The Centre’s attempt to resolve the conflict between the Manipur government led by Okram Ibobi Singh and the National Socialist Council of Nagaland (Isak-Muivah) has come a cropper with both sides sticking to their guns.
The crisis arose from NSCN-IM general secretary Thuingaleng Muivah’s desire to visit his ancestral village Somdal (in Manipur) after 40 years.
The Union Ministry of Home Affairs sanctioned the visit but Manipur Chief Minister Ibobi Singh of the Congress stonewalled it, saying Muivah was a fugitive as the ceasefire with the NSCN-IM (since July 1997) was not applicable in Manipur.
In a bid to sort out the problem, the Centre on Tuesday rushed Home Secretary G.K. Pillai to Manipur and Nagaland. Pillai met Singh and the NSCN-IM leadership separately but failed to break the ice.
“We communicated to Pillai that we can’t allow Muivah to enter the state unless the NSCN-IM drops the Greater Nagalim demand,” spokesperson for Manipur N. Biren said.
Greater Nagalim is the NSCN-IM’s concept of a unified Naga homeland comprising Naga-inhabited areas of Arunachal Pradesh, Assam, Manipur and Myanmar, besides Nagaland.
On Wednesday, Pillai met Muivah and other NSCN-IM leaders in Nagaland but the insurgents asserted that Muivah would go ahead with his visit to his native village.
“The Government of India seems to be unable to take a stand. They will say something here and something else there. We’re very disappointed,” V.S. Atem of NSCN-IM said.
In Imphal, the blockade imposed by Naga students’ associations saw hundreds of vehicles jamming traffic for hours as they queued up at petrol pumps. The price of petrol in the black market rose to Rs 150 per litre and diesel to Rs 110 while a filled LPG cylinder was being sold for Rs 2,000.
Worried over the developments, PM Manmohan Singh, Congress chief Sonia Gandhi and others in the core group took stock of the situation.