Tripartite Talks with Nagas Ends Inconclusive
| Onkareshwar Pandey - 10 Mar 2019

UNC Threatened to Go Back to the People

 

  • The 9th Round of Tripartite Talks Held In Senapati District Headquarter
  • The tripartite talk was chaired by Satyendra Garg, Union Joint Secretary Home (NE) 
  • Next Round of Talks at the End Of July 2019

 

By Onkareshwar Pandey, with Brown Nongmaithem in Imphal

Indian Observer Post

Delhi/Imphal, March 9, 2019: A crucial tripartite talk with Naga leaders again concluded inconclusively as the Manipur Government expressed its inability to bring a concrete proposal for the talks due to its preoccupations with issues at hand.

The United Naga Council expressed its displeasure saying, “It did not agree with the way of the Government” and stated that “UNC will go back to Naga people and consult their sentiments regarding on the issue.”

The Decisions of the UNC will be communicated to the Government of India.

However, in the 9th Round of Tripartite Talks with the Government of India, Government of Manipur and United Naga Council held on Saturday, the government of Manipur agreed to redress the grievances of the United Naga Council regarding the creation of a new district by initiating appropriate steps in this regard.

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The tripartite talks, moderated by the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA), Government of India from day one was chaired by Union Joint Secretary Home northeast Satyendra Garg at DRDA Conference Hall, Senapati District Headquarter in Manipur.

It is worth noting here that, the previous Government of Manipur had created seven new districts on December 8, 2016. In protest against that act of the Manipur Government, the UNC had imposed 139 days of economic blockade along the national highways which pass through Manipur. After the lifting of the blockade, the first round of talk was held on March 19, 2017 followed by several rounds of talk. The talk is still continuing on the issue.

The talk started with the warm welcome to the new office bearers of the United Naga Council. The State Government expressed its regret in its inability to bring a concrete proposal for the talks due to its preoccupations with issues at hand.

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In this round of talk, Agriculture Minister  V.Hangkhanlian, Education Minister  Thokchom Radheshyam Singh and Tribal and Hill Areas/ Fisheries Minister N.Kayisii represented the state Government. Principal Secretary (Health & Family Welfare) Vumlunmang Vualnam IAS and Secretary-cum- Commissioner (Youths Affairs & Sports/ CAF & PD) Shri Bobby Waikhom IAS assisted the Ministers.

The UNC also reiterated that development works should be carried out in the name of the present district in the talks.

The Government has proposed the next round of talks at the end of July 2019.

The first round of talk was held on March 19, 2017, which was followed by several rounds of talk. The UNC has been demanding that December 8, 2016 decision taken by the Government of Manipur should be rolled back.

President, United Naga Council S.Kho John, General Secretary, United Naga Council S. Milan, President, Naga Women’s Union Joseph Adani, former UNC president Gaidon Kamei and other leaders of Naga Organisations also participated in the talks. 

Even during the last round of talk, the Manipur government requested for some more time to come out with a concrete proposal regarding the UNC's demand for roll-back the decision of the previous Ibobi Singh government to create seven new districts in the state.

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The previous round of the tripartite talk between the Centre, Manipur government and United Naga Council (UNC), was held at the same Senapati district headquarters of Manipur. Satyendra Garg, joint secretary (NE), Union Ministry of Home Affairs was present and had chaired that round of talks too.

While the Government of Manipur represented by Agriculture minister V Hangkhanlian, Education minister Thokchom Radheshyam, Public Health Engineering minister Losii Dikho, Tribal Affairs and Hills department secretary Athem Muivah and Revenue department secretary T Ranjit Singh, it said.

In that meeting, the UNC team was represented by NC president Gaidon Kamei, general secretary S Milan, All Naga Students` Association, Manipur president Joseph Adhani and Naga Women's Union president Asha Wungnam. The UNC is the apex body of the Nagas in Manipur.

On November 1, 2016, the United Naga Council (UNC) – the apex body of the Naga community in Manipur had launched the economic blockade – in protest against the State Government’s decision to carve out new Districts from the existing nine in the State, especially from the Naga-dominated hill areas of Manipur.

