IMPHAL, April 10 � A seminar organised by Freedom Research Foundation here underlined the need to be cautious on the demand for plebiscite and warned against hasty decision on the political future of Manipur.
Eminent personalities like Dhanabir Laishram, Khaidemmani, BB Sharma and others enlightened the participants at the seminar on the topic �In search of the elusive peace � a one-day discussion on people�s movement for peace in the conflict situation of Manipur�.
Speaking on the theme, scholar-activist Dhanabir Laishram drew an example from the Naga peace process saying that the peace talks between the Indian Government and the NSCN-IM has been dragging on for more than a decade now simply because the process is devoid of any strategy and plan.
While hinting at the voice that is building up for the initiation of plebiscite to determine the political future of Manipur, he said that, �before actually demanding for a plebiscite to begin, the people should be ready with a proper roadmap by first ushering in peace in the State.�
�Rather than having talks that would stretch on for 10-15 years, we are better off frittering away that many years in formulating tangible roadmap which will ensure unmistakable success when the time is ripe for a plebiscite,� he said while also adding that the current diplomatic bonding between New Delhi and Washington may act as a spanner in garnering support for plebiscite from the United Nations.
Speaking on the same theme, senior advocate and rights activist Khaidemmani asked what can a plebiscite possibly help achieve in a land where there is no respect for each other. �Only when national liberation movement and people�s liberation movement have run a united stream, can success be guaranteed,� he said.
The general understanding is that there are roughly 40 underground organisations operating from and in Manipur demanding independence, but to be fair to them they are united by issues surrounding the demand for the illusive Kangleipak, Kukiland and Greater Nagaland, he said. �Instead of arguing in a platform like this, why don�t we ask all the underground groups to be united in their liberation movement?�
The senior advocate observed that despite India raising the strongest and largest army in the world, a chink in its armour has been exposed with its incapability to function in North East and Jammu and Kashmir without the legal immunity sanctioned by an archaic Army law Armed Forces Special Powers Act.
Before the demand for plebiscite or sovereignty, there is a need to start political dialogue without any precondition which may be later co-opted by a process for plebiscite or sovereignty, he said.
BB Sharma, a retired deputy director of AIR, said in similar vain that until �we are united as one people, one civil society, one underground group,� peace will continue to elude Manipur.