‘Trust deficit’ in Ravi casts cloud on Naga talks
The National Socialist Council of Nagalim (I-M) has urged the Centre to look beyond R.N. Ravi as the interlocutor of the ongoing Naga peace talks as he had allegedly “twisted the Framework Agreement to justify his own narrative” on the pact.
Asserting that the “most high-profile” peace process in Southeast Asia has reached “the tipping point” because of Ravi’s “vitriolic attack” on the Naga issue, the NSCN (I-M), in a no-holds-barred five-page statement on Tuesday night, accused Ravi of having “misled” the parliamentary standing committee on the steps taken to resolve the Naga issue.
The outfit, in ceasefire with the Centre since 1997 to amicably resolve the Naga political issue, has made the accusations at a time its collective leadership is holding talks with Union home ministry officials in Delhi to remove hurdles delaying a final solution to the issue.
Ravi, a signatory to the Framework Agreement on behalf of the Centre on August 3, 2015, is also in Delhi for the talks.
The NSCN (I-M) said a line in the “modified” Framework Agreement circulated among 14 Naga tribes and organisations by Ravi states, “It is a matter of great satisfaction that dialogue between the Government of India and the NSCN has successfully concluded and we are confident it will provide for an enduring inclusive relationship of peaceful co-existence of two entities.”
The outfit said the line should have read “it will provide for an enduring inclusive new relationship of peaceful co-existence of the two entities.”
It alleged that Ravi had removed the word “new”, which has become the point of conflict, delaying the peace process.
“Significantly, the word ‘new’ is politically sensitive as it goes to define the meaning of peaceful co-existence of the two entities (two sovereign powers).
“Further, ‘NEW relationship’ strongly indicates (it is) outside the purview of Indian Constitution. When ‘NEW’ is removed there is room for misinterpreting it as under Indian Constitution,” the outfit said in the statement.
The NSCN (I-M) has also accused Ravi of lacking in transparency, using “unparliamentary words” with its negotiating team, creating the Naga National Political Groups as a third party in the ongoing peace process and misleading Naga tribes and organisations on the Framework Agreement, among others.
“The issue is now in the court of the Government of India that should come out with an undertaking that the FA is still alive in its original form and to be handled by somebody other than R.N. Ravi, who is sensitive enough to understand and respect what has been achieved during the past 23 years,” the statement said.
The allegations reflected the strained relationship between the NSCN (I-M) and Ravi, which came to the fore following the latter’s June 16 letter to chief minister Neiphiu Rio touching on the “grim law and order and rampant extortion” by “armed gangs” followed by his direction to profile government employees having links with underground elements.
Praising Prime Minister Narendra Modi for “guiding and supervising signing of the historic Framework Agreement, the NSCN (I-M) said the “very doings of his representative Ravi” has cast a “huge trust deficit” as his role has come to be seen as nothing short of “disowning” the Framework Agreement.
Efforts to contact Ravi proved futile.