Today, the Government of India, Government of Manipur and UNC held Tripartie Talk at Senapati on 19 May 2017.
Written by Esha Roy | Imphal
NTIMES 24 Dec: It will be a dark Christmas for the residents of Imphal city. The night before Christmas eve, Tanghkhul Lane, in Chingmeirong, is pitch black and the lit Bethlehem Stars that adorn the top of every house at this time of the year are stark in their absence. The mood is sombre. Young and old are headed, under the weak streams of light thrown by their mobile phones, to the Tangkhul Lane Community Centre. The frantic activity at the centre has abated since yesterday, but a long line of applicants nevertheless snake out. They are registering themselves with the volunteers at the community centre who have promised to try help get them back home to Ukhrul district.
The road to Ukhrul has been blocked off to prevent Manipur’s Naga population from leaving Imphal city. This is a counter to the blockade called by the United Naga Council over the recent creation of new districts, which it sees as an attempt to divide the Naga people. Those stranded due to the counter-blockade have taken shelter at Imphal’s Tangkhul Lane community centre, as well as another such centre in Chingmeirong. Some have taken shelter with relatives, or been taken in by other Tangkhul families. On Thursday night, around 300 stranded Tangkhuls were given shelter at the centre. By Friday morning though, the community centre doors were locked due to the rush of those coming in.
Leishichon Rungsung, 24, is among those waiting patiently in line to be registered at the centre. By 5.30 pm, the volunteers’ notebook has 700 names. Rungsung, who is in the line with a cousin sister, admits her “desperation”. “I tried once before to leave but couldn’t manage. We couldn’t even leave the boundaries of Imphal city. I would actually have given up trying, but my parents are really forcing me to return,” says Rungsung, adding they are worried about the law and order situation in Imphal.
Rungsung came to Imphal city earlier this year to join a coaching centre, and will be appearing for civil services exams. “There is no such coaching centre back home,” she says. While her parents are telling her to return for good, Rungsung says she will come back to finish her coaching. “If I don’t manage to go back home for Christmas, I will simply stay here and attend classes if there are any,” she says.
Rungsung has four brothers and an elder sister. Only the eldest brother, who is married, stays at home with his family and parents. One brother is pursuing Masters in Bangalore, a brother and sister are in Delhi also preparing for their civil service exams, and the youngest brother is studying medicine in Russia.
While all of them were to return home for Christmas, the other four have cancelled their trip “because of the trouble”. Ngasan Shokwungnao, 33, who lives in Tangkhul Lane with his family and is volunteering at the community centre, says they are struggling to deal with the rush. “We told them to go back to their rented rooms or stay with relatives. If there is any news of convoys heading out to Ukhrul, we will inform them,” he says.
Since Saturday, when 22 vehicles headed to Ukhrul under police protection were stopped and burnt, convoys have been leaving in the dead of night. But the convoy accompanied by Assam Rifles that left carrying 1,000 such stranded residents early Friday morning had to turn back.
“As you can see, all the celebrations have been cancelled. By now, there should have been carol singing in colonies with groups moving from house to house. We are not doing it this year because of the trouble,” says Shokwunghao. The president of the All Naga Students’ Association Manipur, Seth Shatsang, says they will help “the thousands of stranded students” get home. “The Naga community is under siege, the central forces have not been effective. If we can, we will make sure everyone can go home for Christmas,” he says.
The president of the United Council of Manipur (an apex body of Meitei organisations in the valley), Johnson Elangbam, claims they have been holding peace meetings with different tribal communities as well as Meitei civil society to ensure that the situation is eased and the Naga students can go home. “We have urged our people to lift the counter-blockade,” he says, adding, “Even if the UNC does not lift the blockade, we will make sure that Christmas is held peacefully and that there are no untoward incidents.”
However, even the churches in Imphal are not taking any chances after Saturday’s attack. While the Tangkhul Baptist Church, Imphal city’s second largest church, has put up some decorations, the revellers are missing. The lights strung on the church steeple will not be lit this year “to avoid trouble”. In the compound, a large stack of hay lies bundled. It was to be converted with white fluffy cotton and buckets of talcum powder into a snowman. Outside the church, someone has stuck a poster saying that the church cannot open for worship without the locality’s permission.
Pastor Reverned Ngamlee Zimik says Meitei elders had reassured them that they could remain open. “They have condemned the incidents in which churches were attacked,” he says. However, he adds, “We are keeping it quiet, trying not to make any noise. So all the festivities around Christmas have been cancelled — the caroling, the singing competitions, the Bible quizzes etc. People can come and worship on Christmas day, but nothing more than that.”
