Nagaland Assessment

Yearly Assessment 2013

The year ended on violent notes of ethnic turmoil between the Rengma Nagas and the Karbis. On 28 December 2013, Naga Rengma Hills Protection Force (NRHPF) executed the cold-blooded murder of ten Karbis, nine of them near Dimapur. This was a retaliatory action against the killing of nine Rengma Nagas by the KPLT (Karbi People’s Liberation Tigers) in the Chokihola area in Assam’s Karbi Anglong district on 27 December 2013. The stage was set for intra-tribal feuding. Altogether, 3,131 people (1,033 women and 911 children), about 1,600 of them Rengma Nagas and the rest Karbis, Adivasis and Nepalis, were displaced from their homes and took shelter in nine camps. Describing the cause of the attack, Assam Home Secretary G D Tripathi said, “The KPLT had issued a quit notice to Rengma Naga community sometime back, and had also fixed a deadline, which the latter ignored.” The community was targeted earlier in June 2013.

On 21 December, tension began between Sumi Nagas and NSCN(IM) when four armed NSCN-IM cadres allegedly molested two Sumi women and assaulted two men travelling to Zunheboto at Aghuyito village near Zunheboto district. The incident triggered mass resentment among the Sumi community, triggering a massive rally on 22 December, where it was resolved that the errant NSCN-IM cadres should be handed over to the District administration within three days, failing which a call for non-cooperation with NSCN-IM would be initiated. When the Sumi Hoho (the apex organisation of the Sumi community) asked the outfit to hand over its cadres, it refused. On 28 December, hundreds of Sumis marched towards the NSCN-IM’s designated camp at Mukalimi village under Pughoboto Subdivision in Zunheboto district. The protesters were fired on, allegedly by NSCN-IM cadres, leading to the death of two persons and injuries to six others.

Despite these fresh challenges, fatalities in Nagaland dropped dramatically from 61 (six civilians and 55 militants) in 2012 to just 32 (11 civilians and 21 militants) in 2013. Internecine clashes within the State also declined from 43 incidents in 2012, resulting in 53 persons killed and 23 injured, to 18 incidents in 2013, resulting in 12 killed and 11 injured. Factional killing between NSCN-K and NSCN-KK visibly slowed down in 2013. There were 10 incidents of abduction, in which 12 persons were abducted, as against three such incidents in 2012. In the worst such incident in 2013, two bodies, suspected to be that of a driver and a cleaner, were recovered from Sakhaba village in Kohima District on 3 February 2013. Suspected NSCN-K militants had abducted drivers and cleaners of four trucks from Manipur, near Kohima.

The year also witnessed the formation of the Action Committee Against Unabated Taxation (ACAUT) in Dimapur. In May the ACAUT was formed by several organizations under the aegis of Naga Council in an effort to check the rampant imposition of ‘illegal tax‘on thepeople, especially the business community, by various organizations, particularly including Naga underground outfits. On 31 October 2013, several thousand persons from all sections of society showed up to express support and solidarity with the campaign. The response of NSCN-IM was a declaration that ACAUT had no authority to 'dictate the people'.

On 30 August, the NSCN-IM arms supplier, identified as Willy Narue, was arrested by Bangkok Police (reportedly on India’s request) while arranging for the supply of Chinese arms to the NSCN-IM. Narue, a Thai national, was accused of buying nearly 1,000 assault rifles and an unspecified number of rocket-propelled grenades to be sold to the outfit. Narue was the main interlocutor of Anthony Shimray, the chief arms procurer of NSCN-IM, who was arrested from Patna (Bihar) in October 2010.

For the first time, on 11 November, the NSCN-IM officially disclosed that it had hundreds of members and several offices in foreign countries. Reiterating its stand on 'taxation', the group had asserted that it had to collect 'tax' from the Naga-inhabited areas of Nagaland, Assam, Arunachal Pradesh, Manipur and Myanmar, to support its members in foreign countries.

