• Indigenous peoples in India

    Indigenous peoples in India

Indigenous World 2019: India

 In India, 705 ethnic groups are recognized as Scheduled Tribes. In central India, the Scheduled Tribes are usually referred to as Adivasis, or tribals which literally means indigenous peoples.1

With an estimated population of 104 million, they comprise 8.6% of the total population. There are, however, many more ethnic groups that would qualify for Scheduled Tribe status but which are not officially recognised; as a result estimates of the total number of tribal groups are higher than the official figure. The largest concentrations of indigenous peoples are found in the seven states of north-east India, and the so-called “central tribal belt” stretching from Rajasthan to West Bengal.

India has several laws and constitutional provisions, such as the Fifth Schedule for central India and the Sixth Schedule for certain areas of north-east India which recognise indigenous peoples’ rights to land and self-governance. The laws aimed at protecting indigenous peoples have numerous shortcomings and their implementation is far from satisfactory. The Indian government voted in favour of the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP) with a condition that after independence all Indians are considered indigenous. However, it does not consider the concept of “indigenous peoples”, and thus UNDRIP, applicable to India.

Legal rights and policy developments

On 11 January, the Chhattisgarh government led by then Chief Minister Raman Singh was forced to withdraw its controversial Land  Revenue  Code  (Amendment)  Bill  of  2017,  after  it  was passed by the state’s legislative assembly, following vehement protests by the tribals. The bill allowed the Chhattisgarh government to purchase tribal land for government projects.2 On 24 December, in a rare move, the new government of Chhattisgarh led by Chief Minister Bhupesh Baghel decided to return 1,764 hectares of land which the state government had acquired in 2015 from tribal farmers for a steel plant of the Tata Group in Lohandiguda block of Bastar district.3 Earlier on 4 November, Assam’s Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal inaugurated  the process of handing over land titles to nearly 11,500 landless tribal families.4 In Jharkhand, on 6 December, the state cabinet cleared a regulation to prevent non-tribals from buying lands in the name of their tribal wives. The aim of the regulation was to check indiscriminate acquisition of tribal land by non-tribals in Scheduled Areas in violation of the Chotanagpur Tenancy Act.5

Human rights violations against indigenous peoples

On 9 August, the Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Amendment Bill 2018 was passed by the Parliament6 and notified in the official gazette on 17 August following assent by the president.7 These amendments to the SC/ST (Prevention of Atrocities Act) 1989 (PoA Act) were brought to overturn the judgement of the Supreme Court dated 20 March 20188 which, among other things, banned denial of anticipatory bail under Section 438 of the Criminal Procedure Code to the accused under the PoA Act.9 The central government held that the judgement had diluted the provisions of the PoA Act and it would hamper the dispensation of justice to the Scheduled Tribes and Scheduled Castes.10 A new section, Section 18A, has been inserted in the SC/ST (PoA) Amendment Bill 2018 to nullify the Supreme Court judgement by stating after that “The provisions of section 438 of the Code [Code of Criminal Procedure] shall not apply to a case under this Act, notwithstanding any judgment or order or direction of any Court.”11 The SC/ST (PoA) Amendment Bill 2018 therefore restored the original SC/ST (Prevention of Atrocities Act) 1989 following outcry over the Supreme Court judgement dated 20 March 2018.

Over the past year, the tribals in hundreds of villages in states of Jharkhand, Madhya Pradesh, Odisha and Chhattisgarh rose in rebellion in what is called the “Pathalgarhi” movement, protesting against years of neglect and exploitation.12 The tribal villagers inscribed various tenets on huge stone slabs and banned entry of outsiders in their area.13 The tribals in these areas sought to declare themselves as “independent” from the state and central government.14 Tribal rights activists and constitutional experts see the demands for autonomy of the Gram Sabhas as constitutional since the Panchayats (Extension to Scheduled Areas) Act, 1996 (PESA) provides for self-rule to tribal areas and protection of tribal rights regarding land, water and forests, etc., but the means adopted by the movement leaders to achieve this are in conflict with the law.15 This conflict led to state action against the rebellion, particularly the state acted in the aftermath of the gang-rape of five women activists allegedly  by  Pathalgarhi  activists  in  Khunti  district  of Jharkhand in June 2018.

Human rights violations by security forces

In 2018, the security forces continued to be responsible for violations of human rights against the tribals (indigenous peoples). In the areas affected by armed conflicts, the tribals are sandwiched between the armed opposition groups (AOGs) and the security forces. Cases are numerous and many go unreported. Some cases became public and are included here to illustrate the severity of these violations.