The Manipur Baptist Church, a stone’s throw away and Imphal’s largest, is quieter still. The church was attacked last Saturday by a mob of stone-pelters. While no real damage was done, apart from a few broken window-panes, the church authorities are shaken.
Rev S R Onesima says that while Christmas will be celebrated, things will be low key. “This is the first time Christmas will be barely celebrated by any church in Imphal. We have cancelled our grand feast,” he says.
Ironically churches employ Meitei Brahmins to cook a large part of the Christmas grand feast, with popular Manipuri fish and vegetarian dishes. Indian Express
New Delhi, 20th December, 2016 – Taking serious note of the escalating communal and ethnic tension, the Joint Naga Civil Societies, Delhi (CJNCSD) today strongly condemns the unleashing of communal violence against the Naga community, wanton desecration, vandalization and torching of Churches and “surgical” implanting of improvised bombs in the Naga populated residential areas, terming the whole sequence of events as state-sponsored and a handiwork of the State Government to terrorise the Nagas.
CJNCSD cries foul of the State Government and UCM for sponsoring and triggering the menacing communal violence and dubs the State Government and UCM as rabidly communal and anti-Naga. CJNCSD, in particular, takes exception to the incendiary and anti-Naga slogans such as “There are no Nagas in Manipur”, and “If you are a Naga, go to Nagaland and the Nagas are refugees in Manipur” and terms the same as a form of ethnic persecution.
CJNCSD regrets that UCM volunteers and its cohorts have chosen the blood-path of spewing brutal communal violence against the Naga community for the last more than a week, committing daylight robbery, vandalizing, destroying and looting properties belonging to the Nagas. More than 70 private vehicles and properties including personal belongings, luggages, hand bags and valuable gifts and presents meant for the loved ones during Christmas worth crores of rupees were looted, destroyed and torched. Innocent Naga civilian passengers are still continuously being physically assaulted, harassed, looted, attacked and targeted with stones, slingshots and bottled-petrol bombs.
CJNCSD takes a jibe at the subsequent call of the Chief Minister of Manipur and UCM for communal harmony and compensation for the victims as nothing but a height of political gimmick and hypocrisy to further insult the Nagas. CJNCSD terms the inaction of the State Government of Manipur as a deliberate act and demands for immediate CBI enquiry into the whole sequence of events including the role of the State Government.
CJNCSD states that the present communal turmoil caused by Ibobi Government is the last straw for the Nagas to reaffirm its stand that total separation of the Naga areas from the valley is the only recourse to permanent solution and thus appeals the immediate intervention of the Government of India to that effect.
CJNCSD states that on 19th December, 2016, the Committee along with the UNC delegation met the Hon’ble Minister of State, Sh. Kiren Rijiju seeking immediate intervention of the Government of India and reiterated the following demands: immediate nullification of the creation of the seven new districts; unconditional release of the UNC leaders; to expedite the finalization of the Framework Agreement; imposition of President’s Rule in the State of Manipur; deployment of security forces in the Naga areas to protect the Nagas and their properties from the communal forces of the State; immediate CBI enquiry into the incident, and compensation for the victims.
Meanwhile, in view of the prevailing tense situation, CJNCSD appeals the Nagas not to panic but cautions for personal safety to avoid travelling to Imphal valley till the situation returns to normalcy.
By Raymond Ronamai
Manipur may be a small state with a population of just over 25 lakh, but the divide between the people living in the valley and the hills is so wide that not a year goes by without bandhs and other protests over several disagreements. Imphal valley is predominantly inhabited by the Meiteis, and the hills are predominantly inhabited by the Nagas and Kukis.
The state is once again in turmoil with the capital city being turned into a war-like situation after the majority Meitei protesters waylaid and attacked hundreds of Naga civilians travelling to their villages for Christmas celebration on Sunday, injuring dozens of innocent commuters, and setting several vehicles aflame. The protest was held against the killing of three policemen by some unknown people last Thursday. Manipur government has held the Nationalist Socialist Council of Nagalim (Isak-Muivah) or NSCN-IM, an insurgent group which signed “peace accord” with the Narendra Modi government last year, responsible for the killing but no group has claimed responsibility so far.
The violence that erupted in the state in the last few days was a culmination of several events, displeasure and disagreements between the government of Manipur dominated by the majority community Meiteis and the Nagas (minority).
