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Rios roadmap for political solution

(L-R) Prof. Paul Pimomo, Chief Minister Neiphiu Rio, Dr Visier Sanyii and Rev. Louliehu Yimsung at the Naga Consultative Meet in Kohima on Thursday. (NP)
Correspondent Kohima, Mar 5 (NPN):
Published on 6 Mar. 2009 1:00 AM IST
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Chief Minister Neiphiu Rio said that the only realistic and logical approach towards peaceful solution to the intractable Naga problem was peaceful dialogue based on mutual trust and understanding between the underground and the government of India towards an honourable settlement to the Naga political problem. Delivering the key note address on the first day of the three-day Naga Consultative Meet on Thursday, Rio stated, “Let us realise what is possible and work for it instead of living in isolation. Let us strive to be part of the global village. Let us try to speak one voice, a voice that represents the interest of all Nagas,” he stated. Expressing concern that the vexed Naga political problem remained unresolved for the last six decades, claiming innumerable lives and bringing pain and tears to every Naga family, he noted that the ongoing ceasefire and political dialogue between the undergrounds and the government of India has been continuing for over a decade without perceptible progress. He also sounded a note of caution on the ongoing negotiations where solution appeared to remain elusive and urged upon the people and leaders “ to find out why the peace process has not made adequate progress and how we can find ways to take it forward in the right direction and towards the desire goal.” Rio also pointed to earlier peace initiatives, like the 16th Point Agreement, 1960, which resulted in the formation of Nagaland state; the 1964 ceasefire and dialogue which failed and then the subsequent signing of the Shillong Accord in 1975; these have not achieved the desired peace, as the signatories of the agreement failed to carry with them the “national workers and underground groups” he said. “Having learnt from the past mistakes, we felt that the present ceasefire and peace process must be inclusive of all sections, particularly the civil society and church that carry the voice of the people,” Rio said. He also reiterated the DAN government’s commitment to step down and pave the way for an alternative arrangement when an acceptable solution to the Naga political problem was arrived at. Stating that Nagas could no longer afford to live in the past nor could stagnate in the present position, Rio said it was time for us to “ break camp” and move forward. Explaining that this meet was not about scoring points or one-upmanship, Rio clarified that it was about taking the Naga people forward. The Chief Minister said the Naga Consultative Meet was a result of the deep concerns expressed by various sections of the Naga community to take forward the Naga political issue. Further, Rio stressed that the Naga political issue should be placed above all political affiliations, tribal considerations and other differences or divisions that may exist within the community. “It is not the domain of any individual or group. This is the very reason why we have come together to share our views on this crucial issue, affecting the past, present and future generations of the Nagas. If any group or individual wants to distance themselves from this joint effort, I would like to tell them if you are not part of the solution, then you are part of the problem,” Rio stated. On the issue of integration of all Naga continguous areas Rio said though this remained the dream of all Nagas, yet the present realities do not allow immediate realization of the dream as it involved not only redrawing of inter-state boundaries but also international boundaries. He also reminded the meet that Nagas need to understand and appreciate the difficult position of the government of India on the demand for integration. Rio however said, unity and integration was not only about territories but about emotional integration of all Nagas as one family . He also felt that the Naga people living in different states of the Indian union, and across the international boundaries must strive to unite emotionally. Rio also proposed for striving for political recognition and territorial autonomy for the Nagas in Myanmar assign “ in a democratic country likes ours those who are not satisfied with the above arrangement are free to pursue their ideologies through no-violent means.” Further, he stated that the common goal of the Nagas was to take Nagaland forward to a better position to get recognition of the international community for our excellence, our unique culture and to carve a place in the community of the global village. The function was chaired by DAN’s PAC chairman Dr TM Lotha while the invocation prayer was said by Rev Deo Vihienuo. A special song by Chakhesang Baptist Church and exchange of gifts between the state and the overseas Nagas were other highlights of the meeting. Briefing the media persons after the first two sessions, convenor of the meet Dr TM Lotha accompanied by co-convenor Z Lohe and Dr Visier Sanyü said all apex organizations, representatives of the 17 tribal Hohos, NGOs, all political parties in Nagaland (except Congress), all legislators (except Congress legislators) and leaders representing different Naga underground groups/factions are attending the consultative meet. Reacting to a query on the representations of Naga tribal hohos from outside Nagaland, the convenor said the Naga Consultative Meet was initially meant only for Nagas of Nagaland state. Representatives of all the 16 tribes of Nagaland including Kukis and Kacharis are attending the meet, he said. However, no representatives of other tribal hohos from other Naga tribes outside Nagaland state were invited to meet, except for the United Naga Council (UNC) based in the Naga inhabited areas of neighbouring Manipur state. “They (UNC) are always very close with us,” Dr Lotha added. He also revealed that both the leaders of the NSCN factions and also the NNC (None Accordist) have registered and attended the meet on the first day. Representatives of the remaining factions were expected to attend the meet on the second day, he said.

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