The Naga Insurgency (Part II)

Author: Shri E N Rammohan, IPS (Retd)

Period: October 2003 - December 2003

The Naga Insurgency (Part II)

Shri E N Rammohan, IPS (Retd)

Creation of National Socialist Council of Nagaland and its Factions

With the creation of the National Socialist Council of Nagaland (NSCN) the insurgency in Nagaland took a completely new turn. The Federal Government of Nagaland (FGN) and the Naga Army had gone to East Pakistan and China and obtained arms and were trained there, but they did not link up with any other insurgent group operating in the North East. From its inception, the NSCN was linked up with the Peoples Liberation Army (PLA) of Manipur, and the United Liberation Front of Assam (ULFA). Besides these two groups, the NSCN has adopted more than a dozen insurgent groups of the North East, helped them to procure arms, trained them, and extorted money along with them. The NSCN thus extended their financial net well beyond Nagaland, and since their participation with other groups was generally in a ratio of 8:2, their share of the money extorted was generally in the same proportion. 

It was the NSCN who patronised the ULFA and took them to Kaphlang’s area and arranged for their training there. Later they helped the National Democratic Front of Boroland (NDFB), the Boro militant group. The Nagas and the Kuki-Chin-Mizo group were traditional enemies. The old Naga underground and the Mizo National Front (MNF) lived in separate houses in Dacca, and never had any link in the North East. After the Mizo settlement in 1989, when the Hmars demand for a district council was not conceded by the Mizo Government, and they formed the Hmar Peoples Convention (HPC). It was the NSCN, Issac Muivah (IM) who adopted them and gave them weapons and trained them. They set up camps in the North Cachar Hills, and committed several bank robberies in the interior of Cachar district, and carried out many ambushes on security forces along with the HPC cadres. 

In Meghalaya, when the Hynniewtrep National Liberation Council (HNLC) and the Achik National Volunteer Council (ANVC) started minor insurgencies against the Government, it was the NSCN (IM) who befriended them and helped them with arms and trained them. Back in the North Cachar Hills, the Dimasa Cachari formed a guerilla group called the Dima Halem Daoga (DHD), because of the rampant corruption of the District Council. It was the NSCN who held their hand, gave them arms and trained them. The United Peoples Democratic Solidarity (UPDS) an insurgent group of the Karbis of Assam was raised in 1999 to fight for a separate state. The NSCN (IM) armed and trained this group.

In Tripura both the National Liberation Front of Tripura (NLFT) and the All Tripura Tiger Force (ATTF) were again armed and trained by the NSCN (IM). In Manipur the NSCN (IM) has strong links with the Kanglei Yuwol Kanna Lup (KYKL) floated by Namoijan Oken Singh, a Meithei insurgent group, which runs a big extortion net in the Imphal valley. They have also allied with the Zomi Reunification Army (ZRA), the United Kuki Liberation Front (UKLF) and the Kuki Revolutionary Army (KRA) all without any ideology and purely involved in extortion. Here the share of money extorted for the NSCN is a clear 80 per cent. It is no wonder then that the NSCN (IM) is a fabulously rich organisation and can afford to maintain offices in Bangkok, Manila and the Netherlands. The NSCN (IM) is no more an ideological guerilla group. It has made a business enterprise out of insurgencies and made an export oriented industry out of it.

The NSCN set up its Headquarters in Hemi Naga country in northern Burma. Bertil Lintner has vividly described his visit to this Headquarters, marching from Longwa village, on the trijunction of Nagaland, Khonsa, and Myanmar for several days traversing several ranges.13 Several ULFA cadres whom I had interrogated also described this route.

One fact that finds mention by Bertil Lintner and many ULFA cadres was that in the Headquarters of the NSCN, the Thangkhuls and the Konyaks did not seem to get on well, and they had established separate camps. The old devil of tribal rivalry was at work again, and ultimately it led to the break up of the NSCN into two factions. The main feature of the NSCN setting up its camp in Hemi Naga country was the connection established with the Kachin Independent Organisation (KIO) and its army wing the Kachin Independent Army (KIA). The second feature was the link established with the PLA of Manipur, who had come to the KIO for training and arms. After the disastrous election in Assam in 1984, the militant students of the All Assam Students Union (AASU) had formed the ULFA, and they requested the NSCN for arms and training. The NSCN brought the ULFA cadres first to Kaphlangs Headquarters and then to the KIO area.