The situation became so tensed and violent that the Union Ministry of Home Affairs (UMHA), on December 20, 2016, was compelled to sent around 4,000 additional paramilitary personnel to the State of Manipur, which was experiencing increasing turmoil, as violent protests and an ‘indefinite economic blockade’ on the two National Highways (Imphal-Dimapur NH 2 and Imphal-Jiribam NH 37), that serve as lifelines to the State.

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It was necessary to send additional forces, because, the Meitei dominated people of Imphal valley started a ‘counter-economic blockade’ in protest against the UNC’s economic blockade, leading to violence in the area. During the ongoing indefinite economic blockade, the State has recorded several violent incidents and a number of vehicles have been torched or vandalized by the protesters. The landlocked State has also been undergoing severe hardship in the supply of essential commodities as the main highways are blocked by protesters.

According to information available on SATP, the protests had started on October 30, 2016, after the State Government decided to upgrade the Sub-divisions of Sadar Hills and Jiribam to full-fledged Districts. The Government subsequently reversed its decision on October 31, 2016, as it was opposed by the Naga organisations who felt that the upgrade would help form more non-Naga-dominated Districts in the State.

However, on December 8, 2016, the Government surprisingly announced the creation of seven new Districts – Kangpokpi (conforming to the boundaries of the proposed Sadar Hills District and carved out from Senapati District), Noney (from Tamenglong District), Tengnoupal (from Chandel), Pherzol (from Churachandpur), Kamjong (from Ukhrul), Kakching (from Thoubal), and Jiribam (from Imphal East District).

After nearly 18 years of negotiations under ceasefire, the Government of India and NSCN-IM had signed the historic “Frame Work Agreement’ on August 3, 2015. This accord has major significance.

A release issued by the Prime Minister’s office on August 3, 2015, claimed that the Agreement would “end the oldest insurgency in the country… restore peace and pave the way for prosperity in the Northeast”, that it made an “honourable settlement” possible”, and that the “NSCN was represented by its entire collective leadership and senior leaders of various Naga tribes.”

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However, one of the major challenges to finalizing a settlement has been the issue of 'Naga integration' of all Naga dominated areas in the States neighbouring Nagaland, including Manipur.

The principal demand of NSCN-IM for a Nagalim (Greater Nagaland) comprising contiguous Naga-inhabited parts of Assam, Arunachal Pradesh, Manipur and some bordering areas of the neighbouring country, Myanmar, faces stiff opposition from these States, especially Manipur. The Union Government has, however, committed that it would ‘consult all the stakeholders’, including the State Government of Manipur, before reaching a final agreement.

Meanwhile, on July 15, 2016, the Union Government initiated the first round of political dialogue with Kuki militant groups – the United Peoples’ Front (UPF) and the Kuki National Organization (KNO) – in New Delhi. Satyendra Garg, Joint Secretary, UMHA, who led the central delegation, chaired the meeting, which was attended by representatives from the two militant groups and the Manipur State Government. Further, on October 19, 2016, the second round of tripartite talks was held in New Delhi and, during the dialogue, KNO and UPF reiterated their demands in the presence of the senior representative of the Manipur Government.

The issue of holding a political dialogue with Kuki militant groups has dragged on for years. The Indian Army and Kuki armed groups have observed a Suspension of Operations (SoO) since August 1, 2005. An agreement involving the UPF, KNO, the Union Government and the Manipur State Government was formally signed on August 22, 2008.

“The August 3 “FrameWork Agreement’ with NSCN (IM) is far from a conclusive resolution of the ‘Naga problem’. There are still several armed factions that will need to be accommodated before the ‘Nagaland problem’ can be said to have been ‘resolved’, and at least some of these will be tempted to escalate violence in the immediate future, partially to increase their ‘leverage’ in future negotiations, and partly to occupy the militant ‘space’ purportedly vacated  by NSCN-IM’s accord,” wrote Ajay Sahni in one of his articles after this accord. 


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