NEW DELHI: As the Centre inches closer to a peace pact with rebel group NSCN (IM), the Nagaland Chief Minister, Mr Neiphiu Rio today made a strong pitch for "emotional integration" of Naga-dominated areas in the northeast for lasting peace.
The 61-year-old Chief Minister said if the physical integration of the Naga areas in Manipur, Arunachal Pradesh and Assam was not possible in the current political situation in the northeast, "emotional integration" must be done in the proposed pact for the sake of lasting peace.
"I understand that the physical integration of Naga areas is not possible now. But there must be emotional integration. Otherwise, who knows the demand for integration may be raised again in the years to come. The proposed agreement may not be the last word," he said.
The NSCN(IM) had entered into a ceasefire with the Centre in 1997 and has been negotiating with the government interlocutors to resolve issues, including integration of Naga-dominated areas in the three states. All the three state governments are vehemently opposed to the idea.
A peace pact between the Naga rebel outfit and the Centre is expected to be signed before the Nagaland Assembly elections due early next year.
Mr Rio said it was the desire of the Naga people that all Naga areas are integrated. There was an unanimous resolution in the Nagaland Assembly in favour of integration and there were provisions to this effect in the Constitution, he said.
The Chief Minister also favoured involvement of other Naga rebel groups like the Khaplang faction in the proposed peace deal. If they do not come on board and continue to indulge in secessionist activity, the Centre should deal with them, he said.