TODAY -

Editorial of the week

The June 18 divide
Courtesy: The Sangai Express 07th June, 2006



The spirit of June 18 will refuse to die, as long as the demand of a Greater Lim continues and as long as the opposition against any move to dismember the territorial boundary of Manipur simmers.

Even as normal life in Imphal and in the other valley districts of Manipur will come to a standstill on June 18, to pay respect to the people who died in the integrity campaigns, normal life will also be affected in the four Naga dominated districts of Manipur on the same day.

This is all that more so now that the United Naga Council has called upon all the Naga people to conduct a Special Prayer on the said day to ensure the success of the peace process.

About a decade back, no one, even in their wildest imagination, would have thought that such a situation will prevail in Manipur, where the two major communities of the State, the Nagas and the Meiteis will have such diametrically opposing view points on the fate and future of a place called Manipur.

If June 18 is the rallying point for the people who believe in the territorial integrity of the State, then the same date is also the rallying point of quite a number of Naga people to press home their demand for the unification of all Naga inhabited areas under one administrative unit.

The 52 days economic blockade imposed by the All Naga Students' Association, Manipur and supported by the Naga Students' Federation and other Naga social organisations in 2005, against the decision of the SPF Government to declare June 18 as Unity Day is a telling commentary of the deep divide on the Lim issue.

Since 2001, there is something about the month of June and not without reason. It was on June 14, 2001 that the Bangkok Declaration was issued which extended the cease fire between Delhi and the NSCN (IM) beyond the territorial boundaries of Nagaland.

It was on June 18, 2001, that the great uprising against the Bangkok Declaration exploded in its full might and led to the death of 14 persons in CRPF firing. Again it was in June, 2005 that the 52 days economic blockade was imposed.

June 18 is again round the corner and while the ghost of the 2001 uprising will refuse to go away, it is also time to reflect and study the direction that the Lim issue has taken since the momentous occasion. Before June 18, 2001, the Greater Lim demand was an issue that was whipped up by the NSCN (IM).

During the last few years, the picture has changed somewhat and what was once the bugle call of an armed group fighting for the sovereignty of Nagaland, has now passed on to the civil society organisations of the Naga people.

Nothing illustrates this better than the Integrity rally held in the four Naga dominated hill districts of Manipur on June 14, 2005. Perhaps this is a lesson that the IM group learnt from the votaries of a united Manipur.

One major difference that we can see and understand amongst the votaries on either side of the Lim divide, is the point that the voice of territorial integrity was raised by civil society organisations and not by any armed group, while the question of a Greater Lim was first raised by an armed group and the baton was later passed onto the voluntary organisations and student bodies.

It is this difference that is important and this should not be lost on the Government of India and the other keen observers of the North East region.

In other words it means a voice first raised by the common people pitted against a voice first raised by an armed group.




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