Agitation was renewed for the creation of a separate State by the "Eastern Nagaland People's Organisation” (ENPO) following the decision of the Congress working committee to carve out the Telengana State from Andhra Pradesh. In a symbolic move to intensify the demand for separate statehood – ‘Frontier Nagaland’ – the six tribes of Eastern Nagaland, under the aegis of ENPO, observed a “Black Day” on 15 August 2013.

Talks with the National Socialist Council of Nagaland (NSCN-IM) have not moved much during 2013. “The group has given up the demand for sovereignty. It has also given up the Naga integration demand for the time being,” said Sambhu Singh on 9 December 2013, stating that the list of demands, which were negotiable, was submitted before the Centre only in July 2011 although the Naga peace talks began way back in 1997. “The real negotiation started after that. Demands that had been raised before were not negotiable,” he said. Then there are two more groups, the NSCN Khaplang and Khole-Kitovi, which will have to be brought around, so it is a long haul for peace in Nagaland. The Naga peace talks reached a deadlock on 13 December 2013 with the interlocutor RS Pandey joining a political party and, therefore, relinquishing his job as New Delhi’s peace envoy.

 

Yearly Assessment 2012

Factionalism, never-ending conflicts between the various Naga outfits, widespread violations of the Covenant of Reconciliation (CoR), escalating extortions, abductions and breach of ceasefire ground rules have remained enduring and major impediments to the Naga peace process. Against the backdrop of increasing fratricidal violence, Nagaland Chief Minister Neiphiu Rio, on February 29, said that, “Though the world and outsiders recognize Naga people, yet Naga people themselves do not recognize each other and though Nagas have ceasefire with others, they do not have ceasefire among themselves.”

Fratricidal killing between Naga rebel groups that have been disrupting a peaceful public life appeared to have become intolerable for the common Nagas. On 2 April 2012, thousands of peace-loving Naga youths voluntarily came out on the streets of Kohima, Nagaland’s capital, demanding the Government to take action against the militants. The spurt of factional clashes and bloodshed has been on a higher side in Nagaland during 2012. While in 2011, 10 fratricidal clashes took place, in 2012, there were 40 such incidents. Annual fatalities in the State have risen from just three in 2010, to 15 in 2011, and, dramatically, to 58 in 2012. On 21 March, youth organizations in Kohima had appealed to all the insurgent groups to shun violence. This was followed by a rally on 2 April, which was organized by the Angami Youth Organization (AYO) and supported by several other Naga organizations.

In a major development, on 9 April 2012, the Government of Myanmar and the NSCN-K signed a ceasefire agreement , which granted autonomy to NSCN-K in three districts of Lahe, Leshi and Nanyun, which fall in Sagaing– a northwestern administrative region of Myanmar, bordering Nagaland and Manipur to its north. The agreement allows NSCN-K members the freedom to move 'unarmed' across the country.

Turf wars between Naga groups have resulted in escalating violence with the further split of both the NSCN-IM and the NSCN-K. On May 14, NSCN-IM termed the move by the Khole-Kitovi group, an attempt to seek a solution within the boundary of Nagaland, as a step to derail the hard-earned 14 years negotiations held at the highest level by the Government of India (GoI) and the NSCN. There are four factions of NSCN at present— the Isak-Muivah faction, the NSCN-K splinter headed by Khole Konyak, the NSCN-K headed by Khaplang, and NSCN-Unification. The NSCN came into being in 1980, after a split from the Naga National Council (NNC).

Members of the NSCN-IM did not attend the May 26 Naga reconciliation meeting initiated by the Forum for Naga Reconciliation (FNR) held in Chiang Mai (Thailand), due to ‘unwanted’ developments. NSCN-IM noted that the ‘clarification’ given by NSCN-KK on the word ‘Nagaland’ as encompassing "all Naga lands" irrespective of national or international boundary demarcations ‘contradicts’ the statement made by 'general secretary' Kitovi Zhimomi after his group signed the ceasefire with the GoI. Amidst escalating war, however, the hope of peace talks between NSCN-IM and GoI persists, albeit occasionally clouded by the ‘confused stands’ of the principal three Naga factions.