It all unfolded with the Manipur government’s decision to create two more districts — Sadar Hills and Jiribam. The United Naga Council (UNC), the apex civil organisation of the Nagas in Manipur, objected to the plan saying that it should be done only after consulting with all the tribal organisations. However, the state government didn’t pay heed and decided to go ahead with its plan without consulting the stakeholders.
This angered the UNC as creation of new districts will endanger and encroach upon the traditional land holdings of the Nagas that is protected by the constitution of India. The government argued that the creation of new districts was for administrative convenience, but the UNC expressed the sentiment of the Nagas to live together under the same administrative roof.
Left with no other choice after the state government gave a deaf ear to their plea, the UNC finally called for an indefinite economic blockade along two national highways, the lifeline of the state, on November 1 and it still stands (as of December 19).
It caused lots of hardship to the people of the state, especially those staying in state capital Imphal. Price of essential goods shot up and normal life of the people in the valley was crippled. The state security personnel managed to escort vehicles carrying goods to the valley a few times but that didn’t help much. This led to counter protests by the Meiteis, who resorted to confiscation of materials, especially vegetables that were brought in by the Nagas for sale.
At this volatile juncture, Manipur police arrested UNC President Gaidon Kamei and Publicity Secretary Sankhui Stephen on November 25 and filed FIR against them for the economic blockade that has caused sufferings to thousands of people in the state. But their arrest aggravated the Nagas even more.
As if that was not enough, Manipur Chief Minister Ibobi Singh announced not two but seven new districts — Kangpokpi, Tengnoupal, Pherzawl, Noney, Kamjong, Jiribam and Kakching — earlier this month, taking the number of districts in the state from nine to 16. Some communities welcomed the move, but it was like rubbing salt on the wounds for the Nagas.
Last week, police personnel patrolling for the inauguration function of Tengnoupal district were ambushed by unknown miscreants, killing three policemen. The state government has accused NSCN-IM for the attack, but no organisation has claimed responsibility till date.
Things took a different turn last weekend with Meitei protestors threatening Nagas staying in the valley. The Manipur Baptist Church (MBC) in Chingmeirong was attacked with stones by the valley protesters on Saturday. The mob also warned the church not to conduct Sunday services.
Meitei protestors got more violent on Sunday by attacking vehicles carrying Nagas, who were on their way to their respective villages to celebrate Christmas. Many civilians were reportedly injured due to stone pelting, and dozens of private vehicles were set ablaze. All these happened despite the vehicles were escorted by security convoy. Hundreds of innocent civilians were stranded after the vehicles on which they were travelling were either burnt, vandalised or pushed into the river.
Sensing the volatile situation that could lead to communal riot, the state government has imposed indefinite curfew in Imphal East and West districts besides suspending Internet services across the city but harm seems to have already been done, as the protesters were allowed to take law into their own hands while the state armed forces looked on. ibtimes.co.in
In 1952 under the leadership of Phizo ‘ the Naga (NNC) boycotted the Indian election, which was quite successfully. The general election in 1952 was totally boycotted in Naga areas; not a single nomination was filled in the Naga areas; not a single vote was cast. The Nagas also stayed away from the District Councils. The school teachers and other govt. employers resigned their jobs and the people refused to pay taxes. Let’s also try to examine the cooperation, unity and capability to convince and mobilize of the present Naga leaders who boycotted the Indian election and commenced to involve in so called Indian election.
In last 13th Lok Sabha election ‘ the NSCN-IM again boycotted Indian election in Nagalim as they don’t want to come under the constitution of India. In this election ‘ the Outer Manipur seat was won by Kim Gangte (a non Naga candidate) as the Naga people boycotted the Lok Sabha election and other communities selected her unanimously.
The strategy and the policy of the Naga underground changed in 14th Lok Sabha election; the Naga underground wanted to have their own candidate who will represent in Indian parliament for the Naga people in Delhi. In this election ‘ Mani Cheranamei (an Independent MP candidate) was chosen by the NSCN-IM faction for the Naga people and he was elected in last election. However many villagers and leaders said that NSCN-IM compelled them to vote for Mani only. When we studied the Naga political history it is observed that the Naga underground did not want the Naga people to involve so called in Indian election and boycotted twice. However the Indian politicians (leaders) want the Naga to be the part of the India and participate in every Indian election. Now the policy of the underground is just reversed and the thinkers and the people who are interested on Naga issue may be abstruse to comprehend this reversal policy.
