he National Socialist Council of Nagaland- Isak Muivah (NSCN-IM) was formed on April 30, 1988 following a violent clash between the NSCN cadres over the issue of starting a negotiation process with the Government of India. The undivided NSCN was, however, formed on January 31, 1980 by former Naga National Council (NNC) leaders, Isak Chisi Swu, Thuingaleng Muivah and S.S. Khaplang.

The purported aim of the NSCN-IM has been the establishment of a sovereign Nagalim (liberally described as Greater Nagaland that includes the areas inhabited by the Naga tribals in Assam, Manipur and Arunachal Pradesh in addition to the state of Nagaland). The outfit’s manifesto is guided by an overtly spiritual fervour and it speaks of the establishment of ‘Nagaland for Christ’.

The NSCN-IM is led by its chairman Isak Chisi Swu and general secretary Thuingaleng Muivah. The outfit maintains a ‘ministry’ consisting of kilonsers (ministers) for various departments. The outfit’s headquarter is presently based in Camp Hebron, near Dimapur, Nagaland’s commercial hub.

Subsequent to a decade of armed violence, the NSCN-IM entered into a peace process with New Delhi in 1997 and since then, the group has held several rounds of dialogues with the government representatives. The talks, in the recent years, have hit a deadlock over the outfit’s demand for the merger of the Naga-inhabited areas of Assam, Manipur and Arunachal Pradesh with Nagaland. The ceasefire agreement has been extended periodically over the years, and in 2007, both sides agreed to extend it indefinitely, thus doing away with the need for its regular extension. Several rounds of talks have taken place since then in Delhi and elsewhere, but no concrete outcome has come out of the talks.

According to ceasefire ground rules, the NSCN-IM cadres are supposed to stay within the confines of the designated camps. But this requirement has been violated with impunity and the outfits cadres have moved out of the camps to carry out their activities. Several incidents of extortion and factional clashes have been reported with the rival Khaplang faction and the NNC from almost all districts of Nagaland and the hill districts of neighbouring Manipur. Reports indicate that taking advantage of the ceasefire agreement, the NSCN-IM has increased its cadre strength to about 2,500.

In August 2009, Union Home Secretary G.K.Pillai said that the Centre is drafting a proposal to place before the NSCN-IM leaders as a solution to the Naga problem and may even consider amending the Constitution to accommodate their demand. The Centre also decided to wind up the term of K. Padmanabhaiah as interlocutor for talks with NSCN-IM. Centre then appointed R.S.Pandey as the new interlocutor to facilitate talks with the NSCN-IM on February 12, 2010. Pandey is a 1972 batch Indian Administrative Service (IAS) officer, belonging to Nagaland cadre. He was the Union Petroleum Secretary and had retired in January 2010.

On March 2, 2010, an 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 in New Delhi. The Naga leaders also held a series of meetings with interlocutor 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.

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 the first week of May. 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 CrPC 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.

On June 4, 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.

Two more rounds of talks were held in Delhi with the Centre on July 23 and July 29, 2010 with both the sides expressing satisfaction over the way the talks are progressing.

NSCN-IM is described as the mother of all insurgencies in Northeast India and over the years, its assistance has been vital for the survival and sustenance of several outfits in various states of the region. NSCN-IM has trained cadres of almost all other militant outfits in the region and had provided them with arms and camping facilities as well. It has linkages both outside and within India. It has a longstanding relationship with Pakistan’s ISI. Reports also indicate its linkages with Harkat-ul Jehad-al Islami (HUJI), a fundamentalist group in Bangladesh.


A Following the violent clash of 30 April 1988, S S Khaplang led a group of NSCN cadres to form the National Socialist Council of Nagaland-Khaplang (NSCN-K). The purported objective of NSCN-K, is not too different from the Isak-Muivah faction (NSCN-IM), although the former emphasises more on the inclusion of the Naga-inhabited areas of Myanmar into the proposed Nagalim (Greater Nagaland) and not so much on such areas in the neighbouring states of Assam, Manipur and Arunachal Pradesh.

NSCN-K chairman S S Khaplang is a Hemi Naga from Myanmar and is based in Myanmar, where the outfit maintains several camps. Starting 1988, the outfit has engaged in a bitter fratricidal warfare with the NSCN-IM. The latter, on the other hand, has described the NSCN-K as an agent of the Indian government and an ally of the security forces. Other senior leaders including Kughalo Mulatonu are mostly based in Nagaland.

