Stressing that the Nagaland Legislative Assembly being the highest platform of democracy in the State, Rio stated that the House carries the voice and aspirations of the entire Naga people and “therefore, it was important for the house to deliberate on this long standing Naga political issue and express the desires and feelings of the citizens of the State. “This House is the voice of the people, and whatever is deliberated on this floor will be recorded in history for all times to come,” he said.
Rio further delved into a brief history about the Naga political movement dating back to 1918 when the first political organization of the Nagas took birth in the form of the ‘Naga Club’. He explained in detail the numerous landmark events that took place over the span of a century, events that had defined the course of the long standing Indo-Naga political issue.
Coming back to more recent times, Rio said that the Government of India has been holding the Indo-Naga political negotiations at the highest level without any pre-conditions and that the Government of India has recognized the Naga issue as a political issue and the uniqueness of Naga history and culture has been acknowledged and that it is on this basis – the uniqueness of Naga history – that the political negotiations have been going on for the past more than two decades.
He acknowledged the signing of the Framework Agreement on August 3, 2015 between the Government of India and the NSCN (IM) and the subsequent signing of the Agreed Position on November 17, 2017 between the NNPG and the Government of India as a significant boost to the peace process. He further highlighted more recent developments “that has contributed greatly” to the Naga peace process such as the Consultative Meet (NCM) with Overseas Nagas, the formation of the Joint Legislators’ Forum (JLF) in 2009, the consultative meeting with the representatives of all the tribal hohos, civil society organizations, church organizations, political parties, ex-parliamentarians and various public leaders on October 15, 2020 at Kohima where a seven points resolution was unanimously adopted in this historic meeting.
Rio further explained the significance of the joint statement which was issued by him and T.R. Zeliang, Leader of the Opposition which welcomed the positive approach of the Government of India under the leadership of Narendra Modi, Prime Minister, and Amit Shah, Union Home Minister, towards expediting the ongoing peace process, and urged all the “Naga Political Groups” to come together under the spirit of reconciliation, mutual trust and understanding.
Rio then said, “A political solution that is honourable and acceptable to the Naga people will usher in a new era of rapid economic growth, all round progress and greater employment opportunities for our youth. We believe that given an encouraging environment, our youth and our children can achieve success and excellence in every field and in the national and international arenas. At this critical juncture, it is of utmost importance that the Naga society must stand as one, speak as one, and give a final push to collectively achieve a settlement and remove the shackles that burden our society once and for all. A democratic and just settlement of the Naga political issue will not only bring permanent peace and stability to the entire north eastern region of the country, but it will also directly strengthen the democratic foundations of this great nation.”
In conclusion, Rio said that it was time to rise above “our differences and come together for the greater cause of our land and our children”. He urged all sections of society to continue to strive towards true and genuine unity. He also expressed his desire as leader of the House, to sound the aspirations of the people for a political solution that is honourable and inclusive, that upholds the democratic rights of our people. He also appealed to the people of all “our neighboring states” to extend all possible cooperation so that the peace process can conclude in a successful manner, and peace and stability may come in the entire region. Lastly, he acknowledged the support, contributions and sacrifices of the mass based civil society organizations, the tribal hohos, church organizations, Forum for Naga Reconciliation, and NGOs besides the Naga political parties towards the century long Naga political struggle while urging them to continue to work towards true Naga unity.