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Friday, January 28, 2022

Explained: Konyak tribe numbers make them crucial to peace talks

🔴 With a population of roughly 3 lakh, the area inhabited by the Konyaks extends into Arunachal Pradesh, with a sizeable population in Myanmar as well.

By: Express News Service | New Delhi |
Updated: December 7, 2021 8:11:01 am
The coffins of people killed are laid out in a row during a public funeral in Mon, in Nagaland, Monday, Dec. 6, 2021. (AP Photo/Fifi Konyak)

At the centre of the violence which followed the killing of six civilians in Oting village of Mon district in Nagaland on Saturday evening, and which led to the killing of eight more civilians, are the Konyaks – among the largest tribes in the state.

With a population of roughly 3 lakh, the area inhabited by the Konyaks extends into Arunachal Pradesh, with a sizeable population in Myanmar as well.

Known to be one of the fiercest warrior tribes in Nagaland, the Konyaks were the last to give up the practice of head-hunting – severing heads of enemies after attacking rival tribes –  as late as the 1980s.

Mon is the only district in Nagaland where separatist group NSCN (IM) has not been able to set up base camps, largely due to resistance from the Konyaks.

Due to their numbers and the tribe’s anti-NSCN (IM) position, the Konyaks forms the backbone of the NNPG — 7 Naga insurgent groups indigenous to Nagaland —  unlike the IM, which is dominated by the Manipur-origin Tangkhul tribe.

The Konyaks therefore, are imperative for a smooth resolution of the peace talks, as well as the post-talk peace process in the state.

Senior leaders in the Nagaland government fear that unless the Konyak people are mollified, this incident could disrupt the peace process.

Over the years, eastern districts in Nagaland, including Mon, have been demanding a separate Frontier Nagaland state largely because of the “biased” developmental expenditure, with little development work carried out in these remote districts.

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