Intricacies of core issue in Naga insurgency

    06-Sep-2022
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Sunil Thongam
Ten policemen escorting the Speaker of the Nagaland State Assembly were killed by NSCN cadres on August 14, 1991. Thirteen members of the NNC (NFG) were killed by NSCN rebels on August 13, 1992. It was reported the killing was in retaliation for the alleged cooperation of the NNC with the Indian army in a crackdown on an NSCN camp.  
The Naga outfit used guerilla warfare in targeting the Government's armed forces, police and their support units before signing a ceasefire agreement with the Government of India in 1997. The physical environment has remained conducive to guerilla operations in Nagaland, Manipur and other North Eastern States. The region has large areas with heavy jungle or mountains and poor roads.
The NSCN (IM) had been fighting in their own homeland. They used their familiarity with the local landscape and terrain to their advantage. History says that use of guerrilla warfare was first suggested in the 6th century BC by Chinese general and strategist Sun Tzu, in his classic book, The Art of War.
Mao Zedong in China and Ho Chi Minh in North Vietnam also used guerrilla warfare. In India, the Marathas used guerilla warfare successfully against the Mughals in the 17th century.
The Naga imbroglio is yet to end. The NSCN (IM) has said Nagas will co-exist with India but will not merge with it. The outfit has firmed up on the demand for shared sovereignty between Indian and Nagalim. NSCN (IM) has insisted on co-existing together under shared sovereignty.
Sovereignty does not mean independence. Sovereignty means the right to self-rule, while independence means the right to sole rule.  Shared sovereignty implies the co-existence and interdependence of two entities.
Thuingaleng Muivah (87) hails from Somdal in Manipur’s Ukhrul district which is the home of the Tangkhul tribes. Muivah is the General Secretary of the National Socialist Council of Nagaland-IM, or NSCN (IM). He left his native village about 50 years ago to wage an armed struggle.
He joined the Naga National Council (NNC), an armed group campaigning for secession of Nagaland from India. Muivah subsequently became the General Secretary of NNC. A group of NNC leaders signed the Shillong Accord of 1975 with the Government of India. Muivah and some others denounced this group as traitors. The Shillong Accord accepted the Indian Constitution which was the main reason for Muivah and his team to part ways.
A faction led by Isak Chishi Swu, SS Khaplang and Muivah quit NNC to form the National Socialist Council of Nagalim (NSCN) in 1980. The NSCN continued secessionist activities abandoned by the NNC. But the NSCN later split into NSCN (IM) led by Isak Chishi Swu  and Muivah, and NSCN (K) led by Khaplang due to major disagreements.
The NSCN now has four factions—the Isak-Muivah faction, the NSCN-K splinter headed by Khole Konyak, the NSCN-K headed by Khaplang, and NSCN-Unification.
NSCN (IM) under the leadership of Muivah and Swu signed a ceasefire agreement with the Government of India in August 1997. The major breakthrough of the Naga peace talk took place on August 3, 2015 with the signing of a peace accord with the Centre.
Naga National Flag was hoisted in different areas of Nagaland and Manipur on August 14 this year to mark the Naga independence day.  Thuingaleng Muivah on the occasion had said that the Naga Flag and Constitution were indivisible parts of the recognized sovereignty and unique history.
In his speech to mark the 76th Naga Independence Day, the Naga separatist politician said, "Sovereignty is our birthright, which should be defended at all costs."
"The Naga Flag and Constitution are indivisible parts of the recognized sovereignty and unique history," Muivah had said.  NSCN (IM) has been demanding a separate Flag and Constitution which the Centre had rejected.
It is quite clear to the Naga Nationalist separatist group now that the demand for sovereignty and a ‘Greater Nagaland’ is neither feasible nor attainable. The solution to the Naga problem has remained stalled even after 25 years of political talks due to the NSCN (IM)'s demand for a separate Naga Flag and Constitution.  (To be contd)