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Adding insult to injury

Manipur, it would seem, is a state in permanent flux. Therefore, one would have expected New Delhi to be cautious and weigh the pros and cons before approving the politically sensitive and potentially explosive visit of the NSCN-Isak-Muivah (NSCN-IM) boss Thuingaleng Muivah to his birthplace at Somdal in Ukhrul district. Approving Muivah’s visit to Manipur shows the Centre’s cavalier attitude to the region.

india Updated: May 13, 2010 23:42 IST

Manipur, it would seem, is a state in permanent flux. Therefore, one would have expected New Delhi to be cautious and weigh the pros and cons before approving the politically sensitive and potentially explosive visit of the NSCN-Isak-Muivah (NSCN-IM) boss Thuingaleng Muivah to his birthplace at Somdal in Ukhrul district. Instead, it cleared the visit and asked the Manipur and Nagaland (where Mr Muivah is camping now) governments to make the arrangements for the proposed visit. As expected, the situation, if you take into account the history of discord, has now spiralled out of control with both parties

refusing to give the other an inch. The two central officials, Home Secretary G.K. Pillai and Naga talks interlocutor

R.S. Pandey, sent to salvage the situation, failed to do so.

There’s a history of mistrust between Manipur and the NSCN-IM. While the latter has been operating a ceasefire with New Delhi since 1997, Manipur maintains that it does not extend beyond Nagaland. It had earlier banned Mr Muivah’s visit saying it could stroke unrest in the state as the NSCN-IM had demanded that all Naga-inhabited areas in the Northeast be integrated to create a Greater Nagaland. Naturally, the face-off between Manipur Chief Minister Ibobi Singh (who heads a Congress-led coalition government) and Mr Muivah was a foregone conclusion. This round of trouble comes on the heels of the existing tension that has been unfolding in Manipur. Since April 12, the All Naga Students’ Association of Manipur has blocked National Highways 39 and 53 (also known as ‘ransom highways’) over the amendment of the Manipur Autonomous District Council Act. For this landlocked state, this blockade and now the new stand-off between the state government and NSCN-IM, both looking for political mileage above anything else, have led to a sharp rise in prices with petrol being sold at Rs 150 per litre and LPG at Rs 1,500 to Rs 2,000 per cylinder.

Since there’s no solution at sight at present, of the three parties — the state, NSCN-IM and the Centre — it seems the last has lost the match no matter what happens over the next few days. As it is, New Delhi suffers from a trust deficit when it comes to the Northeast. This mishandling of the situation on the ground will only heighten that feeling further. And, as always, the people of the state will pay for this political chicanery.