National Socialist Council of Nagaland

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Albert Flores

The National Socialist Council of Nagaland (NSCN) is a Naga nationalist separatist group operating mainly in Northeast India, with minor activities in northwest Myanmar (Burma). The main aim of the organisation is to establish a sovereign Naga state, "Nagalim", which would consist of all the areas belonging to the Naga people in Northeast India and northwest Myanmar. The NSCN's slogan is "Nagaland for Christ".

There were once two major factions of the NSCN which include the former NSCN (K), which was led by +more_Khaplang'>S. S. Khaplang; and the still active NSCN (I-M), led by now by Isak Chishi Swu and formerly by Thuingaleng Muivah. In 2015 in response to an attack on an army convoy in Manipur, India designated the NSCN (K) as a terrorist organization under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act. India's Ministry of Home Affairs labels NSCN a major insurgent group.

History

The word "Naga" denotes several ethnic tribes living on the Himalayan Range in Northeast India, which were brought under the control of British India during the 19th century. After India's independence, Naga leaders tried to assert independence. +more In 1975, the separatist Naga National Council (NNC) gave up violence and signed the Shillong Accord with the Government of India. Some of the NNC leaders disapproved of this peace treaty: these leaders included Isak Chishi Swu of Sumi (Sema) tribe, Thuingaleng Muivah of Tangkhul tribe and self leader S. S. Khaplang. These leaders formed the NSCN as a new separatist organization, which has been described as a breakaway group of the Naga National Council. NSCN started an underground Naga Federal government having both civil and military wings. Later, a disagreement surfaced within the outfit leaders over the issue of commencing dialogue with the Indian Government. On 30 April 1988, the NSCN split into two factions; the NSCN-K led by Khaplang, and the NSCN-IM, led by Isak Chishi Swu and Thuingaleng Muivah. The split was accompanied by a spate of violence and clashes between the factions. In 1997 ceasefire agreement were made between NSCN and government of India. Later NSCN(K) abrogated the ceasefire agreement.

On 6 April 2015 a new faction NSCN (Reformation) was formed. Y. +more Wangtin Konyak and P. Tikhak officially announced the formation of a new Naga political group going by the name 'National Socialist Council of Nagaland (Reformation)' or NSCN (R). The decision came after Wangtin Konyak, a senior minister (Kilonser) and personal secretary to Khaplang and Tikhak, the spokesperson of the outfit were expelled by Khaplang after misunderstanding arose over the recent abrogation of ceasefire with the Government of India.

The duo, wanted to continue with the ceasefire maintaining that "violence has never served a good purpose and the Naga political problem can only be resolved through peace and negotiation" while Khaplang had it abrogated because the "14 years of ceasefire between NSCN (K) and India has become a mockery and futile exercise. " The primary agenda of the new NSCN-R would be to "develop a sense of brotherhood among the Naga family and to rebuild the trust and faith among the Naga society. +more".

On 3 August 2015 NSCN(IM) leader Isak Swu and T Muivah signed a framework agreement with the Government of India in presence of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Home Minister Rajnath Singh, and NSA Ajit Doval. NSCN(K) also joined with a militia organization named the United Liberation Front of Western South East Asia, along with other Northeast Indian militant groups, and shortly after broke off peace talks with the Indian government. +more It also was responsible for the 2015 Manipur ambush, in which 18 soldiers of the Indian army were killed and 15 were wounded.

Objective

The objective of the NSCN was to establish a sovereign Naga State by unifying all the Naga-inhabited areas in the North East of India and Northern Burma which the organisation and the people of the area proposed as Nagalim. Unification of all Naga tribes under one administration and 'liberating' Nagalim from India is listed as one of the main objectives of the organisation. +more Its manifesto is based on the principle of socialism for economic development.

According to the NSCN manifesto, their slogan is "Nagaland for Christ". Journalist Bertil Lintner has described NSCN's ideology as "a mixture of evangelical Christianity and revolutionary socialism". +more However, In an interview to BBC in 2005, when asked about the slogan "Nagaland for Christ" and if the Naga State will be a theocratic state, Thuingaleng Muviah said that have been misunderstood, the slogan is not a law, it is an aspiration of the Naga people, being more than 95% Christians. "Naga State has to be secular, if it is not secular then we would be betraying ourselves. ".

NSCN-IM continued with the objectives of the NSCM, making Integration of all the contiguous Naga areas a prime objective.

Area of operation

NSCN is active in North East India. The state of Nagaland and the hill districts in Manipur inhabited by the Nagas are the main areas where strong influence and presence of the organisation is felt. +more Its presence in neighbouring states of Assam and Arunachal Pradesh are also widely acknowledged. On the international level, the presence and influence of the NSCN in the Northern part of Myanmar that are inhabited by the Naga tribes dates back to the time when the Nagas started their freedom struggle.

Leadership and structure

Late Isak Chishi Swu and Thuingaleng Muivah, the founding fathers of NSCN-IM, was Chairman and General Secretary of NSCN-IM respectively and +more_Khaplang'>S. S. Khaplang was the Chairman of the NSCN-K.

