DIMAPUR: It’s difficult to react to the news report that the Government of India (GoI) has decided not to sign separate agreements with different militant outfits of Nagaland, but if any outfit is willing to join the peace process, they would be welcome to do so.

The Centre’s Interlocutor for Naga talks, RN Ravi, who is also the Chairman of the Joint Intelligence Committee (JIC), reportedly disclosed this to the The Assam Tribune. Ravi reportedly said that the GoI favours a comprehensive solution of the Naga political issues and it is of the view that signing separate agreements with different outfits would only complicate matters, adding that the GoI has already made it clear that if any other militant group, including the NSCN (K), is willing to join the peace process, it is welcome to do so.

At the same time, Ravi is reported to have said that the Government would not wait for a long time for the other ultra groups to come for talks.

Against the background of the Government of India having already signed a framework agreement with the NSCN (IM) and having already initiated steps for a comprehensive solution of the issues, The Assam Tribune report states that Ravi further said that the GoI has decided to take all the stakeholders on board and talks were held with the civil society groups, legislators and various organizations on issues pertaining to a permanent solution.

The Assam Tribune quoted Ravi saying: “The doors are open for any of the stakeholders to come for talks or to give their suggestions for permanent and comprehensive solution of the issues. But the Government cannot wait for a long time for the other ultra groups. If they do not come for talks now, they will miss the bus”.

It may be recalled that the NSCN (K) had abrogated its cease-fire agreement with the Government early this year and formed a common platform with three other rebel groups of the region, which have bases in Myanmar. It must also be mentioned that though efforts are being made by different civil society groups of Nagaland to bring the outfit back to the negotiation table, so far the outfit has not responded positively to these overtures to join the peace process.

Ravi’s reported statements are interesting but need more clarification. While it is true that signing several agreements with numerous outfits would be impractical and would certainly complicate matters, by his aforesaid statements, is Ravi saying that the framework agreement and the “comprehensive solution” that is expected to emerge out if it, would be the last word?

If so, by saying this is Ravi also saying that all other outfits of Nagaland must/should unite/merge under the banner of the NSCN (IM)?

Ravi’s statements are also quite disturbing because it sort of gives the impression that the GoI needs to give an ultimatum to non-NSCN (IM) outfits here to “unite” ~ (perhaps even dance to the NSCN (IM)’s tunes?).

Ravi’s reported statements are bound to ruffle quite a few feathers amongst the outfits, as also amongst the people and civil society organizations here because these statements also give the impression that the GoI is ignoring and/or invalidating the very reasons for the existence of the numerous outfits here ~ thus obliquely ignoring and invalidating Naga history and political legacy and worse still even discounting the fact that the Naga people are yet to give their mandate to any of Naga Political Groups (NPGs) to speak on our behalf.

Then again, let’s not forget that no one here knows the contents of the “framework agreement”. Yes, it would be ideal if all our NPGs could and would bury their hatchets but prioritize only the Naga people’s interest, welfare and benefit to resolve the Naga issue, which is basically everyone’s opinion here. However, seeing that all our NPGs have their own opinions on the Naga issue and if they are disregarded, it would be a pity if it is actually the Government of India, which misses the bus by being adamant and not including all NPGs in the peace process to arrive at a “comprehensive solution”.

Somehow Ravi’s reported statements also gives the impression that the Government of India has reached a cul-de-sac as regards the “comprehensive solution” to the Naga issue and is unable to move forward hence it is resorting - and not-so-subtly - to a kind of muscle-flexing by deciding not to sign separate agreements with different militant outfits of Nagaland.

(Monalisa Changkija is the Editor, Nagaland Page )