On 23 January, four tribal teenagers aged between 13 and 17 were illegally detained in police lock-up and tortured at Kamla Nagar Police Station in Bhopal, Madhya Pradesh. The teenagers accused the police of framing them in a jewelry theft case.16

On 8 February, Abinash Munda, from Bhalupali village in Sambalpur district of Odisha, died at Ainthapalli police station following his arrest the previous day in a theft case. Police claimed that his body was found hanging with a bed sheet inside the Ainthapalli police station. However, Munda’s family members alleged custodial torture.17 On 9 February, local groups burned the Ainthapali police station, accusing the police of killing Munda.18

On 27 August, Pappu Bheel (30), a tribal, of Namana village in Bundi district of Rajasthan, died due to alleged torture at Sadar Police station in Bundi district, a day after he was taken into custody in connection with a theft case. The deceased’s family members alleged that he died due to custodial torture and demanded a judicial inquiry.19

On 21 December, a tribal youth identified as Pritam Debbarma (23) allegedly committed suicide at his residence following brutal custodial torture by the police at the Baijalbari police outpost in Khowai district of Tripura. The youth was picked up on 20 December on drug peddling charges.20 Four policemen  including  Baijalbari  outpost  officer-incharge Sukanta Debbarma, were booked for alleged custodial torture of Pritam.21

Human rights violations by armed opposition groups

AOGs continued to be responsible for gross violations of international humanitarian law, including killings during 2018.

The Maoists continued to kill innocent tribals accusing them of being “police informers”, or simply for not obeying their diktats. The majority of the victims were killed in Jan Adalats or People’s Courts held by the Maoists. According to the Ministry of Home Affairs, between 2004 to August 2018 about 7,907 people have been killed by the Maoists in different parts of India, and the majority of the civilians killed are tribals.22 The tribals who were killed by the Maoists during 2018 included Ganga Madkami (30) at Sudhakunda village under Kalimela police station in Malkangiri district, Odisha on the night of 20 June;23 Jayaram alias Saloo (30) at the Chukka Goyyi tribal hamlet in Visakhapatnam district, Andhra Pradesh on 28 July;24 Irpa Venkateswarlu (52) near Kurnavalli forest area in Bhadradri Kothagudem district, Telangana on 11 September;25 Ananta Ram Bhumia at Dhakadrasi village in Malkangiri district, Odisha on 23 October;26 and Guru Khila (48) near Badadural in Tankamuna area in Malkangiri district, Odisha on 27 December;27 among other victims.

Non-restoration of alienated tribal land

There are a plethora of laws prohibiting the sale or transfer of tribal lands to non-tribals and restoration of alienated lands to the tribal landowners. However, these laws remained ineffective, not invoked or attempts were made to weaken them.

According to Land Conflict Watch, there are currently about 666 ongoing land conflicts involving 2,414,014 hectares and affecting 7,363,509 persons across India.28 There is unabated alienation of “tribal lands” but the Government of India does not maintain any centralised data on this issue.29 In the area of Telangana, for example, the tribal landowners have filed 50,358 cases challenging the legality of transfer/ occupation of 200,655 acres of their lands by the non-tribals in Khammam, Warangal and Adilabad districts falling under the 5th Schedule Area as of January 2018. Out of these, 94,520 acres of lands (i.e. 47% of alienated tribal lands) were legally decided in favour of non-tribals as of January 2018. The courts decided 30,004 cases covering an area of 101,910 acres (i.e. 50.8% of alienated lands) in favour of tribals. However, the enforcing agencies could only restore 81,887 acres pertaining to 22,704 cases. This means that a total of 20,023 acres of land still remained in the hands of non-tribals. The extent of land to be restored to tribals after court verdicts in their favour increased from 10,444 acres in 2005 to 20,023 acres in 2018 in the state of Telangana.30 On 28 May, the National Commission for Scheduled Tribes’ (NCST) chairperson, Nand Kumar Sai, confirmed that non-tribals were occupying lands in the Tripura Tribal Areas Autonomous District Council and urged the state government of Tripura to restore those alienated lands to their tribal landowners.31

Conditions of the internally displaced tribal peoples

The government has failed to rehabilitate millions of tribals displaced due to both conflicts and development projects over the years. On 31 December, Minister of State for Tribal Affairs Sudarshan Bhagat admitted in the Lok Sabha (Lower House of Indian Parliament) that out of a total of 8.54 million tribals displaced due to various development projects during 1951-1990, only 2.12 million tribals were rehabilitated which meant that 6.42 million tribal internally displaced persons (IDPs) were not rehabilitated. Most tribals were displaced due to the building of dams (6.32 million), followed by mines (1.33 million), wildlife protection (0.45 million), industries (0.31 million) and other projects (0.13 million).32 Even in cases where the government claims to have rehabilitated

the tribals after their displacement/eviction, the tribals have lost their livelihood due to lack of proper rehabilitation. For example, a total of 56,495 tribal families have been affected by the Polavaram Irrigation Project in Andhra Pradesh and out of these, 1,317 families have been shifted to resettlement colonies. The Andhra Pradesh government has claimed that it has allotted only cultivable lands to tribal displaced families in line with the Right to Fair Compensation and Transparency in Land Acquisition, Rehabilitation and Resettlement Act (RFCTLARR), 2013.33 But the NCST, following a field visit in March 2018, found that the tribal families were given uncultivable land in lieu of agricultural lands acquired from them. The NCST also stated that many tribal families who were hitherto depending on minor forest products were deprived of their livelihood after displacement due to the project.34

