Traditional tribal groups in Nagaland and some extremist groups do not appear to be on the same page as the Isak-Muivah faction of the National Socialist Council of Nagaland, or NSCN (IM) over Governor R.N. Ravi’s continuation as the interlocutor for the ongoing peace talks.
The NSCN (I-M) calls itself the National Socialist Council of Nagalim. While Nagaland has a territorial limit, Nagalim refers to all Naga-inhabited areas in the Northeast as well as the adjoining Myanmar.
The Naga Hoho, the apex body of 14 tribes and the Lotha (tribe) Hoho on Tuesday said in separate statements that replacing Mr. Ravi would “delay the peace process and lead to endless negotiation while remaining in one’s comfort zone at the cost of peace and tranquillity”.
They said “this is not the time for negative campaign” when the “voices and aspirations of the Nagas have grown louder each day” for a peaceful solution to the protracted Naga political issue. The Hohos also appealed to Prime Minister Narendra Modi to “demonstrate his magnanimity and address one of the oldest political conflicts” soon.
The conflict that began soon after India’s Independence subsided when the government and the NSCN (I-M) inked a ceasefire in mid-1997. Older armed groups and factions of the NSCN followed suit although the Myanmar-based NSCN (Khaplang) reneged on the truce in March 2015.
The views of the Hohos coincided with a statement issued by the NSCN (I-M) accusing Mr. Ravi of creating hurdles in the final settlement of the Naga political issue and justifying the demand for his removal as the interlocutor.
“The peace process is in a state of simmering tension and reaching tipping point because of Mr. R.N. Ravi’s vitriolic attack on the Naga issue” that Mr. Modi had entrusted with for “an honourable and acceptable” solution, the NSCN (IM) said.
The outfit had taken offence to Mr. Ravi’s use of “armed gangs” and “underground groups” while referring to the Naga extremist organisations in a letter to Chief Minister Neiphiu Rio on June 16 .
Before the Hohos, the Nagaland Gaon Burah Federation had opposed the “campaign by a section of people” seeking the removal of Mr. Ravi as the interlocutor which, it said, would not be in the interest of the people.
Gaon burahs or village elders are influential across rural Nagaland and elsewhere in the Northeast.
The Naga National Political Groups (NNPGs), a conglomerate of seven armed political groups that rival the NSCN (IM), have also said replacing the interlocutor would turn the clock back.
“To suggest a new interlocutor at this time is to rewind the Indo-Naga issue back to zero,” the NNPGs said in a statement.