Finally, Centre's Naga Talks Interlocutor Makes Way For Replacement

RN Ravi was made Nagaland Governor in 2019 despite, according to sources, opposition from the NSCN (IM), a key Naga rebel group.

A 1976-batch IPS officer of Kerala cadre, Mr Ravi was also with the IB earlier.

A day after the Centre resumed talks with rebel group National Socialist Council of Nagaland-Isak-Muivah (NSCN I-M), former Nagaland Governor RN Ravi today resigned as its interlocutor for the negotiations. This makes way for the government to appoint his replacement and resolve an issue that had turned into an embarrassment for it.

Mr Ravi was transferred as Tamil Nadu governor nearly two weeks ago but had not resigned as interlocutor.

Talks between NSCN (IM) and the Centre, meanwhile, resumed yesterday in Dimapur, led by former Intelligence Bureau (IB) Special Director Akshaya Kumar Mishra. Since his retirement in April 2021, he has been playing the role of advisor to the Union Home Ministry on matters related to India's northeast.

Mr Ravi did not attend yesterday's meeting.

Sources indicate that Mr Mishra's name will be announced by the ministry as the new interlocutor. Indications are that IB Director Arvind Kumar may also join him as an additional interlocutor.

Mr Mishra is a 1987 batch former IPS officer of the Rajasthan cadre.

"He (Mr Mishra) has been dealing with the NSCN after relations between the NSCN's Thuingaleng Muivah and Mr Ravi deteriorated," a senior ministry official explained.

It is due to Mr Mishra's efforts that the ministry has, in the past couple of months, been able to sign a peace pact with the NSCN and an accord with five armed groups based in Assam's Karbi-Anglong district.

"These are big achievements for the ministry and we hope that the stand-off between the Centre and the Naga insurgent groups gets dissolved, too," another senior official divulged.

The last formal talks between the NSCN (IM) and Mr Ravi took place in January 2020. Following that, the two sides met informally in New Delhi last August.

The talks ran into trouble after Mr Ravi allegedly circulated a "doctored" version of the framework agreement signed in 2015 between Issak Chishi Swu, Thuingaleng Muivah, and him in the presence of Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

There were also bitter exchanges between Mr Ravi and the NSCN (IM). Home Minister Shah then deputed Himanta Biswa Sarma, then the Assam Finance Minister, along with Nagaland Chief Minister Neiphiu Rio and a Naga social activist, to meet Mr Muivah in Delhi to understand their grievances.

Mr Ravi was made Nagaland Governor in 2019 despite, according to sources, opposition from the NSCN (IM).