Prime Minister Narendra Modi said that "successful" talks with the Nationalist Socialist Council of Nagaland-IM has started a journey of "walking together" and will lead to the development of not only Nagaland but also the entire northeast region.
The PM also said successive governments have made efforts to bring peace and stability in the region though these have seen various ups and downs in the past.
"The credit does not go to any particular government and neither should they take it. Everyone contributed towards improving the situation. It is the result (of these efforts) that today in Nagaland there has been a successful dialogue with those people (NSCN-IM leaders).
"Everybody has seen the dream of development and joining the mainstream in not only Nagaland, but the entire northeast and the country. I am confident that the journey that has begun of walking together will bear best of results and the country will achieve greater heights," he said referring to the accord that reached between NSCN-IM and the Centre.
Addressing a function in New Delhi to commemorate the birth centenary of Rani Gaidinliu, a spiritual Naga leader who was born in Manipur and fought for India's independence, Modi said the push of his government has been on the development of infrastructure of the northeast region. He said if the issue of connectivity is resolved then development would not be a problem. He said efforts were on to provide railway connectivity to state capitals in the region.
Referring to pineapples grown in the region and chillis in Nagaland, he said the northeast can become the "organic capital" of the country. The development of the region was vital for the country's growth, he said.
The function was also attended by Home Minister Rajnath Singh, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley, Nagaland Governor P B Acharya and Chief Ministers of Nagaland and Manipur T R Zeliang and O Ibobi Singh respectively.
Referring to the Land Boundary Agreement with Bangladesh, Modi said it would help improve connectivity of the region with the rest of the country.
He lamented that years after India attained Independence, many "brave soldiers" who fought for the freedom, are missing from the portals of the country's history. "It is the responsibility of the society to preserve the treasures of history...In most places, history is limited to royals and the rulers. But in India the efforts of the common people are valued as it is part of our philosophy," he said.
Blaming lacunae in the system, the PM lamented that "either we forgot about some great personalities or they were deliberately forgotten".
He said the northeast has given birth to several great personalities and had people learnt about their contribution, issues like alienation would not have crept in.
Modi said that even after India got Independence, the "Rani maa", as he referred to Rani Gaidinliu, was kept in jail for another three to four months. She was put behind bars by the British during the freedom struggle.
The PM said she could not go to her village for "political reasons" as she was a nature worshipper. "Her philosophy has the answers to the issue of global warming and other environmental matters which we face today," he said. He also recalled her contribution in spreading Mahatma Gandhi's philosophy in the northeast region. He termed as "important" the decision of the Congress party then to have passed a resolution for her release from jail in its Haripura session in 1938.
It was Jawaharlal Nehru who gave the name 'Rani' (queen of the people of the northeast) to her, speakers at the function said.
A brochure brought out by the culture ministry said Rani Gaidinliu was also associated with organisations such as Kalyan Ashram, the Vishwa Hindu Parishad and Vidya Bharti.
Modi also released Rs 100 commemorative coins and Rs 5 circulation coins on Rani Gaidinliu on the occasion.
Addressing the gathering, Zeliang hoped that the celebrations would go beyond "mere symbolism" and help remove "ignorance and misconceptions" about the people of the northeast. He said that in spite of her contribution, Gaidinliu has been ignored by writers and she remains "largely absent" from school and college textbooks. He hoped that the "records will be rectified".
His views were echoed by Manipur CM O Ibobi Singh who urged Modi to ask the human resource development ministry to include her contribution in NCERT textbooks.
Nagaland Governor P B ACharya said the programme will send "right signals" to the people of the northeast.
Finance Minister Jaitley said the two chief ministers are right that the "history of the role models needs to be retold to the whole country". He said the forgotten chapter of history is being re-recorded. Jaitley also said the Land Boundary Agreement with Bangladesh and the accord reached with NSCN-IM were some of the key initiatives taken by the PM for the northeast region.
Home Minister Rajnath Singh said though he would not like to say much on the agreement with Dhaka, the Naga accord will usher in peace and the wish of Rani Gaidinliu of a prosperous and peaceful northeast will be fulfilled. He said the government is addressing the concerns of the people of the region against the backdrop of a sense of alienation triggered by anti-national elements.
Image: PM Narendra Modi at the inauguration of the birth centenary of Rani Gaidinliu. Photograph: Press Information Bureau