Cadres of the NSCN, ULFA and the PLA, after receiving tough training returned to Nagaland, Manipur and Assam and started operating in their respective areas. Extensive extortion from the business community in all the three states started, for the Kachins while imparting excellent training also charged high rates particularly for the weapons. Meanwhile inter tribal feelings in the NSCN camp were getting exacerbated, and in 1988 boiled over in a violent clash in which several top leaders of Thuingalong Muivah and Isaac Swu were killed. Muivah and Swu retreated to Nagaland and Manipur and the NSCN split into two factions, NSCN (IM) and NSCN Khaplang (K). Meanwhile Indian intelligence had won over Bronsen, the President of the KIO and he withdrew support to the NSCN, PLA, and the ULFA. Sensing this development, the PLA had already arranged safe houses in Srimangal, Adams Bazaar and Chotto Dhamai in Sylhet district of Bangladesh, among the Meithei settlers there. The ULFA had also sent parties to Bangladesh to see if they could get sanctuary there. All three groups had independently visited China. Though they could buy some weapons, they did not get substantial support. The move to Bangladesh was a kind of last-ditch attempt to survive. None of the three groups had any love for Bangladesh who kept exporting their population to all the states of the North East. Little did they know that the link developing with Bangladesh would change the situation drastically in their favour and they were on the threshold of an arms bonanza.

Ulfa Cadres. The Assamese were the first to strike gold. They were able to get in touch with a group that took them to the Pakistan embassy. Very soon they were talking to the Inter Services Intelligence (ISI) man in Dacca, who immediately realised it as an opportunity to subvert India in a sensitive but wholly unexpected quarter. With the help of the Bangladesh Directorate General Forces Intelligence (DGFI), 10 of the ULFA cadres were given Bangladeshi names and passports and found themselves bound for Karachi. They were taken to Peshawar and put in a camp of the Afghan Mujahideen of Gulbuddin Hekmatyar. This was in 1991. Three such groups were trained on medium weapons, rocket launchers and mortars. Back in Bangladesh in a safe house arranged by the DGFI, the ISI gave a task to the ULFA to send its cadres back to Assam and blow up the refinery at Narangi. The young Assamese boys who were given this task objected and said they were not willing to damage their own assets. There was a fight with Paresh Barua, their self styled chief, and the 10 boys who had been given this task, slipped out of the safe house and deserting Paresh Barua returned to Assam. As Inspector General Operations in Assam some of our sources informed me of this transaction and asked me if I would meet with these boys. Very soon we were debriefing them and the whole story was pieced together. The NSCN (IM) leaders soon joined the ULFA in Bangladesh, and Thuingalong Muivah and Paresh Baruah had Bangladeshi names and passports given to them. Meetings with the ISI followed, and they were told that after the breakup of the Khmer Rogue, in Cambodia, a lot of Russian small arms were available with arms dealers in Thailand. These could be purchased and brought in local trawlers that sailed along the Myanmar coast. One of the ULFA cadres who had been arrested and agreed to work with us, told us of a meeting held in Sayeman hotel in Cox’s Bazaar where Thuingalong Muivah, Paresh Barua along with ISI and DGFI officers, finalised this deal. 

Some time towards the latter half of 1991, the Deputy Inspector General (DIG) Operations Mizoram informed Assam Police Headquarters, that a party of Nagas had marched south along the eastern border of Mizoram, in Myanmar and turning west at the southernmost point of Mizoram, Parva, had entered Bangladesh. The party had generally marched through Myanmar, but sometimes entered Mizoram border villages to buy rations. No force was deployed along the eastern border of Mizoram, and no spare troops were available. Hence no interception was attempted. The reason for the movement was not known at that point of time. Sometime later 10 Naga insurgents surrendered to the Border Security Force (BSF) post at Parva. They were brought to Massimpur and interrogated, and then the real story came to light. The 10 Nagas who were all NSCN (IM) cadres revealed that a party of 250 cadres of the group had set out from Paren sub division of Nagaland, and marching through Tamenglong, Churachandpur crossed south into Myanmar, and then followed the Tiddim road, skirted the eastern border of Mizoram, and finally crossed into Bangladesh south and east of Parva, and reached Bandarban. After a long wait the 10 got fed up with the harsh conditions of the march and the living conditions and decided to return to Nagaland. They ran away from the camp, but were chased by their colleagues, and hence decided to surrender to the BSF at Parva. They further added that they were sent to collect a consignment of arms, which was to be landed at Cox’s Bazaar. It was later on collaborated that these arms had been purchased from arms dealers in Thailand with the help of the ISI and brought to Cox’s Bazaar by a coastal vessel. The arms were collected by the 240 NSCN (IM) party and taken back to Nagaland along the route they had followed when coming down. Incidentally the DIG Operations Mizoram tracked their return movement, but since there were no troops they could not be intercepted. The NSCN (IM) had got its first consignment of arms from Thailand with the help of the ISI and the DGFI. Subsequently at least three more consignments of arms were brought. The later consignments were for the NSCN (IM), ULFA, PLA and the NDFB. The weapons brought were AK rifles, RPD 7.62 LMGs, RPG-7 rocket launchers and Chinese grenades. During this period, the DGFI helped the NSCN (IM), ULFA and the NDFB to set up camps for training their cadres in the Chittagong Hill Tracts (CHT). All these three organisations set up safe houses in Dacca, Cox’s Bazaar, and other towns along their routes of ingress into Bangladesh. Evidence of the weapons received by the three insurgent groups was clearly manifested by enhanced operations by all three groups in Assam, Nagaland and Manipur.

