DIMAPUR, Aug 17 - Nagaland Governor PB Acharya and Chief Minister Neiphiu Rio represented the State in the funeral ceremony of former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee in New Delhi today.
All government offices and educational institutions � both government and private � remained closed on the day as a mark of respect to the departed leader. However, business establishments functioned normally across the State.
The State Government had also announced a seven-day state mourning from August 16 to 22 as a mark of respect for the former Prime Minister.
The National Flag was flown at half mast from Friday. The Government said there would be no official entertainment during the period of the state mourning.
In 2003, Vajpayee had travelled by road from the Dimapur airport to Kohima as inclement weather did not allow him to fly in a helicopter, forcing his entourage to take the only road that barely existed. Neiphiu Rio, who was also the Chief Minister then, referred to the gesture as a sign of �concern and care� for the people of the State.
�Ami laga bhai aru boyni-khan, aami Nagaland-te matiye karone besi khusi paise dei (My dear brothers and sisters, I am very happy that I have been invited to Nagaland),� Vajpayee said while addressing the public in Kohima.
He had announced a four-lane highway between Kohima and Dimapur after experiencing the bumpy road ride. It has been almost 15 years since Vajpayee had made the announcement. It may take some more years before the project is completed, but the former Prime Minister will be remembered when it is done.
Vajpayee also introduced the BSNL mobile phone service in the State by directly speaking to the then Union Communications Minister, Arun Shourie, in New Delhi over the phone in the presence of Rio and then Governor Shyamal Datta.
�Let the dialogue proceed. Let distances be removed and let confidence be built and let us together create peace and accelerate development,� said Vajpayee during the launch of the mobile phone service in the State.
Vajpayee also touched on the political aspirations of the Nagas in his speech by acknowledging their �unique identity�.
�It is true that of all the States in India, Nagaland has a unique history. We are sensitive to this historical fact,� Rio quoted Vajpayee as saying.