Peace talks with NSCN-IM resume, CMs of Assam, Nagaland to meet Muivah Tuesday

Express News Service

GUWAHATI: The peace talks between Centre and National Socialist Council of Nagalim (NSCN-IM) resumed after nearly two years with the former special director of the Intelligence Bureau (IB) AK Mishra meeting the rebel outfit’s general secretary Thuingaleng Muivah in Nagaland’s Dimapur on Monday.

While the Centre had stressed that it was in favour of resolving the Naga imbroglio as soon as possible, the NSCN-IM said any solution to the Naga issue without the ‘sacred’ Naga flag and constitution would be meaningless.

In a significant development, Assam Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma, who is considered a troubleshooter for Union Home Minister Amit Shah, and his Nagaland counterpart Neiphiu Rio will meet Muivah on Tuesday. Sources said Rio had arrived in Dimapur from Kohima on Monday for the meeting.

The peace talks ran into trouble after the Centre’s interlocutor RN Ravi had allegedly circulated a “doctored” version of the Framework Agreement, signed between the Centre and the rebel group in 2015 in the presence of Prime Minister Narendra Modi in New Delhi.

Even as a bitter spat between Ravi and NSCN-IM continued, Shah deputed Sarma, who was then serving as Assam’s Finance Minister, Rio and a Naga social activist to meet Muivah in Delhi to understand their grievances.

In due course, the trio convinced Shah that Ravi should be relieved of his responsibilities as interlocutor. Subsequently, Mishra was roped in with a senior serving IB official to continue the engagements with NSCN-IM, followed by their informal meetings with the outfit’s leadership.

For the last year, Muivah has maintained that only Ravi’s removal from the post of interlocutor would ensure the talks’ progress.

ALSO READ | Are taxes levied by militants legal? Nagaland stands united against extortion by rebel groups

“The NSCN had exercised much restraint against the systematic ultimatum issued by the representative of GoI (Ravi) since July 2019, which was replaced during the talks on October 31, 2019. The representative of GoI has acted very irresponsibly and disrespectful (sic) to the Naga talk teams during the talks on January 30 in Dimapur, referring to the NSCN proposal submitted on January 18 as stupid and contaminated,” Muivah’s February 2020 letter to the PM reads.

Ravi, who was also serving as the Nagaland governor, is now holding the gubernatorial position of Tamil Nadu.

Meanwhile, NSCN-IM leader R Raising told journalists on Monday that it would be meaningless to sign any agreement that denies the Nagas their flag and constitution.

“Any agreement, which is short of the (Naga) flag and the constitution, will be unacceptable to the people and the NSCN-IM. It will be a meaningless agreement,” Raising said.

“The Government of India had invited us to resume the talks. They sent their representative on the basis of a directive from the PM. We reaffirmed the Framework Agreement during today’s meeting in letter and in spirit,” Raising said.

He said the success of the peace talks would depend on the sincerity and commitment of both sides.

The Centre is holding parallel talks with seven other groups which came together under the banner of Naga National Political Groups or NNPGs and Raising said the NSCN-IM has already made its position clear that the solution would be inclusive.