The Government of India is planning to complete the peace talks with militant groups of Nagaland by September this year and the next round of talks between the Centre’s interlocutor RN Ravi and leaders of the National Socialist Council of Nagalim (I-M) is scheduled to be held in New Delhi next week. Senior leaders of the militant outfit are already in New Delhi and Ravi, who is the Governor of Nagaland, is scheduled to reach on Tuesday.
Highly placed sources in the Government of India told The Assam Tribune that the talks are in the final stage and outbreak of COVID-19 pandemic delayed the process. The Government is of the view that the talks should not drag on any longer and the process should be completed by September.
Sources said that the process of talks with the Naga National Political Groups (NNPG), an umbrella body of seven militant groups, is complete. But some minor issues are yet to be settled with the NSCN (I-M). “Most of the major issues have been settled with the NSCN (I-M) and drafting of the formal agreement may take some time. The Government has refused to accept the demand of the NSCN (I-M) to give separate flag and Constitution. But at the same time, the Government has made it clear that those issues can be discussed further peacefully even after the signing of the agreement,” sources added.
On the decision to hold the next round of talks in New Delhi, sources said that in recent times, NSCN (I-M) general secretary Th Muivah has not been keeping good health and it is difficult for him to come out of camp Hebron, which is the headquarter of the outfit, frequently for talks. Muivah is now in Delhi for treatment and that is why, the decision was taken to hold the next round of talks in the national capital. Other senior leaders of the outfit have been sent to Delhi last week as they have to follow the COVID protocol of quarantine after inter-state travel.
Replying to a question on whether it would be possible to sign the agreement before the Independence Day, sources admitted that it might be difficult to do so though the Government is keen on completing the process as soon as possible. Some formalities have to be completed and the agreement will have to be drafted meticulously. This may take some time, sources added.
Sources said that there would be only one accord with all the Naga militant groups. Before the signing of the agreement, the outfits would have to submit detailed list of cadres so that proper rehabilitation package can be drafted. Moreover, the outfits would have to submit inventory of weapons at their disposal to pave the way for surrender of weapons before the signing of the formal agreement.
Government of India sources further said that as the talks dragged on for a long time since 1997, some “vested interest circles have developed and they want to maintain status quo for their own benefit. Such groups are desperate to delay the process, but the Government is determined to complete the process by September.”