Home Contact Us
Search :

Northeast - Articles

Print Bookmark Email Facebook Subscribe
#1577, 4 December 2004
Naga Nationalism: The Inward Turn of a Conflict
Bidhan S Laishram
Research Officer, IPCS

One major success of the ongoing negotiations between the NSCN-IM and the Government of India (GOI) has been the peaceful overcoming of minor hurdles that might have become major obstacles to peace. The latest that has cropped up, however, raises questions as to whether the parties are genuinely interested in moving forward.

The NSCN-IM has recently accused the GOI of playing divisive politics by promoting rivalry within the Naga insurgency. It specifically charged on 15 November that the Federal Government of Nagaland (FGN) had been supplied with "at least 80 self-loading rifles, made in the Indian Army Ordnance Factory". The Research and Analysis Wing (RAW), the Intelligence Bureau (IB) and the Military Intelligence (MI) are, according to the NSCN-IM, arming the FGN and NSCN-K, thereby encouraging factional politics among the Nagas so as to keep the NSCN-IM under pressure at the negotiating table. The GOI's interlocutor, K Padmanabhaiah, has clarified that there is "no logic or reason for the government or its agencies to support a small group like the NNC or the NSCN (K)".

The charge of the NSCN-IM is significant in the background of the reported fight between the Naga insurgent outfits which claimed the lives of at least eight militants besides injuring a score of others, with the consequence that the planned visit of the NSCN-IM's leadership on 28 November to New Delhi and Nagaland remains postponed. The visit had been eagerly awaited by the Naga civil society for the opportunity to freely discuss issues involved in the peace talks. It would also have provided the leadership with broad-based inputs about the aspirations of the Nagas. The setback is huge.

It is important at this juncture to examine the routes that the peace talks have taken so far. What emerges glaringly from such an examination is that what started as a conflict between the Indian state and the Nagas has transformed into intercommunity tensions or, to put it mildly, neighbourhood politics. In the latest stage of this transformation, the quarrel within has greater chances of becoming dominant. The reversal of stated policies by the GOI as was witnessed when Manipur revolted against the extension of ceasefire between the GOI and the NSCN-IM into Manipur's territory in June 2001 and its effects on community relations are difficult to be erased. The demand for unification of Naga dominated areas into 'Nagalim' slipped under uncertainty in a clause of the Common Minimum Programme of the UPA Government of Manmohan Singh, which said there would be no change in the existing territorial structures in Northeast. Despite insistence by the Nagas that such unification is 'non-negotiable', peace talks were declared to be smoothly going on. What diplomatic understanding kept it outside the domain of conflict is not known. That also symbolises the failure of the Indian state to recognize the interconnectedness of ethno-nationalist claims characterising the region.

Contradicting logics of the GOI in seeking an end to the insurgencies of the region has to a large extent damaged the chances of attaining an enduring peace and a harmonious cohabitation of communities. The logic of security demanded that the State give preference to the more 'powerful' insurgent groups. The residue represented by the 'smaller' groups were sought to be suppressed through various tactics including political de-legitimization. Selective talks, however, only encouraged others to become more 'powerful' making them believe that New Delhi listens only to guns. The civil society has been sidelined along the process.

It can be so interpreted in the present Naga case that the people should first settle their internal differences to achieve an 'honourable' solution. But, the fact is that neither the NSCN-K, despite a ceasefire already in place, nor the NNC, is involved in the peace talks. Nor are civil society organisations a party, despite their whole hearted efforts in making the talks possible. It may only be natural that differences emerge within the Naga society; but it does not bode well when the other party is accused of encouraging those differences. Because, when differences are perceived as 'manufactured', those are meant precisely to disable reconciliation.

Addressing the question of who 'truly' represents Naga political aspirations cannot be avoided if the Government has already accepted its legitimacy. Interest in power may multiply the number of political actors and their competing claims. The tragedy is that what could have been a healthy sign of democratic culture has now become a question of political manipulation, having permitted the entry of distrust in the negotiating room. The GOI should seriously ask how this has happened as lessons learnt here will bear on dealing with the many insurgencies of the region. That goes beyond asking: should the search for security seek to suppress differences or, should the search for genuine peace encourage differences? What should be the nature of responsible state action?

Print Bookmark Email Facebook Subscribe
IPCS Columnists
Af-Pak Diary
D Suba Chandran
Resetting Kabul-Islamabad Relations: Three Key Issues
Can Pakistan Reset its Relations with Afghanistan?
The New Afghanistan: Four Major Challenges for President Ghani
Big Picture
Prof Varun Sahni
Understanding Democracy and Diversity in J&K
When Xi Met Modi: Juxtaposing China and India
Pakistan?s Tactical Nuclear Weapons: The Inevitability of Instability

Dateline Colombo

Asanga Abeyagoonasekera.
Sri Lanka: Moving Towards a Higher Collective Outcome
The Importance of Electing the Best to our Nation's Parliament
Sri Lanka: Toward a Diaspora Re-Engagement Plan
Dateline Islamabad
Salma Malik
Pakistan's Hurt Locker: What Next?
IPCS Forecast: Pakistan in 2015
India-Pakistan Relations in 2015: Through a Looking Glass
Dhaka Discourse
Prof Delwar Hossain
IPCS Forecast: Bangladesh in 2015
18th SAARC Summit: A Perspective from Bangladesh
Bangladesh in Global Forums: Diplomacy vs. Domestic Politics
Eagle Eye
Prof Chintamani Mahapatra
India-US: Significance of the Second Modi-Obama Meet
Has President Obama Turned Lame Duck?
Modi-Obama Summit: Criticism for Criticism?s Sake?

