Testing the Manipur Naga peace hypothesis!
G.K Chesterton, a British Philosopher, is famously quoted for his statement: it is not that people do not know the solution but the problem. In most conflicts, parties more often get stuck in loggerheads saying; solution is only in my ways; not yours, and so they together fail to find answer to this question: what is the problem between us? This is still a better situation and hopeful of arriving at joint problem solving processes. But if one carefully observe how the state and non-state parties in the conflict in India’s north-eastern region and Manipur in particular are managing and trying to find mutually satisfying solution, the worst case seems to be happening, here in three ways; 1) non-state party negotiating peace formula with state party brings up a political narrative which is displaced from its original place to address issues at another place which has a different socio-political issues between hills and valley peoples in the state of Manipur, and 2) the state party having full knowledge of the two different conflict situations (Indo-Naga in Naga hills and Tuensang regions & Hill-Valley in Manipur) deliberately denies to acknowledge and talk about the second one for the fear of losing control over the party in peace parleys. 3) Both parties mutually agree to divide the hills from the valley by productively making use of the hill-valley differences, presumably, to share big benefits out of the proposed deal. There are fears and apprehensions in the minds of the people in the neighborhoods of this hard earned ‘peace partners’ proposed secured zone’. To partly allay these fears, suspicions and apprehensions an effort is made by testing the proposed peace deal as hypothesis by subjecting to some international and universal standards of formal peace processes and deals. The test is based on a positive socio-political premise for sustainable peace and security.
What can be better happiness for estranged blood brothers to reconcile and mutually swear to ensure the bests in the world to live together as confederation of nationalities or extended families in harmony? But the best seems to be coming later and the worst sooner in Manipur even as the estranged brothers in the hills had embraced the dictum: my enemy’s enemy is my best friends. This will happened when the truth deliberately buried raise its heads, sooner or later. And what can be the better security and economic growth opportunities for India to accomplish the stated objectives of the ‘Look East Policy’ under the ‘Act East’ campaigns if it is not through mutually satisfying or gratifying political formulation with the NSCN(IM) which is considered to have terrorizing effective control over the occupied unsecured international boundaries beyond the state of Nagaland fearing the Chinese? Since, the glimpses of secret deals are let out in line with the divisive Article 371A extension in the ‘Naga inhabited areas’ it is time to put the proposition to tests some of the established parameters and norms for sustainable peaceful societies, development and justice.
First, consider the 4-ways principles of international peace and brotherhood of the Rotary International to test the secret political deal between GoI and NSCN(IM) from the social and historical context of the people of Manipur;
1. Is it true? No/Yes, depending on where one locates
2. Is it fair to all concerns? No. through the entire length of peace processes it has been raising suspicions and tensions within and without the Naga communities
3. Will it build goodwill and better friendships? Nope.
4. Will it be beneficial to all concerned? Not at all except for some section at higher levels of power hierarchies
Second, selectively consider some sections (which seems to have local relevance) of the UN Security Council Resolution 1325 of 2000 which sets the standards and qualities of inclusive peace processes based on the International humanitarian and human rights laws.
(1) Did the high profile ‘the Indo-Naga ‘ or GoI-NSCN(IM) peace processes increased representation of women at all decision-making levels in national, regional and international institutions and mechanisms for prevention, management and resolution of conflict? No.
(2) Did the peace processes increase participation of women at decision-making levels in conflict resolution and peace processes? No
(3) Did the negotiation adopt a gender perspective, including inter alia:
(a) …support local women’s peace initiatives and indigenous processes for conflict resolution, and that involve women in all the implementation mechanisms of the peace agreements (consider pro-rata)? No
(b) Were there any Measures that ensure the protection of and respect for human rights of women and girls, particularly as they relate to the Constitution, the electoral system, the police and the judiciary? Evidently, Not, both in Nagaland and Manipur hills
(4) Did it emphasize the responsibility of all States to put an end to impunity and to prosecute those responsible for genocide, crimes against humanity, and war crimes including those relating to sexual and other violence against women and girls, and in this regard stresses the need to exclude these crimes, where feasible from amnesty provisions? No.
(5) Did it encourages all those involved in the planning for disarmament, demobilization and reintegration to consider the different needs of female and male ex-combatants and to take account the needs of their dependents? No. there is no sign of it
Now, the fourth test: consider this as the most critical one for it could have far-reaching impacts on the very survival of indigenous communities in the state, both in the hills and valley. And prevention of it should be the bounden duty of peoples, both in the hills and valley, lest, they should like to continue as honourable baggers for their lifestyles and standards, and survival of the poor. And that is Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) – the cradles of our own being as identity groups. Some key questions, in the local context of hill-valley ecosystems considerations, are;
1. Will the ‘final and honourable’ political solution (in the offing) of the Manipur Nagas improve the deteriorating ecological and environmental situation of the hills and valley state of Manipur? No.
2. Will it prevent and stop the persistent efforts for mining Chromite, Lime stone and Oil exploration in the hills polluting the free flowing waters in the streams and rivers (originating from the surrounding hills)? Most certainly not as it would be undoing the Act East Policy objectives and purpose.
3. Will it ensure the valley cleaner and safer water from the Rivers originating from the surrounding hills flowing down to the valleys? No, if the animosity and hostilities are enhanced which is likely
4. Will it increased and enhance the forest covers in the surrounding hills and discourage permanent unscientific cultivations on the hill tops? Unlikely as exploitation of natural resources is the priority for economic growth.
5. Will it improve the livelihood base resources of the people in the hills and ensure sustainable livelihood and food security for all? Unlikely.
6. Will it improve the hill-valley ecosystems’ health over time? No.
7. Will the parties in the peace parleys consider EIA of the proposed peace deals before it is inked? Highly Unlikely.
In fact, for all the mega infrastructural projects in the state affecting vast areas of indigenous peoples’ lands and natural resources both in the hills and valley, the parties in peace parleys have been directly or indirectly discouraging and minimizing any such initiatives from all sections of aware civil societies across the hills and valley over the years. So, Social Impact Assessment and Environment Impact Assessment are almost considered as enemies of the secretive peace processes thus far.
Lastly, did it seek spiritual clearance from the God? Yes, with intense prayers. But God said, “My peace I leave it to you” long before!
The four tests above except for the last one (considered best avoiding to comment by any scientific parameters) the unannounced peace formula is not only failing but also shows indications of intensifying the ‘disturbed conditions’ in the state. It may also be surmised based on the past patterns and trends of State’s responses to conflict situations in Manipur the central objectives seem to remain the same: 1) ensure permanency of ‘disturbed conditions’; 2) justify permanent militarization of the indigenous society within the same condition; 3) follow the demographic domination doctrine to attain peace in India’s North-eastern region. Perhaps, the path ahead could also be heady as the pre-existing states, nations and nationalities will continue to raise their heads through generations as history cannot be deleted. Alternative sustainable peace theories are openly invited from all quarters.
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