About 32,000 indigenous Bru IDPs who fled Mizoram in 1997 were living in six relief camps in Tripura by the end of 2018. On 3 July, a four-party agreement was signed involving the Government of India, the state governments of Tripura and Mizoram and the Mizoram Bru Displaced Peoples Forum (MBFPF) in New Delhi for repatriation of the Bru IDPs to Mizoram, before 30 September.35 But the Brus were not happy with the rehabilitation package and the MBDPF withdrew from the agreement.36 The Government of India stopped all relief in the Bru relief camps from 1 October to force them to return to Mizoram. The supply of relief was resumed from 22 October with the condition that it would continue only until 15 January 2019.37 The stoppage of relief including rations reportedly led to starvation in the relief camps.38 Only 45 families out of 5,407 Bru IDP families returned to Mizoram under the four-party agreement.39

Repression under forest laws

Almost 90% of the tribal population of the country lives in rural areas.40 A large number of forest-dwelling Scheduled Tribes continued to be denied their rights under the Scheduled Tribes and Other Traditional Forest Dwellers (Recognition of Forest Rights) Act 2006 (in short, FRA). As per information available with the Ministry of Tribal Affairs (MoTA), a total of 4,210,378 claims (4,064,741 individual and 145,637 community claims) were received from across the country under the FRA as of 31 August 2018. Out of these, 1,879,372 titles (1,808,819 individual and 70,553 community), i.e. 44,6%, were accepted, while 1,940,492 claims or 46,1% were rejected. The extent of forest land for which titles have been distributed is 15,523,868 acres – i.e. 4,582,216 acres for individual claims and 10,941,652 acres as community forests.41 On 27 June, the MoTA raised concerns about the violation of the FRA and asked all the state governments to stop rejecting claims on invalid grounds.42

On 21 November, about 10,000 tribal farmers marched from Thane to Mumbai in Maharashtra demanding loan waiver and land rights, among other things.43 They called off the protests on 22 November, after Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis assured to redress their grievances, including compensation for drought and transfer of forest rights to tribals by the end of December 2018.44 It is reported that there were as many as 231,556 cases where land ownership was not given to the tribal farmers who were cultivating the land or were in possession of it..45 Earlier, in March 2018, more than 35,000 farmers, mostly tribals, marched from Nashik to Mumbai to press for their demands, including land rights.46

On 14 March, the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change (MoEFCC) released the Draft National Forest Policy, 2018 (DNPF) for public comments which the tribal activists termed as “anti-Adivasi, anti-forest dwellers and anti-ecology” and demanded its withdrawal.47 The DNPF sought to dilute the FRA which guarantees rights to the tribals and traditional forest dwellers over their forest land and forest resources. The MoTA also opposed the DNPF fearing that it will promote privatisation of forests and undermine the rights of communities who live in them. In a letter to the MoEFCC secretary CK Mishra on 19 June, Leena Nair, the secretary to MoTA, stated that the MoEFCC did not have “exclusive jurisdiction” to frame policies related to forests and lamented lack of consultation with the MoTA in framing the DNPF.48 The Draft Policy has not been adopted as of January 2019. Further, on 3 December, the MoEFCC told the Maharashtra government that the projects seeking to divert forest lands do not need to comply with the FRA for initial clearance.49

The Jharkhand government identified about 1,000 families living in eight villages for relocation outside of the Palamu Tiger Reserve (PTR) area. In November 2018, the state government enhanced the compensation from Rs 1 million to Rs 1.5 million per family to lure the tribal families to voluntarily move out of the PTR.50 After the NCST raised concerns, the state government on 20 December assured the NCST that no one will be evicted from the PTR without their consent.51

Situation of tribal women

Tribal women and girls in India are deprived of many of their rights. Both collective and individual rights are violated both in private and public spaces. Sexual violence, trafficking, killing/branding as a witch, militarisation or state violence and the impact of development-induced displacement remained major issues.

The security forces also target tribal women for sexual violence. According to a fact-finding team of Women against Sexual Violence and State Repression (WSS) and Coordination of Democratic Rights Organisations (CDRO), the Jharkhand Police raided Ghaghra village in Khunti district on 26 June on the pretext of arresting three Pathalgarhi movement leaders in the incident of the rape of five women and charged the villagers with their lathi (batons). One of the villagers, Birsa Munda, died on the spot after being hit on the head with a lathi. On 27 June, a 1,000-member force drawn from the Central Reserve Police Force, Rapid Action Force, Jharkhand Action Force and other units raided Ghaghra and seven neighbouring villages. The WSS and CDRO fact-finding team found that:

[…] the security forces unleashed brutal violence in the form of beatings and atrocities on men, women and children, lathicharge, tear-gassing and rubber pellet shootings, and also raided the homes of the residents. Women who were fleeing from the violence were caught and assaulted. One woman was dragged, molested and her clothes torn by the forces. There is a confirmed account of at least one woman having been raped, with indications of numerous other rapes and molestations in neighbouring villages.52

On 20 April 2018, a 70-year-old tribal woman named Tara Devi of Badsi village in Hisar district of Haryana was tortured in the custody of Hansi police station in Hisar district after she was arrested in connection with a theft case. The Haryana State Commission for Women confirmed that the victim was subjected to custodial torture.53

NAGALIM

The Naga inhabit a territory known as Nagalim, which is situated between China, India and Myanmar. They occupy an area of approximately 120,000 km². The Nagas form several tribes, primarily in the north-eastern region of India and north-western Myanmar.

