Making sense of the Naga insurgency

The primary demand of the NSCN has been Greater Nagaland which envisages bringing all Naga-inhabited areas under one administrative umbrella.

 |  2-minute read |   03-08-2015
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The Nagas first revolted against the Indian government on August 14, 1947, led by Angami Zapu Phizo of the Naga National Council (NNC). In July 1948, Phizo was arrested and released next year. He became the president of NNC in 1950 and publicly resolved to establish a sovereign Naga state. Phizo's meeting with the then prime minister Jawaharlal Nehru in 1952 did not bear any fruit and four years later he formed an underground government called the Naga Federal Government (NFG) and a Naga Federal Army (NFA). In April 1956, the Central government sent the Army to crush the mutiny in what was, till then, the Naga Hills District of Assam. Phizo escaped to the then East Pakistan in December 1956 and then to London in June 1960.

Following sporadic violent agitations by Naga insurgents, Nagaland was given statehood on December 1, 1963. The NNC continued its armed struggle and in 1972, the Centre banned it under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act. The security forces launched a massive counter-insurgency operation which brought the militants to the negotiating table. On November 11, 1975, the NNC signed the historic Shillong Accord, accepted the Indian Constitution and agreed to surrender their weapons. In August 1976, T Muivah, a former general secretary of the NNC, convened a national assembly where he rejected the Shillong Accord as the “work of traitors”. In 1980, he, along with Isak Chisi Swu and SS Khaplang formed the National Socialist Council of Nagaland (NSCN).

The goal and territorial influence

The primary demand of the NSCN has been Greater Nagaland which envisages bringing all Naga-inhabited areas under one administrative umbrella. The outfit aims to establish a People's Republic of Nagaland based on the principle of socialism for economic development with the spiritual outlook, "Nagaland for Christ". Apart from Nagaland, its influence is seen in four districts of Manipur - Senapati, Ukhrul, Chandel and Tamenglong. It has also been able to extend its influence to the Naga-inhabited areas of North Cachar Hills and Karbi Anglong districts of Assam and some parts of Arunanchal Pradesh.

The split

The Nagas comprise 17 major tribes and over 20 sub-tribes. Naturally, they had always been divided along clan and tribal lines. The majority of the rank and file of the NSCN was from the Konyak tribe, while the top leadership came from the Tangkhuls. There were apprehensions among the Konyaks and the Myanmerese Nagas that the Tangkhuls were about to strike a deal with the Central government. The NSCN split into two groups in 1988 - the Konyaks formed NSCN(K) under the leadership of Khole Konyak and SS Khaplang, a Hemie Naga from Myanmar, while NSCN(I-M) under Isak Swu, a Sema from Nagaland, and Muivah, a Tangkhul from Manipur represented the Tangkhuls.

 

Writer

Kaushik Deka Kaushik Deka @kdscribe

Associate Editor, India Today

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