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NSCN and Naga peace talks

  • Published
    7th May, 2022
Context

The annual report of the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) released recently said that the Isak-Muivah faction of the National Socialist Council of Nagaland (NSCN-IM) was involved in 44% of insurgency-related incidents in Nagaland in 2020.

About

Who are Naga’s?

‘Naga’ is a generic term which refers to a group of over 30 tribes inhabiting not only the boundaries along and within Nagaland, but also some hilly regions of the adjoining states of Assam, Manipur and Arunachal Pradesh, and some parts of the bordering nation, Myanmar.

History of Naga resurgence:

  • Inner Line Permit: The British were not keen to extend their empire into the Naga Hills due to the hostile attitude of the hill tribes, who always took the British as an occupation force out to control the freedom of the Nagas and interfere with their distinct cultural identity.
  • In the given situation, the British found it convenient to protect them with the Inner Line Permits.
  • Thereafter, the spread of Christianity and establishment of modern political, administrative, and educational institutions led to an educated, elite class amongst the Nagas.
  • In 1918, Nagas, with the help of the British officials, formed the Naga Club.
  • In 1935, the then Government of India Act designated the Naga Hill districts as “excluded areas” wherein the Nagas could continue to maintain their traditions, culture and lifestyle with little interference from the federal or provincial governments. This ultimately led to the formation of the Naga National Council in 1946.
  • A nine-Point Agreement was signed in June 1947 between the Naga leaders and Akbar Hydari, then Governor of Assam, wherein it was agreed that, ten years after the signing of the agreement, the Nagas would be free to decide their own future.
  • The Nagas even boycotted the first general elections of independent India in 1952 on expected lines.
  • In 1956, the Naga militants, under the leadership of Phizo, created a secret government known as the Naga Federal Government (NFG) with around 1,500 armed guerrilla fighters.
  • This started the so-called ‘freedom struggle for Greater Nagaland better known as ‘Nagalim’.
  • The Indian government, in a reactive approach, first, sent in the Army to control insurrections and, subsequently, Nagaland was given the status of an Indian state in 1962, with the existing boundaries of the state.
  • This, however, did not satisfy many in the NNC and NFG, who, following years of negotiations with the government, eventually signed the Shillong Accord of 1975, agreeing to surrender arms and accept the Constitution.

About National Socialist Council of Nagaland (NSCN):

  • Naga Leaders like Isak Chishi Swu, Thuingaleng Muivah, S S Khaplang left NNC and formed the National Socialist Council of Nagaland (NSCN).
  • Their aim was to establish a sovereign Naga state.
  • In 1988 the group split into two
  • NSCN (IM) led by Muivah and Isak
  • NSCN (K) led by Khaplang

Where do the peace talks stand now?

  • After the 1997 ceasefire with NSCN-IM, there have been over a hundred rounds of talks spanning over 24 years between the Centre and the insurgent group, while a solution is still awaited.
  • After many rounds of talk, the group signed a framework agreement for the Naga Peace Accordin August 2015.
  • The then Joint Intelligence Chief R.N. Ravi was appointed the interlocutor for Naga peace talks and signed the agreement on behalf of the Centre.
  • He was later appointed as Nagaland’s Governor in 2019 to further the negotiations.
  • The negotiations hit an impasse in 2020, with the NSCN-IM demanding the removal of Mr. Ravi as interlocutor, accusing him of “high handedness” and tweaking the agreement to mislead other Naga groups.
  • The NSCN-IM continued to demand a separate flag and constitution for the Nagas and the creation of Nagalim, which it claimed was agreed upon in the Agreement.
  • After Ravi’s removal as the interlocutor last year, IB officer K. Mishra, was first appointed as the centre’s adviser and then the interlocutor for the peace talks.

The State Profile

  • Nagaland borders the State of Assam, Arunachal Pradesh, Manipur and Burma, inhabited by 16 major tribes and various sub-tribes.
  • The Naga tribes always had socio-economic and political links with tribes in Assam and Myanmar.
  • The British East India Company took control of Assam in 1826. By 1892, all of Nagaland except the Tuensang area was governed by the British.
  • It was politically amalgamated into Assam, which was a part of the province of Bengal for long periods.
  • In 1957, the Naga Hills became a district of Assam.
  • Statehood was officially granted in 1963 and the first state-level democratic elections were held in 1964.
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