Manipur team pins talks hope on Delhi

Narendra Modi and Rajnath Singh

Imphal: An eight-member delegation of citizens' groups on Saturday left for Delhi to meet Prime Minister Narendra Modi and home minister Rajnath Singh to ensure safeguarding of Manipur's interests while making a final deal with the NSCN (I-M).

The delegation comprises United Committee Manipur (UCM) president Elangbam Johnson, All Manipur United Clubs Organisation (AMUCO) president Ph. Deban and Committee for Civil Society Kangleipak (CCSK) vice-president Jitendra Ningomba.

They are yet to take an appointment to meet the Prime Minister and home minister. However, they will camp in Delhi till they meet the central leaders.

"We are planning to meet the two important central leaders and convey the collective will and standpoint of the people of Manipur regarding a final settlement between the NSCN (I-M) and the government of India," Johnson said prior to his departure.

Johnson said the team would convey "in clear terms" to the central leaders the "people's non-negotiable position" on the integrity of Manipur.

The team is also expected to meet other political leaders, including Sonia Gandhi, BJP president Amit Shah and CPI leader Prakash Karat.

Last month, a daylong open dialogue of the people, organised by the three citizens' groups, reaffirmed their stance that a final settlement between the Centre and NSCN (I-M) should not disturb Manipur's "oneness" in any manner.

Though New Delhi reiterated that the framework agreement signed with NSCN (I-M) in August 2015 would not disturb Manipur's integrity in any way, people in Manipur are suspicious that the Centre is "cooking something" against Manipur's interests.

The fear stems from New Delhi's reluctance to disclose the contents of the framework agreement.

Delegations of the groups had met the Centre's interlocutor, R.N. Ravi, here in 2015. Ravi held consultations with five intellectuals from Manipur in Delhi three days ago.

Home minister Rajnath Singh met the chief ministers of Assam, Manipur and Arunachal Pradesh jointly in Delhi on the talks with the NSCN (I-M).

The outfit has been seeking some form of autonomy for Nagas residing in these three states and Nagaland.

The Centre is facing increasing pressure from Naga organisations and the Nagaland government to clinch a final settlement.


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