Nagaland Governor and the Centre's interlocutor for Naga talks, R. N. Ravi on Monday said that there is and there shall be only one National Flag and Constitution and anyone talking anything contrary was "peddling preposterous lies."
The Governor also claimed that since the 1980s, the insurgency in Nagaland was inspired by Maoist ideology and tactics.
Condemning Ravi's statement, the NSCN-IM, the rebel group in ceasefire issued a statement hours later in which it said that the present Nagaland state was the brainchild of a few "treacherous Nagas" that showed up in the name of Naga People’s Convention hijacking the Naga issue without the concern of the bona fide freedom fighters.
The NSCN-IM has been continuously insisting that solution to the decades-old Naga conflict was impossible without recognition to the separate Naga flag and Constitution.
"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 are 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. 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 said in his message on the eve of 58th Statehood Day of Nagaland to be celebrated on Tuesday.
However, the NSCN-IM had several times claimed that Framework Agreement it signed with the Centre in August 2015 had agreed on "shared sovereignty" with the Nagas and the issue of Flag and Constitution was a stumbling block for signing the final agreement.
Stating that insurgency and the endless peace process was taking a heavy toll on the people and society in Nagaland, Ravi said, "Since 1980, the people of Nagaland have suffered enormously by the guns of people from outside the State, inspired by Maoist ideology and tactics. In pursuance of their new found political ideology which was antithetical to the inherent ethos, values and customary systems of Naga society, they unleashed a cultural genocide, akin to the Cultural Revolution in our neighbouring country and killed thousands of Nagas including infants and women and tried to exterminate the tribal and intellectual leadership of Nagaland. Free-speech was muzzled with guns and political dissenters were exterminated. Scores of churches were destroyed. These are documented facts of history."
Stating that Naga society demands the conclusion of the endless peace-process without any further delay, the Governor said, "They want the end of the gun-culture. They want the rule of law and justice. They want an environment for the flourishing of the genius of its people. Every other entity should respect them and their wishes. Being disrespectful to the primary stakeholders is an insult to the people of Nagaland. Any attempt to intimidate or threaten them will invite the wrath of the people and the full might of the laws of the land."
Without taking the name of NSCN-IM, Ravi said common understanding having been reached on all the issues on the table and conclusion of talks on October 31, 2019, the people of Nagaland are anxiously waiting for the 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."
The Naga National Political Groups (NNPGs), a forum of seven other rebel groups also signed another agreement with the Centre in 2019 and agreed to sign the final agreement without insisting on the issue of Flag and Constitution.