Expansion of Operations by NSCN (IM)

It was during this period that the NSCN (IM) began to expand its operations. In Meghalaya, an underground group called the Hynniewtrep Achik Liberation Council (HALC) had come up. The NSCN (IM) had safe houses in Shillong, to facilitate movement of their cadres to Bangladesh, through Naljuri and Dawki, and further west through Nongstoin and Garo Hills. The HALC soon split up into Khasi and Garo groups called Hynniewtrep National Liberation Council (HNLC) and the Achik National Volunteer Council (ANVC). Both the groups contacted the NSCN (IM) for help, which was immediately given. Both groups were helped to set up training camps in Diengling for the HNLC and in the thick jungles of east and west Garo Hills for the ANVC. The NSCN’s main interest was in the money to be garnered from this link. Shillong was a rich area for extortion. There were extensive collections from the rich Marwari traders. A series of kidnappings by the two outfits also yielded rich dividends. The politicians acted as go betweens in the release of kidnapped officials and business heads and took a share, but the major share went to the NSCN (IM)

We have already seen the link between the NSCN (IM) and the HPC in the North Cachar (NC) Hills. The HPC took to arms because they felt that the Mizos were discriminating against them in development in Mizoram. The Hmars were a part of the larger Kuki–Chin-Mizo group. They did create problems in Mizoram, but then had no reason to extend their operations to the NC Hills of Assam. There was a considerable population of Hmars in the NC Hills, and a few villages in Cachar district, including Hmarkholian – one of the largest villages in Cachar. There was no love lost between the Nagas and the Mizos. The Naga insurgency started in 1955, while the Mizo insurgency started in 1966. Though both parties went to East Pakistan for help, there was never any axis between them. When the Hmars decided to take up arms against the Mizos, the NSCN (IM) extended a hand. The real reason for this was that the NSCN (IM) wanted to get a foothold in the NC Hills, where there was a small Zemi Naga population. NSCN cadres with a few HPC cadres led the small guerilla bands that operated in the NC Hills and in Cachar. The NSCN (IM) cadres never operated in Mizoram. The other reason was the scope for extortion. There were a number of good tea gardens in the lower slopes of the NC Hills and in the foothills in Cachar. The NSCN (IM) cadres led the HPC in kidnapping tea garden managers, and issuing ransom notes. They even tried to rob some small banks in Cachar district. The countryside of the NC Hills was poor, but the NSCN (IM) did not hesitate to extort money from small traders in the towns. Much later when the Dimasas started their own insurgent group, the Dima Halem Daoga, in NC Hills, the NSCN (IM) again backed them, training them and equipping them with arms, and of course extorting money from corrupt government officials, and kidnapping for ransom. The major share of the extorted money went to the NSCN (IM). It is only when the demand for inclusion of NC Hills in greater Nagaland came up that the Dimasas realised that they had been taken for a ride. There are a few Zemi Naga villages in NC Hills. Population wise the Zemi Naga are the smallest; the Kukis and the Hmars are much more in number. The Dimasa are the major community. There is no case for the whole or even a part of NC Hills being included in Greater Nagaland. When the UPDS of Karbi Anglong asked for help, the NSCN (IM) was only too glad to help. This suited their objectives since there was a small minority of Rengmas and Zemis in Karbi Anglong. Here again the ratio of pay offs to the NSCN (IM) from the moneys extorted from the non-Karbis and traders was 8:2. Later, when the NSCN (IM) laid claim to the Karbi Anglong district for Greater Nagaland, the UPDS cut off relations.

NSCN (IM) in Manipur. It is in Manipur that the NSCN (IM) has played its biggest games. The Meithei from the valley and the Naga from the hills have not been well disposed to each other ever since the Naga insurgency started in 1955. The Meitheis uneasily watched as the Nagas got a state in 1963, while they still remained a Union Territory. Later as the NSCN (IM) gained strength the Meitheis who had ruled over Manipur and a major part of Nagaland for hundreds of years, began to feel threatened. The Manipur valley and particularly Imphal was a rich ground for extortion. The pickings from Ukhrul, Senapati and Tamenglong were meagre. So, when Namoijam Oken Singh left the United National Liberation Front (UNLF) and later formed the Kanglei Yawol Kanna Lup (KYKL), the NSCN (IM) sent a feeler that they could supply arms and also train their cadres. Oken accepted the offer, thereby giving a foothold to the NSCN (IM) in Imphal.

