Overview: Insurgency & Peace Efforts in Nagaland


he roots of Naga separatism precede the country’s Independence. Way back in 1929, when the Independence Movement of India gained momentum and it was becoming clear that the British would have to leave India, the Naga leaders urged the British not to attach the Naga territory with India. Under the banner of the “Naga Club”, the Nagas petitioned the Simon Commission that they should be left alone to determine their future as in the past and not forced to be ruled by Indians, who, they said, had never ‘conquered’ them. With recommendations of the Simon Commission, the Government of India Act 1935 declared the "Naga Hills District" to be treated as "Excluded Areas" on 3 March 1935. On 19 July 1947, a Naga delegation met Mahatma Gandhi at the Bhangi Colony in Delhi and told him that they were resolved to declare their independence a day before India would do so, on 14 August 1947. Gandhi assured the delegation that under no circumstances would force be used against the Nagas, who, according to him, were free to stay out of the Indian Union, if they desired so.

What started as the assertion of the Naga identity turned to be an insurrection after the formation of the Naga National Congress (NNC) in 1946. Under the leadership of NNC president Angami Zapu Phizo, known as the father of Naga insurgency, a plebiscite was conducted on a single point, Naga independence, on 16 May 1951 where more than 99 per cent of Nagas gave the verdict in favour of independence.

A massive crackdown on NNC took place in 1953 when troops in large numbers were moved by the Government of India into the Naga hills. Under the initiative of Phizo, on 22 March 1956, an underground government called the Naga Federal Government (NFG) and a Naga Federal Army (NFA) was created. In order to fight for the dream of an independent Naga homeland, Phizo left Nagaland in December 1956, and reached London in 1960 and kept pursuing his dream from London until his death in December 1990. His daughter Adinno Phizo, the now NNC president, is still pursuing that dream from her home in London.

The Government of India banned the NNC in 1972 under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act of 1967 and launched a massive counter-insurgency operation. On 11 November 1975, the Shillong Accord was signed between the Government of India and Naga “underground organization” where the signatories accepted “without condition, the Constitution of India”. But this peace accord could not calm the Naga problem. There was rebellion against the accord, which led to the formation of the National Socialist Council of Nagaland (NSCN) in 1980. Split in the rebel group happened due to tribal differences and in 1988 a new Naga insurgent outfit came to existence. The NSCN ripped apart into two factions—the Isak-Muivah faction (NSCN-IM) and the SS Khaplang faction (NSCN-K). Both these outfits continued their movement with an avowed objective of establishing a Nagalim (greater Nagaland) comprising Naga inhabited areas of Nagaland, Assam, Manipur, Arunachal Pradesh and neighbouring Myanmar.

On August 1, 1997, the NSCN-IM and the Union government entered into a ceasefire agreement and have since held more than 80 rounds of dialogue (till November 2013) to resolve the conflict. A similar ceasefire agreement was signed between the NSCN-K and the government in April 2001, though both sides are yet to start a process of dialogue. The ceasefire agreements with both the outfits have been periodically extended.

While the NSCN-IM’s influence is visible over vast stretches of seven districts of Nagaland, the NSCN-K has managed to hold on to its areas of influence, primarily in districts like Mokokchung, Tuensang and pockets in Dimapur. The NNC, on the other hand, remains a poor shadow of the erstwhile outfit that initiated the Naga insurgency.

A new outfit, the NSCN-Unification, was formed in November 2007 as a result of a ‘truce agreement’ signed between senior functionaries of both IM and K factions on 23 November 2007. Factional clashes became a regular affair between the NSCN-U and the NSCN-IM. A clear ally of NSCN-K, the unification faction of NSCN has not been much active since 2009. However, there was a sharp decline in fatalities in factional clash following the signing of the Covenant of Reconciliation (CoR) by top leaders of the NSCN-IM, NSCN-K, and ‘Federal Government of Nagaland’–Naga National Council (FGN/NNC) on 13 June 2009.

