Nagaland governor R.N. Ravi in his message to the people on Monday on the eve of the 58th Statehood Day said the Centre is “absolutely clear” that there is and there shall be “only one” national flag and Constitution in India.
Ravi’s unambiguous message came amid the NSCN (Isak-Muivah) repeatedly stressing that a “serious deadlock” has emerged over its demand for a separate Naga national flag and constitution. The outfit has also stated “very loud and clear” during the ongoing talks that there was “no way forward” without finalising the two issues.
Ravi said, “The Indian national flag and Constitution are the pride of the people of India. The Government of India is absolutely clear that there is and there shall be only one national flag and Constitution in India. Anyone talking anything contrary is peddling preposterous lies. They are trying to confuse and mislead the people.”
Ravi’s message assumes significance because he is also the Centre’s interlocutor for talks with NSCN (I-M) and a signatory to the 2015 Framework Agreement with the outfit. The outfit has been ceasefire since 1997 to find an amicable and lasting solution to the decades-old Naga political problem. The NSCN (I-M) reiterated its stand on Tuesday in its news bulletin Nagalim Voice, asserting the demand is non-negotiable.
The governor’s five-page message, among others, paid tributes to the founding fathers of Nagaland, which was formed in 1963, a move which is an “abiding testimony” to the triumph of the politics of peace over the politics of bloodshed.
“Friends, the essence of India is its unity in diversity. Multitudes of ethnicities, languages, cultures and cuisine enrich this beautiful country from Kerala to Kashmir and Kohima to Kutch. The territorial integrity and sovereignty of the Union of India is supreme. The Government of India has never ever talked, much less negotiated with anyone on the territorial integrity and sovereignty of the country. Any misadventure to disintegrate this great nation shall not be tolerated,” Ravi said.
Without naming any group, he asserted that a common understanding was reached “on all issues on the table” and with the conclusion of talks on October 31, 2019, the people of Nagaland are anxiously waiting for a new dawn.
“However, there are some people who are standing as a roadblock to the aspirations of the people of Nagaland. I urge these people to see the writings on the wall, to come out of their make-believe echo-chamber and listen to the voice of the people and in a true democratic spirit respect their wishes,” Ravi said in oblique reference to NSCN (I-M).
Ties between Ravi and the outfit are strained, so much so that it wanted his replacement. Ravi’s message will only aggravate the strained ties. The Centre had to rope in senior Intelligence Bureau officials to continue talks with NSCN (I-M).
At a function to celebrate statehood day at the Raj Bhavan in Kohima on Tuesday, Ravi and other participants paid glowing tributes to the founding fathers of Nagaland — leaders of the Naga Peoples’ Convention (NPC) and to the martyrs who sacrificed their life for securing the honourable future for the Naga people and created Nagaland as the 16th state of the Union of India, an official statement said.
While unveiling a bust of Imkongliba Ao, the then president of NPC and who was martyred soon after, at the Raj Bhavan, Ravi urged the people to renew their sense of gratitude to the founding fathers and commit themselves to build a Nagaland of their dreams where genius of the Naga people will blossom to the fullest.
Ravi also praised former chief minister and Padma Bhushan awardee S.C. Jamir, the sole living NPC signatory to the 16-point agreement. The NPC members included village heads, tribal leaders and intellectuals of Nagaland.
Also known as the statehood agreement, the 16-point agreement was signed in Delhi between the NPC and the Government of India on July 26, 1960, leading to the creation of a full-fledged state on December 1, 1963.
However, the protagonist of the Naga insurgency movement A.Z. Phizo and his Naga National Council opposed the pact. The NSCN (I-M) too is opposed to the 16-point agreement.
“The NPC came out of nowhere and signed the 16-Point Agreement where the Naga solution was hijacked and a state under the Indian Constitution was accepted giving a foothold to the Indian government to claim that from thence Nagas were a part of India,” the NSCN (I-M) said on Tuesday, flaying Ravi.