Naga-Kuki Rivalry. The Nagas and the Kukis were ancient foes. The Meithei kings effectively used the Kuki as a buffer against the Nagas. The British later picked a leaf from the Meitheis and continued to use the Kukis as a buffer. When the NSCN (IM), was getting strong, Indian intelligence fell back on the same idea and propped up the Kukis as the Kuki National Organisation (KNO), and the Kuki National Army (KNA) to fight the Nagas. The ploy turned out to be a disaster as it unleashed an ethnic war, and a number of Kuki villages which were in Naga areas in Ukhrul, and Tamenglong were burnt and the Kukis became the victims of ethnic cleansing. Leadership squabbles split the KNO into several groups – Kuki National Front (KNF) Military Council (MC), KNF (Presidential). During the election of 1998, two more groups were spawned due to tickets being denied to two Kuki leaders who promptly formed two insurgent groups, the United Kuki Liberation Front (UKLF) and the Kuki Revolutionary Army (KRA). Both these organisations needed weapons and training, and they had no choice but to go to the ancient enemy the NSCN (IM). Both these groups operated in small bands, generally in a ratio of 8:2. The money collected in extensive extortion operations was also divided in the same ratio, 8 for the NSCN and 2 for the UKLF or KRA. 

The third penetration of the Kuki-Chin-Mizo group was of the Zomi Reunification Army (ZRO), which was formed in 1993 with the objective of unifying the Chins living in Myanmar and India. The KNA was set up to take on the NSCN (IM). The bait offered was control of the rich spoils of smuggling in Moreh, the border town of Manipur in Chandel district. The reaction of the NSCN (IM) was unexpectedly fierce. The KNA was battered, and the fight was taken to the villages. There were a number of Kuki villages in Ukhrul and Tamenglong, and these were attacked, burnt and the hapless Kukis rendered homeless. The KNA approached their brethren in Churachandpur for help. While some of the related tribes agreed to help, the Paites, a sister tribe of the Zomi, refused, saying that the Kukis had no business to take on the NSCN (IM). Infuriated, the KNA attacked the Paites. The internecine fight went badly for the Paites. They generally lived on the southern borders of Churachandpur with Myanmar. South of the border was NSCN (IM) country. Driven to the wall the Paites who had formed the ZRO had no choice but to ask the NSCN (IM) for help. The ZRO, which till then had only a few arms, now got a good supply of arms and training from the NSCN (IM). The Paites were the best businessmen of all the tribes of the Chin-Mizo-Kuki group, and they were good smugglers. The objective of the NSCN (IM) was well achieved. They had penetrated the Kuki-Chin-Mizo group, and they got a share of the smuggling and trade revenues of the Paites.

Situation in 1990s

By the mid 1990s, the NSCN (IM) had a well-oiled extortion net in place in Nagaland, Manipur, including the non-Naga areas, in the NC Hills, and in Meghalaya. In Nagaland and in Ukhrul, Senapati, Tamenglong and part of Chandel district, standard collection of house tax and ration contribution of paddy was routinely being collected. Besides, all trucks and buses going from Dimapur to parts of Nagaland and to Manipur were taxed. All development projects were also monitored and government officials and contractors had to pay a share. They also had an annual supply of arms coming in from Thailand brought in coastal vessels to Cox’s Bazaar, and brought overland via Bandarban, Parva, along the eastern border of Mizoram, north on the Tiddim road, through Churachandpur, Tamenglong to Paren sub division of Nagaland. The considerable extortion revenues coming in from several sources helped them to open offices in Bangkok, Manila and Holland. They also had several camps in the CHT and safe houses in Dacca, Chittagong. Then they had a big setback. 

Operation Golden Bird. The Indian Army along with the intelligence agencies had carefully been monitoring the collection of arms from Thailand being shipped to Cox’s Bazaar and carried overland to Nagaland, by the NSCN (IM). In the winter of 1995, when probably the fourth or fifth consignment was being carried they ambushed the convoy west of Parva in a well-planned operation that caught the NSCN (IM), ULFA, and the NDFB, who comprised the party by surprise. Several cadres of all three parties were killed, some were captured and a sizeable number of arms were seized. Altogether 58 cadres of the three groups were killed, and 40 captured. The operation was aptly named Golden Bird. 

Meanwhile the Government of India at the political level was trying to get the NSCN (IM) leaders to come to the negotiating table. Thuingalong Muivah and Isaac Swu laid three conditions. The negotiations should focus on security, the talks must be in a third country and there should be a third party mediator. The government agreed to the first two conditions, but not the third. After several discussions, the NSCN (IM) agreed. Talks commenced and they agreed to a cease-fire from 1 August 1997. A ceasefire monitoring group was set up, and ground rules framed. There was to be no killing kidnapping or extortion by the NSCN (IM) and no active military operations against NSCN (IM) by the security forces. NSCN (IM) camps in notified places could be maintained, but the group would not patrol with arms. They could move from camp to camp concealing their arms. The cease-fire was for Nagaland. Unofficially it was allowed in the Naga districts of Manipur. This concession was a cardinal mistake, and was to cost the Government later.