In this 15th Lok Sabha election ‘ the Naga underground wants MP Mani Cheranamei to represent again for the Naga people in Delhi. However they did not stopped any other Naga candidate to nominate and it is strange that after nomination ‘ the people were not allowed to cast their votes for other candidates except for Mani. Why don’t they make understand and stop the aspiring MP candidates before their nomination is done? There were some round of talks between the village leaders and other leaders with the NSCN-IM leaders in Senapati and its periphery areas. However the NSCN-IM could not convinced and mobilized the public leaders and ultimately the voting day arrived. In Poumai Naga areas ‘ the NSCN-IM once again commenced to threaten the village leaders to vote for Mani Cheranamei only. On the day of election ‘ most of the underground went to their own villages and started to woo the villagers to vote for their candidate but the villagers were not convinced without any muscle power.
Many villagers were forcefully voted for Mani and this news spread like the wild fire in all the villages and in the periphery of Senapati areas as they have now better communication due to cell phone revolution. Learning the news about the booth capturing by the underground ‘ the public or mass of the people got irritated and started to gather around Karong and Senapati areas and the annoyed mass of the people commenced to pelt stones to the vehicles coming from Mao and Poumai areas polling stations. Unfortunately, one of the NSCN-IM Kilonser’s Bolero (vehicle) was coming from Poumai area side and the aggravated mass of the people stoned the vehicle and almost crushed into piece but the NSCN-IM Kilonser and the others travelling in that Bolero were safe with some injuries in their bodies. On 22nd April, the alleged two leaders of the people who were involved in pelting stone to NSCNN-IM Kilonser’s Bolero were taken into Hebron, Dimapur ‘ the NSCN-IM head quarter for further interrogation. There was meeting between the Naga leaders from Senapati District and the NSCN-IM leaders in Hebron camp on 23rd April till late evening. On 24th April the two alleged were bailed out by the Naga leaders from Senapati. Kudos goes to the NSCN-IM for releasing the two alleged leaders who were alleged to lead the group in stoning the Bolero.
It is also difficult to understand why the underground could not convince and mobilize the gullible villagers to vote for their candidate? Why they made the public irritated and brought such kind of consequences? It is also interesting to note that there was not news report in Manipur or Nagaland news paper about the pelting of stone and injury of the NSCN-IM Kilonser near Senapati H. Quarter. But one of the simple reasons may be that there is not a single local news reporter available in Senapati and the freelancers may be afraid or unworthy to get the price of reporting for such kind of report as it may bring heavy price on them for reporting such kind of ground reality and fact report to the newspaper.
With this kind of consequences through election problems in Nagalim may bring more bitter relationship between the public and the Naga underground. Not only the relationship between the underground and the public but the relationship among the people also will be affected enormously. The Naga leaders and everyone from Senapati would definitely appreciate the NSCN-IM for solving the problems amicably with prayers and mutual understanding. Disunity and bitter relationship may be the sadness to one community but it may be happiness to other communities and the leaders of every community may need to understand and bring good relationship and unity amongst their community.
By Thohe Pou – April 25, 2009
By: Z.K. Pahrii Pou BTC, Pfutsero
My parent told me that ‘we are Nagas’. So I always believe that I am a Naga as much as you are. Although, geographically, I belong to the present state of Manipur – (artificially created by government of India), I have reasons to claim that I am a Naga. During the First World War, when thousands of men from North East India were taken to France as Labour Corps, many of them were from my community. One of them was Railu Dailu (from Liyai Village). Once in France, they were provided with rum and whisky after every day’s hard work for relaxation. The Naga corps often drank beyond limit. One morning, Railu Dailu felt so tired due to the effect of heavy consumption of alcohol (known as ‘maatri mazie’ in Poumai) the previous night. When the supervisor of the corps – an English Army Captain, came that morning to gather the corps for work, he was actually unable to move freely. The Captain then asked him what was the matter with him, to which he replied, ‘maatri mazie’ (Poumai language) – in which condition a person would felt very tired, as if sick and everything appeared blur. His friends interpreted to the Captain. Then the Captain noted down in his diary as ‘muzzy’ (in short form) and reminded them that one day it will appear in English Dictionary. The English word muzzy actually originated from our language. What is interesting here is that it was this very group (Nagas in France labour corps) who after returning home from France formed Naga Club and became the pioneer of Naga National Movement.
