The state government has also approached Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Union Home Minister Amit Shah for an early solution to the problem, he said.
“The central government is working hard to bring a solution to the Naga issue. The Naga people also want peace and unity to come through a permanent solution so that we can have development and open up avenues for youths,” the chief minister said while addressing a rally in Kohima district on Saturday night ahead of the November 3 by-elections to two assembly segments.
Rio criticised Governor R N Ravi for describing the Naga political problem as a law and order issue and Naga nationalist workers as “extortionists” and “anti-social elements” in a recent letter.
In a damning indictment of Rio’s government, Ravi had in a letter on June 16 said that armed gangs were brazenly running their own governments in the state challenging the legitimacy of its elected authority and creating a “crisis of confidence” in the system.
Ravi, a retired IPS officer who was a special director in the Intelligence Bureau and the Centre’s interlocutor for the Naga peace talks, had warned that he would promulgate Article 371A(1)(b) of the Constitution, which gives the Nagaland governor special responsibility with respect to law and order if things did not improve.
Chief Minister Rio said the state government is having several discussions with Naga groups to “make sincere efforts for a solution to the Naga issue” and urged them not to indulge in wrongful activities.
Elucidating that the Naga movement was started by the Naga National Council (NNC), Rio said, “The NNC movement was not a failure, it may not have been 100 per cent to the expectation of the people but was a success because the Centre recognised Naga history, tradition and culture as unique.”
It also accepted that the “Naga issue is not a law and order problem but a political”, and therefore political talks are being held to resolve it, he said.
The talks are in the “final stage”, except for the NSCN(IM) demand for a separate flag and Constitution, the chief minister said.
Rio said he met the Union home minister, home secretary, IB director, and constitutional and legal experts during his recent visit to Delhi, where it was informed that the Nagas cannot be given total freedom.
“The central government is trying to find out ways constitutionally to allow Nagas to use a separate flag,” he said.
On having a ‘Naga Yezahbo’ (constitution), Rio said the Article 371(A) of the Constitution grants special provisions, but to frame a separate constitution for the Nagas, a committee would be set up.
He also said that the 16-Point Agreement, signed between the Naga People’s Convention (NPC) and the government of India in 1960, had brought about statehood to Nagaland but it needs to be upgraded by increasing the number of its seats in Parliament and in the state assembly.
“All these issues have been discussed,” Rio said.
The recent consultative meeting on the Naga issue organised by the state government in Kohima has resolved that “Nagas are one, the issue is one, and so we need one solution”, he said.
The chief minister also informed that the state government would go ahead with the implementation of the delimitation exercise so that justice would be delivered to the electorates for equal representation in the state assembly.
“The exercise has been pending, but now we want to implement it. The present government is serious about finding a solution to the Naga issue, implementing delimitation exercises and improving the economic condition of the people,” Rio said.
He appealed to the electorates to vote for the NDPP nominees to win the upcoming by-elections.