In Nagaland, the militant groups have been continuously collecting ‘tax’ from all sources, including Government departments and the extortion network spreads over almost all the 1317 villages of the State. Ceasefire rules have been violated and the militants move freely with their arms out in open. The Central and the State Governments’ role have been reduced to mute spectator. Instead, on 27 November 2009, the Nagaland legislative assembly decided to give legitimacy to the six-decade-long insurgency going on in the state for their “selfless sacrifices for the common cause of the Nagas”. The resolution, moved by Chief Minister Neiphiu Rio, was endorsed by the entire 60-member house, including 19 opposition Congress party legislators.

Smuggling of arms has always been an issue and the NSCN-IM is the biggest arms supplier in the Northeast. In 2013 itself, 25 arms dealers were arrested in 11 incidents. The arrest of Wuthikorn Naruenartwanich alias Willy Narue by Bangkok police on 30 August 2013 for supply of Chinese arms to the NSCN-IM has been a significant breakthrough. Narue, a Thai national, was reportedly picked up at India’s request and revealed "key information" about the supply chain for smuggling arms from China to the Northeast through Bangladesh. It was reported that Narue was the main interlocutor of Anthony Shimray, a senior NSCN-IM leader and the chief arms procurer of the outfit, who was arrested by the National Investigation Agency (NIA) from Patna in Bihar on 2 October 2010. Shimray is currently lodged at the Tihar jail in Delhi.

Turf wars between Naga groups have resulted in further split of both the NSCN-IM and the NSCN-K. The NSCN-KK (Khole Kitovi ), a splinter group of NSCN-K, was formed on 7 June 2011; and the Zeliangrong United Front (ZUF), a Manipur based Naga group, split from the NSCN-IM on 25 February 2011.

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

On 5 December 2011, the ‘Naga Concordant’ was formed. It is a joint declaration signed by all the six leaders—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 after they resolved "in principle" on 26 August 2011, to work towards the formation of one ‘Naga National Government’.

As efforts for reconciliation amongst the Nagas continued, fresh conflict erupted between Rengma Nagas and Kukis living in the Karbi Anglong district of Assam bordering Nagaland. On 28 December 2013, Naga Rengma Hills Protection Force (NRHPF) executed the cold-blooded murder of ten Karbis, nine of them near Nagaland’s commercial hub Dimapur. This was, however, a retaliatory action against the killing of nine Rengma Nagas by the KPLT (Karbi People’s Liberation Tigers), an Assam based outfit, in the Chokihola area in Karbi Anglong on 27 December 2013. The stage was set for intra-tribal feuding. The RNHPF was reportedly floated by the NSCN (IM) for protection of the Rengma Nagas.

Complicating issues further, the Eastern Nagaland People’s Organization renewed its demand for ‘Frontier Nagaland’—a separate state—but both the Centre and the State turned down the demand. In a meeting organized by the Forum for Naga Reconciliation (FNR was formed in May 2008) on 27 February 2014 in Dimapur, altogether 42 community groups extended full support to the Naga reconciliation process.

In spite of the 17-year-old ceasefire with the NSCN-IM and the 13-year-old ceasefire with the rival Khaplang faction (NSCN-K), the situation in Nagaland is still volatile. Between 1992 and 2014 (till 2 March), at least 2456 insurgency related fatalities have been recorded in Nagaland. The number of fatalities in insurgency-related activities fell from 61 in 2012 to 11 in 2014.

NSCN-K on 27 March 2015 unilaterally abrogates the 14-year ceasefire with the Government of India. The insurgent outfit had signed a truce in 2001 but talks had not begun. This decision was accompanied by expulsion of two senior leaders of the outfit by chairman S.S. Khaplang namely senior minister (kilonser) Wangtin Konyak and Khaplang’s personal secretary cum the spokesperson for the outfit, T. Tikhak, for their alleged "anti-Naga nationalism". They were expelled on the same day when they were attending the ceasefire meeting with the Indian government at Chumukedima in Nagaland. They went on to found a new faction called NSCN (Reformation).

Revealing this NSCN(K) said that the sovereign existence of Nagas as people and nation is indestructible and no force on earth can invalidate the very truth as such that sovereignty is not negotiable”. The group upholds the statement that “any “meaningful peace and political interaction” between the two entities should be premised on the concept that Nagas were sovereign people.” Consequently S.S. Khaplang the then president of NSCN(K) directed the supervisors and members of the henceforth Cease-Fire Supervisory Board (CFSB) to cease their official functioning.

