In Episode 109 of the CounterVortex podcast, Bill Weinberg explores the under-reported conflict in India's northeastern state of Nagaland, which has seen a multi-generational pro-independence insurgency. Popular protest is rising there since an army massacre of coal-miners in December. The armed conflict began in 1956, when the Naga National Council declared independence from India in the face of Delhi's intransigence on recognizing local autonomy, and adopted a constitution emphasizing village self-rule. The traditional Naga territory is divided by the border with Burma, which has complicated their self-determination struggle. With Burma now going over the edge into civil war, there are growing fears that India's conflicted Northeast could be further enflamed. Listen on SoundCloud or via Patreon.
Hundreds in India's conflicted eastern state of Nagaland began a two-day cross-country march Jan. 10 to protest the Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA), which gives the military broad power to use deadly force in areas where it is declared to be in effect. Some 200 set out from Dimapur, the state's largest city, and the march had swelled to over a thousand by the time it reached state capital Kohima, 75 kilometers away. The action was called in response to last month's massacre of 14 residents in the village of Oting, where army troops fired on what proved to be truck filled with coal-miners on their way home after work—not separatist guerillas, as had apparently been suspected. The march was organized by the Global Naga Forum and the Naga Mothers' Association, whose spokesperson Rosemary Dzüvichü accused the Indian government of viewing the Naga people as "the other." She lamented: "We still have this colonial attitude being shown to us." (Nagaland Post)
India's National Investigation Agency (NIA) on Sept. 3 announced a Rs 7 lakh (approx. $10,500) bounty on Naga insurgent leader SS Khaplang in connection with an attack on an army convoy in Manipur three months ago that killed 18 soldiers. The 75-year-old rebel heads the National Socialist Council of Nagaland-Khaplang (NSCN-K), that has long waged an armed struggle for an independent Naga homeland uniting parts of Manipur, Arunachal Pradesh and Assam states along with areas of Burma. In early August, India's central government signed a peace agreement with the rival NSCN-IM (Isak-Muivah, named for leaders Isak Chisi Swu and Thuingaleng Muivah). But the Khaplang faction is not yet recognizing the accord, and the bounty appears to signal Delhi's impatience—or a strategy to keep the Naga struggle divided.
The underground Maoist Communist Party Manipur (MCPM) issued a statement appealing to the paramilitary Naga Regiments to resist government plans to deploy them to the Maoist guerilla stronghold areas of India, especially the Dandakaranya Revolutionary Zone in Chhattisgarh state. The MCPM's Comrade Nonglen Meitei urged in the statement issued to the media that the Nagas, an indigenous group on northeast Nagaland state, not to go to Chhattisgarh as "slaves" to fight other excluded tribal peoples in the region. The statement called on the Naga troops to lay down arms in the spirit of "revolutionary internationalism." (Nagaland Post, Oct. 23)
A 48-hour bandh, or civil strike, called by the United Naga Council (UNC) has shut down the ethnic Naga areas of India's northeastern Manipur state, with roads blocked and most businesses closed. The UNC called the bandh to press demands for a "separate administrative set-up" for Manipur's Nagas. Amid the strike, the Kuki State Demand Committee (KSDC) announced it would launch its own 48-hour bandh in the ethnic Kuki areas of Manipur to press demands for creation of a new "Kukiland" state, to be carved out of Manipur. (PTI, Aug. 12) Meanwhile, the All Assam Adivasi Students Association (AAASA) is blocking the road linking Assam and Nagaland states to demand autonomy for the tribal peoples or adivasis whose lands straddle the border. The decision to launch the blockade came after an advasi man was killed in an armed confrontation with Nagas in June. (NNN, June 6)