Kohima: On the occasion of the 58th statehood day, Nagaland Governor RN Ravi urged Naga people to commit in reclaiming the state of Nagaland from “violence and desolation” and to also “restore the glories it deserves.”
Ravi, who is also the interlocutor for Naga peace talks, said Nagaland is “an abiding testimony to the triumph of the politics of peace over the politics of bloodshed”. He added, “It is a proud saga of the indomitable Naga spirit which rejected the politics of gun and gun powder in favour of politics of democracy and dialogue”.
Remembering the founding fathers of the state for their political forbearance in upholding the true Naga democratic spirit, Ravi said that over three years of the intense political process has helped “crystallise the free-will of the people which was subsequently translated into reality through political dialogue with the Government of India”.
The Governor conveyed that the Centre has recognised the uniqueness of the Nagas and sanctified it in Article 371-A of the Indian Constitution and Nagaland was born with adequate special safeguards to the identity and interests of the Naga people.
“We salute the founding fathers for their achievements for the people of Nagaland – which could have been otherwise unthinkable. Violence could never achieve and shall never achieve anything like this. History bears testimony to the fact that armed insurgencies have rarely succeeded in achieving their political objectives and have invariably left a trail of blood, betrayal and bitterness,” said Ravi.
Armed insurgency: A heavy toll on Nagas
Ravi went on to say that the protracted armed insurgency and the endless peace process had taken an unacceptable heavy toll on the people of Nagaland. “Since 1980, the people of Nagaland have suffered enormously by the guns of people from outside the State, inspired by Maoist ideology and tactics,” he said.
He said that the armed insurgents, in pursuance of their newfound political ideology which was antithetical to the inherent ethos, values and customary systems of Naga society, “unleashed a cultural genocide, akin to the Cultural Revolution” in the neighbouring country (China) and killed thousands of Nagas including infants and women and tried to exterminate the tribal and intellectual leadership of Nagaland. According to him, free-speech was muzzled with guns, and the political dissenters were exterminated.
Ravi highlighted that the “most precious resource”–the human resource has suffered the most. In the past decades since the beginning of the peace process, he said that Nagaland has steadily declined on the Human Development Indices relative to other States in the North-East region. “We are lagging in all the critical sectors like Education, Health, Infrastructure and Livelihood. Over 60 per cent of our youth are not reaching the High School, and our roads are in abysmal conditions. Pace and quality of our infrastructure development are grossly compromised,” he added.
Nagaland must be rescued
The Governor said, “Nagaland has to be rescued from the fatal grip of the vicious circle of vices”. He informed that Prime Minister Narendra Modi is seriously committed since the first day of taking charge.
He lauded Modi, saying “Under his dynamic and visionary leadership fundamental anomalies and distortions in the ongoing peace process have been corrected by making it truly inclusive”.
As the Naga political issue belongs to the Naga people, he said that “no single entity” should claim the sole franchise over it. “Nagas have existed and survived through centuries through their customary and traditional institutions,” he added.
The Governor added that the heart of Nagaland beats in its villages, and therefore, the traditional village institutions and the tribal bodies are the primary stakeholders in the Naga political issue whose freely expressed wishes and decisions are paramount in any settlement.
He said that these primary stakeholders demand a conclusion of the endless peace-process without any further delay. “They want the end of the gun-culture. They want the rule of law and justice. They want an environment for the flourishing of the genius of its people. Every other entity should respect them and their wishes. Being disrespectful to the primary stakeholders is an insult to the people of Nagaland. Any attempt to intimidate or threaten them will invite the wrath of the people and the full might of the laws of the land,” he warned
One nation, one flag and constitution:
Amid the ongoing peace talks which include the contentious issue of a separate flag and constitution for the Nagas, the governor said the “territorial integrity and sovereignty of the Union of India is Supreme”.
“The Government of India has never ever talked, much less negotiated with anyone on the territorial integrity and sovereignty of the Country. Any misadventure to disintegrate this great Nation shall not be tolerated. The Indian National Flag and Constitution are the pride of the people of India,” he said.
He added that the Government of India is “absolutely clear that there is and there shall be only one National Flag and Constitution in India” and that “anyone talking anything contrary is peddling preposterous lies” and are “trying to confuse and mislead the people”.
While standing at the crossroads of history, he said that the right decision taken today will determine our future and the destiny of the coming generations. “With common understanding having been reached on all the issues on the table and conclusion of talks on October 31, 2019, the people of Nagaland are anxiously waiting for the new dawn. However, some people are standing as a roadblock to the aspirations of the people of Nagaland,” he said.
He urge such people to “see the writings on the wall, to come out of their make-believe echo-chamber and listen to the voice of the people and in a true democratic spirit respect their wishes”.
He also appealed the Nagas to commit to “building the Nagaland of the dreams of its Founding Fathers – a Nagaland where the free-spirit of the people will blossom to the fullest, where the youth will dream big in an environment conducive to fulfilling those dreams, where people will no longer live under the shadow of invisible guns, where entrepreneurs will not have to bury their ideas and aspirations for fear of extortions in the guise of illegal taxations, where free-speech and progressive ideas proliferate, where youths do not have to choose guns for livelihood, where opportunities will abound, and where the laws and justice shall prevai”l. He added “Let us commit ourselves to reclaim our state from violence and desolation and restore the glories it deserves”.