Kohima meet seeks to break deadlock in Naga peace talk

Nagaland Governor R N Ravi

With the rebel group NSCN (IM) bent on its "core demands" for separate flag and Constitution for the Nagas, Centre's interlocutor and Nagaland Governor R N Ravi has called a meeting of various stakeholders including church leaders to work out ways for signing a final agreement to end the decades-long Naga conflict.

Official sources said Ravi has also invited leaders of all 14 Naga tribes in Nagaland for a consultation on October 18 at a hotel in the state capital Kohima to apprise them about the progress made so far in the talks and discuss on how to reach an "inclusive" agreement. 

Ravi had earlier said Prime Minister Narendra Modi asked him to complete the negotiation by October for signing a final agreement but NSCN-IM's refusal to sign the agreement with its "core demands" being fulfilled gave a blow to his efforts. Ravi and a few central officials held talks with an NSCN-IM delegate in New Delhi on October 10 but sources said it could not break the ice.

Naga groups including NSCN (IM) do not consider Nagas to be part of India and have fought an armed fight till it signed a ceasefire with the Centre in 1997. After years of negotiation, the NSCN (IM) signed a "Framework Agreement" with Narendra Modi government in August 2015, which accepted the Nagas problem as a unique one.

NSCN (IM) said Nagas would never merge with India but agreed to "share sovereignty" given the complications involved in finding a permanent solution. The rebel group said a seperate flag and Constitution is a must to maintain the uniqueness of the Nagas, which was accepted by the Centre in the 2015 Framework Agreement.

Ravi also met leaders of Naga National Political Group (NNPG) in New Delhi on Monday. The NSCN-IM, however, slammed the NNPG saying they did not represent the Naga cause. 

Meanwhile, Naga Hoho, the apex tribal body of the Nagas in Nagaland stated that any accord that does not honour the Nagas' "legitimate rights" for integration, a separate Naga flag as well as a constitution is neither honourable nor acceptable to the Nagas.

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