Union Minister of Home Affairs, P. Chidambaram on 31 July observed that the ongoing peace talks between NSCN-IM and the Government of India had reached a “sensitive stage” and efforts were on to iron out a longstanding solution to the Naga political issue. He said, “First we will try to reach an agreement with NSCN-IM. Only then, we will talk with the other two groups, provided they are willing to talk. As everybody knows, one group lives outside India.”

Outside Nagaland, the worst fratricidal clash between Naga groups was the fierce gun battle between ZUF and NSCN-IM cadres, which erupted in the evening of 25 September, and continued late into the night of 26 September, leaving six persons dead and one civilian injured. The incident occurred inside a forest near Wairangba village in the interior Tamenglong district of Manipur.

On 10 October, Shishil Kumar Shinde reportedly hinted that a ‘solution’ to the ‘Naga issue’ was likely before March 2013, when Assembly polls in Nagaland are due. “I have been talking to the chief ministers of both Arunachal and Manipur and we are trying to reach a consensus on this,” said Shinde.

On 15 October, a 20-member Joint Legislators Forum (JLF) team of the Nagaland Assembly, led by Assembly Speaker Kiyanielie Peseyie including Chief Minister Neiphiu Rio met Union Minister of Home Affairs, Union Agriculture minister Sharad Pawar, National Democratic Alliance ‘chairman’ Sharad Yadav and the NSCN-IM collective leadership. JLF MLAs (Members of the Legislative Assembly) offered to resign from the Assembly if the NSCN-IM and the Union Government reached to an agreement.

On 18 October, NSCN-IM ‘general secretary’, Thuingaleng Muivah stated that, “the ball is now in the court of the Government of India,” and, further, “about the solution, we cannot say, but it is sure that the progress is there and of course, the Government of India is also more serious and we are hopeful that something honorable will be achieved.”

Anticipating a solution for the Naga issue in the near future, Assam Chief Minister, Tarun Gogoi on 20 October 2012, declared that Assam would continue to oppose the NSCN-IM’s primary demand for territorial integration of Naga inhabited areas in Assam. Tarun Gogoi, however, expressed sympathy for Nagaland Chief Minister Rio's expectation of the Union Government’s nod to the 'emotional integrity' of the Naga people.

On 25 October, NSCN-IM held a high-level meeting at the ‘Council Headquarters’ in Camp Hebron under Dimapur district. Top-ranking leaders of the outfit, including those of the ‘Naga Army’ decided to consult the people of Nagaland before inking any peace accord with New Delhi. According to an unnamed NSCN-IM leader, the meeting fully backed ‘chairman’ Isak Chisi Swu and ‘general secretary’ Thuingaleng Muivah in their efforts to find an honorable solution through political negotiations with the Union Government, and further described the path chosen as the correct one.

The development of events raised hopes for a solution to the Naga Imbroglio before the 2013 Assembly elections. Unfortunately, however, a war of words regarding the solution continues between the three factions. Thus NSCN-KK (who reportedly wanted to settle the issue of Nagas in Nagaland alone) ‘ato kilonser‘(‘prime minister’), N. Kitovi Zhimomi, on 22 November 2012, declared that any solution that may come about between the Union Government and the NSCN-IM could not be applied beyond Manipur. He claimed that the current talks between the NSCN-IM and the Central Government were confined only to Naga inhabited areas in Manipur, since the Central Government had rejected both sovereignty and integration, and thus, the 'alternative arrengement' for the Nagas of Manipur had nothing to do with the Nagas of Nagaland, Arunachal Pradesh and Assam.

