GUWAHATI: The Nagas of Manipur have stuck to their guns and decided to continue their opposition to the state government’s decision to create seven more districts even as Chief Minister Okram Ibobi Singh refuted allegation that his government’s move was aimed at scoring some brownie points ahead of next year’s Assembly elections.
Manipur’s apex Naga organisation United Naga Council (UNC) held a meeting at Senapati bordering Nagaland on Monday where it viewed the Ibobi government’s decision against the interests of the Nagas. The UNC leaders were not available for comments but sources told Express that the meeting had taken a decision to impress upon the Centre to expedite the peace parleys with Isak-Muivah faction of Naga insurgent group National Socialist Council of Nagaland (NSCN-IM) based on the framework agreement signed last year.
The demands of NSCN-IM include the creation of “Greater Nagaland” by dviding the Naga-inhabited areas of Manipur, Assam and Arunachal Pradesh.
The proposed new districts to be created from Wednesday include Kangpokpi, Jiribam, Noney, Kamjong, Pherzawl, Tengnoupal, and Kakching by bifurcating what were previously nine districts. In the last week of October, the Ibobi government had decided to upgrade sub-divisions Sadar Hills and Jiribam to full-fledged districts. Subsequently, the UNC enforced an indefinite “economic blockade” on two national highways – lifelines of Manipur – from November 1. This made the Meiteis (Manipuris) to enforce a counter blockade. Both blockades are still in force. The decision to create five more districts was taken last week.
The UNC insisted that Sadar Hills was the “ancestral homeland of the Nagas” where “migrant” Kukis (tribesmen) are now in a majority. The organisation alleged that by upgrading it to a full-fledged district, the state government was trying to keep the Kukis in good humour ahead of the elections.
The UNC argued that the government should have consulted the Naga organisations before deciding on elevating Sadar Hills and Jiribam. But Ibobi said there was no question of consulting or not consulting any third party as it was purely the prerogative of his government.