THE NAGA PEOPLE’S MOVEMENT FOR ALTERNATIVE ARRANGEMENT
The Nagas and tribal people in the present state of Manipur were a self-governed and self-administered people. A dual system of administration for the Hills and the Valley came into existence after the British annexed the Meitei kingdom in 1891. The tribal areas were administered by the political department of the British Crown. This dual system continued even after 1949 when the Meitei kingdom was merged with the Indian Unionalong with the tribal areas without their consent, through deception, and under protest of the Nagas and other tribal people. Since then the story of the Nagas and tribals in Manipur has been one of marginalization, victimization, discrimination and domination. The imposed system of governance is resulting in systematic degradation and obliteration of Naga and tribal history, culture, identity and rights to land and resources.
Why the demand for Alternative Arrangement (AA)
Because of the unmistakable facts that it is impossible to protect our right to life, land, time-honored institutions, customary practices and values under the administration of the dominant and communal Government of Manipur (GoM). Our history with the GoM has clearly confirmed the harsh reality that it has never recognized and respected the identity and dignity of the Naga people. Some of the instances are:
- Denial of right to proportional representation by rejecting census figures.
- Imposition of alien laws/systems such as the farcical Manipur (Hill Areas) Autonomous District Council Act 2008, Manipur (Village Authority) in Hill Areas Act 1956 etc.
- Land alienation under Manipur Land Revenue & Land Reforms Act 1960.
- Opposing peace by violently objecting to the Indo-Naga Cease-fire in Manipur.
- Ban on Peace Tour of Th. Muivah, Naga leader and negotiator to Naga areas in Manipur.
- Systematic state violence against the Nagas as exemplified by the response of the GoM to the peace rally against police brutality at Mao Gate on 6th May 2010 where two students were shot dead and hundreds injured from indiscriminate firings, properties looted and destroyed, mass scale atrocities committed and warlike situation created in Naga areas.
- Issue of arrest warrants and fixing of price tags on Naga leaders.
- Imposition of Meiteilon andMeiteiscript in educational institutions.
- Deprivation of service quota and violation of promotion rules in government services to disadvantage tribals.
- Imphal centric governance and administration; and concentration of all infrastructures and facilities in Imphal Valley resulting in the denial of access to basic services and amenities, such as healthcare, education, communication etc.
- Militarization of Naga areas where there is peace; and continuous imposition of Disturbed Areas Act and Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act 1958 in hill areas.
Pending settlement of the Indo-Naga issue, the rights and identity, land and resources, time-honored institutions, customary practices and values of the Nagas in Manipur have to be protected and defended from deprivation, de-recognition, obliteration and distortion with an Alternative Arrangement. In accepting this responsibility, we have neither sought direction from anyone high or low nor has anybody named or unnamed given us instructions. We the Nagas in Manipur who are compelled to seek for the alternative arrangement have no ulterior motive other than the firm conviction that all avenues for rapprochement for meaningful and peaceful co-existence have been exhausted and therefore the best way forward for the Nagas and the Meiteis is to part as good neighbors.
What is the Alternative Arrangement ?
- Nagas have declared to sever all political ties with the communal GoM. Because of the severance of ties, the vacuum in governance and administration created thereby must be filled with an alternative arrangement by the Government of India(GoI) in consultation with the Naga people at the earliest possible time.
- Any arrangement for the governance and administration of the Nagas in Manipur outside the state of Manipur.
- The Constitution of India is amply clear about the unconstitutionality of the territorial integrity of states and provides for alternative arrangements.
- It is the constitutional obligation of the GoI, a democratic government to ensure that the rights to culture, land, resources, identity and dignity of the Nagas in Manipur are protected with an arrangement outside the existing state of Manipur, which has unmistakably and consistently imposed a hegemonic rule uponthe Nagas in particular and to the tribals in Manipur in general.
- The demand for alternative arrangement is for an emergency intervention and must be urgent and interim in nature so as to accommodate our immediate administrative needs without any prejudice to the legitimate political aspiration of the entire Naga family. It shall not and cannot undercut and upstage the larger Naga national issue.
The Process for Securing an Alternative Arrangement
8th of May, 2010 :
In view of the war that was waged upon the innocent and unarmed Naga citizens at Mao on the 6th May, 2010 by the GoM the Naga Hoho on the 8th of May, 2010 issued a statement that “…henceforth, we derecognize any artificial boundary lines drawn across our ancestral lands in the so called Manipur State”.
