PM tasks Intelligence Bureau chief with resetting Naga talks

PM tasks Intelligence Bureau chief with resetting Naga talks
Arvind Kumar (File)
NEW DELHI, AUG 18 (AGENCIES) | Publish Date: 8/18/2020 12:12:39 PM IST

The Prime Minister’s Office is “disturbed” over the standoff in the Naga peace talks between Nagaland Governor RN Ravi, who is also the centre’s interlocutor, and various rebel groups over the past few months and has asked the Intelligence Bureau chief to take over, top sources have told NDTV.

According to NDTV, Intelligence Bureau Director Arvind Kumar has been tasked to bring the apparently derailed talks back on track. “Over the last six years RN Ravi, in his capacity as interlocutor, had been talking to various Naga groups. But in the past 10 or 11 months, things have not been going well,” a senior government official said. According to the official, the PMO has also asked IB special director Akshay Kumar Mishra to join the fire-fighting effort.

Centre is believed to be concerned by what appears to be a three-way feud in Nagaland- between the NSCN (I-M), R.N. Ravi and the National Naga Political Groups (NNPG). The fact Governor Ravi openly targeted the elected government in Nagaland, which is a BJP alliance partner, has also not gone down well.

Ravi, in his Independence Day speech, had said: “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”.

“In October last year a consensus was to be reached but it did not materialise. The Centre retaliated and launched a crackdown on NSCN (I-M) cadres and leaders. This upset Naga leaders,” an official said, adding that the perception that the interlocutor was favouring NNPG over NSCN (I-M) did not help matters.

Last week, NSCN (I-M) general secretary Th. Muivah said the Centre had recognized the sovereignty of the Nagas through the 2015 agreement. The surprising statement came days after the group, which has been part of the 18-year peace dialogue with the Centre, spoke of a “roadblock” and asked for RN Ravi’s removal as the interlocutor.

On Sunday evening the group released a statement that said: “The interlocutor carries the mandate of the Prime Minister but, since RN Ravi created an imbroglio... the Prime Minister has given mandate to continue the talk to a team of IB (officials) as a fast-track channel...”

“Delhi had promised new cultural identity for Nagas without changing territorial boundaries. But as there are many tensions between tribes too, nothing substantial has come out so far,” an official said. However, the Centre has refused to back down. “Talks will go on as the government cannot be threatened,” a senior official said.


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