STAFF REPORTER IMPHAL, 8th May:
Raising strong objection to the statement made by Centre’s interlocutor for Indo-Naga peace talk RN Ravi, Manipur Pradesh Congress Committee has demanded the government to clarify the reason for establishing Autonomous Naga Territorial Council in the state.
Addressing media persons at Congress Bhawan here on Tuesday, MPCC spokesperson Dr Ng Bijoy questioned the reason for the move of setting up the autonomous council and how the state government will rule in the state with an autonomous territorial council in power within the state itself. One should always remember that Manipur was a territorial council before attaining statehood, he added.
Regarding the formation of a common cultural body, which would be a socio-political platform with ‘no political role’, Dr Bijoy enquired the meaning of ‘socio-political platform with no political role’ when the term ‘political’ has been made part of the platform.
Congress and people of the state always welcome peace talks between the government and any UG organisation. However, none would accept any proposal or provision, which will or might affect the integrity of the state. At the same time, providing certain benefits and packages to the Nagas in Manipur would be welcomed. However, dividing the state on ethnic lines would not be acceptable, he said.
The media report also mentioned that the more substantive issue before the Centre pertains to fears of a violent reaction in Manipur Valley where there is a genuine sense of insecurity about the deal, he said and questioned the reason for fearing a violent reaction from the valley people of the state. Stating that there is no reason for such fear if the agreement does not affect the interest of the state, Dr Bijoy pointed out that the proposed agreement is similar to the earlier proposal of a ‘supra state’.
Joining the media briefing, former MLA RK Anand said that Congress has always been opposing any clauses or provisions in the ongoing peace talk which might affect the interest and integrity of the state. MPCC president had also submitted a memorandum to the President of India regarding the aspiration of the people of the state. Though Congress welcomes the peace talk whole heartedly, the party will not remain silent if the agreement affects the state, he said.
Since RN Ravi is the interlocutor of the Centre any statement made by him should not be taken lightly. The June 18 uprising is an outcome of an attempt to develop a territory of NSCN-IM with the approval of the then central government. The statement of RN Ravi is a big challenge to the people of the state as he and the Centre knows the demands and aspiration of the state and its people, he said.
RK Anand also demanded Prime Minister Modi to clarify if he allowed RN Ravi to issue the statement and why the Centre is challenging the people of Manipur. Questioning if the Centre had done anything to protect the state, he enquired why the Centre will not listen to the voice of the common people of Manipur and Arunachal Pradesh. People of the two states will put up their fight if the Centre only hears the voice of armed rebellions while ignoring the common people, he added.
Ex-MLA L Ibomcha, who also attended the press conference, said that Manipur is not a party in the ongoing peace talk between India and NSCN-IM.
As such, any agreement arrived cannot be implemented or enforced in the state. Manipur should be given the autonomy provided to Jammu & Kashmir, he said, while adding that the state has not got any constitutional safeguard ever since it attained statehood.
Maintaining that removal of autonomy is part of the election manifesto of BJP, he questioned the reason for granting special autonomy to a state in complete disregard of its assurance to the country and its people. He then demanded the Centre to reconsider the provisions of the agreement before it ignites a huge public uprising.