Failure of Ceasefire Monitoring Group. From day one, the ceasefire monitoring group was a farce. The operations of the security forces discontinued, as also of the NSCN (IM). Extortion by them, however, continued unabated, though there were no killings for failure to pay, at least by the NSCN (IM). It is here that the NSCN (IM) played a clever trick on the Government of India. In Manipur they had alliances with the KYKL, UKLF, KRA, and ZRA. In all their operations NSCN (IM) cadres operated along with them. When accosted by the ceasefire monitoring group, the innocent reply was that it was an operation of the KYKL, or UKLF. The incident which took place in Chandel in November 2000 is a clear example of the perfidy of the NSCN (IM). On Friday the 24 November 2000, a group of 30 NSCN (IM) and UKLF cadres, kidnapped the Deputy Commissioner (DC) Chandel, disarmed and then locked up his Manipur Rifles escort, and forced him to call five of his Block Development Officers (BDOs) and made them sign five cheques totaling Rs 44.8 lakhs, District Rural Development grants coming directly from the Central Government. Since by that time the bank was closed, the brigands kept the DC, the BDOs and the DCs escort confined through Saturday and Sunday, and on Monday cashed the cheques and releasing the DC, BDOs and the escort, disappeared with Rs 44.8 lakhs development grant. Chandel was the most backward and the poorest district in Manipur. When the Central Government was informed, the Cease Fire Monitoring Group was asked to ensure the money was returned. When the NSCN (IM) Headquarter took it up with their Chandel unit they refused to return the money and took cover behind the UKLF, stating, that this was their operation.

Role of Assam Rifles. As per the ceasefire agreement, the NSCN (IM) was not to procure any arms. A number of incidents and interrogation reports of NSCN (IM) cadres reveal that this insurgent group has steadily been procuring arms from abroad, right from 1997, when the ceasefire agreement was signed. The Assam Rifles had set up a platoon post in February 1999, near Amchurimukh in Mizoram because of the activities of the Bru National Liberation Front (BNLF). This was the first post on the Mizoram Bangladesh border after Tripura. On the night of the 3 March 1999, the post received information that a group of NSCN (IM) of about 110 cadres had crossed from Bangladesh between the last post of Tripura, Kanthlang and the first post of Mizoram, Amchurimukh. They were moving in five groups and two had already crossed, and entered the Lengai valley and were proceeding north. The Assam Rifles organised an immediate ambush, and managed to get the third group, who after marching through the night had stopped for a rest. The Assam Rifles managed to surprise them and killed six of the NSCN (IM) cadres, a collaborator and injured one who was taken and admitted in the civil hospital at Agartala. They recovered weapons from all the cadres killed and captured. A few days later a party of NSCN (IM) from their Headquarters at Dimapur met the Assam Rifles Brigadier and objected to the attack on their cadres during the ceasefire and asked for the return of the seized weapons. Here was a blatant case of bringing weapons from a neighbouring country, and when ambushed, accusing the security force of violating the ceasefire. What is most interesting is the last part of the episode. Instead of reinforcing the post, which lay bang on this route of bringing weapons from Bangladesh, the Assam Rifles withdrew this post. When I was visiting Tripura after this incident, the Chief Minister Manik Sarkar told me that the Assam Rifles had done an excellent job in ambushing the NSCN (IM) party while they were bringing arms, but inexplicably withdrew the post after the ambush. The mystery of the withdrawal of the post from Amchurimukh could never be solved.

Developments in 2001 and Onwards

NSCN (IM) Camps. Some time in the latter half of 2001, a group of five NSCN (IM) cadres surrendered with their weapons to the BSF post at Parva. They were brought to Masimpur and interrogated, and they told a most interesting tale. One of the five was a senior seargent of the Gallilee camp near Alikadam, Bandarban. He said that a large party of the NSCN (IM) had moved from Nagaland via the Tiddim road, Parva to Bandarban for collecting the arms consignment expected by the end of the year. Tired of the harsh living conditions, 10 of the cadres had defected and run away with heir arms, hoping to make it back to Nagaland. The main group had chased them and killed five of them, and so they surrendered to the BSF post at Parva. Their interrogation revealed that the NSCN (IM) had the following camps :-


Jortan camp near Cox’s Bazaar. Strength 250.


Vaital camp near Rangamati. Strength 300.


Galilee camp near Alikadam. Strength 50.


Mauni transit camp near Sylhet.


Headquarters of NSCN (IM) at Dacca. A four storey building near New Market.

