Political rationality and territorial constraints
The clarity of NSCN (I-M)’s statement has the potential to obscure the positions of both the government of India and the authorities in the state of Manipur.
On May 18, the United Committee Manipur (UCM) submitted a memorandum to the chief minister N Biren Singh and Union Minister of Home demanding a clarification and immediate action on the recent finding of National Socialist Council of Nagalim or the NSCN (I-M) camps in Senapati and Chandel districts of the state. Following recent media report in connection with the existence of NSCN (I-M) camps, the UCM also met the chief minister along with some elected members of the Manipur Assembly. During the meeting, the representative of the committee demanded the state government to remove the camps at earliest as the ceasefire agreement between the Government of India and NSCN (I-M) was not applicable in Manipur. The chief minister is said to have assured the UCM that he will take up all possible legal action.
However, even before the Union Home Ministry took concrete decision on the issue, the NSCN (I-M) on May 20 promptly asked the UCM to restrain itself from inciting its own people and asserted that its ceasefire with the Government of India covered all Naga territories beyond the state of Nagaland.
NSCN (I-M) in a statement said that the UCM has fired a salvo against the Naga armed group and such a “repeated spiteful remark” by the Manipur based committee against the Nagas is not going anywhere to reverse the historical reality and movement that has brought about the ongoing Indo-Naga political talks running more than twenty-two years. NSCN (I-M) has taken note of the Manipur chief secretary writing a letter to Union Home Secretary “as prodded by the UCM”, wherein it was mentioned that the “Indo-Naga ceasefire” does not extend to the state of Manipur. NSCN (I-M)’s position is out rightly clear when it stated that “the ceasefire covers all Naga territories and thus, peace process covers all Naga territories”. The Naga group asserted that this spirit has guided the twenty-two years of Indo-Naga political talks throughout. “It was this mutual understanding and respect that has carried the talks this far”, said the NSCN (I-M).
Terming the UCM’s action as “recklessness to create volatile situation”, the NSCN (I-M) said it had great respect and good relationship with the Meitei people. Therefore, UCM should restrain itself from inciting its own people. The NSCN (I-M) further stated that it has the foresight that “Indo-Naga political solution” will bring about peace in the Northeast region of India and will immensely benefit the people of Manipur, politically and economically. The clarity of NSCN (I-M)’s statement has the potential to obscure the positions of both the government of India and the authorities in the state of Manipur. Whether or not such rhetoric can be calmly translated into political wisdom depends a lot on unfolding dynamics before the final inking of the agreement between the government of India and all Naga groups irrespective of territorial constraints and limitations.
However, the NSCN (I-M) asking the Manipur government and political leaders to exercise caution and restrain themselves from giving out any irresponsible statement to provoke the Nagas seems reasonable as no one wants a situation that would bring irreparable damage to permanent peace and collective development in the Northeast region. This is why there is a necessity consult all stakeholders to bridge the gap between perceptions and realities on one hand and political rationality and territorial constraints on the other.