SITUATION IN NAGALAND
Author: Tejesh Bissa, I year of B.A.,LL.B. from BM law college, Jodhpur, Rajasthan
Tensions have increased in the Moan district of Nagaland since 4th December 2021 after a clash broke out between para commandoes and citizens of Nagaland because of which Section 144 CrPC that is; prohibiting the gathering of four or more people in a specified area, has been imposed. Leading to which the famous Hornbill Festival of Nagaland has also been called off.
On the evening of 5th December 2021, the army had set up an ambush based on credible intelligence of likely movements of insurgents of the Konyak terror group. A specific operation was planned to be conducted in the area of Tiru village of Moan district. But according to the complaint filed by villagers in the police station, they alleged that the “intention” of the security forces was to ‘murder and injure civilians.’ It is to be noted that there was no police guide nor did the army personnel make any requisition to the police station. Hence it was obvious according to the villagers that security forces intend to murder and injure civilians. But we need to keep in mind that during these operations of ambushes related to central government the security forces try not to involve regional police forces as it has been seen in many cases of terrorists like in, the Chota Rajan case in Maharashtra, where the officers under Ajit Doval had strategically tried to start a gang war between goons of Chota Rajan and some other gangsters but were stopped by regional police of Maharashtra, as a sense of community lies among the people of the same region.
The army personnel add to the situation when the vehicle carrying coal miners who were thought to be insurgents were asked to stop the vehicle. They denied doing so and the personnel in a sudden reaction attacked them. By the time the personnel reached the headquarters the news of killing was spread like fire and the office of Assam Riffles was surrounded by angry villagers protesting about the situation during which a soldier was also killed. The army to protect themselves again fired and killed more people.
Thus, killing 13 civilians and 1 soldier. While discussing the situation in Nagaland again the question arises in minds of many people why is this a topic of concern, aren’t these types of killings common in these places?
Well, if anybody is having these types of thoughts in their minds then it is high time to know and understand about the unity of India and what bounds it. Can you think of a situation where these soldiers would have killed 13 civilians in Delhi what kind of reaction would you express and expect from the community would it be similar to the situation in Nagaland?
But still, why is this a topic of so much importance that the union home minister had to address the situation to the Prime Minister in the ongoing session. For this, we need to learn and understand the history of Nagaland and why the people within feel separated from India. In 1826, the British occupied the Assam region and started to use the land and labourers for their benefit. In the 1880s some protesting Naga labourers who were against the policies of the British started to work for the upliftment of their communities and formed Naga Labour Corporation and things were going smoothly. Later, during the 2nd World War, the Labour Corporation felt exploited by the British so they developed and formed Naga Club which after independence was declared as Naga National Council. Tensions rose between the Naga National Council and the Government of India after they tried to implement policies upon the Nagas which were fading their cultural identity because of which from within the Naga National Council – Nationalist Socialist Council of Nagaland (NSCN) was formed led by three prominent figures – Isak Chishi Suru, Thingaleng Muivah, (NSCN- IM) S.S. Khaplang (NSCN-K). Further, NSCN was divided into two parts (1)NSCN – IM (2)NSCN-K. In 1975, the Government of India signed the Shillong Accords with NSCN-IM bringing peace to the region. But the peace did not last long as it was during this time that NSCN-K led by S.S. Khaplang was formed separating themselves from NSCN-IM. The Government of India in response described NSCN-K as a Maoist breakaway group of the Naga National Council and labelled it as a terrorist group organization. Under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act,1967(UAPA). Later, after the 2015 Manipur ambush during which a cross-border operation into Myanmar was carried out in response to the separatist's ambush on the military convoy in Chandel district in which 18 soldiers of the Indian Army lost their lives and many were found injured; in the cross-border operation, 15-20 separatists belonging to NSCN-K lost their life. Leading to which a new Naga political group named NSCN (reformation) was formed under the leadership of Wangtin Konyak. Indian Army under the belief of catching the insurgents of the Konyak terror group caused the death of civilians as claimed by the army.
Why do the people of Nagaland feel alienated from India?
Well, it is not only about Nagaland many other states i.e. the seven sisters namely Arunachal Pradesh, Meghalaya, Assam, Manipur, Nagaland, Tripura and Mizoram have a sense of separation from India. They are called the seven sisters because all the seven states are interdependent for food supply, or any other emergency. (Sikkim is the 8th state included in 2002). Because these seven sisters are joined through the central part by a narrow path called the ‘Silly Guddi corridor’ or the ‘chicken neck corner’.
And the leftover parts are being surrounded by China, Bhutan, and Bangladesh and adjacent to the seven sisters lies Myanmar where the 2015 operation was conducted. Thus giving the citizens of these states a more acquainted culture around our neighbouring countries and more chances of insurgencies. But geographical conditions aren’t the only factors at which fingers can be pointed, we can't forget the discriminations faced by our north-eastern brothers and sisters during the pandemic when the speculations of Corona being a ‘Chinese virus’ were in talks leading to how people even from the capital had harassed them and made them feel alienated.
Because of this incident, even the Chief Minister of Nagaland demanded the removal of the AFSPA Act of 1958 from the state, which under Section 7 provides for the protection of persons acting in good faith.
“no prosecution, suit or legal proceeding shall be instituted”
This act comes to the notice of people usually because of Jammu and Kashmir but we need to take notice of the fact that Nagaland was the first state where the act was implemented. The Act was formed keeping in mind the situation of Nagaland. I would like to conclude by bringing in the notice of my fellow readers about the discriminations faced by people from the north-eastern region of India because of their physical structure because “ northeast India seamlessly fits(an) Indian’s imagination of a Chinese person”. Said a study commissioned by the Indian Council of Social Science Research (ICSSR) on racial discrimination and hate crimes against people from the northeast state. I hope this blog brings clarity to the thinking of my readers and helps us bring a new perspective towards Nagaland and other northeastern states.