The appointment of Naga interlocutor R.N Ravi as Nagaland Governor is unlikely to affect the ongoing talks with various Naga groups, including the Isak-Muivah faction of the National Socialist Council of Nagaland (NSCN-IM), as he will continue to spearhead the negotiations, The Hindu has learnt.
The announcement comes at a time when investigating agencies have upped the ante against the NSCN-IM, one of the largest Naga groups with which Mr. Ravi, on behalf of the Government of India, signed a framework agreement on August 3, 2015 to find a solution to the decades-old Naga issue.
“The appointment of Mr. Ravi as Governor will only strengthen the ongoing talks. It will not derail the negotiations as the Naga deal is near conclusion. Former Prime Minister Indira Gandhi participated in the Naga talks herself, so the new appointment will not diminish the seriousness of the talks,” said an official.
A top government official said all cases against the NSCN-IM would be monitored closely and more cases could follow. The NIA recently took over a case registered in Assam where ₹15 lakh meant to be delivered allegedly to NSCN-IM cadres was confiscated from a vehicle at Amlopatty in Dibrugarh. Four persons were arrested.
The NSCN-IM signed a ceasefire agreement with the Indian government in 1997 for an indefinite period.
The Home Ministry told a parliamentary panel last year that “NSCN-IM has had the largest extortion network spanning almost all of the villages of Nagaland and has emerged as the biggest supplier of arms in the Northeast smuggled from China.”
Mr. Ravi, a 1976 batch Indian Police Service officer of the Kerala cadre, retired as Special Director in the Intelligence Bureau in 2012. He was appointed as chairman of the Joint Intelligence Committee in September 2014 and was subsequently made the interlocutor for Naga peace talks. He was re-designated as deputy National Security Adviser last year.
The NSCN-IM has been fighting for ‘Greater Nagaland’ or Nagalim — it wants to extend Nagaland’s borders by including Naga-dominated areas in neighbouring Assam, Manipur and Arunachal Pradesh, to unite 1.2 million Nagas. It has demanded a separate flag and a separate constitution for the Nagas. The Centre has said that there will be no disintegration of States of Assam, Arunachal Pradesh and Manipur to merge the Naga inhabited areas with the existing State of Nagaland.
After signing an agreement with the NSCN-IM, the Centre signed a preamble in November 2017 with six Naga National Political Groups to further hold discussions to find a solution to the issue lingering on for decades.
A member of one of the Naga groups said last time the talks took place were in March. “The talks that were last held in March. We were told, it was being put on hold due to the general election but it did not resume. We are hopeful that the appointment of Mr. Ravi as an interlocutor will not impact the negotiations,” the Naga leader said.