‘Centre must save Manipur to protect Indian sovereignty’

IMPHAL,4th Aug: Commemorating the public rally and the mass protest undertaken by the people on August 4, 1997 against the attempt to compromise the territorial integrity of Manipur, All Manipur United Clubs’ Organisation (AMUCO) observed the 21st Integrity Day on Saturday. As part of the commemorative event, floral tributes were paid at the Integrity pillar near Mapal Kangjeibung, which was followed by a public meeting at MDU hall located at Yaiskul Police Lane here.

Speaking on the occasion, United Committee Manipur (UCM) president Sunil Karam cautioned that Manipur is currently passing through a critical stage. Disunity and chaos by breaking up the territorial integrity of the state will be the ‘gift’ of framework agreement. However, the Centre must know that the people of the state will not allow the territorial integrity to be destroyed, he stated.

In 2011, the people rose up as one and protected Manipur and they are ready to do it again. It is now time for the political parties, regardless of ruling or opposition and people in various sectors/fields to take a stand. “If we don’t save Manipur at this juncture, it would surely break up”, Sunil maintained, while urging the people to unite and ensure that the people’s call for territorial unity reaches the centre’s ears. He further urged the MPs of the state to convey the people’s wishes to the centre.

Sunil also appealed to both the ruling and opposition to adopt a resolution against the extension of Art 371(A) during the upcoming special session of the state assembly on August 10, which also happens to be the last day of parliament session. This issue had blown up after the interlocutor RN Ravi submitted the report on Framework agreement to the Parliamentary Standing Committee whose Chairman is Congress party’s P Chidambaram while one of its member is Rajya Sabha member K Bhabananda, the president observed.

As such, it is questionable why MP Bhabananda, who is part of the ruling party, is unable to raise objection over the report as per wishes of the people of Manipur and asked for rectification. Nonetheless, both BJP and Congress cannot absolve themselves from the responsibilities with regard to the issue and must work keeping in mind the wishes of the people, Sunil asserted.

If sovereignty of India is to be maintained, then Manipur must be saved. The framework agreement would only create chaos in two states. The Central government’s attempt to divert pertinent issue has caused eruption of MU row, border pillar and Citizenship Amendment Bill issue. However, PM Modi must keep in mind that many people have laid down their lives while trying to protect Manipur and many are ready to do it again. Thus, the government needs to take a positive stand on the issue, the UCM president added.

Addressing the gathering as one of the presidium members, AMUCO president Ph Deban Sharma said that Manipur is a state formed by the unbreakable bond between the hill and the valley. However, ever since Manipur was annexed to India, it has suffered considerably. Although it was assumed that the Indian army had stopped its atrocities, many cases have started to surface which say otherwise. “Who will give justice in such cases?” Deban questioned.

The Central government pretends to love Manipur in front of the entire world, but in reality it has been scheming for the disappearance of Manipur from the face of the earth, he alleged. Threatening the existence of indigenous people by encouraging influx of non-Manipuris has long been part of its agenda. In addition, the government has not taken up any initiatives to resolve border pillar or the MU issue. Instead, the people of the state have taken up the responsibility to protect and defend Manipur from any threat, the AMUCO president maintained.

Deban further stated that the Centre is not interested in the welfare of the northeastern states. One such example is its attempt to extend Article 371 (A) to Manipur, Assam and Arunachal Pradesh. Earlier, Indo-Naga peace talks interlocutor RN Ravi had assured that the Framework agreement signed between the NSCN (IM) and the government would not affect Manipur. However, he contradicted himself in the report submitted to the Parliamentary Standing Committee stating that Art. 371(A) could be applied in Naga-inhabited places of Manipur, he added.

Pointing out that extension of the said Article is meant to divide the people and not unite them, Deban asserted that it cannot be extended in Manipur. "This appeasement policy of the Indian government is not feasible and would never be accepted by the people. In 2001, many people got martyred while protesting against the attempt of the Centre to break apart the territory of Manipur. Furthermore, many public rallies and meetings were called against any threat to the Manipur’s unity. The people will again take a definite stand against the extension of Art. 371(A) in Manipur, Assam and Arunachal Pradesh," he stated.

At this juncture, the only option for Manipur seems to be severance of ties from India. MLAs, political parties and government employees must be ready to resign and take a definite stand when such a situation arises. As the Union government is adamant on breaking apart Manipur, it is time for the various communities of the state to unite and fight for the future generation and avoid falling into the traps laid by India. The people must be ready to defend the state if any resolution that affects the state’s interests is adopted during the ongoing Parliament session, Devan alerted.

Social Scientist Dr Dhanabir Laishram said that the North Eastern region including Manipur has vast mineral resources, which the Central government is greedy about. To retrieve the mineral resources available in Manipur, massive labour force is required, he added.

Recently, more than 40 lakh people were excluded from the NRC list published in Assam. These people have nowhere to go other than the northeastern region. The Central government plans to use the people excluded from the list and the Rohingyas to retrieve the resources. They do not even need to be given wages, as their main priority would be to find a place to settle themselves. As such, India would be playing a huge role in ensuring that they are brought into the state. Thus, the people of the state must remain alert and vigilant at all times, Dhanabir cautioned.

Presently, both elected leaders and people of the state are weak and powerless. However, the most important thing right now is courage, not seats of power. The State government needs to grow a spine and need not do whatever the centre asks of it. Or else, divisive polices such as Autonomous Territorial Council would be the grim reality of the state in the coming years, the social scientist remarked.

During the upcoming emergency special session of the state assembly on August 10, the state government needs to mount pressure on the MPs with the memorandum submitted by the 'mothers of Manipur' as the backbone. Art. 371(A) cannot be extended in the state for it is not viable. As the state already has Autonomous District Council (ADC), Autonomous Territorial Council is not needed. Instead, steps should be taken up to strengthen the ADCs, Dhanabir stressed.

Furthermore, Hill Areas Committee (HAC) already exists in the state under Article 371(c). If the state government cannot protect Manipur’s territory, then the people would have to step up to the responsibility. “Lessons must be taught to those ministers who sought refuge under umbrellas before it starts raining in Delhi”, he asserted.

He further maintained that unity is necessary amongst the hill and the valley against any attempt made to flood the state with illegal migrants or to steal its mineral resources. The Naga community is happy that a new change is coming for them but they will weep tears of blood when their elation ends. They will understand the consequences only after everything ended in chaos, the social scientist remarked.

Kuki Inpi Manipur advisor Thangkhosei Haokip; Porei Leimarol Meira Paibi Apunba Manipur president L Memchoubi; All Manipur Muslim Development Organisation president DP Shahid Ahamad and Zeliangrong Union, Imphal Zone chairman Gaiklamei also attended as presidium members and made it clear that different communities of the state would unite to protect the integrity of Manipur.

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