15th May 2010:
Naga frontal organizations declares their commitment to protect the rights and existence of Nagas and to sever relationship with the GoM and all the dominant organizations and individuals who collude with it.
18th June, 2010:
Declaration of Naga frontal organizations of 15th May 2010 endorsed by the Naga Hoho.
1st of July, 2010:
Naga Peoples’ Convention (NPC) convened at Tahamzam declared that the Nagas in the present state of Manipur will sever political ties with the GoM and demand for an Alternative Arrangement.
16th July, 2010:
Confirmation of Naga Hoho’s endorsement in the 3rd Federal Assembly of the Naga Hoho at Mokokchung.
9th August, 2010:
Constitution of the Committee for Alternative Arrangement (CFAA) as per NPC declaration.
14th Sept., 2010:
Based on the NPC declaration the United Naga Council(UNC) submitted a memorandum to Dr. Manmahon Singh, the Prime Minister of India at Delhi demanding an immediate intervention with an alternative arrangement to avoid any catastrophic consequences. In response, P. Chidambaram, the Hon’ble Union Home Minister (HM) initiated the process of the tripartite talk (TPT) of the GoM, GoI and UNC.
21st Sept., 2010:
1st TPT held at Delhi and agreed upon venue of next TPT and number of delegates.
3rd Dec., 2010 :
2nd TPT took place at Tahamzam (Senapati). GoM represented only by D. S. Poonia, Chief Secretary and senior bureaucrats despite official communication that a team of cabinet ministers would represent the GoM in the talk.
– UNC asserted that the 14th Sept. Memorandum speaks for itself and that it will be left to GoI to decide what the Alternative Arrangement would be within the ambit of the constitution.
GoI responded that issues presented in the Memorandum are legitimate complaints and that the fruits of democracy has not reached satisfactory level.
– GoM stated its stand on the territorial integrity of Manipur. UNC asked the GoI to comment on the same as it is not constitutional. GoI replied that the sanctity of the constitution must be upheld and within its bounds any arrangement can and would be possible.
– The GoI summed up the meeting as being not fruitless and that important issues have been thrown up which will be taken up at the higher levels and requested UNC not to shut the door for talk.
15th of Dec.,2010:
HM met the UNC team in the company of Shri O. Ibobi, Chief Minister, Manipur at Raj Bhavan, Imphal. HM, GoI expressed happiness that the TPT had taken place wherein concerned parties have heard each other out and further expressed hope that the next round of talk would be more meaningful and fruitful. He also informed that he would issue instruction for fixing the date for the next TPT. HM further informed that the NSCN (IM) and GOI talk is in progress and that the GOM was also committed and requested the Naga Civil Society leaders to extend their help and cooperation to the ongoing peace talk.
May 11, 2011:
UNC met HM at Ukhrul and it was agreed that the next round of talk would be held in May, 2011 at Tahamzam. It was also assured that the GoM would be represented by political positions as the issue is political in nature.
21st May, 2011:
Consultative Meeting held at Taphou Naga village, Tahamzam to obtain opinion of intellectuals, social leaders, tribe Hohos, women, students and activists for concretizing the political position taken and to translate into a reality through democratic process of dialogue and negotiation.
Others consultations – Series of consultative meetings, seminars, public meetings and interaction held with Naga leaders and also with other tribals groups for securing collective rights through democratic means.
30th June, 2011 :
The 3rd round of TPT scheduled for 30th May, 2011 at Senapati on the intervention of HM was arbitrarily deferred based on the decision of the GoM,which cited delicate law and order situation following the visit of the Chief Minister, Nagaland to Senapati on the 28th May, 2011 for launching of the Manipur Unit of the Naga People’ Front; the non submission of clear agenda for the talk and absence of communication to the GoM from the UNC. All these are unfounded. In view of the evasive approach adopted persistently by the GoM towards the TPT talk initiated by HM and also the GoI’s inability to put down its foot on the delay tactics, the UNC informed the HM on 29th May, 2011 that unless expeditious interventions are made UNC’s position on TPT would be reviewed.
– The 3rd TPT of GOI, GOM & UNC was eventually held on 30th June 2011 at Senapati. Contrary to assurance, GoM represented only by Chief Secretary and senior bureaucrats.
– GOI stated that the Constitution offers enough flexibility to meet the aspiration of all citizens of the country. UNC stated the TPT should discuss what has been placed to GOI and constructive result would be possible by adhering to the core issue. UNC appealed to the conscience of the GoI to look at the merit of the case.
– GOI conceded that there are different perceptions with regard to the way forward. GOM maintained that the territorial integrity of Manipur cannot be compromised. Anything within Manipur can be considered and dialogued.
