Manipur Chief Minister N Biren Singh on Tuesday urged the people and civil society organisations of the state to maintain calm and peace till the Centre invites stakeholders for consultation to hammer out an amicable solution to the decades-old Naga political problem.
Urging people to have trust in the government, he said that Union Home Minister Amit Shah had assured the state government representatives during the November 10 meeting that all stakeholders would be consulted before inking a final accord with the Nagas. Shah had also iterated the Centre's firm commitment that anything that is detrimental to Manipur's interest will never be done in the process of bringing a final solution to the Naga issue.
The National Socialist Council of Nagaland-Isak Muivah(NSCN-IM), a major insurgent group in the Northeast, has been pushing for unification of Naga-inhabited areas, a separate flag and constitution - a demand that has been rejected outright by the Centre. Stating that the Manipur government has "full trust" in the leadership of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Shah that they will keep their words on the issue, he urged the people to have confidence in the state government as well. Civil societies across Manipur have been holding protests, seeking assurances from the Centre that the solution to the vexed political issue would not affect Manipur's territorial integrity.
Singh said the Centre's commitment that it would consult all stakeholders including the states of Assam, Manipur and Arunachal Pradesh before finalising any settlement was clearly reflected in the latest public statement of Nagaland Governor and interlocutor R N Ravi. "As such, it is time to maintain calm and peace until the Centre invites stakeholders for discussion to find a final agreement with the Nagas," Singh said at a press conference at the state secretariat.
Stating that the Centre is likely to begin consultation with the stakeholders soon, Singh said that the state government will meet the Coordination Committee on Manipur Integrity (COCOMI), an apex body of seven organisations spearheading the protests in the state. It would also discuss with the other stake holders before consultations with the Centre commence, he said. Singh said that Manipur has been able to march forward, achieve developmental goals and send out a positive message to the world that it is no more a strife-torn zone in the past two and half years since he assumed office.
"This hard-earned image should not be harmed at any cost ... Nobody should do anything which may disturb communal harmony at this crucial juncture," he said adding the state government is confident that all indigenous people of Manipur would live together forever and no land or community or group would be separated from it. Singh also sought the cooperation of the media in maintaining calm and unity among the people.
He asked the people not to be too apprehensive as the state government has been working day and night to live up to the people's expectations and to fulfil their desire of protecting the territorial integrity of Manipur. He said that within the short span since the government headed by him came to power, the assembly has taken two resolutions on protecting the state's territorial integrity.
Ever since the October 31 deadline for the Naga peace was set, the Manipur government had held a series of consultations with different civil society organisations and community leaders besides holding all party meetings and convening numerous others for the MLAs, Singh said. The resolutions of these meetings were submitted to the leaders at the Centre. "The central government understands the wish of the people of Manipur," he added.