Manipur shutdown despite assurance on Naga agreement

All party delegation in Manipur with home minister Amit Shah in New Delhi on Wednesday. (DH photo)

Tension mounted in Manipur and protesters imposed a shutdown in parts of the state on Thursday to protest possible fallout of the Naga peace agreement, which is likely to be signed soon. 

The Coordination Committee Manipur's Integrity (COCOMI), a forum of five local civil society organisations imposed the shutdown despite home minister Amit Shah's assurance that territorial integrity of Manipur would not be affected by the Naga agreement. Shah told an all-party delegation that all stakeholders would also be consulted before finalising the agreement with Naga groups.

Groups in Manipur are opposed to the unification of Naga inhabited areas in Manipur, Assam and Arunachal Pradesh, one of the major demands of NSCN (IM), the Naga rebel group, which is engaged in peace talks and held several rounds of discussion with the Centre's interlocutor R N Ravi this week. The NSCN (IM) seeks extension of Nagaland's boundary to Naga inhabited areas in the three states and in neighbouring Myanmar.

Members of the COCOMI staged protests in Manipur capital Imphal as markets and educational institutions also remained shut on Thursday. Three districts in Manipur--Ukhrul, Senapati and Tamenglong are Naga dominated. 

Fearing further trouble, the Centre rushed additional forces to Manipur to maintain law and order situation in view of Centre's effort to sign the final agreement with Naga groups soon. The solution, however, is stuck in NSCN-IM's insistence on its core demands for a separate flag and Constitution for the Nagas. The Centre has already rejected the demands and offered "options" for discussion. 

The all-party delegation, led by Chief Minister N Biren Singh, which met Shah in New Delhi on Wednesday evening demanded that territorial, administrative and political integrity of Manipur should not be compromised while working out the Naga agreement. They alleged that people of Manipur suffered a lot due to "illegal tax collection" by Naga groups, particularly NSCN (IM).

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