– UNC stated that GoI cannot be rigid on an unconstitutional issue of the territorial integrity of Manipur. It was up to the GoI to continue the process with a bipartite talk as the GoM has already closed the door for further discussion.
– The talk concluded with GoI summing up that the clarity with which parties have addressed each other was beneficial. It lays down the need for further interaction as and when something substantive can be worked out. The sentiments expressed have been understood and shall be carried back to the principals.
21st Sept., 2011 :
MHA, GoI, in its letter dated 6th Sept., 2011 received by UNC indicated that the ADCs in Manipur are being empowered by delegating more executive and financial powers and requested for a brief concept paper defining the alternative arrangement for consideration of the GoM.
24th Sept., 2011 :
The Naga people in Manipur recommitted themselves to uphold and reaffirm the Declaration of the NPC. It also resolved that the movement for securing AA for the Nagas will be intensified in all manners deemed fit under the aegis of the UNC. The participants of the recommitment programme consisted of the presidents and general secretaries of all tribes, tribe women presidents, tribe student presidents, 2 intellectuals/social leaders from each tribe, 4 from each frontal organisations, 2 from each regional/district organisations, members of CFAA, Naga Christian Forum & Naga Parliamentarian Forum.
29th Sept. 2011 :
UNC responded to MHA, GoI letter dated 6th Sept., 2011 that the GoI may initiate the process of intervention with an alternative arrangement for the Nagas in Manipur within 20 (twenty) days of the letter and should the same be not forthcoming, UNC would have no option but to revert back to sustained agitation till the demand is met.
25th Oct., 2011 :
W.e.f. from the date, one hour curfew was enforced by ANSAM due to non receipt of response from the MHA, GoI.
2nd Nov., 2011 :
UNC Met HM at Senapati in the presence of Chief Minister of Manipur. HM urged to arrange for taking forward the dialogue process for the demand for AA as considerable time had passed since the last TPT and also to expedite the settlement of the Indo-Naga issue. UNC expressed strong exception to agreement entered into with Sadar Hills District Demand Committee by GoM on the 30th October, 2011. HM assured TPT would be continued. He informed that much progress has been made in the Indo-Naga talk and assured that decision on Sadar Hills will not be taken without consulting the stakeholders, which includes the Nagas.
22nd Nov., 2011:
Rally to demand for AA organized in Chandel.
25th Nov., 2011:
Rally to demand for AA organized in Ukhrul.
28th Nov., 2011:
Rally to demand for AA organized in Tamenglong
30th Nov., 2011:
Rally to demand for AA organized in Senapati.
3rd Dec., 2011:
UNC met Prime Minister at Raj Bhavan, Imphal. UNC expressed concerns that despite 14 years there is no settlement of the Indo-Naga issue and urged GoI to expedite the peace process for early settlement. PM stated that GoI is serious about finding an acceptable and honourable solution to the Indo-Naga issue.
– UNC also submitted that the GoI should intervene with an alternative arrangement outside GoM pending settlement of Indo-Naga issue. The issue is based on sharp social divide on communal lines in Manipur. Nagas are not able to live under the communal GoM and still protect their identity, their rights to their land, traditional institution and cultural practices.
– PM requested UNC to continue the TPT and to refrain from adopting bandhs as means of protest.
16th Dec., 2011 :
Ban on construction work of Trans Asian Railway line and exploration work by Alfa-Geo for period of two months to protest against the statement of the Prime Minister of India on territorial integrity of Manipur on 3rd December at Kangla.
21st Dec., 2011 :
Copy of 12th Dec., 2011 letter to GoM by MHA, GoI endorsed to UNC received which advised GoM to fix date and venue for next round of TPT.
22nd Dec., 2011 :
One hour public curfew suspended by ANSAM on account of Christmas & the festive season and receipt of endorsement of GoI letter dated 12th Dec. 2011.
2nd Jan., 2012 :
1st Federal Assembly of UNC endorsed the resolutions of the Presidential Council (PC) meetings held on 7th , 15th , and 30th Dec., 2011. As logical extension of the Presidential Council resolutions and given the situation of the Nagas in Manipur and the commonality in principle and ideology on the political agenda of the Nagas, the assembly resolved that the Naga People’s Front would be supported in the ensuing 10th General Assembly Election. It was not a hiatus but application towards severance of ties for an alternative arrangement.
15th Feb., 2012 :
Ban on construction work of Trans Asian Railway line and exploration work by Alfa-Geo suspended till such time as the election code of conduct was effective and pending installation of popular Government.
