Raising concerns over the stalemate in talks between rebel Naga groups and the Centre’s interlocutor, Prime Minister Narendra Modi has asked the director of Intelligence Bureau to bring the peace talks back to track, NDTV reported.
Quoting a senior ministry official, the report said IB chief Arvind Kumar and Special Director Akshay Kumar Mishra have been entrusted with the responsibility.
The Naga peace talks faced hiccups after the Naga groups accused RN Ravi, the Centre’s interlocutor and Nagaland’s Governor of manipulating the signed Framework Agreement between them and the government and demanded his removal.
“Over the last six years RN Ravi, in his capacity as interlocutor, was talking to various Naga groups. However, since the past 10 or 11 months, things are not going well,” the senior ministry official told NDTV.
Reports, however, indicate that the Centre has no plans to remove Ravi yet.
According to the report, the Centre fears a feud between NSCN (IM), Ravi and the Countrywide Naga Political Groups (NNPG).
The NSCN-IM, one of the largest Naga groups engaged in the talks, in a statement released on Sunday (August 16) had said that the prime minister has mandated IB with continuing the discussions.
“On the current status of the talks, NSCN put on record that PM-level talk has not gone down to Intelligence Bureau-level talk. The interlocutor carries the mandate of the PM. NSCN has been talking to Ravi as interlocutor and not as governor. But since Ravi created an imbroglio in the talks process, the PM gave the mandate to continue the talks to a team of the IB as a fast-track channel for communication and clear the pending points in the competency. Once everything is clear, the agreement will be at the political level of the Prime Minister,” the statement read.
The already soured relations between the rebel Naga groups and Ravi worsened when the latter made veiled attacks at NSCN-IM in his Independence Day speech.
“Nagaland is endowed with one of the finest human and natural resources. Unfortunately, today it has the dubious distinction of the worst-performing state in the country, including the northeast region, on almost all significant indicators of human development,” he had said.
In June, Ravi had written to Chief Minister Neiphui Rio, talking about “armed gangs” running parallel governments in the state. Although the government had ruled out any factuality in his assessment, it had asked its employees to declare if any of their family members of relatives were members of the rebel groups.
An enraged NSCN-IM had called this order, a “retrograde step worked out insidiously to cripple the Naga political movement…”
This added fuel to the pent-up anger that the groups had against the government.
“In October last year a consensus was to be reached but it did not arrive. The centre retaliated and launched crackdown on NSCN-IM cadres and leaders. This upset Naga leaders,” an official told NDTV, adding that it gave rise to perceptions that the interlocutor was favouring the NNPG over NSCN-IM.
Th Muivah, the chief of the organisation on August 14 had said that although Nagas will co-exist with India, they will not merge with the country. He also asserted that the Centre had recognised the sovereignty of the Nagas through the 2015 agreement.