“Let us together move forward with faith in our common destiny”

President Pranab Mukherjee on Sunday said his continued visits to the north-east were of strategic importance, driving home the imperativeness of unifying socio-economic activities across the country.

“My frequent visits to this region reflect its strategic importance and the role it can play in the building of a strong and powerful India,” he stressed after throwing open the celebrations on the occasion of the 50th anniversary of Nagaland gaining statehood and also the world famous, 10-day Hornbill Festival at the Kisama Naga heritage village. With this, Mr. Mukherjee concluded his three-day visit to Arunachal Pradesh and Nagaland. During his 16 months in office, Mr. Mukherjee has made a number of trips to the region, visiting Assam thrice, Nagaland and Sikkim twice, and Manipur, Meghalaya, Tripura and Arunachal Pradesh once each.

He said he would visit Mizoram after the Assembly elections, almost underlining his mission of giving the region his undivided attention.

The President called upon political leaders, policymakers and administrators to give “the utmost importance and attention” to the region, turn it into a magnet for major investments and as the doorway for the country’s future. The Centre and these States, he said, should work together to rapidly build connectivity and infrastructure linkages and prepare the region to lead the country in making neighbours partners in the process of development.

However, peace and security were a prerequisite to achieve development, he asserted.

‘Work towards peace’

Mr. Mukherjee specifically called upon the people of Nagaland to “work towards establishing and maintaining a peaceful environment,” telling them that the State and the rest of the country had a shared destiny. He appealed to the people to put behind them the dark days of violence and conflict, and usher in a new dawn.

The State was formed on the basis of a 16-point agreement, some of which were still unfulfilled, complained Chief Minister Neiphiu Rio. But the President made known his “fondness for the great State and the wonderful people as well as the importance we attach to its progress and development.”

On Saturday, the seven surviving members of the Interim Body, including Odisha Governor S.C. Jamir, held a meeting and issued a joint statement appealing to the people unite and resolving to work for a political solution.

Mr. Jamir was present at the function along with Governor Ashwani Kumar and the Ang (King) of Hongphoi village, Buwang Konyak, who felicitated the President. Mr. Mukherjee released a commemorative stamp of Nagaland on the occasion.

The Golden Jubilee celebrations of Nagaland’s statehood had a captivating show of dance and music by the 16 tribes that have gathered to script the Hornbill Festival, named after the bird native to both Nagaland and Arunachal Pradesh, but now an endangered species.

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