Status of the peace process

While the 1997 ceasefire agreement between the Government of India (GoI) and the National Socialist Council of Nagalim (NSCN-IM) has held, Indian intelligence agencies and the political establishment continue to undermine the cohesion of the Nagas. Journalists openly write and discuss India and Myanmar orchestrating political divisions.54 Nevertheless, political talks have continued between the GoI and the Nagas. On the table is the integration of all Naga areas.55 The question of creating a separate constitution, flag,56 passport, joint defence,57 control of resources, separate United Nations representation and foreign policy are believed to be among the major issues which are being worked out.

Speculations about Naga compromises were fuelled in part by a report in the Indian parliament.58 Indian interlocutor Mr R. N. Ravi informed a parliamentary committee that the NSCN(IM) had agreed on a settlement within the Indian federation, with a special status, claiming it a departure from the Naga group’s earlier position of “with India, not within India”.

However, NSCN(IM) maintains the sovereignty of the Nagas has never been compromised.59 Chief Naga negotiator Th. Muivah questioned if India would retract from commitments made in the course of the two-decade-old negotiations.60 Meanwhile, GoI representatives have initiated a dialogue with another conglomeration of Naga national political groupings61 although the parameters are largely confined to the current Indian state of Nagaland. However, Naga civil society have welcomed the process hoping some political dialogue and understanding would ensue between this relatively new group and the NSCM(IM) and in the process create conditions for intra Naga reconciliation.

Nagas without borders

On 10 January, 2018, the 1st Naga Day62 was commemorated to uphold the spirit of the memorandum submitted to the British Simon Commission in 1929. The memorandum sought to lay out the Naga desire for self-determination for Nagas and devolution63 from the Indian union:

[…] we pray that we should not be thrust to the mercy of people who could never have conquered us themselves and to whom we were never subjected; but to leave us alone to determine for ourselves as in ancient times […]64

The Naga Day declaration resolved to work rapprochement with Naga’s neighbours.65 It challenged India and Myanmar to apologise for gross human rights violations upon the Naga people in order to facilitate rebuilding of relationships. A call was made to address the collective trauma caused by decades of militarisation pursued by India and Myanmar upon the Nagas.

Threat from within

Even as the Naga political and economic elite maintain close ties with the Indian establishment, new power blocs are asserting themselves. Naga anthropologist Dolly Kikon argues that India has engineered political divisions among the Naga people by pitting one section against another and creating new power structures, authorities and tribal elites, which allows for the political terror and nightmare to spread.66 The definition of who is indigenous and “local” in the Naga domain is being used to segregate another Naga based on where they are currently bracketed within the physical state boundaries.

Furthermore, India uses its surveillance technologies and informers (including Nagas) to disrupt and malign the Nagas. In 2018, the Naga Hoho, the primary traditional body, has been undermined with its functionaries dealing with multiple internal crises.67 Together with the Naga Peoples Movement for Human Rights (NPMHR), the Naga Mother’s Association (NMA) and the Naga Students’ Federation (NSF), the Naga Hoho are often the target of vilification campaigns.68

Human rights defenders, including journalists and analysts, do not feel safe to speak freely about these campaigns. There is a narrative, within a section of civil society as well as the Naga national armed groups, “to protect Nagas of Nagaland from other Nagas”.69 Nagas must stop suppressing each other, states Neingulo Krome, secretary general of the NPMHR.70 He urged the Nagas of the Indian state of Nagaland to take greater responsibility for the peacemaking process and rally behind the Naga movement again.

Cutting the support base

Human rights defenders with known political positions on the Naga issue have been subjected to harassment and arrests. Prominent Indian national Gautam Navlakha was arrested on 28 August, 2018. As a member of the People’s Union for Democratic Rights (PUDR) Gautam was closely associated with the Naga peace movement. He was arrested along with four other activists and lawyers on allegations of Maoist involvement in the organization of Elgaar Parishad71 at Pune, Maharashtra state on 31 December 2017. Gautam was released from house arrest on 1 October 2018 by the Delhi Police following a court order. The rights activist said he cannot forget the thousands of political prisoners in India who remain incarcerated for their ideological convictions or on account of false charges against them under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA).72

Another India-based rights activist, Rona Wilson, was arrested on 6 June 2018 along with several other activists under the UAPA and sections of the Indian Penal Code, in what Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International India described as politically motivated charges.73 In 2007, Rona had gone to Nagaland to plead against sending highly trained Nagas of the Indian Reserve Battalion (IRB) to Chattishgarh to battle tribal insurgents in that state. He argued that this was a policy of pitting one indigenous group against another in the guise of national security. He remains in prison.74 UN human rights experts defended Gautam and Wilson urging India to halt criminalisation of human rights defenders.75

Peace brokers without political say

In January 2018, the NMA visited Myanmar and met with NSCN-K76 to encourage them into re-entering peace negotiations with India and other Naga national groups. The trip was fraught with dangers and at risk of interception by the Burmese intelligence. Alongside Naga Women’s Union operating out of the present Manipur state, the NMA remains at the forefront of most peace initiatives. In truth, women who are “marked as hostile by the majoritarian state of India, negotiate with both the government and the underground movements”.77

