It’s time to rise above our differences for our children — Rio
Seeks co-operation from neighbouring states for peaceful settlement of Naga issue
Kohima, Feb. 16 (EMN): Chief Minister of Nagaland, Neiphiu Rio on Tuesday said Naga political issue has been the “most important issue” for almost a century and that “it is time to rise above our differences and come together for the greater cause of our land and our children”.
He was speaking at the ongoing 7th session of the 13th Nagaland Legislative Assembly (NLA) on Tuesday where as many as 10 legislators from both the treasury and opposition benches participated in the discussion on Naga political issue.
During the discussion, Rio shared the journey of the Nagas from the formation of Naga Club that submitted a memorandum in 1929 to the Simon Commission at length; about the “desire of the Nagas to be excluded from independent India” to the aftermath the death of AZ Phizo in 1990 till today, where ‘the Naga political groups have been divided into many groups’.
He also shared about the subsequent years wherein serious attempts were made to find a peaceful solution to the long-drawn Naga political issue and holding of peace talks at the prime minister’s level after the signing of ceasefire between the NSCN and the Government of India (GoI).
“The GoI has recognised the Naga issue as a political issue and the uniqueness of Naga history and culture has been acknowledged,” he said, adding that this was reiterated to the Naga people, by former Prime Minister, late Atal Bihari Vajpayee during his historic visit to Nagaland in 2003. He went on to mention the signing of Framework Agreement between the GoI and the NSCN (IM) in 2015 and Agreed Position between the GoI and Naga National Political Groups in 2017.
Citing the message of Governor RN Ravi, who is also Indian government’s interlocutor for Naga peace talks, on Statehood Day about the conclusion of negotiations with the Naga political groups, Rio said ‘the people of Nagaland are anxiously waiting for the new dawn’.
He said the Naga political journey and aspirations of the people for an honourable settlement and lasting peace have been “dotted by challenges and sufferings”. “For generations, every Naga family has felt the pains of the struggle through blood and tears. Our people have been deeply impacted, and generation after generation of Nagas have grown up under an environment of conflict, political struggle, and violence. The ambitions of our youth have been met with enormous challenges and hurdles, that have often prevented them from realising their dreams,” he added.
Rio recollected the Naga consultative meet (NCM) in 2009 that adopted a 6-Point Resolution including a 6-Point recommendation and formation of the Joint Legislators’ Forum (JLF) in the same year, describing it as “a significant step in the efforts of this House to facilitate a peaceful resolution of the Naga political issue”. “The JLF has had several deliberations and meetings with the Naga political groups as well as the government of India,” he maintained.
While stating that JLF had in the past adopted a resolution urging the Central government to conclude the Naga Political negotiations, and work out a solution that is “honourable, acceptable and inclusive”, the CM said the forum had also appealed “to the people neighbouring states to extend all possible support and co-operation so that the peace process can conclude in a successful manner, which will enable peace and tranquillity in the entire region”.
He went on to say that the state government had, during its consultative meeting with civil society organisations in 2020, ‘reiterated to every stakeholder that there will be only one solution for the Naga political issue and a seven-point resolution was unanimously adopted in’. He also mentioned his joint statement with leader of the opposition TR Zeliang in December last year, wherein they ‘welcomed the positive approach of the Government of India towards expediting the ongoing peace process, and urged all the Naga Political Groups to come together under the spirit of reconciliation, mutual trust and understanding’.
While hoping for a political solution that is “honourable and acceptable to the Naga people will usher in a new era of rapid economic growth, all round progress and greater employment opportunities for our youth,” he believed that an encouraging environment will give way to the youth and children to achieve success and excellence in every field, both in the national and international arenas.
He said that at this critical juncture, “Naga society must stand as one, speak as one, and give a final push to collectively achieve a settlement and remove the shackles that burden our society once and for all”. “A democratic and just settlement of the Naga Political issue will not only bring permanent peace and stability to the entire north-eastern region of the country, but it will also directly strengthen the democratic foundations of this great Nation,” he added.
“It is paramount that we achieve unity in letter and spirit so that we achieve a level of understanding and unity between the mass-based civil society groups and the Naga political organisations,” he said.
“As leader of this House, I sound the aspirations of the people for a political solution that is honourable and inclusive, that upholds the democratic rights of our people,” he said while urging the negotiating parties to expedite the peace process and bring a solution at the earliest and assuring that the House “will play the role of facilitator in every possible manner”.
Rio also appealed to the neighbouring states to extend all possible co-operation so that the peace process can conclude in a “successful manner, and peace and stability may come in the entire region”.
“Destiny has brought us together as neighbours, and neighbours we will remain for all times to come,” he said, adding: “Let us live together with mutual understanding under a spirit of peaceful co-existence, respecting each other’s democratic rights and aspirations.”
Terming the day’s deliberations as “highly fruitful”, he expressed hope that the efforts and concerns of every member of the House will contribute towards the realisation of early peace.
He went on to say that Naga political issue and the journey of the Naga people for true peace has been “greatly assisted and supported” by mass-based civil society organisations, tribal hohos, church organisations, Forum for Naga Reconciliation, and NGOs besides the Naga political parties. “These organisations have made significant contributions and sacrifices towards reconciliation and unity. We acknowledge their role and extend our appreciation to all these sections while urging them to continue to work towards true Naga unity,” he added.