Kohima: Nagaland Governor RN Ravi said on Friday that all substantive issues between negotiators and the Centre on the Naga political problem have been resolved and assured people that Article 371(A) of the Constitution will not be repealed.
Ravi, who was earlier the interlocutor for the Naga peace talks, said Prime Minister Narendra Modi had told him before he joined as governor that the Naga peace process must be concluded within three months.
Chief Minister Neiphiu Rio expressed hope that the vexed issue would be settled soon with Ravi taking over as the governor of Nagaland. Ravi, who assumed office on August 1, quoted the prime minister as saying, "Now we must conclude the peace process... Having resolved all the issues we must do it within three months time."
"We need to do it because the status quo as it stands today is unbearable to the Naga people," the governor said. Referring to the fear in the people on withdrawal of Article 371(A), which gives certain special rights to some Northeast states, he said it is a solemn commitment of the Government of India to the Nagas and not impermanent as Article 370.
He said there is no similarity between articles 370 and 371(A), which is a product of over three years of negotiation between the people of Nagaland and the Centre. The governor said any attempt to draw a parallel between the two articles is either due to misunderstanding, or is mischievous.
"Even in our negotiations that we are at today, we are trying to bring something more than what 371(A) says and there is no question of diluting it, but to strengthen it," he told a gathering of tribal bodies, civil societies, citizens and legislators of the state at a civic reception by the state in his honour.
On the Naga peace process, he said, "All the substantive issues have been resolved and there is nothing left. We (Naga negotiators and the Centre) have agreed that with the Centre recognizing the unique history of the Nagas, the settlement is on the basis of power sharing and peaceful coexistence."
"We know the sentiments in the neighbouring states. We are not opposed to integration of Naga areas, in fact we have considered and accepted it happily," he added. "It is the legitimate right of the Naga people to pursue and achieve integration through democratic political process," he added.
Ravi said the rest of the country is moving forward at a fast pace and has become the hub of startups and favourite destination for global investment. But the people of Nagaland are craving for basic necessities like motorable roads, assured power supply, education, access to health care and decent employment for youths.
"It saddens me more as Nagaland is richer in natural resources than many parts of the country and its youths are more talented than many others," he said. He said attempts are being made to resolve the Naga political issue for the last 22 years but after Modi came to power, those involved in the peace process reviewed the way talks were being conducted.
It was found that all stakeholders — Naga groups, tribal bodies, legislators, citizens and civil society organisations — were not included in the process, he added. The Naga political issue belongs to the Naga people and no organisation has any "exclusive franchise over it", Ravi said.
"A few symbolic issues are left," he said, adding "options have been offered and Naga negotiators have been asked to explore the options rather than remaining rigid". "There can be no political solution if we disregard the existing reality of today, so let us work out the best, most honourable and dignified solution," he added.
Rio said the Naga people hope that the agreement will bring a settlement to the Naga political issue which is honourable and acceptable to them. He said Ravi was the driving force behind the signing of the Framework Agreement on August 3, 2015.
"We are hopeful that justice will be done to the Naga society and that the masses will be contended with the outcome," the chief minister said. The framework agreement, Naga Peace Accord, was signed between the National Socialist Council of Nagalim-Isak-Muivah (NSCN-IM) and the Government of India on August 3, 2015.
"We look forward to working with you for a settlement, so that peace prevails in Nagaland and development activities are pursued, while youths will get the opportunity to move ahead in this competitive world," the chief minister said and assured the state government and people's cooperation in ushering in peace and development in the state.