Meanwhile, the February 2018 assembly elections in Nagaland state witnessed every woman candidate get defeated. Some CSOs protesting the women quota in the municipality elections pressed for invoking legal provisions within Article 371(A) of the Indian Constitution that established safeguards to preserve Naga customary laws. Such customary laws, however, exclude women from political power.78 Following violent protests,79 Indian courts “shelved the substantive questions of women’s empowerment and justice by leveraging contingent concerns of law and order, distortion and disruption of Naga way of life”.80 Advocates for greater participation of women in representative legislative bodies received death threats. NMA advisor Rosemary Dzuvichu was forced into hiding as a result.81 Despite this, Naga women have been proactive politically. A delegation of women from the Indian side toured the Naga Self-Administered Zone in Myanmar to build networks and engage in difficult conversations in order to resolve conflicts. At the 39th session of the UN Human Rights Council, the Naga Women’s Union accused the government of the Manipur region and some of the CSOs in the Imphal valley of opposing Naga integration.82 It pushed for a visit by the Special Rapporteur on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples to Northeast India.83

Reparation and justice

Victims of human rights abuses must have access to remedy. Nagas have revived proceedings in the High Court of Manipur on the 1987 Oinam case84 with the first hearing conducted on 2 October 2018. The NPMHR is facilitating legal preparations.

Meanwhile, Indian security personnel have been speaking out against brutality towards civilians and non-state actors. In July 2018, Lt. Colonel Dharamvir Singh of the 1st Para Commandos (Special Forces) turned whistle blower as he voiced opposition to the Corps Intelligence and Surveillance Unit’s extortion and fake encounter deaths perpetrated against innocent individuals.85 Nagas have protested extra-judicial and staged encounter86 killings with Indian police and security forces consistently claiming the deaths resulted while acting in self-defence against non-state actors.

On 14 October 2018, seven Indian army officers were sentenced to life in prison in a 24-year-old fake encounter case, in Tinsukia district of neighbouring Assam state.87 It is in these circumstances that the security agencies exert pressure and rationalise the promulgation of legislations.

Declaration of disturbed areas

As the year 2018 ended, India’s Ministry of Home Affairs declared the whole of the state of Nagaland to be a “disturbed area” for a period of six months effective from 30 December 2018 and to be continued for another six months after the first period ends.88 The declaration gives the Indian military “special powers”, which India says are a necessity.89 Without the safeguards from legal harassment and empowerment of its officers which AFSPA90 provides, there would be serious repercussions at the tactical level.91

In this climate of perpetual militarisation, indigenous peoples human rights defenders (IPHRDs) have come forward, representing many different forms and advocating for a wide range of issues – from domestic and sexual violence, gender, disability, migration of predominantly non-indigenous peoples from Bangladesh, resource extraction and climate change, to abolition of the death penalty. 

Nagas in Myanmar

Among the most neglected regions of Asia, the Nagas’ attempt to organise and mobilise themselves is met with cynicism by Myanmar and the Burman ruling class.92 Myanmar continues to infringe on civil and political liberties through a bevy of legislations and continued militarisation. The 2011 Peaceful Assembly and Peaceful Procession Law has vague provisions that enable authorities to reject a request to conduct a peaceful and democratic assembly on ambiguous grounds.93 In 2018, a Bill of Amendment to this law brought controversial changes. The new provision of Article 18 added to Chapter 7 seeks to punish anyone who finances or provides support to a protest. They are deemed to be in breach of national security regulations.94

The Electronic Transactions Law targets activists and journalists who use new media tools. The law punishes anyone who digitally distributes information “detrimental to the interest of or to lower the dignity of any organisation or any person”.95 These legal tools can be abused by authorities to target perceived political opponents.96

Even in this climate, there is increased interaction and synergy between the Nagas living in the four Indian states as well as those in Myanmar. Social media networks, not-for-profit engagements of Burmese Naga human rights defenders and the past groundwork of Naga national groups (non-state actors) and faith-based groups has opened up new opportunities of solidarity and partnership which were difficult to establish until a few years ago.

The way forward

Nagas and the states of India and Myanmar must seize this opportunity. India and Myanmar have much to gain by recognising the Naga assertions for a self-determined future. Nagas must demonstrate statesmanship in rallying neighbours and all stakeholders. This is no easy task to achieve but a demilitarised environment can help facilitate dialogues. 