13th April ,2012:
In terms of PC dated 4 April, 2012, the MHA, GoI with reference to their endorsement letter dated 12th Dec., 2011, was urged to expedite resumption of the dialogue process at the earliest. No official response received so far. Informal communication from GoI indicates that MHA is sincere about the process and are trying to prevail upon GoM to come around to the negotiating table.
27th April, 2012:
Consultative meeting for the All Naga Students’ Association Manipur(ANSAM)and its constituent units held at Katomei, Tahamzam (Senapati) to update on the peoples’ movement.
28th April, 2012:
Consultation with the Naga Women Union and its constituent units at TNK village, Tahamzam to update on the peoples’ movement.
6th May, 2012:
2nd anniversary of the observance of the martyrdom of Loshou & Chakho held at Martyr’s Park, Mao Gate and the position of the Nagas in Manipur for an immediate alternative arrangement outside the GoM, pending settlement of the Indo-Naga issue was reaffirmed.
8th May, 2012 :
Consultative meeting convened by Naga Hoho reaffirms the endorsement of 18th June, 2010 and 16th July, 2010 for the demand for alternative arrangement by Nagas in Manipur.
22nd May to 25th May, 2012
Capacity building programme for Executives of the constituent units of the UNC, Naga regional organisations and Naga frontal organizations held at Ukhrul.
8th June, 2012:
After the above series of the consultations, Presidential Council, UNC decides that movement for an alternative arrangement outside the Government of Manipur would be intensified. 48 hours total bandh observed in Naga areas w.e.f midnight of 16th June, 2012 to urge the GoI for intervention with an alternative arrangement.
11th July, 2012:
Public Statement on 96 hours total bandh w.e.f midnight of 23th July, 2012 as no response from GoI to registered public protest.
18th July, & 21st July, 2012:
MHA, GoI communicates that matter is under active consideration of the GoI and request for withdrawal of bandh. UNC suspends bandh which was to begin at midnight of 23rd July, 2012.
13th August, 2012:
Public Statement on 96 hours total bandh w.e.f midnight of 20th August, 2012 as assurance of GoI not translated to initiative.
20th August, 2012:
MHA, GoI communicates to UNC that GoM has decided to participate in the tripartite talk at Delhi and date of talk fixed on 31st August, 2012.
31st August, 2012:
4th round of talk held at Hotel Ashoka, Delhi, where UNC expressed displeasure over inordinate delay in resumption of the talk process which reflects disrespect for the democratic process of dialogue on the part of the GoI and the GoM. UNC tables postulates of Alternative Arrangement. Meeting decides to have next round at early date in Manipur in the hill district.
The Alternative Arrangement is for the people
Our position has been established and registered. Our case has been recorded in history. Forcing the oppressed minorities to be oppressed over and over again in the name of pluralism contradicts the very essence of Indian democracy and human dignity. Should the democratic process of dialogue initiated by the HM, GoI get derailed, the onus thereof would be entirely on the GoI.
In such event, it will become necessary to explore the option of securing AA without having to continue with the TPT. Nagas will then have to take up action to make Alternative Arrangement a reality in our land even if the GoI backtracks on the commitment of the HM, GoI and refuses to carry out the constitutional obligations to ensure that the democratic process of dialogue leads to solution and instead, allow the GoM to scuttle the process on unfounded pretext and become an accomplice to the perpetuation of their hegemony over the Nagas.
There is unrest around the globe today, because of the assertions of historical and political rights, territorial boundaries and demand for removal of unjust systems. Sustained movements have brought changes in the lives of peoples and nationalities. Should we fail not to learn from the lessons around, we can only blame ourselves.
The demand for AA is for all Nagas – young, old ,rich, poor, educated, illiterate, employed, entrepreneurs, bureaucrats, professionals, missionaries and church workers, ordinary citizens, leaders and members of all political parties, all political groups who are fighting for the people and the land. It is for all without exception. It is for our collective today as also for our tomorrow. The same condition will continue and our situation will not change if we do not unite and in one accord stand up to secure our rights and the future of our people. Instead of supporting and becoming the owners of this movement, if Nagas themselves become the agents of the adversaries, such crime will be answerable to posterity. If we cannot wrest it now, we leave that legacy to our posterity and indeed they will struggle too. But what is clearly laid out and what is possible today must be generously and courageously, and with vision and foresight realized.
The future lies in our hands and belongs to us.
Published by Publicity Wing, United Naga Council