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Science & Technology
- GS 3 || Security || Internal Security Threats || NE Insurgency
Why in the news?
- The recent killings of civilians by security forces in a case of alleged mistaken identity in Nagaland has once again rekindled the debate over the Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA), a law that gives enormous discretionary powers to the armed forces over a civilian population.
- While addressing the reporters Chief Minister NeiphiuRio has urged the Centre to remove AFSPA from Nagaland. And called the law a “black spot on the image of the country”.
- Meghalaya Chief Minister Conrad Sangma has also demanded the repeal of AFSPA in the aftermath of the killings in Nagaland.
- The Act came into force in the context of increasing violence and insurgency in the North-eastern States decades ago, which the State governments found difficult to control.
Definition of Insurgency
- The insurgency has been defined as a protracted struggle conducted methodically, step by step, to attain specific intermediate objectives leading finally to the overthrow of the existing order. Differences in language, religion, and ethnicity often act as motivating factors for the insurgents.
Naga Insurgency- Background
- The British annexed Assam in 1826, and in 1881, the Naga Hills too became part of British India. The first sign of Naga resistance was seen in the formation of the Naga Club in 1918, which told the Simon Commission in 1929 “to leave us alone to determine for ourselves as in ancient times”.
- In 1946 came the Naga National Council (NNC), which declared Nagaland an independent state on August 14, 1947.
- The NNC resolved to establish a “sovereign Naga state” and conducted a “referendum” in 1951, in which “99 percent” supported an “independent” Nagaland.
- On March 22, 1952, the Naga Federal Government (NFG) and the Naga Federal Army (NFA) were formed. The Government of India sent in the Army to crush the insurgency and, in 1958, enacted the Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act.
- In 1975, when the government signed the Shillong Accord, under which this section of NNC and NFG agreed to give up arms.
- A group of about 140 members led by Thuingaleng Muivah, who was at that time in China, refused to accept the Shillong Accord and formed the National Socialist Council of Nagaland (NSCN) in 1980.
- In 1988, the NSCN split into NSCN (IM) and NSCN (K) after a violent crash.
- While the NNC began to fade away, and Phizo died in London in 1991, the NSCN (IM) came to be seen as the “mother of all insurgencies” in the region.
Demands of Naga Groups
- The key demand of Naga groups has been a Greater Nagalim(sovereign statehood) i.e redrawing of boundaries to bring all Naga-inhabited areas in the Northeast under one administrative umbrella.
- It includes various parts of Arunachal Pradesh, Manipur, Assam, and Myanmar as well.
- The demand also includes the separate Naga Yezabo (Constitution) and Naga national flag.
Beginning of Peace talks
- June 1947-Assam Governor Sir Akbar Hydari signed the Nine-Point Agreement with the NNC’s moderates in June 1947, but the movement’s senior leaders, like Phizo, were not taken into confidence, and Phizo bluntly rejected it.
- July 1960– In July 1960, a 16-point agreement was signed, resulting in the formation of Nagaland on December 1, 1963. The agreement, in this case, was with the Naga People’s Convention, which was created by moderate Nagas in August 1957 amid a violent phase, rather than with the NNC.
- 1964-1967- A Peace Mission was organized in April 1964 to reach an agreement with the NNC on the suspension of activities, but it was abandoned in 1967 after six rounds of discussions.
- Shillong Accord
- The government signed the Shillong Accord on November 11, 1975, under which this section of the NNC and NFG agreed to give up their arms.
- However, a faction within the group refused to accept the Shillong Accord and formed the National Socialist Council of Nagaland in 1980.
Peace talks under various Prime Ministers
- Even before India’s independence, the Nagas demanded independence, alleging that they had never been a part of British India.
- Pandit Nehru refused the demand, but he placed Naga issues under the supervision of a director in the Ministry of External Affairs.
- Indira Gandhi gave them “anything but independence,” but the problem was shifted to the home ministry, which enraged the Nagas even more.
- V. Narasimha Rao waived the first olive branch from an Indian Prime Minister.
- His government surreptitiously communicated with the NSCN-IM, and H.D. Deve Gowda did the same.
- Indra Kumar Gujaral was able to reach an agreement with them on a truce, but not on a long-term peace.
- In 2001, Atal Bihari Vajpayee recognized the Nagas’ “unique history and situation” and established a ceasefire monitoring panel.
- Manmohan Singh attempted to engage with the NSCN-IM as well, but no agreement could be reached.
- In August 2015, the existing government and the National Socialist Council of Nagalim (Isak-Muivah), or NSCN-IM, signed a Naga Peace Accord, which was hailed at the time as a historic achievement. Since then, though, a final agreement has been elusive.
- The 2015 deal appeared to make the peace process more inclusive, but it raised concerns that the central government was exploiting ethnic and geopolitical divisions within the Nagas.
- The issue of integrating contiguous Naga-populated areas in Manipur, Assam, and Arunachal Pradesh in response to the demand for territorial unification of the ‘Greater Nagalim’ will result in violent battles in the several states involved.
- The existence of multiple organizations claiming to represent the Nagas is another key impediment to the peace process in Nagaland.
- There is no way the government would accept a separate constitution for Nagaland.
- There was, indeed, an opinion that the flag could be given. But that went off the table after August 5, 2019, when the Kashmiri flag was taken away.
- The agreement should be all-inclusive- Any agreement reached should result in social and political concord, economic success, and the protection of all tribes’ and states’ citizens’ lives and property.
- Talks with all factions- To achieve long-term peace, the Centre must talk with all factions and organizations of the insurgents. In addition, their cultural, historical, and territorial scope must be considered.
- Involvement of tribals– Another option for dealing with the problem is to give tribal chiefs as much power as possible while keeping the apex level as small as possible. This would allow the apex level to focus on governance and large-scale development projects.
- Greater autonomy- Greater autonomy for Naga populated areas in these states could be offered, including separate budget allocations for Naga populated areas in terms of culture and development issues.
- There is a need for setting up of autonomous councils in Naga-dominated areas of neighboring states; and the use of the Naga flag for at least customary events.
- Adopting a mid- path- Furthermore, the Centre must keep in mind that the majority of armed insurgencies around the world do not end in complete victory or loss, but rather in a grey zone known as ‘compromise.’
Mains model Question
- Analyze the Naga Conundrum and the factors that contributed to it. How can Nagaland’s long-term peace be guaranteed?