Modi wants Naga talks to conclude in 3 months: Guv

Kohima, Aug 16 (IANS) Nagaland Governor R.N. Ravi on Friday said Prime Minister Narendra Modi has expressed the need to conclude the Naga peace process within three months.

He said the Central government has resolved "all substantive issues" relating to the vexed Naga insurgency in the last five years.

"Before my appointment as Nagaland Governor, the PM had expressed the need to conclude the peace process within three months time... that is a long enough time because we have been talking and negotiating for the last 22 years," Ravi said while addressing a large gathering at a grand civic reception organised in his honour at Nagaland Baptist Church Council (NBCC) Convention Centre here.

The civic reception was attended by civil societies and church leaders of Nagaland.

Ravi, a former Intelligence Bureau (IB) officer, was sworn in as the Governor of Nagaland on August 1. He said the trust of the Naga people has been a humbling experience.

"At times I wonder what God has in store for me and all my Naga friends. I pray to Him to give me the wisdom to fulfil his mission, for the deliverance of our people who have been longing for peace for such a long time," he said.

"In the last five years, we have taken spontaneous steps by including all the stakeholders, both sides trying their best, and there is no reason why we cannot conclude it," he stated.

"We have resolved all substantive issues including powers that belong to the Naga people and they are the masters. On a few symbolic issues, options were offered and interlocutors were urged to explore," said Ravi, who is also the government's interlocutor for the ongoing peace talks with various Naga insurgent groups, including the Nationalist Socialist Council of Nagalim-Isak-Muivah (NSCN-IM).

Moreover, he said, "there was sincere intention in every attempt but inclusivity was missing: all the Naga armed groups, Naga tribal bodies, Naga civil societies, grassroots leaders, Naga intellectuals, senior citizens, elders and Naga legislators should be included".

The NSCN-IM, one of the main Naga militant groups had also said that the issue of integration of all Naga territories was an integral part of the ongoing political dialogue with the Centre.

The NSCN-IM has been in talks with the government since 1997 after the signing of a ceasefire agreement.

Allaying the apprehension that the abrogation of Article 370 in Jammu and Kashmir may cast a shadow on Nagaland, the Governor said: "Nothing of that sort will happen because Article 370 was a temporary provision."

However, the special constitutional provisions for Nagaland under Article 371(A) was the result of over three years of negotiation between the people of Nagaland and the Central government.

"It is a solemn commitment, it is not temporary or impermanent as Article 370 was," the Governor stated.

Chief Minister Neiphiu Rio described the Governor R.N. Ravi "as no stranger to the Naga people because of his role as the Indian government's interlocutor for the Naga political issue and whose name is a household name amongst the Naga families".

He said Modi appointed Ravi as the new Governor of Nagaland with an objective to resolve the Naga political issue and whose appointment at this juncture would pave the way for the Naga political settlement.

--IANS

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