Kohima: Nagaland on Thursday celebrated its 60th statehood day with Chief Minister Neiphiu Rio’s call to take forward the path of development and peace and work towards bringing a solution to the Naga political issue.
The northeastern state of Nagaland bordering Myanmar became a separate state in 1963.
President Droupadi Murmu and Prime Minister Narendra Modi greeted the people of Nagaland on its 60th statehood day.
“It is our duty to not let our differences overwhelm our common identity and be united in our pursuit for greater goals and achievements,” the chief minister said in his address during the main celebrations held at the State Civil Secretariat here. Rio also said the Naga people should remain mindful of the Naga Political Issue the final settlement of which “we continue to wait for”.
A framework agreement was signed between the Centre and the Nationalist Socialist Council of Nagalim (Isak-Muivah) in 2015 after over 80 rounds of negotiations since a ceasefire pact was sealed in 1997 to solve the decades-old problem.
The final solution is still elusive as NSCN-IM has been persistent in its demand for a separate flag and constitution for the Naga people.
Stating that it is an issue that predates Statehood, and has seen efforts by generations of the Naga people for its resolution, Rio, expressed optimism that encouraging progress has been made in the last few years.
“Each one of us is now more hopeful than ever of a solution,” the CM said while appealing to all the Naga political groups, the Centre, and all others concerned “to seize the moment, walk the extra mile, reach out to everyone in the spirit of understanding in the truest sense, and make the long-cherished dream of the Naga people a reality by bringing the solution without any further delay”.
Lamenting that Nagaland has had a very difficult time owing to long-running insurgency and the unresolved Naga issue, Rio, however, said that with the efforts of administration, police and all security agencies, the past many years have witnessed peace and tranquility.
He expressed happiness that in April this year, the area of coverage of the Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act (AFSPA) saw a reduction for the first time in decades, with the Central government lifting 15 police station areas out of the purview of AFSPA in Nagaland.
Rio called upon the residents to be proud that the state continues to be among those states whose crime rates are the lowest in the country.
Pointing out that people are the greatest strength and resource of the state, Rio said, “they are naturally talented and skilful and today our people are not only involved in agriculture but also trade, construction, service industry, and are entrepreneurs providing employment to thousands.” He affirmed that development of the human resources has been a focus area of the government.
In the last six decades, Nagaland has seen giant strides being taken for the creation of educational and technical institutions for the development of human resources, the chief minister said.
Starting from 593 schools and two colleges in the early years of statehood, Nagaland now has 2,718 schools, and 69 colleges, he said.