Nagaland Chief Minister Neiphiu Rio on Monday said with negotiations on the Naga political issue between the Centre and the Naga groups concluding on a positive note on October 31 last year, the Nagas were at a crucial juncture in their history.

Rio appealed to all other groups to join the peace process in the interest of the Naga people.

Replying to the debate on Motion of Thanks to the governor’s address delivered on the first day of the ongoing Budget Session of the state assembly, he said, “With the positive conclusion of the talks, it is our hope that divine wisdom prevails and guides the negotiating parties as the modalities and competencies are worked out in due course of time.”

“We have to be united, irrespective of tribe or community or political party affiliation. We have to transcend all boundaries that bind us within our individual comfort zones,” the chief minister said.

Clarifying Governor R N Ravi’s statement in the assembly over Naga peace talks, he said nowhere has it been mentioned that the peace process has concluded.

Rio said only the talks have concluded on a positive note which signifies that the negotiating parties have arrived at a meeting point.

“Negotiations had been going on for the last 22 years and the talks had to be concluded so that an agreement can come,” he said, adding that no pact can be signed unless the points of contention are hammered out between the parties involved.

Expressing gratitude to the central government, he said it was the logical and rational way to hold talks.

“Nagas are at a critical juncture because during such times, insecurity may prevail in the minds of people, or misconceptions and confusions based on hearsay may be spread by mischief makers,” the Nagaland chief minister said.

Maintaining that these possible instances cannot be ruled out, he said it is the duty of the government, as facilitators, to “appeal to our neighbouring states to understand the sensitive juncture” Nagas are in.

Rio also reiterated that early resolution of the decades old Naga political issue has been the topmost priority of his government.

He said the Joint Legislators’ Forum on the Naga political issue, comprising of all 60 elected members of the Nagaland Legislative Assembly cutting across party lines, was reconstituted on September 18, 2018 under the chairmanship of the then speaker, Late Vikho-o Yhoshu.

On the opposition NPF’s demand for an anti-CAA resolution in the assembly, the chief minister said despite the privileges of protection Nagas enjoy under Article 371 (A) of the Constitution and Inner Line Permit (ILP), the state government opposed the CAA as a sign of solidarity with the neighbouring states.

He said collective efforts of all sections made the Centre take notice and the Union home minister held consultative meetings with all northeastern states and subsequently the states covered under the ILP, Bengal Eastern Frontier Regulation (BEFR), 1873, and Tribal Areas under the 6th Schedule of the Constitution have been exempted from the ambit of the new citizenship law.