A Political Gimmick to Seek the Details of Framework Agreement

The other day, two Imphal-based civil society organisations, the United Committee Manipur and the Committee of Civil Societies Kangleipak have taken a remarkable initiative to make the political class accountable to the people of Manipur with reference to the Framework Agreement signed between the Government of India and the NSCN IM faction.

But quite contrary to the motives, the mention of candidates has given some food for thought not necessarily healthy; so, here’s a brief recollection on the event that was held on 24 February 2017.

83 candidates pledge to seek FA details
Source: The Sangai Express (25 February 2017)

Imphal, February 24 2017: As many as 83 candidates belonging to different political parties including seven independent candidates have pledged to urge the Government of India to bring out a white paper on the Framework Agreement it signed with NSCN-IM on August 3, 2015. At a swearing ceremony held today at GM Hall here under the aegis of UCM and CCSK, the candidates appended their signatures on a pre-drafted pledge/document titled ‘Pledge to the people of Manipur’.

The candidates who appended their signatures on the pledge includes two from AIFB, two CPI-M, two from NPP, three from PRJA, 22 from BJP, four from MPP, eight from AITC, nine from INC, nine from NEIDP, four from NCP, six from CPI, two from LJP, three from MNDF and seven independent candidates.

Political gimmick is written all over their faces and we can only hope that something is better than nothing. As reported in the new, the Framework Agreement between the Government of India and the Naga rebels was formulated on 3 August 2015 albeit the peace process was initiated exactly two decades ago.

We do heard, now and then when they are in the mood, about the government’s stand that no force on Earth can break up the territorial integrity of Manipur—though the issue is not about territorial disintegration per se but the political conflicts with the Government of India. Meanwhile the elected representatives better take a stand, else this time the consequences will be directed towards the comparatively new Assembly Building just like it was done to the old building that was set on fire in 2001 in protest against their sheer cowardice and indifference.

Manipur Assembly, Govt. buildings set on fire
The Hindu (19 June 2016)

IMPHAL, JUNE 18: Manipur today went up in flames with 13 people killed and over 50 wounded in police firing as demonstrators protesting the Naga ceasefire extension set ablaze the Assembly and the Chief Minister's Secretariats and Government buildings, leading to imposition of an indefinite curfew in three districts on the last day of the 66-hour State bandh.

The Indo-Naga peace accord on which the Framework Agreement is based is much more complex than the monkey business of aspiring candidates. It is going to have a deep impact on the future of this hinterland called Northeast India and the more serious and honest approach is made to contain the crisis, the better it will be for all the people cutting across ethnic groups and political beliefs. Such a crucial issue cannot be left to the politicians alone.

Since 1997 the peace process has been negotiating for amicable solutions and both the Government of India and NSCN IM have reached the conclusions about the state of affairs, existing as well as in the future. But there have been three issues on which there has been an uncompromising stand especially from the side of the Naga representatives. This includes, one, the demand for the integration of all the Naga-dominated areas; two, creation of regional autonomous district councils and the ownership of natural resources found in ‘Nagalim’.

For many Nagas, this controversial agreement is one of their last hopes to realise the goals of Nagalim movement but simultaneously it is also a matter of life and death for the other neighbouring communities who are literally up in arms against the Government of India, just like the NSCN IM is doing till today. The clandestine nature of the agreement, for whatever reasons, is only adding insult to the wounds of many and if this consequence was the motive of the mediator, read New Delhi, then we can appreciate its statesmanship though this has only compounded the ethnic hostilities.   

Ironically if India can make use of any means to subjugate the people in this region then the Nagas also have every right to use all the available means including sponsoring economic blockade, which is no different from waging war against humanity. Also like we do with India, we can appreciate the Nagas for their successful political mobilisation, with much thanks to their frontal organisations and other Naga civil society organisations. Nonetheless it is totally a different tale how the likes of Konyaks and Reformation plus other accordist and non-accordist factions have already formed breakaway groups.

In this context, the Imphal-based political parties are too spineless to make decisions and just for the sake of argument they are signing pledges but we know they will as always go deaf and dumb after the election. Do these people even care about the ongoing propaganda campaign led by the over-ground workers of the NSCN IM in the Naga-dominated areas of Manipur Hills? The best that other concerned Non-Naga people in the province is to support those tribes who are against the Naga dominance—for instance, see how some Meeteis are standing for the Aimols recently.

The politically motivated Nagas are working very hard to consolidate the people, sometimes edging towards absurdities. Under the leadership of the IM faction, the campaign has been quite successful particularly in some pockets around the western parts of Nagaland and some hill areas of Manipur.

How do the influential groups of Nagaland like the Aos see this development? For that matter, do the other Naga organisations based in Manipur support the ‘compromise’ between the Government of India and IM? If we go by the records, many Manipur-based Naga organisations have discredited the Framework Agreement entirely. Rightly so, the Agreement does not matter. What matters is the role of the Government of India approaching the issue on one hand, and on the other, how are the stakeholders going to respond to any steps taken by the two signees?

The political parties should focus on the upcoming election; why waste time in a public issue when the poll is scheduled less than a week. Never say this is also a part of the election campaign. They should quite look forward to be sincere when the next government is formed. The Naga issue is not going to be solved any time soon and we don’t need 80 or 100 pledge-takers, but only a handful of honest representatives.



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