Militants of NSCN-K in a deadly ambush in May 2015 killed eight Assam Rifles jawans and injured four others. Around 2.30 pm, the militants attacked an Assam rifles vehicle in Changlangsu in Mon district, Nagaland with an improvised explosive device (IED). After the blast, heavy firing was exchanged where eight jawans were killed.

This attack on jawans has taken place at a time when the Union Defence Minister, Manohar Parrikar has made his maiden visit to the region after assuming his office as defense minister.

Central Govt. on 18 September 2015 banned the National Socialist Council of Nagaland (Khaplang) faction for five years for abrogating the ceasefire along with a series of attacks on Indian security forces since March.

The Government on 16 November 2015 declared the National Socialist Council of Nagaland (Khaplang) (NSCN-K), all its formations and front organizations as a terrorist organization under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, 1967.

Furthermore, The National Investigation Agency (NIA) on September 10 declared a bounty of Rs 7 lakh on Khaplang and Rs 10 lakh on Niki Sumi, another prominent militant of the faction for information leading to their arrest.

Veteran Naga separatist and rebel leader Shangwang Shangyung Khaplang, the chairman of militant group NSCM(K) died on June 9, 2017 at the NSCN-K Council Headquarters in Taga in Myanmar`s Sagaing Division and he was 77 years old. Khaplang along with Issac Chisi Swu and T Muivah founded National Socialist Council of Nagaland (NSCN) in 1980 with an aim to Naga integration and formation of a separate Naga country. In 1998 Khaplang left the NSCN to form his own underground faction the NSCN (K).

Khaplang was also the president of the Government of the People's Republic of Nagalim (GPRN), the parallel "government" run by the NSCN in Nagaland and parts of Arunachal Pradesh. Khaplang was the founder and chairman of the United National Liberation Front of Western South Asia, (UNLFW) an alliance of rebel groups across Northeast formed in 2015. Khaplang’s death came as an unexpected blow to the rebel groups of the Northeast because of his massive influence over the Myanmarese authorities along with having strong South Asian connections including China.

Following Khaplang’s death, vice-president of NSCN (K) Khango Konyak replaced him as the new chairman of NSCN(K) in 2017. Khango had been in the post of vice-chairman of the outfit since 20 May 2011. Khango is known for his defiant stand on Naga issues and had in the past shown reservation in coming back to ceasefire process with Government of India. Khango maintains a close relationship with other rebel leaders, including anti-talk ULFA’s commander in chief Paresh Baruah. Khango Konyak was also elected as the president of United National Liberation Front of Western South Asia, (UNLFW), an umbrella organization of some rebel groups of Northeast, on October 2017 ensuing Khaplang’s death on June that year.

National Investigation Agency in of its crucial investigation detected terror funding by Govt. employees in Nagaland after the Assam Rifles caught a senior member of the NSCN-K, identified as Khetoshe Sumi, in Dimapur on July 31 2016. It was Sumi who brought to light this scandal and the existence of a financial nexus. Based on Sumi’s confession, the NIA had on 18 January, 2017 conducted a series of raids in various departments of the Nagaland government and reportedly found anomalies related to several documents suggesting that state funds were transferred to NSCN-K and other militant groups.

On 13 October 2017 NIA arrested four Nagaland government officers for allegedly contributing funds to militants group NSCN-K. NIA on 26 March, 2018 also arrested three senior Nagaland government officials for their involvement in alleged funding of terror groups like NSCN-K by defrauding the state exchequer. The arrested officials were Director of the Directorate of Agriculture G Ikuto Zhimomi, Executive Engineer in the Directorate of Rural Development Ketouzo Peseyie and Divisional Accounts Officer of the Directorate of Urban Development Sangtemchuba.

NIA said that case is relevant to allegations of large-scale extortion and illegal tax collections in support of NSCN-K from various government organizations in Dimapur and Kohima. According to NIA statement, this illegal affair was being implemented under the directions of the self-styled Brigadier Isac Sumi of NSCN-K.

