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On I-day, CM Neiphiu Rio Stresses on Conclusion of Naga Political Issue

Nagaland Chief Minister Neiphiu Rio (PTI)

Nagaland Chief Minister Neiphiu Rio (PTI)

The Nagas long for genuine peace for decades and there is a deep desire for a solution that will pave the way for all round progress and development, he said.

Nagaland Chief Minister Neiphiu Rio Saturday said commemoration of the 74th Independence Day is a reminder that 23 years of ceasefire and political dialogue "is more than enough time" to reach a logical conclusion on the Naga political issue.

The Nagas long for genuine peace for decades and there is a deep desire for a solution that will pave the way for all round progress and development, he said.

A political solution that is honourable and acceptable to the Naga people will usher in an era of faster economic growth and greater employment opportunities for the Naga youth, Rio said.

The government of India and the NSCN(IM) had signed a ceasefire on July 25, 1997. As per the agreement the government would not push for counter-insurgency operations against the outfit and on its part the Naga group would not target armed forces. The agreement has been renewed several times since then.

The NSCN-IM had on Friday asserted that an honourable solution to the seven-decades-old violent movement is not possible without a Naga flag and a constitution. NSCN-IM general secretary Thuingaleng Muivah said the Nagas have their won flag and constitution and the insurgent group was not asking for these from the government.

"Recognise them or not, we have our own flag and constitution. Flag and constitution are ingredients of our recognised sovereign entity and the symbols of Naga nationhood. The Nagas must keep their flag and constitution," he had said in a address to NSCN-IM cadres.

Muivah's statement came amid no headway in peace negotiations going on for the last 23 years, as the NSCN-IMhas now sought removal of Nagaland Governor R N Ravi as the Centre's interlocutor and has alleged that he (Ravi) was"playing mischief" and has become a "liability".

Rio addressing the Independence Day celebrations at the state secretariat said Even as we commemorate the 74th Independence Day of the world's largest democracy, we cannot but be reminded that 23 years of ceasefire and political dialogue is more than enough time to reach a logical conclusion.

For decades the Nagas are longing for genuine peace and there is a deep desire for a solution that will pave the way for all round progress and development, he said. We believe that given a conducive environment, our youth and our children can achieve success and excellence in the national and international arenas, the chief minister said.

On the other hand the 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 the Naga society once and for all.

It is time that the civil societies discuss among themselves and create a conducive atmosphere with full understanding as one Naga family although we may be living in different administrative jurisdictions, he said. A democratic and just settlement of the Naga issue will not only bring peace and stability to the entire northeastern region of the country, but it will also directly strengthen the democratic foundations of this great Nation, Rio said.

Referring to the pandemic, the government efforts to help the people supported by front line workers, civil societies, churches and NGOs, he said Nagaland had remained relatively free of novel coronavirus in the initial phase giving the state precious time to prepare.

Within a few months, from zero testing capacity we can test 1200 samples a day in the state in record time," he said and assured the people that the state government is taking all possible steps to deal with the contagion. The pandemic has posed multiple economic challenges to Nagaland and showed the vulnerability of the state in food sufficiency and the pressing need for creating employment opportunities for the more than 30,000 returnees, who include students and workers, he said.

In response to these economic challenges a Strategic Committee for Economic Affairs headed by him was constituted and subsequently a core group consisting of experts in the field and other stakeholders was constituted to work out strategies and action plans to strengthen the state's economy, Rio said.

The core group after extensive deliberations formulated an economic road map with an integrated Convergence Action Plan to revitalise the economy, Rio said adding special focus is being given for upgradation of facilities in health care, education, youth resources and sports. The Nagaland Job Links portal has been launched by the state department of labour and employment, skill development and entrepreneurship to help connect job seekers and employers for placement in private sector.

An e-commerce platform 'Yellow Chain', developed by the Investment and Development Authority of Nagaland (IDAN),was officially launched on the occasion by Rio.

This will empower traders by providing them an opportunity to carry on with their business, he said.

Stating that tourism is a key element of brand Nagaland as its tourism events have become popular across the world, Rio said the pandemic has had a very negative impact on the industry.

"In order to maintain continuity, we have decided to organise the flagship event Hornbill Festival this year with a few modifications," Rio announced. Referring to the agri and allied departments, he said they had responded aggressively amidst the lockdown by scaling up efforts so as to obviate any farm and consumer crisis.

Besides, to curb dependence on imports in the state, a special drive focused on the theme 'Grow more, Produce more, Earn more' is being promoted, he added.

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