Calm shrouded this curfew-bound town on the Manipur-Nagaland border, 24 hours after the battle between NSCN (Isak-Muivah) chief Thuingaleng Muivah’s followers and the Manipur Police. But rumblings could be heard on either side of the border.
In Imphal, 110 km south, the state cabinet reaffirmed the ban on the entry of Muivah. And in Viswema village, 5 km north in Nagaland, Muivah decided to stay put until New Delhi ensures a safe passage in Manipur.
Muivah has reportedly received a message from the Prime Minister’s Office on Friday, requesting him to defer his trip to his ancestral village, Somdal, in Manipur’s Ukhrul district. And the NSCN leader is not likely to ignore the PMO.
Having thwarted Muivah’s trip on Thursday, Manipur Chief Minister Okram Ibobi Singh upheld the ban on Muivah on Friday. Singh has been arguing that the Centre’s ceasefire pact with the NSCN (I-M) does not apply to Manipur, where Muivah is considered a fugitive.
Manipur NGOs, too, opposed the visit in view of the NSCN (I-M)’s Greater Nagalim agenda, which envisaged a unified homeland covering four hill districts of Manipur.
Minutes after the Manipur cabinet meeting, the National Socialist Council of Nagaland (Isak-Muivah) announced that its general secretary would not retreat without visiting Somdal, his ancestral village which he had not visited for 40 years. Muivah arrived at Viswema on Wednesday from his general headquarters near Dimapur, Nagaland’s commercial hub 95 km north.
“There is no question of Muivah going back,” NSCN (I-M) spokesperson Phungthing Shimrang said.
But Nagaland Chief Minister Neiphiu Rio, slamming his Manipur counterpart, asked Muivah to postpone the trip. He visited Viswema during the day primarily to advise restraint despite provocation.
Shimrang, however, said the Union home ministry advised them to wait. “We will wait to a certain point, but after that anything can happen.”