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Asian Tribune is published by World Institute For Asian Studies|Powered by WIAS Vol. 12 No. 2903

Will the Prime Minister allow the Naga talks go beyond the 31st October?

By Oken Jeet Sandham

After one week of his appointment as the Governor of Nagaland, RN Ravi, who is also Interlocutor for the Naga talks, met the NSCN (IM) collective leadership on July 26, 2019, and told them about Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s desire to conclude the Naga talks in three months. Ravi took Oath as the Governor of Nagaland on the 1st of August, 2019.

In the meantime, the NSCN (IM) collective leadership had written a letter to Modi expressing their displeasure on reducing the “Indo-Naga talks” to a “mere Governor’s level.” They reminded him of commitments given by successive Prime Ministers of India on the “Indo-Naga” problem that “talks shall be at the highest level; venue of the talks shall be outside India (in a third country) and without any pre-condition.” They also said issues such as a “separate Flag and a separate Constitution” as part of their political negotiations to settle the Naga issue are yet to be finalized and expressed the surprise as to how he wanted to conclude the issue in three months without finalizing them.

At a civic reception organized in his honor at the Nagaland Baptist Churches Council (NBCC) Convention Hall, Kohima on August 16, 2019, Governor Ravi also said there was a sincere attempt but lamented that inclusivity was missing. “By inclusive, I mean all the Naga armed groups, Naga tribal bodies, civil societies, senior citizens, elders, and of course, the Naga legislators, because the Naga political issue belongs to the Naga people. No organization has franchise over it,” he explained.

Admitting that “all substantive issues have been resolved and nothing is left,” Ravi said the parties in talks had agreed that with the Government of India recognizing the unique history of Nagas, the “settlement is on the basis of power-sharing and peaceful co-existence.”

He has also denied that the talk has been reduced to the Governor’s level saying that it has always been with the blessings of the Prime Minister. He has explained that there is no conflict between his dual roles. As an Interlocutor, his duty is to carry forward the peace process not only to the Nagas of Nagaland but also to the Nagas of other states, and his coming to Nagaland as the Governor of Nagaland is Prime Minister Modi’s wish to see that the Naga issue finds a solution at the earliest. Besides he, as Governor of Nagaland, will give his time to see that the people of the state enjoy they deserve from the Government.

However, the Interlocutor and the NSCN (IM) have been on the confrontational mode over the issue of the Naga flag and the constitution. He has accused them of adopting a procrastinating attitude to delay the settlement of the issue by raising the “contentious symbolic issues of separate Naga national flag and constitution on which they are fully aware of the Government of India’s position.” Yet, the NSCN (IM) has been sticking that they cannot compromise on the issue of the Naga flag and the constitution. And a statement issued on Tuesday, they explained that “political decency and Naga sentiment” could not be simply discarded “in the name of going along with contemporary reality.”

The talk they held on Thursday at New Delhi again failed to break the deadlock over the same issue. They were reported to have, however, agreed to have one more round of talks before the 31st of October this month and it is largely considered as “positive.”

However, there is a widespread fear that the talk may collapse as both sides are not changing their positions. The state governments of Manipur and Nagaland have already taken security measures to thwart any possible outbreak of clashes if the talk collapses.

For the WC of NNPGs, they made it clear that “The solution is not confined to Nagaland state. It is equally for the Naga people across our ancestral land.” It further informed that the “agreed position” signed between the committee and the Government of India declares that “GoI recognizes the right of the Nagas to self-determine their future in consonance with their distinct identity.”

Many organizations have already urged the Government of India and the NSCN (IM) for an honorable solution to the Naga issue while pleading for unity among the Naga groups for the sake of peace and lasting solution. They also appealed to the Government of India to ensure that the final solution should be inclusive of all parties.

The JDU Nagaland has on Friday appealed the Chief Minister of Nagaland for immediately convening an “all-party meeting” to organize meetings with various Naga political groups negotiating with the Government of India, to set up a delegation to meet the Prime Minister of India and Leaders of various Opposition Parties in the country, and to stage an all-political-party Dharna in Delhi to draw the attention of the people of India with a message of appeal.

Meanwhile, many organizations are wondering whether the Prime Minister will allow the talks to continue beyond the 31st of this month. Many, however, believe that the talks may go beyond the 31st of this month as the Prime Minister was only expressing his desire to conclude the Naga talks in three months. Won't he like to see a solution that will be the harbinger of peace in the region?

- Asian Tribune -

Will the Prime Minister allow the Naga talks go beyond the 31st October?
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