Notes and references

  1. Since the Scheduled Tribes or “tribals” are considered India’s indigenous peoples these terms are used interchangeably in this
  2. Chhattisgarh govt to withdraw controversial land bill, The New Indian Express, 11 January 2018, available at http://bit.ly/2INA0r8
  3. Chhattisgarh Govt To Return Tribal Land Acquired For Tata Steel Plant In Bastar, Huffingtonpost, 25 December 2018, available at http://bit.ly/2IAw39n
  4. Assam CM inaugurates proceeding of handing over land pattas to landless families, All India Radio, 4 November 2018, available at http://bit.ly/2IBOXg7
  5. Cabinet nay to ‘ST Wife’ buying tribal land, The Pioneer, 7 December 2018, available at http://bit.ly/2IE0D1Z
  6. Parliament Passes Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Amendment Bill, 2018, Press Information Bureau, Govt of India, 9 August 2018, available at http://bit.ly/2IDkGNY
  7. See the Gazette of India Ministry of Law and Justice, “The Scheduled Castes and The Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Amendment Act, 2018,” available at http://bit.ly/2IMzsCe
  8. In Criminal Appeal No. 416 of 2018
  9. Parliament Passes Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Amendment Bill, 2018, Press Information Bureau, Govt of India, 9 August 2018, available at http://bit.ly/2IDkGNY
  10. SC order banning automatic arrest will dilute SC-ST Act: Govt to tell court, The Hindu Business Line, 1 April 2018, available at http://bit.ly/2IBTC1n
  11. cit “Parliament Passes Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Amendment Bill, 2018,” available at http://bit.ly/2IDkGNY
  12. Adivasistan: A Separate ‘Independent’ Area Where Indian Constitution, Laws Don’t Apply, com, 23 March 2018, available at http://bit.ly/2IFdO2s
  13. The Pathalgadi rebellion, The Hindu, 14 April 2018, available at http://bit.ly/2IDoe2K
  14. Ibidem
  15. ‘Pathalgarhi demands legitimate’, The Times of India, 11 November 2018, available at http://bit.ly/2IBoa3n
  16. Police accused of beating up four teens in custody, The Times of India, 26 January 2018, available at http://bit.ly/2IR8CZJ
  17. Tribal youth commits suicide in police custody in Odisha, The Hindustan Times, 9 February 2018, available at http://bit.ly/2IDPRZy
  18. Odisha: Mob attacks cops, sets fire to police station over ‘custodial death’ of tribal man, The Hindustan Times, 9 February 2018, available at http://bit.ly/2IDQx12
  19. Patrika (Hindi), 28 August 2018; available at: http://bit.ly/2IE1zDv
  20. Tripura Youth commits suicide after Police allegedly tortured him in Lockup, com, 24 December 2018, available at: http://bit.ly/2IDoPl0
  21. 4 Tripura policemen booked for tribal youth’s death, The Hindu, 25 December 2018, available at: http://bit.ly/2IEADTU
  22. See Ministry of Home Affairs, “Left Wing Extremism Division,” available at: http://bit.ly/2IEnRoJ (accessed on 10 January 2019)
  23. Maoists kill tribal man in Odisha, The Hindu, 22 June 2018, available at: http://bit.ly/2IG3N5c
  24. Maoists kills ‘police informer’ in Andhra as their Martyrs’ Week begins, The Hindustan Times, 28 July 2018, available at: http://bit.ly/2IBggag
  25. Maoists kill tribal in Kurnavalli, The New Indian Express, 12 September 2018, available at: http://bit.ly/2IE3O9V
  26. Odisha: 5 Maoists arrested for murder of tribal, The New Indian Express, 29 October 2018, available at: http://bit.ly/2IE3Yhx
  27. Maoists Kill Tribal In Malkangiri, Odisha TV, 27 December 2018, available at: http://bit.ly/2IE6O5V
  28. See Land Conflict Watch (India), available at: http://bit.ly/2IFezIQ (accessed on 18 January 2019)
  29. Response of the Ministry of Tribal Affairs to Unstarred Question 2543 in the Rajya Sabha on 03.01.2019
  30. Report of the Indian Peoples’ Tribunal on Land issues in Scheduled Areas of Telangana organized on 24 March 2018, available at: http://bit.ly/2GMPdH9
  31. Panel seeks to free tribal land, The Telegraph, 29 May 2018, available at: http://bit.ly/2IDTgHO
  32. Response by Minister of State for Tribal Affairs Sudarshan Bhagat to Unstarred Question No. 3076 in the Lok Sabha on 31 December 2018
  33. Response of Minister of State for Water Resources, River Development and Ganga Rejuvenation & Parliamentary Affairs, Arjun Ram Meghwal to Unstarred Question No. 2862 in the Rajya Sabha on 7 January 2019
  34. Response by Minister of State for Tribal Affairs Shri Jaswantsinh Bhabhor to Unstarred Question No. 788 in the Lok Sabha answered on 23 July 2018, available at: http://bit.ly/2IRaaD1
  35. Tripura, Mizoram sign agreement for repatriation of Bru refugees, The New Indian Express, 4 July 2018, available at: http://bit.ly/2IRaFNp
  36. Centre’s ‘Historic Agreement’ With Mizoram Bru Refugees Falls Through ‘for the Moment’, The Wire, 17 July 2018, available at: http://bit.ly/2IRb02D
