Vajpayee launches mobile service in Nagaland, calls for peace

Tuesday, 28 October 2003, 08:00 Hrs
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KOHIMA: Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee Monday asserted that peace and development in the insurgency-hit northeastern region were closely linked as he launched mobile phone services in this capital of Nagaland state.

Vajpayee, who arrived here Monday afternoon on his first visit to Nagaland, launched the services by making a call on a mobile phone from the Raj Bhavan or governor's residence here to Communications Minister Arun Shourie in New Delhi.

"I must confess I don't know how mobile phone technology works," he said.

"But I know that it is all about talking, it is all about connecting people, it is all about removing distances and it is all about making life better.

"Therefore, today my message to the people of Nagaland is that let the talks continue, let the dialogue proceed, let the distances be removed and let confidences be built," Vajpayee said, in what was an obvious reference to the peace talks between the central government and the Isak-Muivah faction of the National Socialist Council of Nagaland (NSCN-IM) that began in 1997.

"And let us together create peace and accelerate development," said Vajpayee.

The talks between the NSCN-IM and the government have run into rough weather in recent months due to several factors, prominent among them being the rebel group's demand for the integration of all Naga-inhabited areas in the northeast.

The move has received strong support from Nagas living in neighbouring Manipur, thousands of whom arrived here to join a rally to press the issue.

But the governments of Assam, Arunachal Pradesh and Manipur states have opposed the move.

Vajpayee, however, noted that the launch of the mobile services in Nagaland was "yet another sign of changing times".

"This process of positive change will be further speeded up," he promised.

"The people of Nagaland and other states in the northeast should fully benefit from the information and communication revolution sweeping the rest of India."

The ceremony at the Raj Bhavan was also attended by Nagaland Chief Minister Neiphiu Rio, who too spoke to Shourie, Governor Shyamal Dutta, several state
ministers, central Minister for Development of Northeast C.P. Thakur, Minister of State for Communications Ashok Pradhan and Minister of State for Water Resources Bijoya Chaakroborty.

Source: IANS
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