GUWAHATI, Oct 9 - In a first-of-its-kind initiative, civil society members from Assam and Nagaland who today met at a �Naga-Assamese Round Table Towards Strengthening Friendship and Fraternity�, unanimously called for a permanent mechanism to continue the dialogue process between the two neighbours.
The deliberators proposed a �coordination committee� under the joint aegis of the Asam Sahitya Sabha and Naga Hoho for facilitating a permanent dialogue forum between the two sides.
The Nanda Talukdar Foundation (NTF), which organised the round table for ending the vexed Assam-Nagaland border row, will coordinate between the Sabha and Naga Hoho.
The meeting also urged groups and individuals to endeavour for enhancing cooperation between the peoples of the two States in areas of art, literature, culture, sports, trade and commerce and environment protection in their capacities.
The Naga delegation, led by social worker and peace crusader Niketu Iralu, comprised apex tribal council Naga Hoho president Chuba Ozukum, Naga Mothers� Association�s adviser Prof Rosemary Dzuvichu, Naga Students� Federation (NSF) president Subenthang Kikon and Temsu Wathi Ao, coordinator of Border Peace Committee, while Assam was represented by academic Prof Udayan Misra, Asam Sahitya Sabha president Dr Dhrubajyoti Borah, All Assam Students� Union (AASU) chief adviser Dr Samujjal Bhattacharya, Purbanchaliya Tai Sahitya Sabha president Dr Dayananda Borgohain and former Upper Assam Commissioner Sayad Iftikhar Hussein, among others.
The meeting, presided over by Editor of Asomiya Pratidin and NTF president Nitya Bora, was attended by a galaxy of academics, senior journalists, columnists and social workers as invitees, who also put forward their suggestions towards fostering goodwill and fraternity between the two communities.
Niketu Iralu, stressing the innate power of human goodness, said that both fears and hopes brought together the two neighbours for finding a way forward. �This will definitely improve the relationship between the Nagas and the Assamese, but at the same we should not allow the criminals and lumpen elements to hold us at ransom.�
Prof Udayan Misra, while terming many of the ills plaguing the Northeast as �colonial inheritance�, said that post-independence the rights of the smaller communities of the region were not protected. �The search for a new federal setup is still on, and the Northeast�s role will be a shining example in this quest for true federalism,� he said, adding that it would be very unfortunate for both the Assamese and the Nagas if they were allowed to be swayed by the anti-socials and goons as well as by the indifferences from the privileged sections.
�The perceived differences and stands on contentious issues could be sorted out only through dialogues in a democratic environment,� he said.
The Naga Hoho president insisted on maintaining the age-old relationship between the two neighbours at any cost and preventing all unwarranted situations that might lead to misunderstanding and distrust.
Pointing out that the Kohima Sahitya Sabha, set up in 1895, preceded the Asam Sahitya Sabha by 22 years, Asom Sahitya Sabha president Dr Dhrubajyoti Borah said that meeting of minds and hearts held the key to leading the two communities forwards. He, however, expressed disappointment that neither the Government nor the Naga people chose to make the Assamese society a stakeholder in the recently-inked Naga peace agreement.