East Asia Compass
Dr Sandip Mishra
India-Japan-US Trilateral: India?s Policy for the Indo-Pacific
China-South Korea Ties: Implications for the US Pivot to Asia
Many ?Pivots to Asia?: What Does It Mean For Regional Stability?
Himalayan Frontier
Pramod Jaiswal
Nepal?s New Constitution: Instrument towards Peace or Catalyst to Conflict?
IPCS Forecast: Nepal in 2015
Constitution-making: Will Nepal Miss its Second Deadline?

Prof Shankari Sundararaman
IPCS Forecast: Southeast Asia in 2015
Indonesia's Pacific Identity: What Jakarta Must Do in West Papua
Modi in Myanmar: From ?Look East? to ?Act East?
Sushant Sareen
IPCS Forecast: Pakistan in 2015
Islamic State: Prospects in Pakistan
Pakistan: The Futility of Internationalising Kashmir

Looking East
Wasbir Hussain
Myanmar in New Delhi's Naga Riddle
China: ?Peaceful? Display of Military Might
Naga Peace Accord: Need to Reserve Euphoria
Maritime Matters
Vijay Sakhuja
Indian Ocean: Modi on a Maritime Pilgrimage
Indian Ocean: Exploring Maritime Domain Awareness
IPCS Forecast: The Indian Ocean in 2015

Nuke Street
Amb Sheelkant Sharma
US-Russia and Global Nuclear Security: Under a Frosty Spell?
India's Nuclear Capable Cruise Missile: The Nirbhay Test
India-Australia Nuclear Agreement: Bespeaking of a New Age
Red Affairs
Bibhu Prasad
Countering Left Wing Extremism: Failures within Successes
Return of the Native: CPI-Maoist in Kerala
The Rising Civilian Costs of the State-Vs-Extremists Conflict

Regional Economy
Amita Batra
India and the APEC
IPCS Forecast: South Asian Regional Integration
South Asia: Rupee Regionalisation and Intra-regional Trade Enhancement
South Asian Dialectic
PR Chari
Resuming the Indo-Pak Dialogue: Evolving a New Focus
Defence Management in India: An Agenda for Parrikar
Pakistani Taliban and Al Qaeda in Afghanistan: Implications for Asian Security

Spotlight West Asia
Amb Ranjit Gupta
Prime Minister Modi Finally Begins His Interaction with West Asia*
A Potential Indian Role in West Asia?
US-GCC Summit: More Hype than Substance
Strategic Space
Manpreet Sethi
India-Russia Nuclear Vision Statement: See that it Delivers
Global Nuclear Disarmament: The Humanitarian Consequences Route
Nasr: Dangers of Pakistan's Short Range Ballistic Missile

The Strategist
Vice Admiral Vijay Shankar
Jihadi Aggression and Nuclear Deterrence
The Blight of Ambiguity
Falun Gong: The Fear Within

OTHER REGULAR contributors
Gurmeet Kanwal
Harun ur Rashid
N Manoharan
Wasbir Hussain
Rana Banerji
N Manoharan

Ruhee Neog
Teshu Singh
Aparupa Bhattacherjee
Roomana Hukil
Aparupa Bhattacherjee


Browse by Publications

Issue Briefs 
Special Reports 
Research Papers 
Seminar Reports 
Conference Reports 

Browse by Region/Countries

East Asia 
South Asia 
Southeast Asia 
US & South Asia 

Browse by Issues

India & the world  
Naxalite Violence 
Suicide Terrorism 
Peace & Conflict Database 
Article by same Author
Architects of Violence: Illegal Immigrants and Communalization in Assam

Border Disputes in Northeast India: Failures of Imaginary

Peace with NDFB: Remnants of an Ill Diagnosis

Insurgency and the Collapse of Justice

Manipur and the Paradox of Security

Assamís Illegal Immigrants: Electoral Clarities and National Ambiguities

Fighting Naxals: Time to Go Beyond Law and Order Perspective

Indo-Russian Relations Post the Vajpayee Visit of Russia

Y! MyWeb
Print Bookmark Email Facebook Subscribe
Year 2015
 January  February  March  April  May  June  July  August  September  October  November  December
 2014  2013  2012  2011  2010  2009  2008  2007
 2006  2005  2004  2003  2002  2001  2000  1999
 1998  1997

The Institute of Peace and Conflict Studies (IPCS) is the premier South Asian think tank which conducts independent research on and provides an in depth analysis of conventional and non-conventional issues related to national and South Asian security including nuclear issues, disarmament, non-proliferation, weapons of mass destruction, the war on terrorism, counter terrorism , strategies security sector reforms, and armed conflict and peace processes in the region.

For those in South Asia and elsewhere, the IPCS website provides a comprehensive analysis of the happenings within India with a special focus on Jammu and Kashmir and Naxalite Violence. Our research promotes greater understanding of India's foreign policy especially India-China relations, India's relations with SAARC countries and South East Asia.

Through close interaction with leading strategic thinkers, former members of the Indian Administrative Service, the Foreign Service and the three wings of the Armed Forces - the Indian Army, Indian Navy, and Indian Air Force, - the academic community as well as the media, the IPCS has contributed considerably to the strategic discourse in India.

Subscribe to Newswire | Site Map | IPCS Email
B 7/3 Lower Ground Floor, Safdarjung Enclave, New Delhi 110029, INDIA.

Tel: 91-11-4100-1900, Tel: 91-11-4100-1901, Tel/Fax: 91-11-4100-1902

© Copyright 2015, Institute of Peace and Conflict Studies.
        Web Design by http://www.indiainternets.com