In an important development, on 25 November 2012, Security Forces arrested NSCN-IM 'lieutenant major' Clinson, the Dima Hasao district 'commander’ from a Naga-dominated village of Lungmung in Dima Hasao District (Assam). NSCN-IM is also strengthening its position in Assam. On 3 December 2012, NSCN-K militants had killed two NSCN-KK militants, identified as “2nd lieutenant” Sheye Konyak and “sergeant major” Wochamo Ezung, at Murgi Patti in Dimapur district. On 16 December 2012, in a fresh spurt of factional violence, six militants belonging to NSCN-K and NSCN-Khole-Kitovi were reportedly killed in two separate incidents in Kiphire and Phek districts.

 

Yearly Assessment 2011

The situation in Nagaland remained quite peaceful in the first few months of 2011. However, the factional fights between the two NSCN factions continued. On 24 January 2011 the Union Home Ministry offered a 29-point counter proposal to the NSCN-IM which had earlier submitted a 32-point charter of demands. The counter proposal included financial sops, facilities and accommodating the "Kilonsers" (Ministers) of the NSCN-IM as members of parliament and the "Tatars" (members) as ministers in the state.

On 7 June 2011, NSCN-K ‘Chairman’ SS Khaplang was expelled from the outfit. The 'tartars' or 'members of parliament' of the NSCN-K had a sitting at its Khehoi designated camp near Dimapur and 'impeached' SS Khaplang from his post and then expelled him from the outfit. The reason for Khaplang’s expulsion was that he was taking unilateral decisions from his hideout in Myanmar without consulting the leaders at Khehoi camp. He also had decided to remove the outfit's commander-in-chief 'general' Khole Konyak from his post without the consent and approval of its 'national assembly'. Khole Konyak was elected as the group’s acting chairman by those present at the meeting.

On 11 June 2011, the expelled chairman of NSCN-K, SS Khaplang issued two counter expulsion orders - one for general secretary N Kitovi Zhimomi and the other for ''kilo kilonser'' (home minister) Azheto Chophy and six other functionaries of GPRN/NSCN. He alleged that the expelled functionaries were "members of the unification camp" and said they were expelled for their "anti-party activities".

With this, the NSCN was split into four factions - the Isak-Muivah faction, the NSCN-K faction headed by Khole Konyak, the NSCN-K faction headed by Khaplang, and NSCN-Unification. The new split has further complicated the Naga peace process. This shows that there is still time left for the achievement of a lasting solution to the Naga problem.

NSCN-IM and NSCN-K cadres involved in a shoot out on 13 July at Kothin under Tirap district in the state of Arunachal Pradesh. According to reports no recoveries were made by the Security Forces of any kind from the spot. On 26 August, Isak Chishi Swu and Thuingaleng Muivah of NSCN-IM, General Khole Konyak and N. Kitovi Zhimomi of NSCN-Khole-Kitovi and Brigadier S. Singnya and Zhopra Vero of NNC signed a joint declaration called ‘The Naga Concordant’, in order to help form the Naga National Government.

Herato Sumi of the National Socialist Council of Nagaland- Unification (NSCN- U) and Vihuto, who were absconding since 18 November, partook in a four hour long gun battle with other cadres of the organization on 26 November at Sailhem in the Peren district. Sumi succumbed to gun shots while Vihuto managed to escape with injuries. It is alleged that both were related to the killing of Daniel Yeptho who hailed from the Zunheboto district of Nagaland apart from injuring a Sanskrit teacher on 26 November at Peren district.

Towards the end of the year on 5 December, members of the ‘Naga Concordant’ representing NSCN-IM, NNC and NSCN-Khole-Kitovi vowed to work towards the common good of the Naga fraternity.

To top it all militants imposed what they call an ‘annual salary tax’ on private business establishments and employees of all the departments of the Nagaland Government barring the police and district administrations. Fixed at 24 per cent of a month’s salary per year, media reports estimate the total to a whooping 13 billion annually. The Nagaland State Home Minister Imkong L. Imchen informed the house on the floor of the State Assembly on 15 September that 528 persons were arrested by the police between 2008 and mid 2011 in cases related to extortion. South Asia Terrorism Portal lists 12 incidents of extortion in 2011, as against nine in 2010 maintaining at the same time that this is just a fraction of the actual abductions and extortions during the year.

