Time to trash tough postures

      BY dismissing the United Naga Council’s denial that there is no nexus between the civil society organisation and the armed NSCN-IM, deputy chief minister and home in-charge Gaikhangam has yet again affirmed the stand of the Government of Manipur that the Centre must rein in the Naga rebel group in order to lift the on-going economic blockade being enforced by the UNC. Regardless of the deputy CM mincing no words in linking the UNC with the NSCN-IM, which is having peace parleys with the Union government, and holding the Naga civil society equally responsible for the attacks on trucks and security forces during the on-going economic blockade, the siege on the two national highways is unlikely to end any sooner if one takes into account the latest meeting at Senapati town resolving to intensify the UNC sponsored agitation. Moreover, Gaikhangam wryly remarking whether the UNC has an armed unit to attack the goods carriers and slain security personnel also seemed to aim at negating the agitating council’s oft-repeated contention that imposition of the economic blockade and picketing of government offices, with the apparent aim to derail the administration in Naga areas, are democratic movement. For the record, the siege of the national highways which was imposed since November 1, 2016 to protest the government plan for creating two new districts remains in force despite creation of seven districts and the stir straining relationships amongst the ethnic communities.

       Even though the UNC has been claiming that genesis of the agitation is due to the government not consulting the Naga organisations, as per the agreements signed with the council and endorsed by the Centre, prior to carving out the new districts, the state cabinet giving the green signal for granting district status on the ground of administrative convenience could be based on the assumption that there is no point in seeking the UNC’s views on account of the latter having severed ‘ties’ with the Government of Manipur. On the other-hand, the deputy chief minister declaring that the government is always open to peaceful dialogue to resolve the impasse is unlikely to evoke any immediate positive response from the UNC as the latter had been insisting that release of its arrested president and publicity secretary should precede any move for a meaningful dialogue. Another serious charge levelled by Gaikhangam is that the current impasse could be a ploy of the BJP, Naga People’s Front and UNC to derail the Congress government and take political mileage over the issue. Having stated that the law and order is a state issue, the BJP-headed government at the Centre might refute the deputy CM’s allegations on the ground that additional central forces have been provided to the state and their deployment has been able to ensure transportation of essential commodities on a more regular interval. In view of the charges and counter-charges being traded between the Centre, the state government and the UNC, it seems there is no other option other than keeping aside their differences and pave the way for holding talks across the table so that the people are relieved from the distressful situation besetting them.

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