Meghajit bags award
'Indo-Naga conflict seems to have been substituted by Manipur-Naga'

Source: Hueiyen News Service

Imphal, June 30 2010: Staff reporter of Naharolgee Thoudang, Khetri Meghajit has been conferred the RK Sanatomba Memorial Journalist Award today.

The award, carrying a citation and Rs 15,000 in cash, was handed over to Meghajit by Mangi Shija, mother of Late Konung Sanatomba (RK Sanatomba), during a solemn ceremony held at the GM Hall here this afternoon.

The award presentation ceremony was held on the occasion of the death anniversary of RK Sanatomba, who was the editor of Kangla Lanpung, a monthly journal.

The decades old "Indo-Naga" conflict seems to have been substituted by "Manipur-Naga" conflict evoking idea of history, a crucial side of conflicts, which are born out of political identity, observed Dr A Bimol Akoijam, a Professor of Political Psychology in Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi.

Mangi Shija presenting RK Sanatomba Memorial Journalist Award to Kshetri Meghajit, reporter of Naharolgee Thoudang; RK Nimai, IAS looks on

Delivering a lecture in connection with the award presentation ceremony on the topic, "Political Culture, Identity Politics and Destiny of Manipur- a personal journey through the last decade", the Professor said "The idea of history is a crucial side of conflicts which are born out of identity politics" in the North Eastern region of the country, particularly in Manipur.

"Naga Integrationists" of the Nagas have been evoking the "Unique history" of the Nagas in an effort to tear apart Manipur while the defenders of Manipur's territorial integrity are evoking what they called 2000 years old history of Manipur.

"These two problematic aspects of these two deployments of history in the ensuing "Manipuri-Naga" confrontations seem to have substituted the decades old "Indo-Naga conflict," the Professor, who has been working in JNU for the last 25 years, said.

Elaborately speaking on the subject, he asserted that the invocation of the "Unique History" of the Nagas in relation to certain section of the population in the Manipur Hills has its own shares of problems.

The constitutional reform (Government of India Act, 1935) that followed the Simon Commission dealt with what then referred to as the "problem of two Indias,": British India and "Princely States." The memorandum of the Naga Club to the Simon Commission (1929) primarily dealt with the Naga Hills of the then British Indian Province of Assam had no bearing on Manipur as a "Princely State".

In fact, the expression "excluded" or "partially excluded" in the government of India Act 1935 referred to those areas that had nothing to do with the areas or people or polity of Manipur as a princely state, he observed adding that indeed, the same provision that carried these two expressions (excluded and partially excluded) stated that these areas were to be '"administered" by the Governor of Assam at his discretion.

Interestingly, the status of being "excluded" or "partially " of these areas and the office/power to administer the same were derived from the government of India Act (1935).And yet, many Nagas read the same provision of the (constitutional arrangement of the then) British India, he claimed in his lecture.

Tragically, having misread, and even ironically celebrated, this colonial arrangement of removing from the normal constitutional parameters while still being administered through (sovereignty) discretion", many human rights activists in Nagaland or Manipur will hardly recognize the notorious AFSPA in the post colonial return the same spirit/arrangement of exceptionalism, Bomal said.

He also said that the areas or people or polity of Manipur as a "Princely State" had nothing or polity of Manipur as a "Princely State" had nothing to do with the nine point agreement (1947), signed between the Naga National Council and the then Governor of Assam, which pertained to the then Naga Hills and Tuensang Areas as a District.

The Naga plebiscite (1951) conducted by the Naga National Council was not held in Manipur, and therefore, it did not represent the will and wishes of the people in the state, he revealed.

Therefore, invoking the "Unique History" of the Nagas as a rationale to vivisect Manipur on "ethnic" cum religious lines is to work against the sanctity of the historical truth of Nagas' "Unique History" or that of Manipur, he opined.

Besides this invocation of history, contemporary Naga nationalism also has another aspect that has become a cause for concern.

Its tendency of constantly invoking the Meetei as the "other" often couched in war-like rhetoric with expressions such as "enemy", "befitting response" of "hit back" etc.

He further observed that at one level, this is an understandable posture.

After all, over and above the pressing need to overcome the "inter-tribal" rivalry, the Naga nationalists are in peace talks with GoI, Nagas' traditional adversary in their nationalists struggle.

On the other hand, one of the most popular articulations that have caught the imagination of the people is that Manipur is a 'nation state" with 2000 year old history.

And this history of Manipur as a "nation-state" usually begins, following the records of the Royal Chronicles such as the Cheithaarol Kumpapa, with the story of the accession of Meidingu Pakhangba in 33 AD.

The expansion and growth of the reign of this dynasty forms the main, if not axis, of this popular history of Manipur as a "nation state.

"This articulation f self is problematic in many ways," be opined stating these aspects as two crucial aspects of the problem.

The professor was speaking at the function held in connection with the presentation of the RK Sanatomba Memorial Journalist Award 2010.The award went to Kshetri Maghajit of Naharolgi Thoudang.

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