Acknowledging the role of previous governments in the peace process in Nagaland, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Monday hoped that the successful talks with the NSCN-IM will pave the way for development in the entire northeast.
“Every government tried doing something in this regard, some efforts succeeded, some did not. The process went on, and no government should take credit for it as every one of them contributed its bit and this resulted in successful talks with them (NSCN-IM),” he said while inaugurating the birth centenary celebrations of Naga leader Rani Gaidinliu.
“I hope the journey (with NSCN-IM and others), which has started, would give good results,” he said.
Modi also expressed regret that many freedom fighters and prominent personalities who contributed to the cause of the country were not “remembered adequately”.
The prime minister said India must remember the glorious heritage of the freedom struggle and ensure that the legacy of the struggles and achievements of freedom fighters is passed on to succeeding generations.
“It is our misfortune that people such as Rani Gaidinliu have either not been remembered adequately, or have been deliberately forgotten,” he said in his address.
Gaidinliu, affectionately called Rani Maa, believed that her struggle for the Naga people against the British was also a struggle for India’s unity and integrity, he said.
Modi also credited Gaidinliu with spreading the message of Mahatma Gandhi in the northeast region.
Modi said Gaidinliu’s thoughts on living in harmony with nature could provide an answer to the problem of climate change being faced by the world today.
The prime minister also spoke of his government’s initiatives for the development of the northeast.
He reiterated that the progress of the northeast will provide a big boost to the development of the entire nation.
“India will develop only if the northeast develops,” Modi said, adding that the central government was committed to overall development of the region.
“We are putting in maximum efforts to build infrastructure in the northeast,” he said.
The prime minister also said that following the resolution of the border dispute with Bangladesh, connectivity with the northeast was set to become easier. “The northeast has now become closer to the rest of India.”
Stating that the northeast was blessed with abundant natural bounty, he said the region has the potential to become the organic capital of the country.
Coins of Rs.5 and Rs.100 were also released by the prime minister to mark the occasion. The Rs.5 coin will be circulated while the Rs.100 coin will be of commemorative nature.
Home Minister Rajnath Singh, Finance Minster Arun Jaitley and Minister of State for Development of North Eastern Region (DoNER) Jitendra Singh also spoke on the occasion.
Rajnath Singh said as Durgawati and Rani Laxmi Bai were mentioned in the history of the freedom struggle, the name of Gaidinliu should have been given the same prominence.
“Historians have failed to do justice with Rani Gaidinliu,” the home minister said, adding that the recent peace accord with the NSCN-IM takes forward her dream of securing peace and stability in the region.
Jaitley said that remembering Gaidinliu would help the northeast come closer to the mainstream.
“It would go a long way in creating a sense of involvement (among the people there),” he said, addressing the function largely attended by school children.
Jitendra Singh said Gaidinliu was a symbol of the legacy and heritage of the northeast.
He also announced a fund of Rs.983.08 lakh for setting up a library-cum-museum at Kohima as a tribute to Gaidinliu.
Born on January 26, 1915, Rani Gaidinliu joined her cousin Haipou Jadonang’s movement at the age of 13 to drive out the British from Manipur.
In 1932, she was arrested at the age of 16 and sentenced to life in prison.
She was released from Tura jail (now in Meghalaya) after having spent 14 years in various prisons.
She died on February 17, 1993, at Longkao in Manipur.
Nagaland Governor P.B. Acharya, Nagaland Chief Minister T.R. Zeliang, Manipur Chief Minister O. Ibobi Singh and Tourism and Culture Minister Mahesh Sharma were also present on the occasion.