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Nagaland Deputy CM Hints At Naga Final Peace Pact By August 15

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NEW DELHI/DIMAPUR, April 20 (IANS): In a key development, BJP floor leader in Nagaland state assembly and deputy chief minister Y Patton said at a public function on Tuesday, April 19, in Dimapur that Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Union Home minister Amit Shah have been urged to announce ‘resolution’ of the Naga political problem during Independence Day during a possible visit to the state.

He said separate requests have been made to Prime Minister Modi and the Home minister (Shah) during recent meetings in Delhi between the Central leaders and a Naga delegation led by chief minister Neiphiu Rio.

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Patton said now Centre’s peace emissary A K Mishra is in Nagaland and is meeting important stakeholders and various Naga leaders. He said the student leaders and other social organisations should impress upon Mishra that ‘enough is enough’ and more than 25 years have been spent on negotiations.

They all should now urge that a final announcement of a solution should be made either by the Prime Minister or the Home minister by August 15.

Patton also said once elections are over next year, it would not be possible for any state legislator to step aside, according to reports in local newspapers.

These remarks are largely seen as a broad hint about a ‘deadline’ as Nagaland assembly elections are approaching fast and the term of the present state assembly would also end by February-March 2023.

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These are all ‘linked’ and are being seen as a part of a pattern to suggest an urgency to bring an early solution and signing of a final peace pact.

Prime Minister Modi in his recent meeting with veteran Naga leader S C Jamir also reportedly made it clear that the peace process must be put on a fast track.

Neiphiu Rio, deputy CM Patton, former CM T R Zeliang and BJP MP Phangnon Konyak last week held separate meetings with PM Modi and Home minister Amit Shah in Delhi.

Mishra held informal talks with senior NNPG leaders on April 18, Monday and on Tuesday, he met NSCN (IM) general secretary Thuingaleng Muivah at Hebron, the designated camp of the militant group, near Dimapur.

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Mishra is slated for formal meetings with leaders of various Naga organisations, NNPG leaders and an NSCN (IM) delegation on April 21 (Thursday) and April 22 (Friday) respectively, sources said.

Meanwhile, even as the Naga peace talks are put on fast track and a solution may be announced by August 15, one principal stakeholder in the entire peace process the Naga National Political Group (NNPG) has said that Mao Zedong’s political ideology and his communist phrases will not work in Nagaland.

“…..Mao Zedong’s political ideology on land and its people and his communist phrase “Political power grows (flows) out of the barrel of a gun” will not work in Nagaland,” said the NNPG working committee in their statement.

The statement signed by N Kitovi Zhimomi, convener of NNPG and other leaders Zhopra Vero, Y Wangtin Naga, Z Hozheto Chophy, Kiumkukam Yimkhiung, ToshiWalling and Isak Sumi makes veiled attack on NSCN (IM) in more ways than one.

“It is time to be as blunt as possible and call a spade a spade. There is no pride in running away from reality. We hope our dear Naga brothers and sisters in Manipur, Arunachal Pradesh and Assam will take this statement in the right spirit,” the statement said.

It further said that in the past Manipur Nagas had opted to stick to Manipur state and its territorial integrity.

“Successive Naga chief ministers in Manipur have vowed to protect every inch of it. Be it Rishang Keishing or Yangmaso Shaiza, they lived and died for Manipur’s territorial integrity. When Mr. M.L Kampani was chief commissioner of Manipur, he invited Naga elders of Manipur to Ukhrul to meet Nagaland Minister Chiten Jamir (1960s), who was sent there to ask if they would join Nagaland state, the Manipur Nagas decided to remain in Manipur.”

The statement also insisted that all Naga National workers, “irrespective of rank and status, must return to their native towns and villages post solution”.

“This is the only realistic way for Nagas to co-exist in our vast homeland. Nagaland (state) has experienced enough trials and tribulations in the last three decades and has understood what is best for all Nagas. The lessons learnt are an eye opener. Since physical integration is not possible now, the future generations must pursue reintegration with higher vision.

“In the meantime, one’s own house must be built with one’s own sweat, wood, straw and stones,” the statement said.

The NNPG leaders also said that – “There is a strong indication that Southern Naga (NSCN-IM) leaders and followers do not wish to go back to native villages post political solution, and are expressing profound wishes to settle in and around Intangki national reserve forest.”

Nagaland chief minister Neiphiu Rio also said at a Don Bosco Higher Secondary School function that if an honourable settlement to the Naga issue is achieved that was “acceptable to people”, the state legislators had resolved to pave the way for an alternative arrangement.

Recently, Naga MLAs irrespective of party affiliations reportedly mounted pressure on Rio to deliver quickly on peace as they have to face people during elections.

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