UNC demands early settlement of Naga Issue

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Imphal, Dec 2: The United Naga Council (UNC) has stated that the Government of India must go beyond “assurances and platitudes,” and must expedite an acceptable and honourable settlement of the Indo-Naga issue based on the unique history and situation of the Nagas.

A statement from the UNC President (Outgoing), L. Adani stated. It added that the Naga situation in Manipur must, “of necessity,” be addressed in the settlement of the Indo-Naga issue to secure lasting peace in the region.

Giving an account of the ceasefire agreements between the Nagas and India, Adani recounted how the first Indo-Naga Ceasefire which came into effect on September 6, 1964 and lasted till 1967 was operational in the entire Naga areas of the Northeast. It could not proceed with concrete progress due to lack of political will of the Government of India, Adani stated.

“The second Indo-Naga Cease-fire agreement signed in 1997 between the GoI and the NSCN as two entities without any pre-conditions was welcomed by the Naga people with great hopes for permanent peace after decades of the Indo-Naga armed conflict,” Adani stated.

With the recognition of the unique history and situation of the Nagas by the then Atal Behari Vajpayee- led NDA Government, it was felt that an honourable and acceptable settlement would soon emerge from the peace process, the outgoing president stated.

“Unfortunately the current peace process has dragged on for the last 17 precious years with no tangible result for the want of the same political will on the part of the GoI.”

Adani argued that the delay in settling the Indo-Naga issue has created space for the Government of Manipur (GoM) and the dominant elements that inform their policies to put spanners in the peace process in order to derail it.

Mentioning the events of 1997, 2001 and 2005, he stated that the ‘chaos and violence’ engulfed Imphal valley only, but was projected as entire Manipur.

The UNC president further alleged that the events were engineered by the GoM and communal forces with a view to disturb the peace process.

Citing the situation that was created in Ukhrul recently, Adani stated, “The pretext of maintaining law and order is purely the machination of the GoM and is aimed towards the same end.”

Holding the state police responsible for the May 6, 2010 incident, where two youths were killed and many injured – mostly women – during a public rally at Mao Gate, Adani stated, “The contempt and disrespect of the GoM for the Indo-Naga cease fire has been the cause of the militarization of Naga areas, killings of innocents and attack upon our human rights and identity.”

The rally was in protest against the Manipur government’s decision to ban National Socialist Council of Nagalim (NSCN – IM) General Secretary, Th. Muivah, from visiting his native place and Naga areas in Manipur. “The hard earned peace process and the Indo-Naga peace talks of 17 years is being sabotaged and undermined by their belligerent posture,” Adani stated.

“The actions and policies of the GoM on the Nagas and tribal people is not confined to the use of brute force and violence alone but is well orchestrated with notifications, legislations, administrative orders and acts that seeks to usurp our inherent rights over our ancestral lands and also to perpetuate the denial of identity, due opportunities and political empowerment of our people and to destroy the traditional institutions/village republics of the Nagas/tribal,” Adani added.

The UNC President further stated that the GoM has very clearly defined their relation with the Nagas with the following positions: “There are no Nagas in Manipur; No to Indo-Naga cease-fire; No land belongs to the Nagas and therefore no protection of ancestral lands of the Nagas/tribal which otherwise is granted by law; No to the constitutional rights of employment and educational opportunities of the Nagas/tribal; No to development of the tribal areas on the pretext of law and order and absence of land laws.”

Adani stating that based on the unmistakable facts that it is impossible to protect their right to life, land, time-honored institutions, customary practice and have their identity and dignity recognized and respected under the existing political and administrative system of GoM, the Nagas in Manipur declared on July 1, 2010, that the Nagas will sever all political ties with the communal GoM and demanded for an alternative arrangement outside the GoM pending settlement of the Indo-Naga issue.

“Consequent to this declaration and submission of the demand to the GoI, the latter initiated the democratic process of dialogue at the tripartite level of the GoM, GoI and the UNC which has logically progressed to a stage where in the 7th round of talk it was agreed that the GoI would set up a high powered committee to translate the demand into a political reality,” Adani informed.

Adani alleged that in the four Imphal valley districts, innocent mainland Indians, mainly petty traders, professionals and skilled workers continue to be harassed under the very nose of O. Ibobi, the Chief Minister of Manipur.

“At this very moment non-locals are being herded like cattles in Imphal valley in pursuit of the Inner Line Permit demand. Bombings and shootings are routine and even the Chief Minister’s official residence has been attacked 4 times,” he stated, adding, “But the Disturbed Area Act has been conveniently lifted from 7 Assembly segments of greater Imphal.

In sharp contrast, in the tribal hill areas where there is ‘cease-fire’ and ‘suspension of operation’ and peace, there is militarisation by the GoM.” Adani argued that this Imphal centric worldview and exclusiveness of the State Government and the dominant community has created the irreparable situation.

Further stating that the state is not the property of an individual or community, the UNC president argued that an alternative arrangement that brings changes to accommodate the identity, dignity, rights and political aspirations of all will be a boon for all concerned.

“Without respect for the human person and our people, development cannot and will not take place. The magnanimity of recognising this imperative will push up all concerned collectively to the spirit of brotherhood of mankind, where there is mutual respect and honour, free from oppression, subjugation and dominance upon each other,” the UNC president’s note stated.

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