Nagaland Yearly Assessment 2010

The number of violent incident in Nagaland has been low for some years now, especially with both the factions of National Socialist Council of Nagaland (NSCN) under ceasefire with the government. The year 2010 saw only three casualties in Nagaland in insurgency-related incidents. The peace talks between the union government and the Isak-Muivah faction of the NSCN also advanced. For the first time, one round of talks was held in the state of Nagaland also.

The NSCN-IM delegation, lead by its chairman Isak Chisi Swu and general secretary Thuingaleng Muivah, met the Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Union Home Minister P Chidambaram on March 2, 2010 in New Delhi. The Naga leaders also held a series of meetings with the new interlocutor for Naga peace talks, RS Pandey during their stay in New Delhi. RS Pandey was appointed interlocutor on February 11, 2010. The visiting NSCN-IM delegation put forward 30 demands, which included sovereignty for Nagaland, and unification of all Naga-dominated areas of neighbouring states.

After the talks Muivah came to Dimapur and decided to visit his native village Somdal in Ukhrul district of Manipur. This was to be his first visit to his birth place after 40 years. The union government also granted his request and the visit was scheduled to take place during first week of May 2010. Muivah was also expected to visit other Naga-inhabited areas of Manipur during the visit. But, on April 30, 2010, Manipur government announced that it would not allow Muivah to come to Manipur as there are possibilities of disturbances if the NSCN-IM leader comes to Manipur. The government also clamped restriction under Section 144 of Cr PC in Senapati district in addition to deployment of additional forces in order to prevent Muivah from entering Manipur. On May 6, 2010, the situation in Mao border gate, through which Muivah was expected to enter Manipur, turned tense. A number of locals stormed a temporary security barrack which lead the security personnel resort to firing leaving two locals dead and fifty others, including women, injured. After this incident and after requests from the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) and some Naga civil society organizations, Muivah postponed his visit to Somdal and camped himself in Viswema village near the Mao gate on the inter-state border of Nagaland and Manipur. Eventually, on June 5, 2010, the Central Government persuaded Muivah to leave Vishwema village where he was camping since May 6, 2010.

On June 1, 2010, Centre and NSCN-IM held peace talks for the first time in Nagaland at Kohima, where the issue of integration of Naga-inhabited areas, as demanded by the outfit, was discussed. However, the Centre ruled out change in boundaries of states without the consensus of political parties. Both sides came to an understanding on some issues and expressed their commitment to explore all possibilities to arrive at a consensus on other sensitive issues. Two more rounds of talks were held in Delhi on July 23 and July 29, 2010 with both the sides expressing satisfaction over the way the talks were progressing.

On September 18, 2010, the top leaders of the NSCN-IM, NSCN-K and the NNC met at Ikishe village near Dimapur and vowed to work towards ending hostilities among themselves and consolidating understanding. NSCN-IM general secretary T Muivah, NSCN-K general secretary N Kitovi Zhimomi and NNC/FGN president S Singnya attended the meeting organised by the Forum for Naga Reconciliation (FNR).

On October 1, 2010 security forces arrested Anthony Shimray, a senior NSCN-IM functionary from Kathmandu in Nepal. Shimray was the chief arms procurer for the outfit and had been involved in gun running for a long time. During the interrogation, Shimray revealed the links between the NSCN-IM and China and also about Indian insurgent groups buying arms from the Chinese. He frequently visited China to procure weapons from the clandestine arms dealers.

As a whole, the year 2010 was quite a peaceful year in Nagaland. The peace process with the NSCN-IM moved further ahead and talks with the NSCN-K are also expected to start soon. However the arrest of Anthony Shimray shows NSCN-IM’s efforts of still trying to strengthen its arms base and also of selling arms to other insurgent outfits of the Northeast. This is a cause of concern which is needed to be tacked carefully by the Indian government.