The arms collected from Cox’s Bazaar were supplied by China. Collection of weapons is generally done once a year. The route adopted was Cox’s Bazaar, Alikadam, Kasalang Reserve Forest, Mizoram, Silchar, Jiribam, Tamenglong, and Paren. In July 2001, they delivered a consignment of 35 weapons- AK56-10, Sniper Rifle-8, M21–17 along with ammunition. The weapons were brought on foot upto Mizoram near Amchurimukh. From here these were sent by a Gypsy vehicle of the NSCN (IM) via Silchar, Jiribam, Tamenglong, Paren, and Dimapur. It has been subsequently verified that the NSCN (IM) has a safe house at Aizawl. Obviously the Government of Mizoram has given the safe house. The movement of arms by road also could not take place without the patronage of the State Government.

On the 16 March 2002, a party of NSCN (IM) cadres was moving from Chandel to Ukhrul. Near Pallel, a section of Manipur Rifles was manning a checkgate. When they saw the uniformed cadres moving in the vehicle, they challenged them and asked them to lay down their weapons. When challenged, the cadres opened fire. The Manipur Rifles guard immediately fired back. 11 insurgents of the NSCN (IM) were killed and their weapons seized. There was a strong protest from the NSCN (IM). The State Government took the stand, that the underground cadres should not have moved with their weapons showing, and in any case when challenged, should have stopped. On the 25 March 2002 the DC of Chandel was kidnapped. The NSCN (IM) said it was in retaliation for the killing of their cadres. At this point the talks with the Government of India were stalled on this issue. The NSCN (IM) wanted the weapons returned in exchange for the DC. Luckily the Government stood firm and stated that if the DC were not released, the peace process would collapse. The DC was released unconditionally. This is a clear indication that, the top leadership of the NSCN (IM) is ready to climb down and they want the ceasefire to continue. The Government has to be firm in dealing with them. 

One other item of interest shows how the NSCN (IM) acts with duplicity. It was reported that a Chinese firm had encashed a crossed cheque of half a million dollars of the NSCN (IM) for supply of AK 47 rifles and machine guns in 2000. Anthony Shimray had organised this deal for the NSCN (IM).14 The cease fire was in force from 1997.


The case for sovereignty of the Nagas just does not exist. The first assumption that the Nagas existed as an independent entity from time immemorial is fictitious. The Nagas never even existed as a tribe. The Nagas basic entity was a village. All the villages of a tribe were never organised, as an entity, and never fought a war as a tribe. All that a village recognised was another village. The Ahoms who migrated to upper Assam in the 11th century established a kingdom that ruled over the whole of Assam. Well before that the Meitheis had established their kingdom in the third century AD. The whole of the present Nagaland was part of their kingdom. There is ample evidence of this from the British civil and army officers. Right from the first century, Assam has seen several kingdoms, the Chutias, the Rajbongshis, and the Dimasa Cacharis. The last group had their capital at Dimapur. The second assumption that all the areas that have Naga villages should be in a Greater Nagaland is nothing unique in India. In 1956 the States Reorganisation tried to group all people of one particular language in a state. But could this be done to the last man? There are Tamil villages in Kerala, Malayali villages in Tamil Nadu, Telugu villages in Karnataka, Kannada villages in Andhra Pradesh. There are Jaintia villages in Bangladesh, Meithei settlements in Bangladesh, Naga villages in Myanmar. To allege that the British deliberately divided the Nagas between India and Burma is ridiculous. After the Burmese army was driven back from upper Assam and Manipur, and obviously from the Naga areas in-between, the boundaries were roughly settled at the Treaty of Yandaboo. During all this period right down to the 19th century, the Naga way of life is best summed up by RB McCabe, ‘Grouped in small communities of from 100 to 3000 persons, the Nagas have remained isolated on their hill tops, only dying to visit their immediate neighbours, when a longing for the possession of their heads became too strong to be resisted.’

As a minority people in India, the Nagas, Mizos, Khasis, the different tribes in Arunachal, have all been treated with great circumspection by the constitution of India. Their lands cannot be transferred to the nontribals; their customary laws are in force in their respective states. One has only to look at our neighbour Bangladesh to see how they have treated the Chakmas of the Chittagong Hill Tracks (CHT). Today their homeland has been overrun by plainsmen and they are now a minority in their own area. They are on the way of disappearing from the face of the earth, a human group facing extinction. I do not think there is a case, for any of the claims of the Nagas, neither for sovereignty, nor for a greater Nagaland. The Zemi Nagas are a minority tribe in the NC Hills of Assam. Does it mean that the whole of NC Hills is to be given to a Greater Nagaland? The case of Karbi Anglong is the same. In Manipur it is a fact that successive State Governments have discriminated against all the hill districts. The answer is to extend the Sixth Schedule of the Constitution to the hill districts of Manipur, not dismember it. 