These officials using their official capacity provided substantial amount to NSCN-K by contributing government funds to the banned outfit. Thus, they committed as put by MIA terror funding.

Naga militant groups like NSCN-K collect what they termed as “revolutionary revenue” by taxing government and private sector employees, traders and commercial establishments besides imposing house and farm taxes. They deduct up to 25% of an employee’s annual pay from various Govt. departments as tax to the rebel outfit. According to a news report as many as 18 to 19 government departments are under the NIA scanner for transferring funds to the banned militant groups and also deducting employees’ salaries.

On 18 March 2018 NIA summoned Former Nagaland chief minister Taditui Rangkau Zeliang, in connection with terror funding to rebel groups like NSCN(K). Zeliang, nevertheless, in a written reply had denied such allegations saying that he had nothing to do with the diverting of government funds to NSCN (K) or any other outfit. He had also said that if government departments had been doing such a thing, he was not aware of it. It was reported that NIA sleuths had recovered some documents signed by Mr Zeliang to transfer fund for NSCN(K).

NSCN-K formally split into two factions, on September 2018 — one led by Khango Konyak, while the other led by Yung Aung (NSCN-K founder SS Khaplang’s nephew). The group led by Konyak comprise of Naga cadres belonging to India, while the faction led by Aung comprise of Nagas from Myanmar.

After formally splitting of NSCN (K) into two factions, the Konyak faction, returned to Nagaland and also affirmed that they are considering getting into the peace process with the Government of India. On December 6, 2018, in a statement released by the Konyak faction in consultation with various NGOs decided to revoke the abrogated ceasefire, a decision taken by then chairman, S.S. Khaplang on March 2015.

Between 1992 and 2018, at least 2529 people have been killed in insurgency related incidents in Nagaland. However, the number of fatalities is showing a decreasing trend. In 2008, there were 145 insurgency-related fatalities which decreased to 61 in 2012, and in 2018, it came down to 7. (source: www.satp.org)

Peace Efforts

Peace initiatives in Nagaland could be tracked back to September 1964 with the formation of the Peace Mission with Jayaprakash Narayan , Bimala Prasad Chaliha and Rev. Michael Scott as its members. The Peace Mission was formed in the aftermath of the violent attempts made by insurgents to bring about a political settlement following the formation of the state of Nagaland on 1 December 1963. This peace effort resulted in the signing of an Agreement for Suspension of Operation with the insurgents on 6 September 1964. But violence continued and six rounds of talks between the Centre and the insurgents failed. The ‘Peace Mission’ broke in 1967.

Civil society movements in Nagaland have been traditionally effective. The Church has been an important player in peace making among the insurgents, almost all of whom are Christian, since the beginning of the conflict. In Nagaland, the Church played an important role in peace making among the insurgents, almost all of whom are Christian, since the beginning of the conflict. In July 1997, the Baptist Church organized the Atlanta Peace meet where the NSCN leadership accepted initiatives to start an unconditional dialogue process. On 1 August 1997, the NSCN-IM and the Union government entered into a ceasefire agreement and have since held more than 80 rounds of dialogue (till November 2013) to resolve the conflict. A similar ceasefire agreement was signed between the NSCN-K and the Government in April 2001, though both sides are yet to start a process of dialogue.

It took four years for the NSCN-IM and the Centre’s interlocutors to decide upon the jurisdiction of the cease-fire. When the insurgent leaders wanted it extended to Naga-inhabited areas outside Nagaland, the Centre expressed its reluctance to do so. Finally, after shuttling between New Delhi, Bangkok and Amsterdam umpteen times since 1997, New Delhi’s interlocutor for peace talks K. Padmanabhaiah announced in the Thai capital that the cease-fire had been extended for one more year, commencing 1 August 2001, and that, henceforth, the truce would have no ‘territorial limits.’ The announcement was made on 14 June 2001 — after a two-day meeting with NSCN-IM representatives headed by General Secretary Muivah.