On the political front, the NSCN-IM has divided its area of influence into 11 regions based on sub-tribe considerations and administrative convenience. In many areas, it runs a parallel government. +more There are four major ‘Ministries’ - Defence, Home, Finance and Foreign Affairs. Moreover, there are five other Ministries including Education, Information and Publicity, Forests and Minerals, Law and Justice and Religious Affairs. The most prominent among the Ministries is the ‘Home ministry’, which is considered as a replacement of the Indian State government machinery. The heads of 11 administrative regions report to the ‘Home Minister’ (Kilo Kilonser). The devolution of administrative arms of the organisation goes down to the town and village levels in the NSCN-IM's areas of influence.

The outfit has also established a government-in-exile called the Government of the People's Republic of Nagaland/Nagalim (GPRN) which, interacts with formal and non-formal world bodies and media. The GPRN sends emissaries abroad to garner support and raise funds for the Naga cause.

In February 2019, Qhehezu Tuccu was unanimously elected as the Chairperson of the NSCN-IM. The post had been vacant since the death of Isak Chishi Swu. +more At the same meeting, Tongmeth Wangnao was elected as the vice-chairperson of the NSCN-IM.

Linkages

Over the years, the NSCN-IM has tried to develop extensive linkages both within and outside India. It is alleged that China is providing finance as well as arms and ammunition to NSCN in their fight for independence against the Indian Government. +more The group was previously backed by India's intelligence agencies to weaken the main Naga insurgency.

It is believed that NSCN patronised smaller extremists outfits in the North East of India by giving warfare and intelligence trainings and providing logistics for waging war against India.NSCN had also extreme links with its extremist partner ZRF and ZRO.

The outfit has also opened up contacts with international organizations like the United Nations Human Rights Council in Geneva, Unrepresented Nations and Peoples Organization (UNPO) at the Hague and the UN Working Group on Indigenous Populations (UNWGIP).

China is also instrumental in providing training and arms, which was established after the arrest of the top NSCN IM leader Anthony Shimray. After his arrest by the Indian intelligence agencies he also revealed that he was tasked by Chinese intelligence agencies to collect and gather intelligence on Indian troop deployments in north eastern states of India. +more Further it is also alleged that NSCN is the major faction that helps many other minor militant outfits in north east and is widely accepted as the main reason of continued insurgency in north eastern states of Indian republic. On July 7 the Indian Army busted an NSCN camp in Manipur at Kekru Naga village, a stronghold of the group in the zone. In the last couple of months, at least four camps of the group were targeted by the security forces.

Sources of funding

Drug trafficking is a major source of income for the NSCN (IM). Apart from that, it indulges in extortion, and other pursuits to obtain finances. +more The smaller ethnic insurgent groups floated by NSCN (IM) carry out their operations in coordination with the parent organisation. Seventy percent of the total income goes to the NSCN (IM) and the remaining thirty percent is left with the local groups. The rebel group also takes a 12% tax from the government employees and a fixed house tax. For shops and commercial establishments the tax starts from a minimum of 5%.

Activities

On 4 June 2015, NSCN-K and KYKL ambushed an Indian Army convoy of 6 Dogra Regiment in Chandel district of Manipur and killed 18 Army jawans. On 10 June 2015, India claimed that it had conducted strikes against NSCN-K camps inside Myanmar, and inflicted significant casualties. +more Indian media reported that around 38 fighters belonging to NSCN-K were killed in the attack. Myanmar government, however, rejected Indian government claims. According to Myanmar government officials, the operation against NSCN-K insurgents took place entirely on Indian side of the border and Indian troops did not cross Myanmar's border. NSCN-K also rejected India's claims. According to NSCN-K, Indian troops did not attack any camp belonging to NSCN-K and the group did not suffer any loss. NSCN-K also challenged Indian Army to display the dead bodies of those killed during the operation.

In February and June 2019, Indian army and the Burmese Tatmadaw carried out joint operations Sunrise and Sunrise II, targeting in co-ordination several militant groups along the Indo-Burma border including the Kamtapur Liberation Organisation (KLO), the NSCN-K, the United Liberation Front of Assam (I) and the National Democratic Front of Boroland (NDFB). In February, Burmese troops stormed the NSCN-K headquarters at Taga. +more The Indian army reciprocated by starting a major operation against the Arakan Army in south Mizoram.

On 21 May 2019, 11 people including the National People's Party (NPP) Member of Legislative Assembly (MLA), Tirong Aboh and his son were killed in an ambush at 12th mile in Khonsa-Deomali road in Tirap District in Arunachal Pradesh. In response the Indian Army launched various operations which allowed the confiscation of weapons and the detention of five suspects in mid-July NSCN-IM militants opposed to the Register of Indigenous Inhabitants of Nagaland (RIIN), the group has alleged the state's move to implement RIIN is "contradictory" to the inherent rights of the Nagas.

Controversies

NSCN IM have been accused of killing innocent people who spoke against their agenda or ideology. Athuan Abonmai who is a Naga was killed by suspected NSCN IM cadres after kidnapping him on 22 September 2021.

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