Following NSCN-IM’s example, the NSCN-K entered into a ceasefire agreement with the Government of India in 2001. The outfit has consistently voiced its opposition against the Government’s decision to continue its dialogue with the NSCN-IM and hence, has not held a single round of dialogue with New Delhi, although both sides have extended the ceasefire agreement periodically, the latest being on May 3, 2010 for one year till April 28, 2011. Its cadres, supposed to have been staying within the designated camps, like those of the NSCN-IM, have moved out to extort and intimidate civilian population in the state.

Of late, NSCN-K has decided to come over for talks with the Government of India and it has also modified its stand on sovereignty, saying “sovereignty” could be redefined once the negotiation begins with the government. It, however, insists that the letter for talks should come from the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO).

The NSCN-K’s area of influence, mostly confined to its traditional strongholds such as Mokokchung district, has shrunk over the years. A number of its cadres and middle level functionaries have deserted the outfit to join the NSCN-IM. The NSCN-K, on the other hand, has joined hands with the NNC (the first Naga insurgent group founded by Angami Zapu Phizo), to carry out attacks on the NSCN-IM. The NSCN-K was also involved in the formation of NSCN-Unification (NSCN-U) on November 23, 2007 and both these outfits are engaged in clashes with NSCN-IM.

The outfit maintains strategic linkages with the United Liberation Front of Asom (ULFA) and allows the outfit’s cadres to use its facilities in the Sagaing division of Myanmar.


On November 23, 2007, several NSCN (IM) cadres led by its one-time ‘home minister’ Azheto Chopey broke away from the group and formed a new outfit called the NSCN - Unification. These cadres assembled at the village of Hovishe, in Niuland sub-division in the Dimapur district, and met with leaders of the NSCN (K). Apparently, the two groups, the newly formed NSCN (U) and the NSCN (K)—both rivals of the NSCN(IM)—signed an inter-factional ‘truce agreement’ declaring the unification of the two factions for a common goal. It was clear that the NSCN (U) and the NSCN (K) had become allies.

On January 21, 2008, the NSCN (IM) 'dismissed' 27 of its cadres, who had defected along with Chopey from 'national service' with effect from January 22, 2008, for 'deliberately defying' a directive of the 'yaruiwo' (prime minister) Isak Chishi Swu to return from the "reactionary camp" and report to the Council Headquarters. Samson Jajo, 'chief principal secretary' of the NSCN (IM), said a decision towards this effect was taken in exercise of the decision of the "National Security Council". Since January 2008, the NSCN (U) was involved in bitter clashes with the NSCN (IM), culminating in the death of 14 of its cadres near Dimapur, Nagaland’s commercial hub, on May 16, 2008. However, the unification faction of NSCN has not been involved in much incidents since 2009.


The NSCN (Khole-Kitovi) faction was formed on June 7, 2011. The faction was formed by a dissenting group of cadres of NSCN-Khaplang faction (NSCN-K) under the leadership of Khole Konyak and Kitovi Zhimoni. They severed ties with the Khaplang faction alleging `dictatorial leadership' of Khaplang. They described S.S. Khaplang as a `Burmese national' and asked him not to interfere in `Naga affairs'. The NSCN-K in reply said that Khole and Kitovi Zhimoni had become "prisoners of the NSCN (IM)". The Khole-Kitovi faction tried to reconcile with the NSCN (IM) but differences between Muivah and Kitovi didn’t allow this to happen.

Clashes between the two factions began in December 2011. In 2012, 14 incidents of clashes between these two factions were reported. Some of these incidents are:

February 5: Two NSCN (Khole-Kitovi) cadres were killed, and another was injured, after NSCN-K cadres attacked a 'mobile camp' of NSCN (Khole-Kitovi) on the outskirts of Athibung area in Peren district, Nagaland.

February 29: Suspected NSCN-K militants killed two NSCN (Khole-Kitovi) cadres at Phomching Town under Mon district.

March 15: Three dead bodies of NSCN (Khole-Kitovi) cadres were found a few hundred metres away from Chui Village Junction in Mon district, Nagaland. The deceased were `arrested' some days earlier by NSCN-K cadres, who killed them on March 14.

March 17: A kapur (area administrator) of NSCN (Khole-Kitovi) was shot dead by suspected NSCN-K cadres at Naga Hospital in Kohima. A civilian was also injured in the incident.

March 28: NSCN (Khole-Kitovi) and NSCN-K cadres clashed at a place between Natha Old and Natha New, on the outskirts of Zunheboto District, Nagaland, though no casualty was reported. NSCN-K claimed that firing had occurred due to "provocation" by NSCN (Khole-Kitovi) cadres, who had threatened to chase the NSCN-K out from Zunheboto.

On April 27, 2012, the Centre signed a ceasefire agreement with the NSCN (Khole-Kitovi) faction for one year.