The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Nagas try to carry message to Meiteis
- Unofficial dialogue with two outfits to build awareness of case for integration

Bangkok, July 21: The National Socialist Council of Nagalim (Isak-Muivah) has begun a dialogue with various Meitei organisations in order to make them aware of their point of view on the integration of Naga areas under one administrative unit. The dialogue is unofficial as of now and the Meitei organisations with whom talks have been held are the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) and the Manipur People’s Liberation Front (MPLF).

Officially, the general secretary of the NSCN (I-M), Thuingaleng Muivah, would only say there was a necessity for a dialogue with the Meiteis.

“There may be some differences between the Nagas and the Meiteis today but who can say there will not be a time when we would have good relations with them' I nurture the hope that the Meiteis would learn to understand the Nagas and the Nagas would understand them,” Muivah said.

He argued for the “necessity” for greater interaction between the Nagas and the Meiteis and said, “There are attempts in progress for a dialogue. I believe that we will meet the Meiteis soon and not one or two groups but many groups.”

About when an understanding could be forged with the Meiteis, the Naga leader said, “This would happen when facts are admitted by both sides. It is the accepted rule of politics that the people are sovereign. Therefore, it is for the people to decide. We have no right to force the Meiteis to be with us and they have no right to force the Nagas to be with them.”

However, it is understood that two to three meetings have been held with the Meitei outfit, the People’s Liberation Army. Anthony Shimrey, head of the Alle Command (foreign command) of the NSCN (I-M) is believed to have met two members of the PLA in the middle of last year and again in November 2002. Two meetings took place in Dhaka and one in the Thai capital.

The attempt apparently was to tell the Meiteis that there was a time when they and the Nagas were one. “The Nagas and the Meiteis were brothers once and the differences that have been created were politically motivated and are recent in historical terms. And this is what we have been trying to impress upon the Meiteis. We feel that there is no enmity between the Nagas and the Meiteis. But the Meiteis have been apprehensive of disintegration of their territory,” a Naga source said.

Informal talks have also been held between the NSCN (I-M) and the MPLF. These were held last year after a meeting was proposed by Sanayaima, head of the MPLF, an umbrella organisation of three Meitei underground groups. Sanayaima is also president of the United National Liberation Front.

Of the various Manipur urban underground groups, only one — the Kanglei Yawol Kanna Lup (KYKL), led by Okindrajit, is with the NSCN (I-M). “They feel the chauvinism of the Meiteis and the decision of some Meiteis to go against the Nagas will not help in the long run. They feel that there is a need to recognise the right of the Nagas,” an NSCN source said.

Apart from contact with the underground Meitei groups, there has been a meeting between Naga civil society groups and Meitei intellectuals in mid-June this year in Kohima. Another meeting is planned and the attempt apparently is to include in the dialogue groups such as the All Manipur Students’ Union and the All Manipur United Clubs Organisation.

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