Naga peace talks underway, hopeful PM’s initiative will bear fruit: Shah

TUENSANG, 21 Feb: Union Home Minister Amit Shah on Tuesday asserted that the Naga peace talks are underway, and expressed hope that the initiative taken by Prime Minister Narendra Modi to bring lasting peace in the Northeastern state will bear fruit.
Addressing an election rally in Tuensang, Shah said there are some issues related to development and rights of eastern Nagaland and those will be addressed after the assembly elections.
“There was an insurgency in Nagaland before 2014. We started the peace process. I am hopeful that the initiative of Prime Minister Narendra Modi will bear fruit in bringing lasting peace in the state with the preservation of Naga culture, language and tradition,” he said.
The Eastern Nagaland People’s Organisation (ENPO), the apex tribal body in the region, had called for a boycott of the assembly elections over their ‘Frontier Nagaland’ separate statehood demand.
“The ministry of home affairs (MHA) has held discussions with ENPO and an ‘agreed agreement’ has been reached. But we could not materialise it due to the implementation of the model code of conduct.
“I promise you all that, after the elections, the agreement will be implemented, through which all issues of eastern Nagaland will be addressed. There will be massive development in the region and you will get your rights,” he said.
Asserting that several measures were taken in the last nine years of BJP rule at the Centre to bring peace in the Northeast, he claimed that there was a 70 percent dip in violent incidents in the region during the period.
“There has also been a 60 percent reduction in deaths of security forces, while civilian deaths have dipped by 83 percent in the Northeast,” he said.
Noting that Armed Force (Special Powers) Act, 1958 has been lifted from large parts of Nagaland by the BJP government, he expressed hope that the Act would be removed from across the Northeastern state in the next three to four years.
Shah asserted that there has been an electoral seat-sharing agreement between only the BJP and the NDPP and no other party is connected to the alliance.
“It has come to my notice that some parties are misleading voters by saying that they have the support of the BJP. I want to clarify that we have only two symbols for Nagaland polls – lotus (of the BJP) and globe (of the NDPP). We are fighting this election under the leadership of Chief Minister Neiphiu Rio, while PM Modi is the leader of NDA,” he added.
Shah said that budgetary allocations for tribes have been increased from Rs 21,000 crore in 2014 to Rs 86,000 crore in 2022.
He said that more than 100 developmental projects, including 13 in Nagaland, have been finalised after conducting extensive studies using space technology.
“During the UPA rule, only Rs 1,300 crore was allocated for the development of Nagaland in 2009-10, which was increased to Rs 4,800 crore in 2022-23 fiscal by the BJP government,” Shah said.
“In the last eight years, 53 developmental projects have been completed in Nagaland and 142 more are in the pipeline,” he said.
Listing out the number of beneficiaries of various central schemes, he said, “Support us this election and I assure you that free medical treatment camp will be increased from Rs 5 lakhs to Rs 10 lakhs under Ayushman Bharat.”
After the rally, Shah left for Dimapur, completing his two-day campaigning in eastern Nagaland, and flew to another poll-bound state, Meghalaya.
Eastern Nagaland comprises six districts under which 20 of the 60 assembly seats in the state fall. The NDPP and the BJP are contesting the poll on a 40-20 seat-sharing formula.
Elections to the 60-member assembly will be held on 17 February and votes will be counted on 2 March. (PTI)