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Indefinite bandh and the concept of territorial integrity

IFP Editorial: The concept of territorial integrity rather encompasses anything which dare threatens our borders and the issues of territorial disputes, homeland aspirations, ownership of state lands, and above all emotional integrity. And we should include for example the issues of frequent incursions of Myanmar forces on our borders and the border disputes with the state of Nagaland, the GOI negotiations with SoO groups, the Mount Koubru controversy and the unfinished district reorganisation also in the discourse of territorial integrity.

ByIFP Bureau

Updated 29 Mar 2022, 6:55 am

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The Southern Angamis of Nagaland has once again challenged the territorial integrity of Manipur by imposing an indefinite blockade of Manipur buses and trucks with a demand that Manipur government should withdraw its armed personnel and remove structures from Kezoltsa area. While asserting that three-fourth of the entire area of Dzuko valley belongs to Manipur and the remaining to Nagaland, Chief Minister N Biren Singh said the IRB outpost set up at Kezoltsa area was for precautionary measures to avoid unwanted incidents for the local tourists of Manipur.

Trekkers from Manipurb has been facing harassment from the Southern Angamis since long, as they had to pass through Nagaland territory to reach Dzuko. Now that a road on the Manipur side had been constructed, an IRB post had also been opened at Kezoltsa not only to provide security but assistance in case of calamity.

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When one talks of territorial integrity, most of us are fixated on the possible outcome of NSCN (I-M) and Government of India only. The concept of territorial integrity rather encompasses anything which dare threatens our borders and the issues of territorial disputes, homeland aspirations, ownership of state lands, and above all emotional integrity. And we should include for example the issues of frequent incursions of Myanmar forces on our borders and the border disputes with the state of Nagaland, the GOI negotiations with SoO groups, the Mount Koubru controversy and the unfinished district reorganisation also in the discourse of territorial integrity.

In the last few decades, Manipuris, more particularly the majority Meiteis, had become insular. Meiteis were caught in a time-warp. When the 1997 Bangkok declaration of ceasefire without territorial limits was signed between NSCN (I-M) and GOI representative Padmanabhaih, the Manipuris were rudely awakened. And thus began the movement for maintaining the territorial integrity of Manipur at any cost. There was hardly any serious efforts for assuaging hurt feelings among the hill brethren. Rather, it was all about territorial integrity and not hurting sensibilities. Yes, we cannot deny the outreach programs of the said organisations. But, we have to say it was a little too late. What was most lacking was the leadership and outreach most required of a majority community towards the lesser communities, and a political overreach.

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Time does bring maturity. And the one-day people’s convention on special status for Manipur on December 26 last was certainly a beginning. It resolved that no ethnic based territorial council can be accepted within the territory of Manipur, citing that such an arrangement will create more political and ethnic problems in the state. There is also apprehension that some large communities might engulf people of small communities. To prevent such a threat to small communities and to provide equal rights and equal privilege for each ethnic community, the demand for a special status to protect the ethnic rights and identity as a whole was raised.

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The principle includes acknowledging the need to protect the territorial, administrative and emotional integrity of Manipur, cherishing the age-old bond of brotherhood among all the indigenous communities of Manipur, upholding the inalienable rights of all the indigenous communities to protect, preserve and develop their respective distinct identities, realising the necessity to maintain harmony by respecting each other’s distinct identities.

The principle also includes realising the truth that only a ‘special status’ with a high degree of autonomous power for the state of Manipur can provide for all aspirations and rights of all communities and others, three administrative subjects namely defence, external affairs and inter-state relations shall be vested in central government while the rest shall be conferred on the state government by amending the constitution of India, to provide powers to Manipur to trade with its neighbours.

It also stresses on inter-state migration within the state to be controlled by Manipur, amendment of Article 3 of the Indian constitution by inserting a proviso that any change in the boundary of Manipur shall require the concurrence of the Manipur Legislative Assembly and land and resources of Manipur shall vest in the state. It was indeed a step forward and surely good politics.

- EDITORIAL

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First published:28 Mar 2022, 7:31 pm

Tags:

Dzuko valleyterritorial integrity of ManipurNH 2SAPOnational highway 39IRB out postManipur Nagaland boundaryindefinite blockade

IFP Bureau

IFP Bureau

IMPHAL, Manipur

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