  37. Mizoram | Bru refugees seek continuation of ration in relief camps, The Northeast Today, 15 January 2019, available at: http://bit.ly/2IBgLRG
  38. Short of food, Brus don’t want to go to Mizoram to cast votes, The Times of India, 13 October 2018, available at: http://bit.ly/2IBhcvi
  39. Centre stops rations for Bru relief camps, The Hindu, 1 October 2018, available at: http://bit.ly/2IDUd2Q
  40. Response by Minister of State for Tribal Affairs Shri Jaswantsinh Bhabhor to Unstarred Question No. 968 in the Lok Sabha answered on 17 December 2018
  41. Statement of claims and distribution of title deeds under the Forest Rights Act, 2006 as on 31 August 2018, Ministry of Tribal Affairs, available at: http://bit.ly/2IE7A2P
  42. Tribal ministry tells states to stop rejecting FRA claims on invalid grounds, Down To Earth, 26 July 2018, available at: http://bit.ly/2IEBN1I
  43. 10,000 farmers in Mumbai after walking 40 km, give ‘wake up’ call to govt, The Hindustan Times, 22 November 2018, available at: http://bit.ly/2IDpnY6
  44. Maharashtra farmers’ protest LIVE: Land rights claims will be settled, says CM Devendra Fadnavis, The Indian Express, 22 November 2018, available at: http://ly/2IFzxaz
  45. Tribal farmers end protest after Maharashtra government accepts demands, The Times of India, 22 November 2018, available at: http://bit.ly/2IMFcfg
  46. 10,000 farmers in Mumbai after walking 40 km, give ‘wake up’ call to govt, The Hindustan Times, 22 November 2018, available at: http://bit.ly/2IDpnY6
  47. ‘Draft NFP anti-tribal, must be opposed’, The Pioneer, 14 April 2018, available at: http://bit.ly/2IBJi9W
  48. Scroll, 17 July 2018, “Tribal affairs ministry opposes Centre’s draft National Forest Policy for its ‘privatisation thrust’,” available at: http://bit.ly/2INEspQ
  49. Down To Earth, 05 December 2018, “Environment ministry makes forest rights Act irrelevant in initial stage,” available at: http://bit.ly/2IRbIgj
  50. The New Indian Express, 2 November 2018, “Villagers to get ‘disturbance allowance’ for being relocated from Palamu Tiger Reserve in Jharkhand,” available at: http://bit.ly/2IBpTpn
  51. Business Standard, 20 December 2018, “No displacement of villages in PTR: J’khand govt,” available at: http://bit.ly/2IBqgjL
  52. Press Release of the CDRO and WSS fact finding of Khunti, Ghagra, Palamu Tiger Reserve and Sedition Cases, 19 August 2018, available at: http://bit.ly/2IBjF92
  53. The Tribune, 25 April 2018, “70-year-old woman ‘tortured’ in custody,” available at: http://bit.ly/2IBqIyt
  54. Kalita, Prabin. 2 October 2018. India, Myanmar pull off NSCN(K) split. Available at: http://bit.ly/2Ir4dfN; Mazumdar, Prasanta. 18 August 2018a. Chief impeached, NSCN-K divided in Nagaland on lines of nationality. Available at: http://bit.ly/2IoFCIw; Mazumdar, 28 October 2018b. Centre gets rare window to resolve Naga issue. Available at: http://bit.ly/2IqZ7Qr
  55. Morung Express News. 2 July 2018. Indo-Naga political talks sans integration is ‘futile exercise’. Available at: http://bit.ly/2IFYbI1
  56. Misra, Udayon. October 2018. The Nationalism Debate and India’s Northeast Available at: http://bit.ly/2IJRchl (Pages 12-15)
  57. Bose, 26 December 2015. Indo-Naga Framework Agreement: Apprehensions and Expectations. Available at: http://bit.ly/2IVv4kr
  58. 213th Report of the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Home Affairs, on the ‘Security Situation in the North Eastern States of India’ presented to Rajya Sabha, Upper House of Indian Parliament on 19 July 2018, available at: http:// bit.ly/2IskPDL
  59. Gogoi, 13 August 2018. NSCN-IM word on Naga unity. Available at: http://bit.ly/2IHE24C
  60. NE Live. 14 February 2019. Thuingaleng Muivah speaks to NE Live: There is no confusion in peace talks. Available at: https://youtu.be/s0cr9LOgdJc.
  61. Seven Naga national political groups, including the Khango faction of the erstwhile Myanmar-based faction of the NSCN(K).
  62. Organised by the Forum for Naga Reconciliation (FNR)
  63. 12 January 2018. Nagalim: First ‘Naga Day’ Celebrated in Spirit of Community Unity. Available at: https://unpo.org/article/20560
  64. See Nagas Without Borders, a publication of the Forum for Naga Reconciliation 2017
  65. Meiteis, Ahoms, Karbis, Kacharis, Dimasas, Kukis, Arunachalis, Hmars, Paites,
  66. Kikon, 2015. Life and Dignity: Women’s Testimonies of Sexual Violence in Dimapur (Nagaland), NESRC Monograph Series – 1. Pages 76-77.
  67. See Nagaland Page, “Divided Naga Hoho in crisis,” available at: http://bit.ly/2IojXju
  68. Eyben, Vivan. 23 July 2018. Indo-Naga Talks: The Difficult Road to Available at: http://bit.ly/2Ir2Z46
  69. Pou, Z.K. Pahrii. 15 December 2014. Present situation of Nagaland. Available at: http://bit.ly/2IFXmze (The article first appeared in The Morung Express on 3 September 2014 on Page 7 as Analysing the Present Situation of Nagaland. Available at: http://bit.ly/2IFWPxe
