Won’t accept Naga peace accord if Manipur affected: Ibobi Singh

Imphal (IANS) Manipur Chief Minister Okram Ibobi Singh on Tuesday said his government will not accept the peace accord signed between the central government and NSCN-Isak-Muivah if it alters the boundaries of Manipur.

“We welcome the peace accord signed between the central government and the NSCN-IM but we will, under no circumstances, accept the peace accord if it disturbs the territorial integrity of Manipur,” Ibobi Singh told journalists.

In a surprising but historic move, the central government and the National Socialist Council of Nagaland-IM on Monday signed the Naga Peace Accord settling an almost 20-year-old peace negotiation process that started in 1997 after the group signed the ceasefire agreement.

Demanding from the BJP-led central government to make the peace pact public, Ibobi Singh underscored the need of making the peace accord document “transparent” in the interest of the state.

“Before signing, it can be made confidential but after signing, it can be made public,” he said.

Ibobi Singh said he has requested union Home Minister Rajnath Singh to make public the peace accord document.

“The Manipur government was kept in the dark about the matter by the Centre. They neither informed nor discussed with us before signing the peace accord. Therefore, we are waiting for the central government to share the document with us,” he said.

Echoing the government’s views, the opposition Manipur People’s Party said it will also not accept the peace pact if it compromises the territorial integrity of Manipur.

“We welcome the signing of the peace pact to restore peace, but we will not accept the agreement if it disturbs the territorial integrity of Manipur,” former deputy chief minister and MPP advisor L. Chandramani Singh said.

While observing Manipur Integrity Day on Tuesday, the All Manipur United Clubs Organisation (AMUCO), an umbrella of various social organisations, warned the central government not to disturb the boundaries of Manipur to resolve the six-decade-old Naga insurgency problem.

“We welcome the peace accord, but it should not affect Manipur,” AMUCO leader Ph. Deban said.

On June 18, 2001, Manipur witnessed the biggest mass uprising when thousands of people came out to the streets opposing the Centre’s decision to extend the ceasefire with the NSCN-IM to areas in the state.

The Manipuris saw the move as the beginning of an attempt to slice territory out of their state to be handed over to Nagaland as part of the NSCN-IM’s demand for Greater Nagalim.

The protesters also torched the Manipur assembly building, the chief minister’s office, the speaker’s residence and other government establishments.

A total of 18 protesters — a woman, three minors and 14 young men — were killed and many others were injured when security forces eventually opened fire to quell the frenzied mob.

A massive civil disobedience movement followed and state capital Imphal was under curfew for nearly a month. On July 24, then prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee announced that the ceasefire with the NSCN-IM would once again be restricted only to Nagaland, as had been the case ever since it first came into force on August 1, 1997.

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