Apart from the state government’s campaign against drugs and the anti-deforestation drive, there is still another important issue behind the present conflict. In recent times, several pressure groups are coming together with a singular focus on migration issues confronting the state.
While the United Naga Council (UNC) and the Coordination Committee on Manipur Integrity (COCOMI) joined forces to express their commitment to fight the issue of illegal migration together, student organisations broadly based in the valley - the All Naga Students Association Manipur (ANSAM) together came out in demand for National Register of Citizens (NRC) and establishment of a State Population Commission.
On the other hand, JCILPS has called for scrapping the state Cabinet decision settling 1961 as the base year for implementation of the Inner Line Permit system in the state and making it 1951.
Although poles apart on certain issues, it is good that these organisations are finding common ground and working together.
After a series of meetings, the conglomeration of valley-based organisations, the Coordinating Committee on Manipur Integrity (COCOMI) and the United Naga Council (UNC) decide to join hands against continuous influx of migrants in the state from neighbouring countries, particularly from Myanmar and other states of India.
Considering it a major reason for creating a demographic imbalance in the state and a threat to indigenous population, COCOMI and UNC has demanded the adoption of a resolution to set up the state population commission and updating the National Register of Citizens (NRC) in respect of the state of Manipur with a fixed cut-off base year to identify illegal immigrants.
If we recall correctly, the whole valley was in flames during the ILP agitation with the people in the valley expressing their concerns of their land being swamped over by illegal migrants whose population keeps increasing day by day and year by year.
When the government brought three bills to address the issue of illegal migration, people in the hills more particularly in Churachandpur district rose against the three bills when they were passed by the Manipur Legislative Assembly and shut off all communications with the state government for nearly three long years.
It is on record that, when the BJP took over the government in 2017 the indefinite blockade on national highways and Churachandpur issue was resolved. It must also be remembered that, the issue of illegal migration once again came to the fore after the recent detention of more than 80 Myanmar refugees in Churachandpur.
These Myanmar refugees had crossed over to the Indian territory in Chandel district and from there they had come to Churachandpur district simply for the reason that there are communities in the district having close ethnic affinities with them and they were welcome there. Before their detention, they were sheltered by a Myanmar refugee who had crossed over in 1986 to Mizoram and came to Churachandpur in 2013. And this is not the first instance of Myanmar refugees migrating to Manipur. It has been going on for years and in fact, this migration was one of major concerns of anti-foreigners movement in the 80s.
Against this backdrop, the coming together of COCOMI and Naga CSOs on the anti-migrants issue became a thorn in the flesh for the Kuki-Chin groups. And then suddenly, the ST demand received a boost in the arm through the HC judgment and it provided a perfect opportunity for re-kindling tribal solidarity. Yet, as we see there is no violence in the Naga areas in the present conflict while Nagas living in the valley remain secure in their homes and movement. There lies the paradox of Naga-Kuki relations in the developing geo-political scenario.