The issue of extension of the ceasefire to areas outside Nagaland, however, posed as a threat to the peace process as people in Manipur took it as an incursion on their territorial integrity. Following street violence in Manipur in which 19 people were killed, the Government revoked the decision on 8 July 2001. The NSCN(IM), though earlier threatened to resume violence if the extension in the territorial jurisdiction of the ceasefire is withdrawn, eventually accepted the decision and continued to participate in the negotiations. But the ceasefire could not put a halt to arms acquisition by the NSCN(IM).

The collective leadership of the NSCN(IM) came to New Delhi for talks in January 2003, ground work for which was laid in the three rounds of negotiations which were held between the Union Government’s interlocutors and the NSCN-IM leadership.

• 18-20 February 2003, Malaysia: Union Government’s special interlocutor K Padmanabhaiah and NSCN-IM leaders - Isak Swu and Muivah - met in a bid to further the peace process.

• 9-11 July 2003, Amsterdam: A Joint communiqué was signed in which the Indian Government recognized the unique history and situation of the Nagas. Both parties agreed to extend the cease-fire for another year with effect from 1 August 2002.

• 21-23 September 2003, Bangkok: Both the parties discussed a broad range of ‘substantive issues’ and agreed on measures to ensure a continuation of negotiations. The NSCN-IM leadership put forward issues like lifting of ban on the outfit, the withdrawal of the Armed Forces Special Power Act and the arrest warrants against them.

In March 2002, the outfit had put three conditions on its leadership’s visit to India:

• Lifting the ban on the NSCN-IM 

• Withdrawal of arrest warrants against its leaders; and

• Repeal of the Armed Forces Special Powers Act

The Union Government accepted the first two and the Nagaland Government had withdrawn all pending cases against the NSCN-IM leadership in order to facilitate the peace process. On 16 October 2003, the Cease-fire Monitoring Group (CFMG) and Cease-fire Supervisory Board (CSB) Chairman, Lt. Gen. (Retd) R.V. Kulkarni, declared seven designated camps in Nagaland, for each of the two NSCN outfits.

In addition to the official level peace process, endeavours for peace by non-governmental and civil society organizations and the Church have been remarkable in Nagaland. Organizations like the Naga Hoho, the apex tribal council of the Nagas, and the Naga Mothers’ Association (NMA) have worked towards reconciliation among the warring factions. Tribal councils belonging to the different tribes in the State including the Ao Senden and the Sumi Hoho have tried to establish unity among the NSCN-IM and NSCN-K. In the two consultative meetings with 73-member Naga delegation from different sections of the society, convened by the NSCN-IM at Bangkok, a four-point declaration was adopted to “strengthen the peace strategy” that:

1. Supported the ongoing political negotiations between the Government of India and the NSCN

2. Endorsed the Naga Hoho, Churches and the mass based organizations to continue their leadership of the ongoing reconciliation process to achieve understanding and unity among Nagas to strengthen the peace process

3. Made a clarion call to all Nagas to come forward to support and participate in the peace process so that the Indo-Naga political problem may be solved.

4. Entrusted the Naga Churches to hold a National Prayer Day for the above objectives

The Naga peace process entered into a logjam even after the issue of sovereignty was dropped by the NSCN-IM. The next best solution which the Nagas think feasible, i.e., the integration of all Naga-inhabited areas in the Northeast with the existing State of Nagaland to constitute a single politico-administrative unit, is not acceptable to both the state Governments and the people in the states of Assam, Manipur and Arunachal Pradesh. The Centre is now caught in a position where it neither can tell the NSCN-IM leadership that their demand for integration of the Naga-inhabited areas in the region could not be conceded, nor can it attempt to resolve one nagging problem only to open up several new fronts in the already turbulent region.

Citizens of Nagaland too have taken initiatives for bringing peace in the State. To secure ‘peace without any pre-conditions’, a statewide cease-fire among all the Naga outfits was declared at a meeting organized by the Gaon Buras’ (village chiefs) Federation of Nagaland and Dobashis (communicators between various tribes) Association of Nagaland on 24 July 2007. The meeting was participated by the Naga Hoho (the apex council of the Naga tribes), Nagaland Baptist Churches Council (NBCC) and others including five representatives of the NSCN-IM. The NSCN-K and NNC did not attend the meet.

