KOHIMA, Aug 15 (IANS): Reiterating his support for integration of all contiguous Naga-inhabited areas, Nagaland Chief Minister Neiphiu Rio on Thursday appealed to the neighbouring states of Assam, Arunachal Pradesh and Manipur to recognise the democratic rights of the Naga people.
"I would also like to reiterate the longstanding desire of the Naga people for the integration of all the contiguous Naga-inhabited areas. We have always supported this just and democratic right of the Naga people," Rio after unfurling the national flag here on Independence Day.
"We again make a fervent appeal to our neighbouring states and all concerned, to recognise the history, the yearning, and the democratic rights of the Nagas and in the truest traditions of mutual respect and understanding, pave the way for the physical integration of the contiguous areas inhabited by the Naga people," he said.
Reiterating his government's commitment to the Naga political issue, Rio claimed that it continues to occupy the highest place on the state government's agenda.
"The Joint Legislators' Forum (JLF), a body constituted of all the elected Members of the Nagaland Legislative Assembly on the Naga political issue, in its meeting on August 7 welcomed the appointment of R.N. Ravi as the Governor of Nagaland and expressed confidence that his appointment will further strengthen and expedite the political negotiations."
The National Socialist Council of Nagalim Isak-Muivah (NSCN-IM), one of the main Naga militant groups had also said that the issue of integration of all Naga territories was an integral part of the ongoing political dialogue with the Centre.
The NSCN-IM has been in talks with the government since 1997 after the signing of a ceasefire agreement.
Ravi, the government interlocutor for the peace talks with various Naga insurgent groups including the NSCN-IM, was sworn in as Nagaland Governor on August 1.
Noting that the peace talks have been going on for the last 22 years, Rio also appealed to all the negotiating parties with the government to come together, sit across the negotiating table and rise above differences and unite for the sake of the people.
"We must not let go of this golden opportunity as peace has eluded us for too long and now is the most opportune time to come together and expedite the political dialogue for an early, honourable and acceptable solution," he said.