Blaming Nagaland Governor R N Ravi, who is also the government’s interlocutor for the Naga peace talks, for creating an “imbroglio” in the peace process, the NSCN-IM said Sunday that Prime Minister Narendra Modi had given the mandate of continuing discussions to the Intelligence Bureau (IB) and added that the move did not mean the peace process had been downgraded.
A statement by the NSCN-IM — the largest Naga group among those engaging with the Centre — released on Sunday evening said, “On the current status of the talks, NSCN put on record that PM-level talk has not gone down to Intelligence Bureau-level talk. The Interlocutor carries the mandate of the PM. NSCN has been talking to Ravi as Interlocutor and not as Governor. But since Ravi created an imbroglio in the talks process, the PM gave the mandate to continue the talks to a team of the IB as a fast-track channel for communication and clear the pending points in the competency. Once everything is clear, the agreement will be at the political level of the Prime Minister.”
“Given the nature of Ravi’s handling of the Indo-Naga political issue, it is pertinent to point out that talks are on political issues for all Nagas and covering all Naga areas. But surprisingly, Mr. Ravi reduces the talks to the state of Nagaland only. This is not only a mockery of the Framework Agreement, co-authored by him while representing the Prime Minister of India, but an insult to Nagas as a whole,” it added.
Sunday’s statement comes amid altercations between the NSCN-IM and Ravi over several months.
The NSCN-IM has demanded Ravi’s removal as the Centre’s interlocutor. On the other hand, Ravi made veiled attacks on the outfit in his Independence Day speech on Saturday.
On August 14, Th Muivah, the chief of the NSCN-IM, said the Nagas will “co-exist with India” but will not merge with India. Muivah also touched upon the contentious issues of a separate Naga flag and Constitution. The same day, the NSCN-IM said it was “unthinkable for Nagas to sideline the Naga flag in the solution that both, the NSCN and Government of India, is trying to find…”
The relationship between Ravi and the NSCN-IM deteriorated after the former wrote to Chief Minister Neiphiu Rio, coming down harshly over the law and order situation.
Pointing to “rampant extortions and violence”, Ravi had alleged that “armed gangs” were running parallel governments, “challenging the legitimacy of the state government”. The state government had said his assessment was not “factual”.
Then, through the state’s Home Department, the government had asked its employees to self-declare if any of their family members and relatives were members of underground organisations— later, it said the order was passed at Ravi’s insistence. The NSCN-IM had called the order “one retrograde step worked out insidiously to cripple the Naga political movement…”