., an all party delegation will meet and submit a memorandum to Prime Minister Narendra Modi led Union Government in Delhi Central leadership by

Know the Manipur First

Manipur, India’s land-locked North Eastern state is the country’s smallest populated state after Jharkhand and Chhattisgarh.

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Encircled by nine hill ranges, Manipur is marked out by a picturesque valley in the midst. The total area of Manipur is 22,327 sq. km. Out of this only 2,238 sq. Km are valley while the remaining areas are covered with hilly tracts.

Strategic Location

The state has a very strategic location. Manipur shares its boundaries with three other states - Nagaland, Assam and Mizoram - and also with neighboring Myanmar.

The hill districts of Senapati and Tamenglong which have a greater population of the Naga community share their boundary with Nagaland. Tamenglong also shares its boundaries with Assam.

Churachandpur is the only district that has proximity to Mizoram whereas Ukhrul and Chandel are the gateways to Myanmar.

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Major Communities of Manipur

The state of Manipur mainly comprises of three major communities: Meitei, Naga and Kuki.

The Meitei ethnic group represents around 53% of the population of Manipur state, followed by various Naga tribes at 24% and various Kuki-Zo tribes at 16%.

Manipur – Divided in Hills and Valley

The most important part to understand is that geographically, the state is divided into two distinct parts - the hills and the valley. The Nagas reside in the hills, the Meiteis in the valley.

And of the 60 seats in the state, 40 are in the hills and 20 are in the valley, hence the major political parties always try to maintain a balancing act wooing the Nagas and the Meiteis.

Population of Meiteis

Having a population of over 1.3 million, the Meitei is the oldest tribe of Manipur; in fact the state was once known as Mitei-Leipak.  The Census Facts in its report states that the decadal percentage growth rate of the Meeteis/Meiteis has been on the decrease from 48% in 2001 to 44% in 2011.

According to the 1891 census, the Meiteis were recorded as a forest tribe and they mainly inhabit the valley, although they have a presence in some of the hill districts too. In the 18th century, this indigenous tribe was converted into Hinduism. , which is why a suffix of Devi/Singh is attached to their names, which is commonly used in the northern India.

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Population of Nagas

Having the total population of more than three lakh in Manipur, the Nagas are an indigenous tribe which became a part of the British India in 1881 after the British annexed Assam in 1826.

Population of Kukis

With a population of over 2 lakh, most of the Kuki sub-tribes reside in the Churachandpur district in south Manipur. Some Kukis also reside in Naga dominated Senapati and the old Kukis which have a small population of over 30,000 reside in Naga areas identifying themselves as the new Nagas.

Close Similarities in Culture and Traditional Habits

“It should be noted that all the different ethnic groups are of the same Mongoloid group, and have very close similarities in their culture and traditional habits. The difference came only in later parts of the history after Meiteis were converted to Vaishnavism and the hill inhabitants became Christians. All practices head hunting at one time of their history. At present, the Meiteis perform rituals and ceremonies according to the Hindu customs while the hill tribes perform according to Christian faith,” writes Dr. Pukhrambam Lalit Kumar Singh in an article published in a local media e-pao.net.

Manipur has a past of Ethnic Clashes

Manipur has a past filled with ethnic pressure between the Meitei people, residing in the valley and the Naga tribes, residing in the hills. The conflicts between these two groups induce protests and bandhs throughout the year. The previous Manipur government led by Chief Minister Ibobi Singh’s decision to shape the seven new districts is still being viewed as a danger to the Nagas.

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The Bone of Contention

One of the oldest demands of the NSCN (IM) is the creation of Greater Nagaland - a state which would contain parts of Naga inhabited hilly areas of Manipur.

The Nagas mainly reside in the hills in districts like Senapati, Ukhrul and Tamenglong which have close proximity to the Naga state Nagaland.  According to the UNC, Sadar Hills is the “ancestral homeland” of the Nagas.

The Naga ethnic group is an amalgamation of various sub-tribes like the Tangkhul, Maram, Anal, Maring, etc. and also the old Kukis who like to be recognised as the new Nagas.

The Naga Peace Accord

A framework agreement was signed on August 3, 2015 by NSCN-IM general secretary Thuingaleng Muivah and Ravi in the presence of Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

Prime Minister Modi, after the signing of framework, had announced the historic peace deal with Nagaland insurgents which rest on a breakthrough formula not involving redrawing of the state’s borders.

After over two decades of protracted negotiations between the government of India’s Interlocutors and NSCN (I-M) and later with Working Committee (WC) of Naga National Political Groups (NNPGs), solution to the Naga political issue was found and signed, the Govt claimed.

The agreement came after over 80 rounds of negotiations spanning 18 years, with the first breakthrough made in 1997 when the ceasefire agreement was sealed after decades of insurgency in Nagaland which started soon after India's Independence in 1947.

The contents of the ‘Naga Peace Accord’ have not been revealed to the media so far. The deal allegedly involves creating a mechanism that would create institutions like allowing autonomy to Naga tribes living in Manipur.

Congress leaders like Rahul Gandhi and Ibobi Singh had criticised the deal made between the Government of India and the NSCN (IM), which is the largest Naga rebel group and asked the government to reveal the contents of that draft.

A media report suggested that a degree of autonomy in Naga homelands would be part of the Naga Peace Accord that hopes to please all factions in the state. This includes a majority of the Meitei people, who are also sensitive about territorial integrity.

Image courtesy - (File pics) - PM India / DIPR Manipur 

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(Onkareshwar Pandey is Founder, Editor in Chief & CEO, Indian Observer Post, and former Senior Group Editor- Rashtriya Sahara (Hindi & Urdu) and also former Editor, (News), ANIhttp://bit.ly/2mh7hih


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INDIAN OBSERVER POST (IOP) is a Class, Creative, and Constructive News platform which publishes ONLY exclusive and Special News / Views / Interviews / Research Articles / Analysis / Columns / Features and Opinions on the national and international issues, politics, security, energy, innovation, infrastructure, rural, health, education, women, and entertainment. Email – editor@indianobserverpost.com


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(Onkareshwar Pandey is Founder, Editor in Chief & CEO, Indian Observer Post and former Senior Group Editor- Rashtriya Sahara (Hindi & Urdu) and also former Editor, (News), ANI. http://bit.ly/2mh7hih Email - SMS- 9910150119)


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