Creation of 7 new districts is a master stroke of Congress to draw undue political mileage for CM Ibobi Singh whose popularity is declining fast due to his misdeeds
Jagdamba Mall from Imphal
United Naga Council (UNC) of Manipur has imposed an
indefinite economic blockade on NH37 (Silchar-Jiribam-Imphal) and NH2 (Dimapur-Kohima-Mao-Imphal earlier NH39)—the two lifelines of Manipur, in protest against the government’s plan to convert Sadar Hills and Jiribam into full-fledged Revenue Districts. As the people in Manipur suffer beyond imagination, the public anger is increasing and it may take an ugly turn any time.
On June 18, 2001, altogether 18 Meiteis were gunned down when the Manipuri mob went rampage against infamous Bangkok Declaration 2001 extending the territorial limits of the cease fire with NSCN-IM beyond Nagaland inside Manipur. In addition to 18 people killed, over a hundred were seriously injured from gunfire. The state burned for over a month till the scrapping of controversial phrase- “without territorial limits” from the Bangkok Declaration 2001. The Central Government is required to understand the complexity of the
integration issue and the consequences of any definite action on the NSCN-IM demand. The frequent economic
blockades on both the lifelines of Manipur as the one beginning from November 1 till today (December 22, 2016) having no sign of being withdrawn in near future, add fuel to the fire.
The United Committee Manipur (UCM), an umbrella organisation of Manipuri people in valley and hills both, imposed counter blockades obstructing supply of essential items to the hill areas and it is successful because of the fury of common people in the valley. The UNC blockade did not only affect the valley populace but the general inhabitants in the hills also. This has been further increased by counter blockades imposed at various points by irate sections of the valley.
The impact of counter blockade could be seen when church organisations and other Janjati organisations were appealed to impress upon UNC to lift economic blockade. UNC and other Naga organisations have been talking about ancestral land in opposing the demand of creation of new districts – Sadar Hills and Jiribam. What about Kukis, Nepalese and Hindi speaking people who have settled there over a century? Human migration is a process throughout the ages. Kukis came and
settled in the Hills in later phases. And also, Hindi speaking and Nepalese have come and settled there centuries ago in various areas and they identify with the soil and amalgamate with dominant community but Nagas refuse to do so due only to colonial interruption.
Earlier, Manipur witnessed the longest ever economic blockade with state remaining crippled for 123 days. For 92 days lasting from August 1, 2011 to October 31, 2011 and additional 21 days bandh, Sadar Hills Disrticthood Demand Committee (SHDDC) imposed and indefinite economic blockade along with NH37 and NH2 passing through the area in pursuance of its demand for upgrading Sadar Hills to a full-fledged district. Objecting to the move for creation of Sadar Hills district, UNC later on launched a counter blockade starting from August 21, 2011 till Nov 28, 2011.
Creation of New Districts: Good Job with Bad Intension
While UNC was opposing creation of two new districts – Sadar Hills and Jiribam, the Congress Chief Minister O Ibobi Singh, famous for divide and rule tactics, created seven new districts including the two mentioned above at midnight of December 9 after a marathon meeting of his cabinet which ended after 2 am. With creation of 7 new, Manipur has now 16 Districts. The move of Ibobi Singh surprised one and all. The Chief Minister asserted that creation of seven new districts is purely for administrative convenience, which will bring equal development and growth in the remote areas in Hills curbing hurdles of distant connectivity and communication coupled with hazards of horrible road conditions. UNC reacted immediately as CM’s move to promote his policy of divide and rule. UNC has imposed from November 1 an indefinite economic blockade on NH37 and NH2 (earlier NH39) and banned the construction of Trans Asian railways from Jiribam to Tupul and other national projects including four-laning of roads and repair of some of them. In this process, the voices and aspirations of Nepalese, Hindi speaking people and Kukis have been choked and checked at gun point for decades.
Warning by UCM
United Committee Manipur (UCM) after a day-long people’s convention on December 9 urged Ibobi government and the Centre to get ongoing economic blockade imposed by United Naga Council (UNC) lifted without delay. The convention entrusted UCM to ensure that no blockade is imposed along the state’s supply lines in future. Another resolution demanded
deployment of highway protection force along Imphal-Dimapur (NH2) and Imphal-Jiribam (NH37) highways.
The newly created districts are (1) Tengnopal carved out from Chandel (2) Kakching from Thoubal (3) Pherjawl from Churachandpur (4) Kamjong from Ukhrul (5) Noney from Tamenlong (6) Jiribam from Imphal East and (7) Kangpokpi from Senapati. The name Sadar was replaced by Kangpokpi on the plea that Sadar (word) was not
indigenous to the land. Noney is the home town of UNC President Gaidon Kamei and Gaikhangam Gangmei Dy CM is from Khopum village also in newly declared Noney district. The districts should be created as per administrative convenience and not on the basis of
ethnicity. All the valley districts are home to all, they should not be created along ethnicity. None of the valley districts are home to Meiteis alone. This is a point which should be borne by all the Naga frontal organisations including the UNC.
Nagaland which is geographically smaller than Manipur and has a lesser population, has 11 districts and (11) Peren. These were not created along
ethnicity. These were created purely along administrative convenience and good governance. The creation of new seven districts is a master stroke of Congress to ensure political privilege for Ibobi Singh whose popularity is fast falling down because of mal-governance and mal-practices. Therefore, the timing of this decision is questionable. This was with an intension to elevate from Zero Ibobi to Hero Ibobi. Longer the
economic blockade by UNC supported by NSCM-IM, more the gun shots and more the policemen on duty be killed, stronger will be the position of Congress and Chief Minister. The upcoming Assembly election will now be deeply polarised, which should be a cause of worry for BJP and righteous section of the society. The Congress headed by O Ibobi Singh is all set to exploit the polarised situation to the full. Unfortunate but this is the reality.
The Centre should be serious in
taking note of the deadly twin attacks along the Imphal-Moreh stretch of NH37 on December 15 by NSCN-IM in which three policemen were brutally killed and eleven seriously injured. This should never be treated as just a case of law and order situation which is a state subject. Thus, the creation of seven new districts, the seemingly free hand to NSCN-IM in the name of cease fire agreement, the on-going economic blockade imposed by UNC since November 1 till date, the framework agreement signed between NSCN-IM and Delhi on August 3, 2015, the demand that a mechanism be enacted to check the inflow of non-local people in Manipur, and the demand that the Meitei people be included in the ST list of Constitution of India, will influence the ensuing Assembly election. It is here that not only the stand of Congress on these issues become important, but also the stand of other political parties
particularly the BJP which is
determined to overthrow the corrupt Congress rule by giving slogan of Congress-free-Manipur.
Centre on Alert
Terming blockades a gross violation of law and crime against humanity, the Union Ministry of Home Affairs has appealed the UNC to lift its illegal blockade in view of difficulties faced by people of Manipur. The Centre has rushed 4000 paramilitary personnel to restore law and order. Fifteen Manipur based civil society organisations
including Nagas and Kukis have formed “Goodwill Mission for Peaceful
co-existence (GMPC)” for restoring peace. Six Naga National Political Groups (NNPG) under the umbrella of ‘Working Group’ have appealed to Nagas and Meiteis for peace. n