Joint Forum holds peace rallies in Nagaland

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Kohima, May 20 (UNI) Nagaland Home Minister Imkong L Imchen today asserted that the Nagas were craving for peace for years and the only solution to the Naga political problem was to declare a ceasefire among all the underground factions and make a common platform for holding dialogues.

Addressing a mammoth rally at the Kohima Local Ground here this morning, organised by the Joint Forum of the Gaon Burahs Federation and Dobhasis Association and supported by the Naga Students' Federation (NSF), Mr Imchen said the fratricidal killing among Naga brethren was senseless, as it could never bring any solution to the Naga political problem.

He blamed the underground outfits for collecting ''taxes'' for their own interest in the name of ''national workers''.

He also asserted that India had obtained freedom from the British Raj by non-violent movement and the countrymen achieved it successfully, but the ''Nagas were trying to gain independence with the help of the AK-47.'' The Minister advocated that if the underground cadres were true ''national workers'', they should abide by the wishes of the citizens of the nation, for whom they were working.

''With their gun power they are trying to dictate the citizens and not allowing the Nagas to raise their voices. Nagas had entrusted them to fight for sovereignty, but after being empowered with guns they have now started dominating the people at gunpoint,'' he said.

He opined that the need of the hour was a peaceful atmosphere by stopping all violence and prayed for good sense to prevail upon the cadres engaged in violence.

The rally witnessed a gathering of over 10,000 people from all walks of life and students of about 22 educational institutions in and around Kohima town. Similar rallies were also organised at all the district headquarters of Nagaland by the Joint Forum units of the districts.

Advisor of the Joint Forum Zeneivi Chase said, ''It is high time for the people to raise their voices with courage and force the underground cadres to stop all fratricidal killings among the Naga society.'' Leaders of various tribal hohos, civil societies, youth and students' organisations also spoke at the rally.

Meanwhile, all government offices saw thin attendedance and all educational institutions and business establishments also remained closed. However, banks functioned normally in the state capital.

UNI AS DPM RL KN1315

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