The Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) has for the second time overruled the Home Ministry on a key appointment. On Friday, the PMO appointed former Intelligence Bureau (IB) officer R N Ravi, presently the Chairman of Joint Intelligence Committee (JIC), as the new interlocutor for Naga peace talks.
The MHA had suggested the name of Ajit Lal who retired as the JIC on July 31.
“The government has appointed R N Ravi, Chairman, Joint Intelligence Committee as the new official interlocutor and Government of India representative for Naga peace talks,” an official notification said on Friday.
Official sources said Home Minister Rajnath Singh had recommended the name of Ajit Lal, who had retired as the chairman of JIC in July 2014, for the post.
However, after deliberating the suggestion for several weeks, the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) overruled the recommendation and appointed Ravi as the interlocutor for Naga talks.
The reason behind the appointment of Ravi was his expertise in Northeast affairs as he was looking after the region during his tenure in the Intelligence Bureau from where he retired as the special director in 2012.
Earlier, the PMO had overruled the recommendation of the Home Ministry for appointment of Alok Singh, an IPS officer, as the private secretary to the Home Minister on the ground that he had served as a PS to the former external affairs minister Salman Khurshid during the UPA regime.
Ravi, a 1976 batch IPS officer from Kerala cadre, was appointed as JIC Chairman early this week.
Ravi’s appointment has come about seven months after the last interlocutor R S Pandey resigned from the post. The post was being looked after by Lal.
As the new interlocutor, Ravi will have to negotiate with Naga rebel group NSCN(IM), who had blamed the previous Manmohan Sin-gh government of failure to evolve a solution to the vexed insurgency problem in Nagaland, saying the UPA regime “lacked decisive leadership”.
The government had entered into a truce with the dominant Naga insurgent group NSCN(IM) in 1997 and since then more than 80 rounds of talks have been held between the Centre and NSCN led by chairman Isak Chishi Swu and general secretary T Muivah without a concrete outcome in the last 17 years of truce.
In the past, former governor Swaraj Kaushal, former Union minister Oscar Fernandes and former Union home secretary K Padmanabhaiah had acted as interlocutors and had held talks with the Naga rebels.
However, not much headway could be made in the talks and increased clashes between NSCN-IM and NSCN-Khaplang group were witnessed.