UNLF chairman released from prison and flown to Delhi

The government, which wants the Naga accord to be signed as a Christmas gift to the region, is trying to bring the Manipuri insurgents also on board

UNLF chairman Rajkumar Meghen.
UNLF chairman Rajkumar Meghen.

Bula Devi

In an effort to bring on board the oldest insurgent group of Manipur, Government of India is learnt to have released the chairman of United National Liberation Front (UNLF) on November 9 and flown him to Delhi on Monday.

UNLF is the oldest underground insurgent group of Manipur and Rajkumar Meghen has been in prison for the last one decade.

While some observers believe the Government didn’t want Meghen to visit Manipur and create obstacles at this sensitive point when the Naga Accord is expected to be signed on December 1 as a Christmas gift of sorts, others are not convinced.

Had that been the case the Government could have extended his prison term and not released him a day before he was to come out of prison. There was no necessity to fly him to New Delhi and keep him in the national capital as the Government’s guest either.

Other observers believe the Centre is trying to bring the two rival insurgent groups of the two states, the UNLF of Manipur and the NSCN(IM) in Nagaland on the same platform so that a final agreement is reached and a ‘historic’ accord can be signed.

It is believed that NSCN(IM) General Secretary Thuingaleng Muivah, who is heading the talks from the Naga side, is ready for the accord to be signed and the Modi government would like to settle it with Muivah.

Meghen, known as a formidable ideologue and a towering intellectual, belongs to the royal family and is a much respected figure in Manipur. Not just Manipuris but others outside Manipur also see him as a “brilliant ideologue”.

It is felt that even if other insurgent groups and a section of the general public of Manipur don’t agree with the contours of the accord, Meghen’s stature would overshadow such opposition if he were to lend his weight to the accord.

Manipur is like an island of Hinduism in the North East, surrounded by Christian majority states, and it is felt that the RSS and Prime Minister Narendra Modi will do everything to protect the sentiments of the state.

Besides, RN Ravi, the interlocutor of the Naga talks and who is also the Governor of Nagaland now, is best placed to get the accord executed in letter and spirit.

Modi had set a deadline for the issue to be settled and there were a lot of speculation that the ceasefire would be called off on October 31. However, a breakthrough was arrived at and the ceasefire was extended by three months.

There are still some hitches such as the Naga demand for a separate flag and their own constitution. On autonomy, whether a Bihar-like formula of council and assembly will be followed is to be seen. In August, Ravi had already assured the people of Nagaland that Article 371A was a “sacred commitment”.

In a statement Ravi said, “Some people have expressed apprehensions over the implications of the developments in Jammu and Kashmir on Nagaland. I would like to categorically assure you all that you don’t need to worry at all. Art 371A is solemn commitment to the people of Nagaland. It is a sacred commitment. We are trying to conclude the on-going political process at a very advanced stage”.

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