Organizations like the Naga People’s Movement for Human Rights (NPMHR) that periodically highlights the alleged abuses by the security forces, are seen as placating the interests of the NSCN-IM and have no influence on either the NSCN-K or the NNC. Some leaders of the NSCN-IM and the NSCN-K met in Niuland, near Dimapur on 23 November 2007 to declare the cessation of hostility between the outfits. However, the agreement was soon repudiated by both the outfits and the clashes have continued. Issues like the unification of the Naga inhabited areas in Manipur, Assam and Arunachal Pradesh remained an obstacle in all the three rounds of peace talks held in 2007.

In the first week of November 2007, a group of Church workers from the United Kingdom arrived in Nagaland to push for “reconciliation” between the NSCN-IM and the NSCN-K. A team from the North American Baptist Church too is involved in brokering peace between both the factions.

Certain quarters in the State deeply believe that the key to bring peace in Nagaland is to stop factional clashes and establish unity among the militant groups. With this idea, an inter-factional ‘truce agreement’ was signed by ‘Kilonser’ (Cabinet Minister) C. Singson of the NSCN-K and ‘Kilo-Kilonser’ (Home Minister) Azheto Chophy of the NSCN-IM in Dimapur on 23 November 2007 . But with the NSCN-IM’s statement that the joint declaration was drafted without the knowledge of the group’s ‘higher authority’ put an end to the much sought after ‘unification’. In June 2008, a reconciliation meeting of the Naga factions, mass-based Naga organizations and tribal Hohos was organized by the Naga Reconciliation Forum headed by Baptist clergyman Wati Aier, Baptist World Alliance and a UK-based Quaker group, at Chiang Mai in Thailand. The move failed as the NSCN-K rejected the offer made by the rival NSCN-IM for a dialogue outside the country.

Extending the existing ceasefire with both the outfits remains central to the government’s conflict management policy in Nagaland. Representatives of the NSCN-IM and the government continue to meet periodically to carry forward the negotiations. By far, however, little success has been achieved to break the deadlock over the outfit’s demand of integrating the ‘Naga-inhabited’ areas of Assam, Manipur and Arunachal Pradesh with Nagaland. Both the government and the NSCN-IM, however, on 31 July 2007, following a round of dialogue in Dimapur, took a decision to extend the ceasefire indefinitely. A few more round of talks have taken place since then in Delhi, but there were no concrete outcome of the talks. This was seen as a sign that the peace talks were on track and that the two sides—the Indian Government and the NSCN-IM—were narrowing down their differences.

In August 2009, the Central Government wound up the term of K Padmanabhaiah as interlocutor for talks with NSCN-IM. Centre then appointed RS Pandey as the new interlocutor on 12 February 2010. The new interlocutor held talks with the NSCN-IM leadership on March 2010 in New Delhi, in which the NSCN (IM) delegation put forward 30 demands, which included sovereignty for Nagaland, and unification of all Naga-dominated areas of neighbouring states. However, the demand for sovereignty for Nagaland and its territorial claims over portions of neighbouring states was categorically rejected. With resignation of RS Panday from his position as interlocutor following his joining a political party, the Government at present has no interlocutor for NSCN-IM.

For the first time on 1 June 2010, the Centre and the NSCN (IM) held peace talks at Kohima in Nagaland, 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. On 4 June 2010, Muivah moved to Pfutsero in Phek district on a “Goodwill mission”. In the same month, he visited Jotsoma village near Kohima, Pughoboto in Zunheboto district, Tuensang and Peren as a part of his peace mission where he held consultations with civil society leaders on the Naga talks issue.

One NSCN-IM delegation, lead by its Chairman Isak Chisi Swu and general secretary Thuingaleng Muivah, met Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Union Home Minister P Chidambaram in New Delhi on 2 March 2010. The Naga leaders also held a series of meetings with the then interlocutor for Naga peace talks, R.S. Pandey during their stay in New Delhi. The visiting NSCN (IM) delegation put forward 30 demands, which included sovereignty for Nagaland, and unification of all Naga-dominated areas of neighbouring states. However, the demand for sovereignty for Nagaland and its territorial claims over portions of neighbouring states was categorically rejected. With resignation of RS Panday from his position as interlocutor following his joining a political party, the Government at present has no interlocutor for NSCN-IM.