When Indian government sent its armed forces to annihilate Naga National Movement, the Nagas were compelled to take up arms and go underground. The then federal government of Nagaland demanded for ‘one man out of every ten men’ from all Naga villages to fight against Indian armed forces. My community whole heartedly supported it. Still many of them are alive and continue to share how they encountered Indian armies and how the Naga general public respected them in those days. The stories of how they went to Pakistan and China continuously travelling on foot for 3 to 6 months should not be forgotten. My father, who was a school teacher, was hung upside down and beaten black and blue not only with stick but with a kind stinging plant (ngu in Poula) immersed in water to inflict maximum pain. The Indian armies beat him and other villagers because of supporting Naga National Movement. In many villages, many GBs/leaders did not live a long life after receiving all types of affliction from Indian armed forces. The brunt of brute forces of Indian armies was felt by people in all parts of Naga inhabited areas (Nagaland and outside) although in variant degrees and at different period of Naga national movement. All Naga communities have in some ways or the other contributed something to the Naga National Movement.
Naga National Movement was not only started by the Nagas living in present Nagaland state. It was/is a joint movement of all Nagas living in Assam, Arunachal, Manipur, and Myanmar. Disturbing trend among the Nagas (esp among the educated youths) in Nagaland today is that they often consider Nagas outside the present state Nagaland as not genuine or not Naga even. Not many youths in Nagaland know how much the Nagas outside of Nagaland state suffered and how they continue to suffer because of Naga National Movement. The birth of Nagaland State under Indian Constitution was undoubtedly the product of Naga freedom movement. Nagaland state enjoys special status under Constitution. Instead of recognising each other’s contributions and helping one another some Naga intellectuals seem to frown when Naga brothers and sisters outside of Nagaland seek for certain adjustment and accommodation within Nagaland. The mindset that the Nagas outside Nagaland state did not suffer as much as the Nagas in Nagaland and therefore they should not seek any benefit from Nagaland is not so healthy. If ‘those who suffer more should enjoy more’ should be the norm, then how far it is happening even within Nagaland as all the villages and all the tribes did not suffer in the same degree and those who sacrificed ‘less’ seems to be enjoying ‘more’ today.
The divide and rule policy of Indian government is gradually achieving its aims. Crores of rupees are pumped into the state year after year without accountability to content the Naga movement. The result is that many Naga youths have lost interest in continuing Naga freedom movement. At worse they criticise the Movement altogether not knowing what they are enjoying today is because of the sacrifices made by whole Naga families yesterday. If the Naga Movement were to stop today, I am afraid to think of the fate of the million Nagas residing in Manipur, Arunachal Pradesh and Assam, and Myanmar. Unlike the Nagas in Nagaland, they continue to suffer under the domination of dominant group(s) in their respective states. Recent mass exodus of Rengmas from Assam is one of the latest examples. It is unfortunate that many young Nagas wanted to give up Naga freedom movement altogether not because that they do not like the Movement but they have problem with certain leaders and tribes among the Nagas. But if we give up the Movement altogether, will it not be like ‘throwing away the baby with bathwater’? It is obvious that the Movement has failed to bring equality among the various Naga tribes but we should not give up till a viable solution is achieved for all communities of the Nagas.
Taking advantage of the division among Naga families, Indian government is applying different ‘delaying tactics’ to wear out Naga National Movement. Central government is already busy with MP election campaign. When do we expect solution? Naga people are almost fed up with our own rights due to delayed delivery. This is a grave concern for us today. There is no unity among various Naga Political Groups (NPGs) despite the best effort of reconciliation by FNR who toils with sweat and tears. For how long FNR can continue to work for reconciliation when some NPGs are unresponsive for all these years? Is it not time for us to call ‘a spade a spade’? All the top Naga national leaders have become aged (above 70 and 80 years). We must appreciate them for giving their best for the cause of Naga nation. On the other hand, they must also thank the Naga public for giving them support and enough time to be their leaders. We prayed for long life and good health of our Naga leaders but with age no one knows when death will come. Any day! Any time! Hence, as a genuine and concerned citizen of Naga nation, I wish our Naga national leaders (wherever they may be – in New Delhi, in Myanmar, in Bangkok, in Amsterdam and in all parts of Naga inhabited areas) to hear ‘the cries of heart’ of our people. And the cry is the aspiration of all ‘Nagas to be One’. If our NPGs cannot bring us Christmas Gift from New Delhi, let it happen here in Nagalim among the Nagas. The best and most meaningful Christmas Gift for all Nagas for this year -2013 would be the ‘Gift of Unification among all Naga Political Groups’ in the name of Jesus Christ who brought reconciliation without any condition.
In genuine reconciliation there is no ‘strings attached’ apart from the spirit of love and forgiveness. Reconciliation needs not rules and principles. It is open friendship for the betterment of a society/nation. Without reconciliation and unification, Naga Nation is fast drifting down the drain of doom. Bring back unity as in those days when the Naga National Movement started and give me back my rewarding identity of ‘Naga