Oct 19, 2011

Nagalim: Sharing Experiences, Belfast Hears Story of Peace Process

Queen’s University in Belfast has learned of the situation in Nagaland, the historical context for current negotiations and the current ceasefire and desire for peace.

Below is an interview by The Times of India:

Nagaland chief minister Neiphiu Rio on Tuesday [18 Oct. 2011] became the first CM of the state to speak at an event organized by an international university in the UK.

Speaking on "Governance and Conflict - the Naga Context", Rio highlighted the Naga political movement from its roots to present-day ceasefire. Rio gave a detailed explanation of the political journey of the Nagas since the arrival of the British in Naga areas and mentioned some of the major landmarks like the special provisions for the Nagas under the Eastern Bengal Regulation Act, 1873, formation of the Naga Club in 1917, the submission of the memorandum to the Simon Commission in 1929, the 1951 plebiscite, the introduction of the Armed Forces Special Powers Act, the formation of Statehood and the 16 Points Agreement, the ceasefire of 1964 and 1975, the Shillong Accord, the present ceasefire and ongoing political dialogue.

Rio dwelled on the Naga demand for integration of all Naga-continuous areas and also on the condition and status of the Nagas living in Myanmar. Rio stated that the Nagaland assembly had passed four unanimous resolutions supporting the demand for Naga integration.

He said, "The present mood of the Naga people indicates an overwhelming desire for peace and development. There is a growing realization amongst the Nagas that the ongoing peace process and the political dialogues are the best options available to the Naga people today, and that we need to make the best use of this opportunity rather than cry hoarse over the lost opportunities."

He added that his government is committed to the peace process and that it has declared its readiness to make way for any new political dispensation that may emerge from the ongoing political dialogue. Highlighting the problems of governance under an environment of conflict, he said he survived a bid on his life in 1995. However, he stated that with the ceasefire in place, positive progress is being achieved, as warring groups are beginning to sit down together, with an aim of reconciling with each other.

The chief minister stated that conflict situations demand special approaches to achieve good governance and that the government had adopted "involvement and empowerment" of village communities through VDBs and the policy of communitization.

The lecture was attended by politicians, academicians, scholars, university students, and representatives of business community. Addressing a packed auditorium of the university' state of the art library, Rio thanked the University for inviting him to Queens to deliver the lecture. In the interactive session, the audience raised questions ranging from the legacy of the Second World War's Battle of Kohima, India's Look East Policy, the regime of Protected Area Permit and the impact of the Naga situation in Myanmar, among other issues.