KOHIMA, MAY 22: Expressing deep concern over the sufferings and suppression of the Nagas living in Manipur, the apex body of the Naga tribal organisations has today said the present situation has crossed the stage where Nagas and Meiteis can no longer co-exist and they have to live as different identities.
Briefing media-persons after a marathon closed-door consultative meeting at Hotel Japfü in Kohima today, Naga Hoho President Keviletuo Kiewhuo, along with his colleagues, said the problem in Manipur initially started with ADC (Autonomous District Council) elections which led to economic blockade to prevent the polls in certain areas. In the midst of that, NSCN-IM General Secretary Th. Muivah’s proposed visit compounded the situation and now it has crossed that certain level, he said.
The Hoho said it would not comment on the issues of Muivah’s proposed visit or the ADC election, but categorically stated that it now wants ‘total separation of the people, i.e. the Nagas and the Meiteis’. “We have to live as different identities, we cannot co-exist now,” they said.
On whether the Hoho was demanding integration of Nagas, the Naga Hoho president said whether the Nagas in the South are integrated with Nagaland or they remain as a separate identity is an issue that will emerge and tackled in the near future. But he affirmed that Nagas in Manipur can no longer live with the Meiteis anymore, while questioning on how long they (Nagas) can struggle and how long the Meiteis can be allowed to suppress the Naga people.
“We shall not yield to suppressive policies of the Manipur Government or the Meities,” the Naga Hoho said, stating that the Nagas have every right to live as a people and shall endeavour to live as a people. Asserting that it cannot allow any other people to separate the Naga people, the Hoho said, “Wherever the Nagas are – whether Assam, Manipur, Arunachal or Myanmar – the life and property of every Naga should be protected by the Naga Hoho.”
Eco-blockade will remain
On the issue of the economic blockade imposed by Nagas, the Hoho said the question of lifting the it does not arise and it will continue for sometime.
“Our people are suffering, injured and killed, besides being subjected to inhuman treatment, and the little essential commodities that are being air-lifted and dropped in Imphal are not being allowed to go to the Naga areas also.” Manipur Government and Meiteis are equally involved in it, it said.
Onus is on GoI
ON THE ISSUE of the displaced Mao-Nagas returning home, the Hoho said it depends on how the Government of Manipur (GoM) and Government of India (GoI) creates a conducive atmosphere for them to go back. “We cannot allow them to go when they have fear in their minds,” Kiewhuo said.
He also again questioned the commitment given by Union Home Secretary GK Pillai and interlocutor for Peace talks RS Pandey during their visit to Kohima on May 12 wherein they had said all Manipur Commandos/IRBs would be withdrawn and curfew lifted. Stating that till date the Manipur forces had not bee removed and night curfew continuing, he asked how they can go in such a situation.
Nevertheless, the Hoho president said it has been decided that an official letter would be sent to GoI for replacement of combat forces including the IRB and Manipur Commandos from civilian areas with neutral forces and regular police so that the displaced persons who are in Nagaland side can go back home.
The Naga Hoho also said the onus is now on GoI to see that the wrongs are put right while also informing that GoI had issued directives to the states of West Bengal, Nagaland and Manipur showing the travel itinerary of Th. Muivah. “Why has Manipur government not obeyed the directives of Central Government? This is the big point posed before the GoI,” Kiewhuo said.