TODAY -

Editorial of the week

ON THE EDGE OF HELL

Nothing can be more unfortunate than the dark clouds that have descended over Manipur in the wake of the signing of the Bangkok agreement that allowed the government of India-NSCN(IM) ceasefire to extend to territories of states outside of Nagaland. It is time for some straight talking. Enough of all the innuendos, half truths and white lies in the name of subtlety. There can be no reason for anybody to object to a ceasefire if it did not carry any hidden meaning. There is no reason for anybody to object to the present ceasefire, if it was free of the political implications. Admit it or not, implicit in the current truce is the recognition of the demand for a Greater Nagaland, an entity that has is supposedly 12,00,000 square kilometers (the area of Nagaland state is 16579 square kilometers), which includes besides Nagaland, almost the entire land area of Manipur, a better part of the southern bank of the Brahmaputra river in Assam, a large chunk of Arunachal Pradesh and Myanmar. This idea of a Naga inhabited, area does not recognize state or international boundaries, it is obvious, but curiously those who have had a good look at the map of it, would have noticed it does recognize one international boundary as marked by the MacMohan Line. Perhaps the Nagas were averse to stepping on Chinese soil from time immemorial, even before the imaginary line came into its controversial existence in 1913. The point is, the dark red shadow on the map of the region marking Greater Nagaland, (check the NSCN(IM) pages in the angelfire.com website) may be a symbol for the national aspiration of the NSCN but it cannot also be less than menacing to other beholders in the region. If the Nagas have a right to call this new map a dream, others have a right to think of it as a bad dread too. A point, we feel the central government has missed totally. Of course in its attempt to contain flared sentiments, the central government now says that the extension of the ceasefire and the territorial question are not interlinked. But the same event is being celebrated in Nagaland and denounced in Manipur, Assam and Arunachal Pradesh, precisely for the belief that it is a step towards the realization of a Greater Nagaland. In Manipur the protests have been very vocal and open, in Assam and Arunachal Pradesh, rather muffled. But then, as a journalist from Assam joked, the people of Assam have the habit of blaming the journalists for not writing strongly enough about such issues. In Manipur too, the people are inhibited about writing, but they take to the streets. It is just a matter of temperamental difference. The outrage is the same.

This is the newly created conflict situation before us. We would have preferred the matter be allowed to be sorted out at the people's level first before the official agreement was signed. Seeking the peoples consent after the official decision has been taken is going to be an uphill task, but we do hope the centre makes an earnest effort to do it. The urgency of the matter demands even a personal visit and appearance before the people by the Prime Minister or the Home minister. Only such a gesture can win back lost faith. Any outbreak of violence now, will be a one way ticket to Hell for all caught in the conflict situation.

Courtesy: The Imphal Free Press

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