With four days to before before the alleged deadline for a ‘final’ Naga settlement ends, a crucial meeting is taking place in New Delhi this week between the Governor and former interlocutor R N Ravi, Home ministry officials and representatives of NSCN (IM) and other political groups.
The deadline of October 31 has gained currency because of a series of notifications cancelling leave of security and medical personnel in Nagaland and Manipur, call for reinforcement with Reserved Battalions, asking security forces to stock up essential provisions but asking people not to panic.
The Government appears to have succeeded in isolating NSCN (IM) which was deserted last week by a number of members, on the issue of a separate flag and constitution. While NSCN(IM) has accused Governor Ravi of trying to divide Nagas and going back on the commitment given in the framework agreement reached in August, 2015, the Government is learn to have described these measures as ‘symbolic’ and which should not come in the way of a settlement.
The Government is learnt to have offered greater autonomy, more representation of the Nagas in the legislatures and an economic package, besides other sops. But NSCN (IM) , at least the core group of the NSCN (IM), believes going back on the flag and the constitution would amount to a betrayal.
Other Naga Groups, impatient for a settlement and a peaceful solution, seem more amenable to accept the Government’s offer to continue discussions on the twin issues post-settlement. On Sunday, the Working Committee of the association of Naga political parties called upon elected MLAs and MPs to take sides and support publicly one position or the other.
NSCN(IM) has also publicly criticised the ultimatum of October 31. The Nagaland Governor, however, compared the Naga issue to a car in a neutral gear but with the engine running. Nobody would like, he said, to remain in such a car for a long time. He had earlier reiterated that endless negotiations on the point of a gun was not acceptable.
The meetings come at a time when some sections of the civil society have been voicing the apprehension that groups of armed NSCN(IM) troops have sneaked out of their camp and crossed the border.
The moment is described by NSCN(IM) as Nagas’’tryst with destiny’ and in a statement the insurgent group lauded the civil society for ‘rising to the occasion’.
Newspapers in Nagaland reported that “ NSCN (I-M), through its MIP, hit out at government of India’s Interlocutor and Nagaland Governor R.N. Ravi whom it accused of going too far “ to underestimate Nagas in taking care of our legitimate historical rights” but that Naga civil society groups “stood up boldly and to prove him (RN Ravi) wrong and to show him to mind his language of divisive tone.”
NSCN (IM) also lauded the civil society organizations for “taming R.N. Ravi to be moderate and not to resort to unethical psychological pressure using threat”.