R N Ravi, the Centre’s interlocutor to the Naga peace talks, on Monday called for an early solution to the vexed Naga issue “before the character of the government changes with the change in leadership”. Speaking at a meeting in Dimapur with six Naga groups, including breakaway factions of the NSCN, Ravi said: “The government of India is an abstract body and remains government of India. Its character depends on the personality of the leader who is heading it… Its character will change with the change in leadership. The Prime Minister, who is taking so much interest, keeps asking me (about the progress of the talks). I can see the urgency on his part. We must not waste time.”
He made it clear that the government does not want to waste more time in negotiations. “We do not have the luxury of dragging on for years and years. The Naga issue is in negotiation for 20 years. We have to be serious, sincere, practical and brutally honest,” he said.
Ravi, also chairman of the Joint Intelligence Committee (JIC), had been negotiating with only the NSCN (IM) since August 2014. On Monday, he announced New Delhi’s decision to take six more Naga “political groups” on board, and called upon the NSCN (K) too to step forward for talks. “The Naga issue cannot be fragmented. We cannot have too many agreements. The working committee of six Naga political groups is now formally part of the peace process. The NSCN (K) had abrogated the ceasefire in March 2015. I would like them to come back to be included in the process,” Ravi said.
On a possible solution, he made it clear that though it might be “of 100 per cent satisfaction to all” but “it must have the widest possible acceptance to the Naga people, and be an occasion of celebration for all of us”. He said “a solution which does not resonate with the people at large will not be enduring. Naga political issues belong to the Naga people and Naga people must be on board.” “The Prime Minister, on the day the Framework Agreement was signed (in August 2015), had clearly stated that the Naga issue will be settled on the principle of equality and mutual respect. That is the mantra, the fundamental,” he said.
Ravi also asked the six groups to take the responsibility of bringing others still left out of the process. “Now that you have become a part of the larger spectrum… you must also ensure that this (process) continues, and those who are left out also come and be part of it,” he said.
The six groups that joined the peace process on Monday are NSCN (R) and GPRN/NSCN (both factions of the NSCN), and FGN, NNC (Parent Body), NPGN/NNC (Non-Accordist) and NNC/GDRN (Non-Accordist) — the last four being factions of the original Naga National Council founded by A Z Phizo in the 1940s. The six groups had joined together to constitute a Working Group in December 2016 at the initiative of the Naga Tribal Council (NTC).