Hope in peace talks between the NSCN-IM and the Government of India continues though amidst confusions. At a top level NSCN-IM meet on 25 October 2012 at Dimapur it was decided to consult the Naga people before inking any peace accord with New Delhi.

In a hitherto unprecedented turn of events in Nagaland, 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. Youth organizations in Kohima had appealed to all the insurgent groups on 21 March 2012 to shun violence. This was followed by the rally on 2 April, which was organized by the Angami Youth Organization (AYO) and supported by several other Naga organizations. On the other hand, in May 2013, several Naga civil society groups, frontal organizations, student and youth organizations and business associations under the aegis of Naga Council formed an Action Committee for Unabated Taxation (ACAUT) with a resolution to oppose rampant and multiple tax collection by Naga insurgent groups. Thousands of people from all sections of society supported the campaign spearheaded by ACAUT at a rally on 31 October 2013. The NSCN later declared that ACAUT had no authority to 'dictate the people', and as a people-mandated revolutionary group, the NSCN had the 'right to tax' people.

The internecine clash between the Naga outfits has become subject of a political ball game and it remains the biggest obstacle in establishing peace in the state. When the Central Government insists that the clashes between the insurgent outfits are a law and order problem for the state Government, the state government has always played a marginal role in contributing to the peace process. The civil society organizations in Nagaland such as the Forum for Naga Reconciliation, the Naga Hoho and many other women’s and students’ organizations have played an important role in laying the groundwork for the emergence of lasting peace in the region. These are the actors who are working as a bridge between the various regions which comprise Nagalim, in Nagaland, Arunachal Pradesh, Assam, Manipur and parts of Myanmar; and without any substantial political overtones. They have been successful in reaching out to communities, both Naga and other ethnic tribes, and promoting dialogue and understanding at the civil society level between contesting aspirations of communities in the region, which the political outfits engaged in talks have not been able to do. They have joined efforts to talk to top rebel leaders to stop fratricidal killings among Naga insurgent factions and extortions and threats, and to include more women in the peace talks.

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

While talks between the Government of India and the NSCN-IM have been carried on without any visible success, the negotiation process received a further jolt with the resignation of R.S. Panday on 16 December 2013.

A possible solution to the Naga insurgency problem has remained uncertain. W.ith more factions coming to fore, thus making way to more clashes, the united Naga rebels’ voice is nowhere to be heard.

It was in 2006 that the NSCN had first submitted a “Framework” for negotiations during its meeting with Indian representatives in Amsterdam. In their proposal, NSCN-IM introduced a different concept of a political arrangement founded on the principle of “asymmetric federalism”. The concept said the new entity of Nagalim/Nagaland would have a separate Constitution, “within the framework of the Constitution of India” and it would be included as a “separate chapter” of the Indian Constitution. The “Framework” contained a 20-point charter of demands. In this Charter, the NSCN-IM had sought the unification of all Naga-inhabited areas of the Northeast, separate representation at the United Nations and greater rights over natural resources, finance, defense and policing.

After two decades of long negotiation, Government of India and NSCN-IM had mutually agreed and signed the historic ‘Framework Agreement’ on August 3, 2015, at New Delhi. The ‘Framework Agreement’ was signed in the presence of Prime Minister of India Narendra Modi, general secretary of the NSCN-IM Thuingaleng Muivah, Home Minister of India Rajnath Singh and National Security Adviser Ajit Doval. Government’s Interlocutor for Naga Peace Talks, Shri R.N. Ravi, signed the Agreement on behalf of the Government of India and Shri Isak Chishi Swu, Chairman, and Shri Th. Muivah, General Secretary were the signatories on behalf of the NSCN.The NSCN-K, the separatist faction of the NSCN was not a part of the agreement.

