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Naga groups unhappy over new interlocutor’s appointment

The NSCN(IM) and several other groups in Nagaland have expressed surprise and displeasure over the appointment.

Written by Samudra Gupta Kashyap | Guwahati |
September 12, 2014 4:27:35 pm

More than a week after Prime Minister Narendra Modi reportedly overruled an MHA decision and named R N Ravi, currently chairman of joint intelligence committee (JIC), as the new interlocutor for Naga peace talks, the NSCN(IM) and several other groups in Nagaland have expressed surprise and displeasure over the appointment.

This has prompted none other than the newly-appointed Nagaland governor P B Acharya to step in and appeal to the Naga groups to accept Ravi’s appointment as the new interlocutor for the ongoing Naga peace talks and to give him a chance.

“The Centre has the will to solve the problem,” Acharya said in Kohima on Thursday. The previous interlocutor RS Pandey had resigned in December and joined the BJP.

While Ravi was named Naga peace talks interlocutor on August 29, the NSCN(IM) was the first to react and question the “sincerity of the Government of India towards the Indo-Naga peace talks.” Engaged in peace negotiations with New Delhi for 17 years now, the NSCN(IM) said it considered Ravi as “well known for his antagonistic approach to the Naga issue.”  Ravi however was not immediately available for his comments.

Likewise, the Naga Hoho, apex body of Naga tribal associations, too said it was opposed to Ravi’s appointment as the Centre’s new interlocutor. Nagaland, it said, required a “neutral” interlocutor without any prejudices, and particularly pointed to an article Ravi wrote on the Naga peace talks in a newspaper in January.

Ravi had in that piece said that the absence of a credible state had created a power vacuum in Nagaland that is being filled in by chaotic sub-nationalist forces often at war with one another.

The United Naga Council (UNC), which had only on August 18 requested Prime Minister Modi to appoint an interlocutor with acceptable credentials and disposition, too has resented Ravi’s appointment.

The UNC said that the incumbent had on several occasions criticized New Delhi’s ceasefire with NSCN(IM). “When the very purpose of signing a cease fire is to bring about a solution, his appointment will not facilitate solution but will become a part of the problem,” the UNC said.

In Kohima, newly-appointed Nagaland governor PB Acharya said that the BJP-led NDA government at the Centre had concerns for the Northeast region and had the will to solve issues confronting the region.

Interacting with media persons, Acharya, who felt that the people were “tired” as there was no positive outcome of the peace process in 17 years, said the process had to be expedited. He said if Nagaland could start in the right direction, the situation in the entire Northeastern region could improve.

On Ravi’s reported observations on the Naga issue as reflected in a newspaper article he wrote in January, the governor said that it was written “much before the new government assumed power.” Ravi, he said, would definitely take the peace negotiations forward in line with prime minister Modi’s vision.

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