After over a year, crucial meetings between the Government of India envoy and Naga insurgent outfits began here on Monday to settle the long-pending Naga political issue involving various bodies, including the NSCN (IM).
Officials in Kohima said that former special director of the Intelligence Bureau (IB) and Central government representative A.K. Mishra and the NSCN (IM) leadership led by Thuingaleng Muivah held a meeting at the police complex in Chumoukedima.
NSCN-IM leader Rh Raising told the media after the meeting that everything should be initiated on the basis of the Framework agreement signed with the government in 2015.
“We reiterated our commitment to the Framework agreement in letter and spirit. After the Covid-19 pandemic, the talks have resumed. The Government of India has sent us a letter stating that Mishra will hold talks with our leaders,” Raising told a television channel.
Stating that a separate flag and constitution are uncompromising issues, Raising said: “Any agreement without separate flag and constitution is unacceptable and meaningless. The solution must be inclusive. We can’t sign an agreement ignoring the sentiments of our cadres.”
Both Mishra and other NSCN-IM leaders remained tight-lipped about the details of the discussions held in Monday’s crucial meeting, which took place for the first time after the Union government on September 9 transferred Nagaland Governor Ravindra Narayan Ravi to Tamil Nadu.
Ravi was the government’s interlocutor for the much-debated Naga peace talks, which are now in the last stages of finalisation.
Though Assam Governor Jagdish Mukhi has been given the additional charge as Nagaland Governor until regular arrangements are made, there is no official word yet about who would be the Centre’s interlocutor for the vital peace talks.
Ravi, a former Intelligence Bureau (IB) official, has been transferred to Tamil Nadu at a time when his relation with the Isak-Muivah faction of the National Socialist Council of Nagalim (NSCN-IM) turned very sour.
Mishra, who is also the advisor on northeast affairs in the Home Ministry, arrived in Kohima on Saturday to resume the talks with various Naga groups and stakeholders.
The former IB chief is also likely to meet the working committee of the seven Naga National Political Groups (NNPGs).
Officials on condition of anonymity said that in another development, Assam Chief Minister and convenor of the North East Democratic Alliance (NEDA), Himanta Biswa Sarma, is likely to visit Dimapur on Tuesday to hold meetings with both the government officials and the leaders of the Naga groups.
“For the first time, Sarma might have been assigned by Union Home Minister Amit Shah to talk with all the stakeholders and get everyone on board before a final agreement is inked over the protracted Naga issue,” a senior Nagaland government official said, refusing to be named.
The Central government has been separately holding peace talks with the NSCN-IM and eight other outfits, which came together a few years ago under the banner of NNPGs.
The NSCN-IM and the other outfits entered into a ceasefire agreement with the Government of India in 1997.
The NSCN-IM, the dominant Naga group since August 1997, has held around 80 rounds of negotiations with the Centre.
The NSCN-IM and the intelligence sources said that while many of the 31 demands of the Nagas have been almost resolved during the talks with the Centre, differences remained over a separate flag and a separate constitution.
Former Nagaland Governor Ravi had outrightly rejected the demand for a separate flag and a constitution for the state as demanded by the NSCN-IM.