The NSCN-IM, one of the prime separatist groups in the Northeast, which was formed to achieve sovereignty of Nagaland, surrendered its demand of sovereignty a few years ago and since then had been pressuring for integration of Naga-inhabited areas in Manipur, Arunachal Pradesh and Assam until the Naga Framework Agreement was signed in 3 August 2015.

Just after the ‘framework agreement’ was signed, NSCN-IM announced that this was a realistic step in recognizing the ‘unique history and situation of the Nagas. NSCN-IM general secretary after signing of the accord in a statement stated that better understanding had been arrived at and a framework agreement had been concluded basing on the unique history and position of the Nagas and recognizing the universal principle that in a democracy sovereignty lies with the people.

Following the inking of the ‘Framework Agreement,’ a Govt. of India in a statement revealed that the government recognized the unique history, culture, and position of the Nagas and their sentiments and aspirations. The NSCN understood and appreciated the Indian political system and governance. It indicated that that NSCN had dropped its initial sovereignty demand and accepted the Indian Constitution.

On August 2015, NSCN-IM General Secretary Thuingaleng Muivah said that the Govt. of India and NSCN-IM have agreed on ‘sharing sovereign powers’ on the basis of mutual co-existence and both sides would have to respect each other. He was confident that the framework would lead to an enduring, inclusive and a new relationship -- relationship of peaceful co-existence of two entities, Nagas, and Indians.

As far back as in December 2015 NSCN(IM) in a statement said that The 'framework agreement' is based on the uniqueness of Naga history, which means Nagas are a free people and they have never been a part of Union of India or Burma or any other power either by conquest or consent. The statement further said that both the parties agreed that sovereignty, according to the universal principle of democracy, lies with the people, not government or monarch. In addition, that sovereignty of the Nagas lies with the Naga people and sovereignty of India lies with the Indian people. However, with a view to solving the Indo-Naga political problem both the parties agreed to share sovereign power for an enduring and peaceful co-existence of the two entities.

NSCN-IM in another statement IN December 2015 explained that the framework agreement is based on the uniqueness of Naga history with a view to solving the Indo-Naga political problem both the parties agreed to share sovereign power for an enduring and peaceful co-existence of the two entities. Besides, the group said the agreement also says that land and its resources of both below and above the earth totally belong to the Nagas. The Nagas will have the right to exercise their sovereign power over their territories.

On March 2017 NSCN-IM in a statement declared that The historic Framework Agreement recognizes the unique history, the identity, the sovereignty and the territories of the Nagas. It also recognizes the legitimate right of the Nagas for integration of all Naga territories.

NSCN-IM Vice President Kholi Konyak while delivering his speech at 38th republic day celebration of the outfit in Camp Hebron, in 2017 said that The Naga people in their national assembly declared their decision that Nagalim would be a ‘sovereign independent Christian Socialist Democratic Republic.’ The national movement of the Nagas is inspired and guided by this principle and it has brought the Nagas thus far.

He said that it took decades for the Indian leadership to realize that Indo-Naga issue is political, not military, which finally brought the two parties to the negotiating table. He further said that the agreement was made on the basis of respecting the right of the Nagas and the security of India. It embraces all Nagas and their territories, not a part of the people and a part of the territories. It is an issue-based agreement. It is made in the best interest of the two people at this given point in time. Both the parties will value the ‘Framework Agreement’ and abide by that. The future of the Nagas is now safe under this agreement.

Although the exact meaning of the ‘framework agreement’ has not been disclosed yet, however, sources pointed out that shared sovereignty could mean the possibility of Nagas getting a separate constitution, flag, parliament, and judiciary. On May 2017, an NSCN-IM spokesperson said that that the government, in the 'framework agreement' has recognized the Nagas' sovereignty and has accepted that the Nagas are unique people with a separate entity and sovereign rights.

Only two aspects of the Framework Agreement have been made public—acceptance of the “uniqueness of Naga history and culture” by the Indian Government and the acceptance of the primacy of the Indian Constitution by the NSCN-IM.

One point this peace agreement clarifies that NSCN-IM has given up the objective of establishing an independent sovereign state representing Naga people.

(Updated till December 2018 )