The great mistake done by the Government of India was that they did not study how the insurgencies in Malaya and the Philippines were tackled in the 1950s. In the entire hill states of the North East the first priority is to build fair weather roads so that all villages are connected to the towns. Unfortunately in Nagaland and Manipur, hundreds of kilometers of roads were built on paper. Roads are the first enemies of the insurgents. Denied of a hinterland he has no place to retreat. Today this is the first step to be taken by the Government of India. This task must be given to the Border Roads. The second task is to ensure clean administration for the people. The policy adopted by the party in power at the Centre, in the 1950s and the 1960s, to flood the area with development funds and corrupt the politicians and the bureaucrats was a disaster. It only lined the coffers of the followers on and lackeys of the party, the Delhi Durbar. The common man of Nagaland and Manipur is fed up with paying up house tax, ration tax, a percentage of his salary to bandits masquerading as insurgents. The task is not difficult, only the will to do it is required.

For Thuingaleng Muivah, the Thangkhul from Somdal and Isaac Swu, it has been a long journey. They were in China when a section of the NNO defected and signed the Shillong agreement in 1975. It must have been particularly difficult for Isaac Swu, for it was the Semas who had defected in general and surrendered to the Government. With the formation of the NSCN with Kaphlang, the fight continued from Myanmar. The old devil of tribal rivalries caught up with them again, and the NSCN split. It was after this and with the movement to Bangladesh and the link with the Pakistan ISI, and the Bangladesh DGFI, that the horizon of the group expanded beyond their expectations. They could internationalise the problem to some extent, though ultimately, they could get no significant leverage from it. They have given in on two items before and during the dialogue with the Government of India. They gave up the demand for a mediator, and they agreed to release the Deputy Commissioner of Chandel without getting their arms, seized by the Manipur police, released. Regis Debray has written that once an insurgent group agrees to talk that is the beginning of the end to the insurgency. There have been no operations in Nagaland and Manipur since 1997, and that is a long time. Though Muivah continues to make brave statements, I think he has begun to realise that he is not going to get much more. That is why a statement was made that there has to be a dialogue with the concerned states or districts where there is a Naga population. Muivah was probably hoping that as in the case of Mizoram, and Assam, the ruling group may step down and he could lead an over ground party to power in a Greater Nagaland. That is a faraway dream now, unless he has to go back to the jungles, and I do not think that is what the Naga HoHo, or the Naga Baptist Church wants. He has to carefully slip out of the impasse with some skillful verbiage that will salvage an honourable settlement.



Bertil Lintner, The Land of Jade, Bangkok, White Orchid Press, 1992.


Deepak Sharma, Pioneer, October 2000.



Shri EN Rammohan, retired as the Director General, Border Security Force. He had a tenure as Advisor to Governor of Manipur.


USI-ICWA UN Webinar Challenges of Mission Leadership in UN Peace Operations

USI is conducting a series of webinars on the UN themes in collaboration with ICWA Since 2021, for the cross-fertilization of ideas and generating policy recommendations for reforms and restructuring …

War Disabled Personnel of Indian Armed Forces: Challenges, Concerns and Aspirations

Soldiers/Sailors/Airmen sacrifice their lives & limbs for many reasons, like national, regimental and unit pride; high level of motivation; courage; call of duty; and above all the understanding that …

Major Navdeep Singh: USI War Wounded Foundation Event

Talk by Maj Navdeep Singh, Author and Legal Luminary Need for Formulating a ‘War Disabled Persons Special Disability (WDPSD’s) Act’ for War Disabled Personnel and its Important Components.

38th USI National Security Lecture

The 38th USI National Security Lecture was delivered by Lt Gen Raj Shukla, PVSM, YSM, SM, ADC on Wednesday, 13 April 2022 at 1100 h (IST) at the United Service Institution of India. 37th National Se…

'Is The New Cold War a Myth or Reality'?

A talk on 'Is The New Cold War a Myth or Reality'? by Mr Atul Singh, Founder, CEO & Editor-in-Chief Fair Observer, USA scheduled at the USI, New Delhi on Wednesday, 23 Feb 2022 from 1100 to 1300 H (I…

UN Peace Operations: Women, Peace and Security

Along with the decline in inter-state conflicts and a sharp increase in intra-state conflicts in the last two decades, there is a consequent increase in the casualties to innocent civilians. Taking no…

National Security Policy of Pakistan (NSPP) 2022-2026

USI is conducting a panel discussion on the ‘National Security Policy of Pakistan (NSPP) 2022-2026’ on 07 Feb 2022 from 1100 h to 1300 h.

