Naga Peace talks in rough weather, PM involves IB Director
With a threat of derailment looming large over Naga Peace talks, Prime Minister Narendra Modi is learned to have roped in Arvind Kumar, the Director of Intelligence Bureau, to steer the conversations in the right direction. This development comes amid a long stand-off between Governor RN Ravi, who is also Centre's interlocutor, and NSCN (IM), the largest rebel group. Here are more details.
Settling the decades-old Naga issue, that nestles key matters like borders and sovereignty, has been one of the most ambitious projects of PM Modi's government since 2014. But the dialogue reached an impasse recently after NSCN (IM) openly derided Ravi and sought his removal. NSCN (IM), that has a ceasefire agreement for 23 years now, also warned that all progress could be rendered useless.
If the insurgent group is to be believed, Ravi turned the political issue into a law and order problem and also accepted a strategy that led to the killings of its members. Last week, the outfit released a five-page document titled "Mr. RN Ravi's misdoings as Interlocutor," where it claimed that the Governor deceived the Parliamentary Standing Committee on the steps taken to solve the Naga issue.
To note, NSCN (IM) was furious at Ravi for mentioning "talks within India" and not "with India" when referring to the framework agreement, that was signed in 2015. In June, Ravi had also written a letter to Nagaland government calling NCSN (IM) an "armed group," that is involved in extortion. He also claimed that their "parallel governments" posed a threat to India's security.
Just as the Centre tackled NSCN (IM)'s constant jibes at Ravi, the outfit landed another blow last week by announcing that the federal government recognized the sovereignty of Nagas in the 2015 framework agreement. The agreement was signed in the presence of PM Modi and its contents were kept confidential, till now. Naturally, the Centre, that never spoke on Nagas' sovereignty, was taken aback.
Speaking on August 14, which NSCN (IM) observes as Naga Independence Day, the outfit's General-Secretary Thuingaleng Muivah declared, "The framework agreement was arrived at and officially signed on August 3, 2015. The Government of India through the framework agreement recognizes the sovereignty of the Nagas." He also said that Nagas won't do away with their flag and that they will "co-exist with India."
If NSCN (IM)'s tirades weren't enough, Ravi also hopped on the bandwagon to slam Centre. In his I-Day speech, he slammed the state government, where BJP is also a partner, by saying, "Today it (Nagaland) has the dubious distinction of the worst-performing state in the country, including the Northeast region, on almost all significant indicators of human development." Obviously, New Delhi was displeased.
A senior government official said Ravi had been talking to Naga groups for six years now, but since the last 10-11 months, no substantial step was taken. This situation prompted PM Modi to bring in Kumar and IB Special Director Akshay Kumar Mishra to iron out differences. In fact, last week, the government met NSCN (IM) without Ravi, confirming his ouster from peace talks.