NEW DELHI, AUG 29 :Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) yet again overruled a suggestion of the Home Ministry and appointed R.N Ravi, Chairman of Joint Intelligence Committee (JIC), as new interlocutor for Naga peace talks.
Sources said that the Government of India was keen on expediting the peace talks, and in this regard chairman of the Joint Intelligence Committee (JIC), RN Ravi, has been appointed as the “official interlocutor and the Government of India’s representative for Naga talks”.
“The government has appointed R.N Ravi, Chairman, Joint Intelligence Committee as the new official interlocutor and government of India representative for Naga peace talks,” an official notification said today.
Ravi, who was instrumental in persuading and convincing the NSCN (I-M) leadership that solution of the problem was possible within the framework of Indian Constitution, has been given the liberty to change the format of the talks, making negotiations time-bound and expeditious, sources said.
Official sources said Home Minister Rajnath Singh had recommended the name of Ajit Lal, who had retired as Chairman of JIC in July 2014, as the interlocutor for Naga talks.
However, after deliberating over the suggestion for several weeks, the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) overruled the recommendation and appointed Ravi as the interlocutor for Naga talks.
The reason behind appointment of Ravi for the post was his expertise in Northeast affairs as he was looking after the region during his tenure in the Intelligence Bureau from where he retired as Special Director in 2012. Ravi, a 1976 batch IPS officer from Kerala cadre, was appointed as JIC Chairman early this week.
Ravi’s appointment has come about seven months after the last interlocutor R.S Pandey resigned from the post. The post was being looked after by Ajit Lal.
As the new interlocutor, Ravi will have to negotiate NSCN (I-M), who had blamed the previous Manmohan Singh government of failure to evolve a solution to the vexed insurgency problem in Nagaland, saying the UPA regime “lacked decisive leadership”.
The government had entered into truce with the NSCN (I-M) in 1997 and since then more than 80 rounds of talks have been held between the Centre and NSCN led by chairman Isak Chishi Swu and general secretary Th. Muivah without a concrete outcome in the last 17 years of truce.
In the past, former Governor Swaraj Kaushal, former Union Minister Oscar Fernandes and former Union Home Secretary K Padmanabhaiah had acted as interlocutors and had held talks with the Naga rebels.
However, not much headway could be made in the talks and increased clashes between NSCN (I-M) and NSCN (K) group were witnessed.
The Home Minister’s office later said that the decision to appoint Ravi was taken by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in consultation with Home Minister Rajnath Singh.
“Ravi’s name was recommended by the Home Minister and subsequently he was appointed as Naga interlocutor,” an official said.
Ealier, Naga Hoho through its communication cell had expressed dismay with the appointment of R.N. Ravi as the new interlocutor for Naga talks. Naga Hoho said at this juncture it was imperative to have a neutral interlocutor “without any prejudices” adding that R.N. Ravi’s recent article had “clearly affirmed his bent of mind and his preset notions” of different NPGs.
Naga hoho said such a person would never strive to bring political settlement but “sacrifice” the hard earned peace process by using “mighty Indian forces,” a line advocated by different Indian intelligence officials. The hoho appealed to the government of India and its leaders to seriously ponder on the matter and appoint another interlocutor who possessed no military or IB background.
NSCN (I-M) had recently slammed R.N. Ravi for a “malicious and distorted’ article published in a national daily on January 23, 2014 under the caption ‘Nagaland: decent into chaos’. NSCN (I-M) had termed Ravi’s article as “an expression of a frustrated fiasco” as Indian’s intelligence department was bent on dividing the Nagas.
Earlier, Centre had cleared the name of R.N Ravi as the new chief of Joint Intelligence Committee, a body tasked to assess intelligence gathered by various intelligence agencies including IB and RAW.
Ravi, a 1976 batch IPS officer from Kerala, who retired in 2012 as Special Director of Intelligence Bureau, will hold the charge for next three years in the rank and pay of a Secretary to the Government.
The JIC functions under the National Security Council Secretariat. The post had fallen vacant after the retirement of Ajit Lal on July 31. Ravi was also directed by the Centre to hold additional charge as the interlocutor for Naga talks.