Towards the Govt-Naga peace accord: Everything you need to know

Here is the story of the long-running Naga insurgency — and the peace moves that picked up pace with the efforts of Prime Ministers from P V Narasimha Rao to Narendra Modi.

Written by Samudra Gupta Kashyap | Updated: August 4, 2015 4:03 pm
nagaland, NSCN(IM), nagaland peace accord, naga insurgent group, Narendra Modi, Nagaland, NSCN(IM) peace accord, Government accord NSCN(IM), Nagaland insurgency, Rajnath Singh, Modi peace accord, Modi NSCN(IM), Nation news, india news Prime Minister Narendra Modi with Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh, NSCN (IM) General Secretary, Thuingaleng Muivah, NSA, Ajit Doval and others at the signing ceremony of historic peace accord between Government of India & NSCN, in New Delhi on Monday. (Source: PTI)

How old is the Naga political issue?

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, under the leadership of Angami Zapu Phizo, 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 per cent” supported an “independent” Nagaland.

When did the armed movement begin?

On March 22, 1952, Phizo formed the underground Naga Federal Government (NFG) and the Naga Federal Army (NFA). The Government of India sent in the Army to crush the insurgency and, in 1958, enacted the Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act.

greaterWhen did the peace efforts start?

Almost simultaneously with the resistance. On June 29, 1947, Assam Governor Sir Akbar Hyderi signed a 9-point agreement with moderates T Sakhrie and Aliba Imti, which was almost immediately rejected by Phizo. The Naga Hills, a district of Assam, was upgraded to a state in 1963, by also adding the Tuensang Tract that was then part of NEFA. In April the next year, Jai Prakash Narain, Assam Chief Minister Bimala Prasad Chaliha and Rev. Michael Scott formed a Peace Mission, and got the government and NNC to sign an agreement to suspend operations that September. But the NNC/NFG/NFA continued to indulge in violence, and after six rounds of talks, the Peace Mission was abandoned in 1967, and a massive counter-insurgency operation launched.

When did the NSCN come into being?

On November 11, 1975, the government got a section of NNC leaders to sign 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 were at that time in China, refused to accept the Shillong Accord, and formed the National Socialist Council of Nagaland in 1980. Muivah also had Isak Chisi Swu and S S Khaplang with him. In 1988, the NSCN split into NSCN (IM) and NSCN (K) after a violent clash. 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.

What did the NSCN (IM) want?

A “Greater Nagalim” comprising “all contiguous Naga-inhabited areas”, along with Nagaland. That included several districts of Assam, Arunachal and Manipur, as also a large tract of Myanmar. The map of “Greater Nagalim” has about 1,20,000 sq km, while the state of Nagaland consists of 16,527 sq km. The claims have always kept Assam, Manipur and Arunachal Pradesh wary of a peace settlement that might affect their territories. The Nagaland Assembly has endorsed the ‘Greater Nagalim’ demand — “Integration of all Naga-inhabited contiguous areas under one administrative umbrella” — as many as five times: in December 1964, August 1970, September 1994, December 2003 and as recently as on July 27, 2015.

When did NSCN (IM) join peace talks?

Muivah, Swu and other top NSCN (IM) leaders escaped to Thailand in the early 1990s. While Nagaland Governor M M Thomas, a Church leader from Kerala, extracted the first positive response from the NSCN(IM), Prime Minister P V Narasimha Rao met Muivah, Swu and others in Paris on June 15, 1995. In November 1995, then MoS (Home) Rajesh Pilot met them in Bangkok. Subsequently, Prime Minister H D Deve Gowda met them in Zurich on February 3, 1997, which was followed by meetings with officers in Geneva and Bangkok. Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee met them in Paris on September 30, 1998. The Government of India signed a ceasefire agreement with NSCN (IM) on July 25, 1997, which came into effect on August 1, 1997. Over 80 rounds of talks between the two sides were held subsequently.

How did Prime Minister Modi travel the last mile?

For the NSCN (IM), the Modi government continues from where Vajpayee left. The RSS’s Northeast veteran P B Acharya is currently Nagaland Governor, and Joint Intelligence Committee chairman R N Ravi, with his IB background, is an old Northeast hand. The state’s political scenario has changed, with T R Zeliang’s Naga People’s Front, an NDA ally, persuading all groups in the Assembly, including the Congress, to become partners in an all-party government.

How have Manipur, Assam and Arunachal Pradesh reacted?

Leaders cutting across party lines have preferred to wait and watch. Nobody in these three states would allow even an inch of their land to be added to a ‘Greater Nagalim’, if at all that term is part of the accord.

What about S S Khaplang?

In March this year, he abrogated the ceasefire he had signed in 2001, and is sure to oppose the accord. Security forces have been already alerted across Nagaland, Assam, Manipur and Arunachal Pradesh.


AUG 1947: Naga National Council led by Angami Zapu Phizo revolts, NNC subsequently resolves to establish a sovereign Naga state

MAY 1951: After ‘referendum’ NNC claims 99% of Naga people support independence. NNC boycotts first general election of 1952, launches violent secessionist movement

MAR 22, 1956: Phizo creates underground Naga Federal Government (NFG) and a Naga Federal Army (NFA)

APR 1956: New Delhi sends Army to crush insurgency in the (then) Naga Hills District of Assam; Phizo escapes to (then) East Pakistan in December and, subsequently, in June 1960, to London

1958: Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act enacted for Naga Hills District

DEC 1, 1963: Nagaland attains statehood

1964: Peace Mission of Jai Prakash Narayan, B P Chaliha and Rev. Michael Scott to Nagaland, an Agreement for Suspension of Operation is signed with insurgents

NOV 11, 1975: Shillong Accord signed between Centre and NNC

1980: Thuingaleng Muivah, Isak Chisi Swu, S S Khaplang form NSCN

1988: NSCN splits, Khole Konyak and Khaplang form NSCN (K)

JUNE 15, 1995: P V Narasimha Rao meets Muivah and Isak in Paris

FEB 3, 1997: Deve Gowda meets NSCN (IM) leadership in Zurich

JULY 25, 1997: India and NSCN (IM) sign ceasefire agreement, which comes into effect on Aug 1

SEP 30, 1998: Atal Bihari Vajpayee and Brajesh Mishra meet NSCN (IM) leaders in Paris

JAN 9-11, 2003: Muivah and Isak hold talks with Vajpayee and Advani in Delhi

DEC 7, 2004: NSCN (IM) leaders meet Manmohan Singh

JULY 31, 2007: Ceasefire between NSCN (IM) and Government of India extended indefinitely