Guwahati: Nagaland CM Neiphiu Rio, who kicked off campaigning for his former party and now ally, Naga People’s Front (NPF), wooed Naga voters in Manipur by underlining the need for the Naga peace agreement to provide same privileges and protection for every Naga living within and outside Nagaland in Assam, Arunachal Pradesh and Manipur.
“We should not say that the Naga movement is a total failure. It is a partial success already. From my discussions with the central government, I can say that if we can take a settlement now, collectively and unitedly, multiple opportunities and platforms will come for our youths. The central government has recognized our unique history and recognised the Naga movement as a political issue and these are big things for us,” Rio said, while campaigning at Naga-majority Senapati on Wednesday.
He added, “There is no state in the country where so many privileges and protections have been given as in Nagaland state.”
He added, “The Nagas are not only in Nagaland but they are also in Assam, Arunachal Pradesh and Manipur. We want the same privileges and protection to be extended to all Nagas wherever they are living in India.”
Rio said Nagaland wants the AFSPA to be removed from the state, except in areas on the international boundary with Myanmar and the inter-state boundaries with its neighbours. The draconian law, which is also in force in poll-bound Manipur, is the top issue for every party this election. The law is in force in parts of Arunachal, whole of Nagaland and parts of Manipur and Assam. While the Centre decides on the extension of the law in Arunachal Pradesh and Nagaland, the state governments of Assam and Manipur take the call in their respective states.
Rio said these privileges and protection cannot be extended beyond the international boundary to Myanmar where the Nagas are also inhabitants and besides having their Naga self-autonomous councils through elections, there are four Naga MPs in the Myanmar parliament.
Rio termed the killing of 13 innocents at Oting by Army’s Special Forces and another person at Mon by Assam Rifles in Nagaland last December as “mistake” committed “because of Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act.”
“But if insurgency continues in some district or some areas, and if the state government cannot contain it (insurgency) then the law can be re-imposed. Because this law was imposed in 1958 at the peak of Naga insurgency and till Naga issue remains unresolved, this law may remain, or it may go and come back,” Rio said.


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