Dimapur 28 May 2011: Another standoff between the state governments of Manipur and Nagaland appears to be in the offing over the proposed launch of the Naga People’s Front by Nagaland chief minister Neiphiu Rio at Senapati on May 28 with both heads of states determined to implement their respective decisions.
According to an official source here, it was learnt that the Manipur government has already deployed several companies of Manipur Police Commandos to prevent the entry of Nagaland chief minister Neiphiu Rio, other ministers and party officials while on this side, companies of the IRB have also been deployed at the border with Manipur. The union home minister has also been apprised of the respective stands of both the state governments.
Chief minister Neiphiu Rio in a faxed message Friday reminded Ibobi that his office had relayed information of his plan to visit to Senapati on May 26. He also said “substantial expenditures” have been made to enable dignitaries to visit Senapati. He requested Manipur chief minister Ibobi to understand the “peaceful and goodwill intention of the event” and instead to extend cooperation for the visit.
Rio also faxed a message to union home minister P. Chidambaram requesting the latter to “prevail upon the government of Manipur not to have any apprehension about the nature and purpose” of his visit and “not to create any obstacle to the smooth conduct of the party function at Senapati.”
The two chief secretaries of both Manipur and Nagaland have also exchanged fax messages over the stand of their respective chief ministers.
Earlier, Nagaland chief secretary Lalthara in a faxed message to Manipur chief secretary with copies to the home secretary, joint secretary (MHA) and DGPs of both state acknowledged his counterpart’s message dated May 25. Lalthara in the reply said after taking due consideration of the request of the Manipur government, Nagaland chief minister Neiphiu Rio “intends to attend the function” to fulfill a prior commitment “irrespective of whether the Manipur government can provide the necessary security entitled to him as chief minister, and as a VIP under Z-Plus category” Lalthara disclosed that chief minister Neiphiu Rio would take his own security entourage during the tour. Lalthara also clarified that following the change in nomenclature from Nagaland People’s Front to Naga People’s Front, ArticleA(i) of the party constitution was also amended that any citizen of the “country” (and not “Nagaland”) can be members of the NPF.
In response to Lathara’s faxed message, Manipur chief secretary D.S.Poonia disclosed that the Manipur cabinet at its meeting on Friday expressed serious concern over the decision of Nagaland chief minister Neiphiu Rio to visit Senapati, despite the Manipur government’s strong reservations about security concerns.
Further, Poonia said no consultation was made with the DGP Manipur over the decision of the Nagaland chief minister to take Nagaland Police security entourage along to Senapati as required in order to avoid any conflict between the two state police forces.
Poonia also said as per the assessment of the Manipur DGP, it was concluded that the visit was bound to create a serious law and order situation in Manipur particularly just a few weeks ahead of the observance of “Great June Uprising Day” by the UCM and the “Unity Day” by AMUCO when 18 persons were killed on June 18, 2001 during protests against extension of the “Indo-Naga ceasefire” beyond Nagaland.
He also said the launch of the NPF office at Senapati would worsen the already volatile situation in Senapati which could “likely to lead to another stand-off between the law enforcement agencies and NGOs in some hill districts.
Poonia citing an assessment of the district administration at Senapati, said owing to limited availability of police, it would be difficult for the district administration provide full proof security in case of any small incident during the May 28 function resulting to breach of peace. He said this concern was relayed to the Nagaland chief minister who is placed under Z-Plus Security.
Further, he said the Manipur cabinet which took note of the assessment of the DGP Manipur and the overstretched police, was apprehensive that any disturbance on May 28 “will definitely jeopardize” the tripartite talks with the United Naga Council on May 30. In view of the concerns, he said the Manipur cabinet “once again” resolved to ask the Nagaland government to “categorically reconsider their rigid stand and defer the proposed visit” by Nagaland chief minister to Senapati.
The Manipur cabinet also expressed serious concern that taking the Nagaland Police escort to Senapati could have far reaching ramifications on the relations between the two states.
Poonia urged the Nagaland chief minister reconsider the request to postpone his visit and that any later date may be decided in consultation with the Manipur government.
He also informed Lalthara to relay the request to Nagaland chief minister and that the NPF be advised to defer the proposed launch at a later date in view of the scheduled talks with the UNC on May 30. NPN