FRONTLINE COMMANDER: The Military Biography of the Late Lt Gen Jaswant Singh, PVSM, AVSM


37th National Security Lecture: The Chinese Challenge - Its Many Dimensions and India's Options

Shri Maroof Raza, a well know commentator on strategic security and military issues will deliver the lecture on 24 Nov 2021 at 1100 hrs at the USI. The focus of the talk will be the geo-strategic as w…

Indian Military Operations Mukti Bahini & the BSF Salient Factors in the Liberation of Bangladesh

Shri VK Gaur and Lt Col BB Singh with Dr Sanjeev Chopra (based on VK Gaur’s book Yoon Janma Bangladesh) Chair: LS Bajpai

Naval Operations Beyond Naval Blockade Valley of Words 2021

Sandeep Unnithan in conversation with Admiral Anup Singh - Valley of Words 2021.

Air Operations Experience of First Heliborne Operation Valley of Words 2021 1080p

Sqn Ldr Rana Chinna in conversation with Sqn Ldr Pushp Vaid, VrC

Air Operations Air War in the West Valley of Words 2021 1080p

AVM Manmohan Bahadur in conversation with Jagan Mohan (Unheralded operations by Vampires, 'Texan' Harvard, Canberras and An-12)

Stories of Valour Narration of stories of valour by Maroof Raza Valley of Words 2021

Narration of stories of valour by Maroof Raza. Maroof Raza talks of forthcoming book The Contested Lands (India-China border dispute) - Valley of Words 2021

Managing Future Conflicts Role of World and Regional Fora Valley of Words 2021

Ambassador Asoke Mukerji and Maj Gen Dhruv Katoch Moderator: Lt Gen JS Lidder original video can be accessed from:…

Perceptions India’s Compulsions and Outlook on East Pakistan Objectives and Strategy

Shri Iqbal Malhotra in conversation with Lt Gen Nirbhay Sharma and Maj Gen Ian Cardozo - Valley of Words 2021

Perceptions Western Pakistan’s Designs on East Pakistan Campaign, Objectives and Strategy

Lt Gen PJS Pannu in conversation with Christine Fair and Ambassador Pinak Ranjan Chakravarty

Contribution of Indian Cinema in Infusing Patriotism Valley of Words 2021

Lt Gen PJS Pannu and Maroof Raza in conversation with Shri JP Dutta (producer, director, filmmaker) and Nomination of Bollywood film Border on 1971 War. Original video can be accessed from: https://w…

Diplomacy and Statecraft Perceptions Information and Media Operations Valley of Words 2021

Lt Gen PJS Pannu in conversation with Sir Mark Tully, Subroto Chattopadhyay and Vishnu Shankar (Editor, TV9 Network) Original video can be accessed from :…

USI- FO Live: Evolving Geopolitics of the Indo-Pacific Region

The United Service Institution of India (USI) and Fair Observer present a panel discussion on the evolving geopolitics of the Indo-Pacific region. Lately, the AUKUS Deal has added another twist to th…

𝐒𝐓𝐑𝐈𝐕𝐄 𝐖𝐞𝐛𝐢𝐧𝐚𝐫 on Buyout Sino Pak Collusivity Implications For India Maj

STRIVE a Lucknow based National and Defence Security Studies Centre organised a Webinar in collaboration with Military Literature Festival, Lucknow on a highly sensitive and contemporary issue the “B…

Can India and Pakistan Take Steps Towards Rapprochement

In this episode Major General BK Sharma (Director - United Service Institution of India) and Lt. General Asad Durrani (Former Director General ISI, Pakistan talks with Analyst Arvind Saharan on Indi…

𝗨𝗡 𝗣𝗲𝗮𝗰𝗲𝗸𝗲𝗲𝗽𝗶𝗻𝗴 𝗢𝗽𝗲𝗿𝗮𝘁𝗶𝗼𝗻𝘀: 𝗣𝗿𝗼𝘁𝗲𝗰𝘁𝗶𝗼𝗻 𝗼𝗳 𝗖𝗶𝘃𝗶𝗹𝗶𝗮𝗻𝘀

Over the past few decades, inter-state conflicts waned but there has been an increase in Intra-state conflicts. In any conflict, the innocent civilians are the ones who suffer the most. But the suffer…

Valedictory Address by CDS General Bipin Rawat PVSM UYSM AVSM YSM SM VSM ADC

Valedictory Address by CDS General Bipin Rawat PVSM UYSM AVSM YSM SM VSM ADC The original video of the event can be accessed on the VoW youtube channel:…

Managing Future Conflicts Deterrence and Conflict Prevention: Valley of Words 2021

Major General Dhruv C Katoch, SM, VSM (Retd) in conversation Lieutenant General JS Lidder, UYSM, AVSM (Retd), Ambassador Asoke Mukerji, Shri Arvind Gupta and Lt Gen Prakash Menon PVSM, AVSM, VSM [Retd…


close slider

    All classes of membership except temporary membership and membership of Service Officers applying for Correspondence Courses being conducted by the USI, will be subject to approval by the Executive Committee. The following are ordinarily eligible to become members of the Institution, with full voting rights:-

    Read More