Solution soon, says President

GRAND BEGINNING: President Ram Nath Kovind, in traditional attire, inaugurates the Hornbill Festival at Kisama Heritage Village near Kohima on Friday. (PTI)

Dimapur: President Ram Nath Kovind offered a candle of hope to Nagaland on Friday, saying the state was on the verge of making history after years of insurgency.

"After years of conflict, there is hope. Aspirations should be met soon. I am confident that a final agreement will be reached soon," Kovind said while inaugurating the 18th edition of the Hornbill Festival at Kisama, the Naga heritage village, in the morning. He, however, refrained from announcing a time frame for the final solution.

The President, who was the chief guest, congratulated all the Naga groups for coming together on a common platform for an early and honourable solution to the Naga peace process.

He said the past half-century has been one of achievements and difficulties for Nagaland. The people have come through many trials but their essential talent, wisdom and goodness has been so apparent. He said Nagaland had a unique situation as there is no Opposition in the Assembly and this offers a chance to resolve long-standing political problems, bring lasting peace and accelerate development.

"Nagaland deserves this. All of you deserve it and the young people of the state deserve it," he said.

Kovind said the Hornbill Festival and the Hornbill International Rock Contest represent the diversity of Naga society and provide the perfect platform to showcase Naga culture and tradition.

The festival, organised by the tourism department in collaboration with other departments, was attended by governor P.B. Acharya and chief minister T.R. Zeliang in the capacity of chief host and host respectively. It was a double celebration for Nagaland as the start of the festival coincided with State Formation Day on December 1.

Acharya said the festival, which fittingly commenced on Statehood Day, was a celebration of the vibrant people of the state and its colourful culture.

Zeliang said the Naga society is a multi-tribal one and has confronted many challenges. But when it comes to the seven-decade-old Naga political issue, the Nagas stand for inclusive, honourable and acceptable solution.

He said the Hornbill Festival, which was initiated in 2000 by the state government to showcase "our ethnic cultural identity", has gained much popularity over the years. The customs, dialects, culture and traditions of the Nagas are the hallmark of their identity. All the speakers at the Hornbill Festival stressed on an early solution to the Naga issue.

Earlier, Tuensang village head L. Sangkumwongto Chang Naga offered traditional blessing for the festival.

The Centre and the NSCN (Isak-Muivah) had started the peace talks in 1997. After several rounds of discussions, they signed a Framework Agreement on August 3, 2015 though its details are still under wraps. In October this year, the Centre also held talks with most of the stakeholders involved in the Naga peace talks.


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