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NSCN-IM says peace talks with new interlocutor ‘failed to live up to all the hype’

The strongly-worded statement comes barely a month after the Centre resumed talks with the rebel group, after former Intelligence Bureau (IB) special director AK Mishra replaced RN Ravi as the main interlocutor.

Written by Tora Agarwala | Guwahati |
Updated: October 23, 2021 9:13:53 pm
The Centre last month resumed talks with the NSCN-IM, the largest Naga rebel group, with Assam Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma meeting the outfit’s secretary, Th Muivah, for a closed-door discussion in Dimapur. (File Photo)

The NSCN-IM Saturday said talks with the Centre’s new interlocutor “failed to live up to all the hype”. The strongly-worded statement comes barely a month after the Centre resumed talks with the rebel group, after former Intelligence Bureau (IB) special director AK Mishra replaced RN Ravi as the main interlocutor.

In the statement, the NSCN-IM said with Mishra’s appointment and the resumption of talks after a gap of nearly two years, “much hype was generated that the final Naga solution is just round the corner.” It added: “However, the talks failed to live up to all the hype as the Government of India continues to indulge in political escapism on the very issues that is holding up the road to the Naga solution.”

The bone of contention remains the NSCN-IM’s demand for a separate Naga flag and Constitution (Yehzabo).

“Ironically, the Government of India is still pretentiously acting stubborn as the crucial rounds of talks that focused on the Naga flag and the Constitution is driven to hang in balance. The stalemate created is unfortunate” said the statement.

The group argued that the flag was “not just a piece of cloth” to the Nagas, but a symbol “of the Naga nation’s pride and values.”
The outfit said it was not “impressed” with the Centre’s offer that the flag be accepted as a “cultural symbol”.  “The Naga issue is not a cultural issue that the Government of India should change the Naga flag as a cultural symbol and forego the Naga political identity as symbolize by the Naga flag” the statement said.

It also rejected the government’s “post solution” offer, seemingly alluding to speculation that the differences over the flag and constitution would be ironed out after an agreement is signed.

“NSCN cannot drag the Naga people to make another blunder by falling into the trap being machinated by the Government of India,” it said.

The Naga movement is considered India’s longest-running insurgency. In 1997, the Centre had signed a ceasefire agreement with the NSCN-IM. In 2015, renewed negotiations had begun between the NSCN-IM and the Modi government. Since then, seven other Naga armed outfits, under the banner of Naga National Political Groups, have joined the talks.

While the government’s official deadline for talks lapsed on October 31, 2019, no accord was signed. After that, NSCN-IM fell out with Ravi, who was also posted as the governor of Nagaland, leading to a deadlock. In January 2020, the government had Mishra step in and continue the engagement.

In September, Ravi was transferred out as the governor, after which he also resigned as the interlocutor, and formal talks resumed with Mishra as the new pointsperson. Earlier this month, an NSCN-IM delegation left for Delhi to continue talks.

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