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Peace Will Return To North-East by 2020: Chidambaram

IMPHAL/SHILLONG, Dec 15: Stating that most of the rebel groups in the northeast have entered into a dialogue with the Centre, Union home minister P Chidambaram on Tuesday exuded confidence that peace and reconciliation would be ushered in the region in a decade.

“Most leaders of the underground groups are coming forward for talks, while others are in prison. With such developments, there’s bound to be peace and reconciliation in the region by 2020,” the home minister said, adding that the Centre is giving full honor and respect to the leaders.

According to him, a “little more give and take and understanding” would lead to a final settlement.

Reiterating the government’s preparedness to hold out “the hand of friendship and cordiality” to all groups that want to resolve their problems through talks, Chidambaram said, “We have made extraordinary efforts to extend a hand of friendship to any person or organization who comes forward to discuss their problems.”

“Violence has no place in a democracy or republic. A modern society can be based on pluralism and diversity. One should respect the identity and heritage of others. We must learn to live, work, build and prosper together,” he said.

Acknowledging that the northeast, which has a rich social and cultural heritage, has a “special place” in the country, the home minister said, “The region can be turned into a haven of peace and harmony – a virtual paradise. Thousands of people from elsewhere in the country and abroad will then flock to the region to savor its natural beauty. A glorious future awaits the North-East and its future,” the minister was very optimistic.

Chidambaram, who landed at Imphal from Shillong in an Indian Air Force aircraft on Tuesday afternoon on his two-day visit to insurgency-hit Manipur, also appealed to other groups of the region to come back to the path of peace.

Addressing a group of students at G P Women’s College in Imphal during an interactive program, Chidambaram said the Centre was doing its best to ensure that peace and prosperity returns to the region.

Touching upon the vexed issue of Manipur’s territorial integrity, he said there’s no question of redrawing the state’s boundary and that “the Centre acknowledges the integrity of Manipur”.

His statement came at a time when the United Naga Council (UNC) has intensified its demand for an alternative administrative arrangement for the Nagas living in Manipur. “There is no question of redrawing the map of Manipur or dividing it into parts. We acknowledge the integrity of Manipur. All people living in Manipur are Manipuris and they have equal rights,” he said.

He added that the majority communities should reach out to the minorities. The Meiteis should reach out to the Tangkhuls; likewise they should also reach out to other minority communities. “We can split atom, we can fuse atom and we have the capacity to send a man to the moon,” he said. Responding to queries from students, the minister said, “I want to see Manipur rising. That can be achieved in 10 years.”

On the frequent bandhs and blockades on National Highways, Chidambaram said, “The Centre will not allow anybody to block National Highways.” He added that once peace returns to Manipur, business and industry will come to the state. After the interactive session, Chidambaram presided over a meeting to discuss the law and order situation with chief minister Okram Ibobi Singh and top security officials at Raj Bhavan.

*Reported by K Sarojkumar Sharma & Manosh Das.

(Courtesy: The Times of India)

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