TODAY -

RN Ravi sheds light on 'shared sovereingty'
Source: The Sangai Express

Kohima, August 28 2015 : Interlocutor for Naga Peace talks, RN Ravi who arrived at Kohima on Wednesday, has been holding a series of consultative meetings with various organizations and church for evolving a solution to the Naga political issue, based on the framework of the Naga Peace Accord signed on August 3 in Delhi between the government of India and the NSCN (I-M).

In an exclusive interview to Nagaland Post at Hotel de Oriental Grand here Thursday evening, Ravi shed light on 'sharing of sovereign power' between the government of India and Nagas.

He explained, that it was to be a 'division of power', with Nagas having absolute power.

He cited the case with Article 371(A), contained in the 16-Point Agreement.

He said though Nagaland enjoyed absolute safeguard as per the Article, the Centre would have 'eminent domain' and overriding power.

Ravi said the first point in sharing sovereign power was that Nagas will be the 'master' and secondly, in case of minerals and resources "whatever is below and above land" will belong to Nagas.

He cited the ongoing contention between the Centre and government of Nagaland on petroleum issue, over which the two negotiating parties were trying to resolve it.

Ravi said "categorically we are going to make it sure that resources below and above belong to the Nagas… that will resolve the petroleum issue" .

The Interlocutor also pointed out that the Petroleum Act of India, predated Article 371(A) of Nagaland, so the Article "cannot override" the former.

He however explained, that a resolution on the issue would be brought to the satisfaction of the Nagas.

Ravi said sharing sovereign power will not be mere semantics or playing with words but that there will be a "genuine devolution" where Nagas will become "almost sovereign-like." He said this was what government of India translated in terms of uniqueness of Naga history.

The interlocutor pointed out, that at one point of time, Naga nationalist groups started with a motive when independence meant sovereignty.

Ravi however explained, that if independence was the only thing that Naga Political Groups (NPGs) need to talk about, then there would have been no talk.

When asked if the issue of Article 371(A) only covered Nagas of Nagaland, Ravi replied that both the entities were "talking about Nagas comprehensively" and not only about Nagas of Nagaland.

He clarified that the negotiating parties were working on how to empower the Nagas in other parts of the country.

"We do not say that 371 (A) will be replicated there.

It can be something else but essentially, the Nagas outside Nagaland also are part of our discussions", added Ravi.

Further on the point of "what would be the shape" of the arrangement for Nagas outside Nagaland , he said it would depend on how it was negotiated by both the parties.

On the crucial issue of integration of Naga areas in the north east, Ravi admitted that it still remained in the agenda but added, that it would have to be achieved through a democratic process.

Ravi made it clear, that physical integration in terms of boundary, was not possible at this point of time, since the government of India was "not going to touch the boundaries of other States" .

"Integration, theoretically yes possible but practically no… when the states oppose, the people oppose you cannot just force unilaterally" he said.

He said redrawing political boundaries required a democratic and constitutional process by which new states were created.

In this regard, he said Nagas could still keep door open since the Centre has not rejected the demand but that they have to follow the process.

On inclusiveness of other NPGs, Ravi replied "when I say inclusiveness, we want all groups to join and share the ownership." He said that the government of India was serious about other groups joining the consultations and for which invitations were sent.

Ravi also made it clear that there will be just one Interlocutor and one talk for the Naga issue.

He said having several interlocutors and several talks could result in several solutions which would only make a "mockery of the Naga issue".

Ravi said the government of India will not make a mockery or joke of Naga issue as it was a "serious business" .

"There will be only one Interlocutor.

You have to engage with the Interlocutor.

If you are not been able to sit together, then that's your problem.

We can't force it but you have to sit with me and sort out the issues", added Ravi.

Asked if any positive steps were taken to include other NPGs, Ravi revealed that he had not invited other groups only after signing August 3 agreement but he had sent invitations prior to it.

He said as far as government of India was concerned, it has made a "very definite approach".

On the series of consultative meeting with stakeholders, Ravi said he found it very educative in knowing the views and aspirations of Nagas.

He further reiterated, that settlement was not restricted to the NSCN (I-M) but with entire Nagas.

Ravi pointed out that though the stakeholders were not part of the political dialogue, yet they were part of the peace process adding, all should have an ownership in the final settlement.

Further, Ravi said in his next visit, he would definitely welcome meeting with any groups or sections of society, apart from holding consultative meetings with tribal hohos and other stakeholders.


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