Nagaland Governor R N Ravi has said that under earlier governments, joining militancy had almost become a “business”, where surrendering meant getting incentives, but since 2014, there has been a clampdown on extremism.
Presiding over a debate competition in Assam’s Silchar on Sunday, Ravi, who is the interlocutor between the government and the various Naga groups in the ongoing peace talks, said, “(Earlier) every few months, there used to be a show, where some militants would come up dressed in fatigues and with arms, and some minister from the Union government, maybe the home minister or junior minister, state chief minister or generals of the Army and police chief, they would all sit, and there would be a celebration of these fellows’ homecoming… That created a situation where violence was encouraged, incentivised… Then they (the militants) would surrender, and would get the benefits from the state… a very, very handsome package. It had become an industry. You join militancy, and after three years you come out, and you would get Rs 1.5 lakh in a fixed deposit, and Rs 3,000 monthly stipend… It had become a business…”
He added, “After 2014, we have made it clear that anyone who wishes to wield arms would be dead… Yes your grievances will definitely be looked into and there are prescribed ways… you have all the rights of expression and certainly it will be addressed…”
Speaking about the abrogation of Article 370, Ravi said, “What has happened in Jammu and Kashmir… the reorganisation of the region… is essentially the correction of an old sin which was doing a lot of harm to us.”
Speaking about the ongoing Naga peace process, Ravi said the government was talking to all the rebel groups as well as the civil society. “For the first time in Nagaland, all the armed groups, Naga civil society, tribes, grassroot-level organisations, churches are talking with the government. So this is an unprecedented situation and I am optimistic that we are going to have a final settlement which is comprehensive and acceptable for all,” he said.
Ravi ruled out any possibility of the government accepting insurgent group NSCN(IM)’s demand for a separate flag and constitution, and for a separate autonomous territory integrating all Naga-inhabited areas of Assam, Arunachal Pradesh, Manipur and Nagaland, which the outfit has referred to as ‘Greater Nagaland’ or Nagalim.
CPI national general secretary D Raja accused the central government of creating mistrust among the people of the Northeast by concealing terms and conditions of the negotiations with Naga groups. “The Centre cannot take the people of Manipur or Northeast for granted,” he said.