Interlocutor for Naga peace talks to be named soon

Kohima, Dec 29: An interlocutor for peace talks between the union government and the separatist National Socialist Council of Nagaland (Isak-Muivah) faction will be appointed very soon, a top home ministry official said Sunday.

Former Nagaland chief secretary R.S. Pandey, who was chief negotiator for talks with the Naga rebel group, resigned and joined the Bharatiya Janata Party. He will contest the 2014 Lok Sabha polls from Bihar’s Valmikinagar.

“The government has not taken a decision as to who will replace Pandey, but the name of the new interlocutor is likely to be announced soon,” said Shambhu Singh, joint secretary (northeast) in the home ministry.

He, however, refused to elaborate further.

Four names — Lt. Gen. (retd) R.N. Kapur, former Assam Police chief G.M. Srivastava, Ajit Lal, currently chairman of the joint intelligence committee and a former special director of the Intelligence Bureau, and R.N. Ravi, who retired as Intelligence Bureau special director — are doing the rounds.

The NSCN-IM has been fighting for an independent Nagaland for over six decades.

It has also demanded a “Greater Nagaland”, slicing off parts of three neighbouring states to unite 1.2 million Nagas.

The demand is being opposed by Assam, Manipur and Arunachal Pradesh.

The union government and the outfit entered into a ceasefire agreement in August 1997.

They have held more than 50 rounds of peace talks to end one of south Asia’s longest-running insurgencies in which 25,000 people have died since 1947.

During earlier talks, the NSCN-IM proposed “a special federal arrangement” to enable self-governance, but the negotiations ended inconclusively.

The NSCN-IM wants a special federal relationship with India, with a separate Naga constitution, and would like the guerrillas to jointly guard the international border alongside Indian security forces.