GUWAHATI: Seen as an attempt to buy peace with the Meiteis (Manipuris) ahead of the signing of final Naga accord, major Naga insurgent group National Socialist Council of Nagalim (NSCN-IM) held a meeting with a delegation of Coordinating Committee on Manipur Integrity (COCOMI).
The meeting was held at the outfit’s central headquarters, Hebron, in Nagaland’s Dimapur district three days ago. The NSCN-IM was led by its general secretary Thuingaleng Muivah.
There are speculations the Centre will create two autonomous councils, one each in Arunachal Pradesh and Manipur, as a part of the final Naga accord.
The COCOMI, which is a conglomerate of several civil society organisations, stands opposed to any changes in Manipur’s existing administrative setups. It had staged a series of demonstrations on the streets of Imphal last year to reiterate its stand on Manipur’s territorial integrity when the Centre was about to sign the Naga pact but eventually held it up.
The Imphal Valley, where the Meiteis live, will surely also oppose any autonomous or territorial council that will remotely administer Manipur’s Naga areas from Nagaland or any other state. Secondly, if the agreement largely protects the interests of the Nagas of Manipur, the NSCN-IM will owe an explanation to fellow Nagas living across Nagaland, Arunachal and Assam.
COCOMI convenor Sunil Karam told this newspaper the meeting with the NSCN-IM was held without any agenda on the table.
“It was a meeting where the issue of peaceful co-existence was discussed. It had no agenda. Uncle Muivah also insisted on peaceful co-existence,” Karam said.
He said neither the COCOMI delegation nor Muivah had raised the issue of autonomous/territorial council.
After returning to Imphal, Karam told journalists that if the Naga agreement is about protecting interests under the Sixth Schedule of the Constitution or by creating an autonomous council or territorial council, it shouldn’t be based on ethnic lines.
“During a meeting that we had with Union Home Minister Amit Shah in December, he said if the Manipur part comes (while signing the Naga accord), the government will consult the stakeholders of Manipur. We are waiting and watching. If the Centre fails to fulfil what it committed, we will resort to an agitation,” Karam warned.
Centre’s peace negotiations with the various Naga rebel groups concluded last year.