Limits of Patience

When push comes to shove, there is bound to be resistance and the Nagas of Manipur has done just that albeit in a way that needs to be appreciated for the simple reason that they have chosen to protest within the democratic framework of free speech and expression as per the five point resolution passed during the historic Naga Peoples Convention held on 4th of November, 2005 at Taphou village Tahamzam (Senapati District), Manipur. 

The Non-Cooperation Movement plan announced by the Nagas of Manipur comes as no surprise given their long held grievance that justice and fair play was not to be expected of the government in Imphal. The decision to pay house tax directly to Delhi or Kohima sends a clear political message and questions the very legitimacy of the Manipur State as far as the Nagas from the Naga Hills of Manipur i.e. Hunphun (Ukhrul), Inriangluang (Tamenglong), Chamdil (Chandel) and Tahamzam (Senapati) districts, including 27 villages in Henglep Sub-division of Churanchandpur district are concerned. 

The decision to return all the official red blankets issued to the GBs and also to change the names of all geographical structures into indigenous ones; their refusal to accept any development fund/schemes through the Manipur Government among others, are all symbols of non-cooperation that have been expressed in a democratic manner and therefore ought to wake up the conscience of the civil society and leadership in India who had taken a similar path to political freedom under British colonial rule.

It has to be said that the decision to pay tax directly to Kohima and the demand of the Naga students of Manipur for affiliation to the Nagaland Board of School Education (NBSE) Board once again demonstrates in clear terms the desire of the Naga people to live together under one administrative and political unit. The large scale burning of text books belonging to the Board of Secondary Education Manipur (BSEM) across the Naga homeland on Monday is not only a manifestation of this desire to be one both emotionally and physically but also sends the message that short of violence, Nagas of Manipur are ready to undertake the non-cooperation movement in a non-violent and democratic manner. 

Insensitivity on the part of Delhi to the genuineness of the Naga cause may only push civil society groups in the region into taking hard line positions. In order to prevent this from happening and also to dissuade peaceful protestors from taking the path of violence, the establishment in Delhi should not remain oblivious to the numerous petitions submitted to the Prime Minister. As head of the government leading the largest democracy in the world, Dr Manmohan Singh must initiate steps to address the democratic rights of the Naga people at the earliest. 

By deciding not to cooperate, the Nagas in Manipur are only asserting their right for self dignity and by doing so it is not only questioning the moral limits of the State’s power but also the assertion of their own consciousness which can be traced in the political and economic subjugation perpetuated against them. It is hoped that the Nagas of Manipur use their right conscientiously and in a way that addresses all issues in a democratic manner and through non-violent means without jeopardizing the age-old ties with the different communities including with the Valley people. The Government of India on its part should also understand the meaning of patience and the limits it has in dealing with the Indo-Naga political issue.