Nagas stand at the threshold of history, President Ram Nath Kovind stated while reassuring that the solution to the protracted Naga political issue is very near. Inaugurating the Hornbill Festival and State Formation Day celebrations of Nagaland, the president said, “With the support of the people of the state, of civil society institutions and all stake-holders, there is an opportunity for lasting peace.”
His remarks came even as Nagaland Chief Minister TR Zeliang pleaded for the final settlement before the 2018 Assembly elections in the state.
As anticipated, the Naga issue dominated the speeches at the opening ceremony of the Hornbill Festival 2017. Even as traditional war cries and yells echoed in the hills of Kisama, chief minister Zeliang observed that Nagas “consider this to be the most opportune time for the Nagas and the Government of India to resolve the seven-decade old Naga political issue once and for all”.
Kovind said that “after years of conflict there is hope. Aspirations should be met soon”. He didn’t though commit on any time-frame for the solution to be sealed, and no mention of solution before the elections were made.
Kovind further observed that Nagaland presents a unique situation in which there is a government without any opposition. That, he said, can work in favour of the Nagas as a solution can be worked out without any hurdles. He asserted that Nagas, after coming through many trials and tribulations, deserve peace. “Nagaland deserves this, all of you deserve this, the Naga youths deserve this”.
Zelaing earlier said that for far too long, the full potential and growth of the state has been impeded by the unresolved issue of the Naga political struggle. “We all feel this state of affairs should not be allowed to continue as it not only hampers the normal avocations of peaceful citizens, but also stands in the way of every aspect of progressive growth.”
Acknowledging the “pro-active role” played by the Naga tribal bodies, mass-based organisations and NGOs in bringing together the different political groups, Zeliang said, “As a multi-tribal society, it is a fact that we face many challenges but when it comes to the resolution of the seven decades old Naga political issue, the people’s voice is for an inclusive, honourable and acceptable solution.”
The Hornbill Festival coincides with the celebration of the 54th Statehood Day of Nagaland.