Suspense on Nagaland peace talks as mediator RN Ravi turns governor

Ravi, is a retired Special Director of Intelligence Bureau, is a Deputy National Security Advisor and more importantly, the interlocutor in the Naga peace talks.

Published: 20th July 2019 05:18 PM  |   Last Updated: 21st July 2019 07:56 AM   |  A+A-

Express News Service

GUWAHATI: The appointment of RN Ravi as Nagaland governor has put the Northeast in suspense.

The suspense is on whether the development means a historic breakthrough in the Naga peace talks or a return to uncertainty. 

Ravi, a retired Special Director of Intelligence Bureau, is a Deputy National Security Advisor and more importantly, the interlocutor in the Naga peace talks. Once he takes over as the Nagaland governor, the talks will be handled by the Union Ministry of Home Affairs, a highly-placed source in the Central government said.

“Let us hope for the best, not for the worst,” a leader of major rebel group National Socialist Council of Nagalim (NSCN-IM) reacted on Ravi’s appointment.

Some contentious demands of the NSCN-IM are the creation of a Greater Nagaland by slicing off the Naga-inhabited areas of Assam, Manipur and Arunachal Pradesh, a pan-Naga flag and a separate constitution.

The highly-placed source in the Central government said there would be a “compromise” on the issue of flag. 

“Either they will compromise or we will compromise on the demand of flag. Also, the MHA will control the talks from now on,” the source said, adding, “The issue will be resolved soon”. 

The NSCN-IM has been spearheading the Naga talks since it signed a ceasefire agreement with Central government in 1997.

Reactions in the region on Ravi’s appointment range from bright hope to pessimism. The reason to cheer is premised on the assumption that if an interlocutor becomes a governor, a settlement may not be far off. 

The pessimists would point the fact that after the new government took over at the Centre, not a single round of even informal talks has been held between the NSCN-IM and the Centre. Like the NSCN-IM, the Nagaland government weighed its words and refused to jump the gun or be ecstatic about the development.

Asked if he views solution to the protracted Naga issue is round the corner vis-à-vis Ravi’s appointment, Nagaland Chief Minister Neiphiu Rio told this newspaper, “That is what we are hoping and working for. We are happy that he has been appointed as the governor of Nagaland. (Union Home Minister) Amit Shah just conveyed it to me. I hope his (Ravi’s) appointment will send a good message to the people of Nagaland”.

The Naga Hoho, which is the apex social organisation of the Nagas, refrained from speculating on Ravi’s appointment.

“That he has been appointed as Nagaland governor could be good for both Nagas and Government of India as he knows the issue well…If a new interlocutor is appointed, we don’t foresee better days for us in the near future. The appointment of a new interlocutor will delay settlement”. 

Ravi is a 1976 batch IPS officer of Kerala cadre. It was during his tenure as the interlocutor that the Centre signed the Framework Agreement with NSCN-IM on August 3, 2015. The agreement was perceived to be the prelude to solution of Naga issue. 

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