  70. Naga Republic News. 9 July 2018. Memories of Oinam Hill – Operation Bluebird as Nagas remember pain and suffering with hope for justice. Available at: http://bit.ly/2IoWDC4
  71. Elgaar Parishad was a gathering of several Indian organisations as part of preparations to commemorate 200 years since the 1818 “Battle of Koregaon” when the Mahars (lower castes or Dalits) assisted the East India Company in defeating upper caste Hindu Brahmins
  72. Mishra, Siddhanta. 1 October 2018. Honest word has more power than bullets, says Gautam Navlakha after release from house arrest. Available at: http://bit.ly/2ItHkIu
  73. Human Rights 30 August 2018. India: 5 More Rights Activists Detained Stop Prosecuting Dissent; Repeal Abusive Counterterrorism Law. Available at: http://bit.ly/2IrCWK9
  74. 10 January 2019. SC reserves verdict on Maharashtra’s plea in KoregaonBhima case. Available at: http://bit.ly/2IFWlao
  75. See States News Service, “India: terrorism charges are pretext to silence human rights defenders, say un experts” at State Library of Victoria, available at: http://bit.ly/2DXnwHT
  76. National Socialist Council of Nagaland faction led by late SS Khaplang is currently splintered into NSCN-K (Khango Konyak) and NSCN-K (Yung Aung). NMA met with the Khango led NSCN(K)
  77. Banerjee, Paula. 2014.New Conundrums for Women in North-East India, EPW, 49, Issue No. 43-44, 1 November 2014. Available at: http://bit.ly/2IJQP6r
  78. Zhimomi, Inotoli. The Politics of Political Participation and the Human Rights of Naga Women: Discussing Gender, Culture and CEDAW in Human Rights in Nagaland, Emerging Paradigms, edited by Lanusashi Longkuker and Toshimenla Jamir.
  79. Dodum, Ranju. 8 February Nagaland Violence: A State Divided Over Its Women And More. Available at: http://bit.ly/2IItMc6
  80. Kham Khan Suan Hausing. 11 November ‘Equality as Tradition’ and Women’s Reservation in Nagaland in Economic and Political Weekly (EPW), Vol. 52, Issue 45.
  81. Bhandare, Namita. 10 February Who’s afraid of the Naga Mothers?available at: http://bit.ly/2IpjLR5
  82. Ibidem
  83. 39th 10 – 28 September 2018. Protection of Indigenous Peoples’ Rights vis-a-vis the Ongoing Indo-Naga Peace Talks (Written statement submitted by Liberation, a nongovernmental organization on roster at the 39th Session of the UNHRC in Geneva in September 2018). Available at: http://bit.ly/2IJQaBZ
  84. Oinam and surrounding Naga villages in present Manipur state were subjected to months of Indian military combing operations following an attack on its camps by a Naga armed group. Operation Bluebird was launched by the Indian military leading to torture and deaths of Naga
  85. Imphal Free Press. 28 July 2018. Army’s systematic custodial murders exposed: Army abducted Col. Dharamvir reveals all in affidavit to HC. Available at: http://bit.ly/2IpjRbp
  86. Eastern Mirror 6 February 2016. Naga students on ‘fake encounter’. Available at http://bit.ly/2IVuFOX
  87. Mohan, 14 October 2018. Maj Gen, two Cols get life for ‘fake kill’ Held guilty by GCM for Manipur encounter. Available at: http://bit.ly/2IADXiO
  88. The “disturbed area notification” is concurrently in effect in the other three Indian states where the Nagas ancestral domain extend. While the whole of Assam state is ‘disturbed’, the three Naga districts of the state of Arunachal Pradesh (namely Changlang, Tirap and Longding) and eight police stations bordering Assam have been declared Ironically, Assam and Manipur have not waited for New Delhi announced the declaration independently. In the state of Manipur, save for a 34 square kilometre denotified area in the Imphal valley, the entire state is declared disturbed.
  89. Peri, 2 November 2018. It’s not yet time to revoke AFSPA: Manipur Chief Minister Biren Singh. Available at: http://bit.ly/2IpXxyo
  90. Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act of 1958
  91. Singh, 6 July 2010. AFSPA: A Soldier’s Perspective. Available at: http://bit.ly/2Iokjqk
  92. Naga Youth Organisation, Burma. September 2010. Life Under Military Rule: Human Rights Violations of Nagas in Burma
  93. FORUM-ASIA. 21 March Myanmar: Lower House should reject proposed amendments to Peaceful Assembly Law. Available at: http://bit.ly/2IlJVnI
  94. See Free Expression Myanmar, “Bill of Amendment of the Peaceful Assembly and peaceful Procession Law,” available at: http://bit.ly/2Irt5Ed
  95. Johnson, Constance. 10 October 2016. Myanmar: Law Used to Stifle Dissent Available at: http://bit.ly/2Imx3O3.
  96. FORUM-ASIA. 21 March Myanmar: Lower House should reject proposed amendments to Peaceful Assembly Law. Available at: http://bit.ly/2IlJVnI

Athili Sapriina is a Rotary Peace Fellow and has a Master of International Studies (Advanced) in peace and conflict resolution. As a media practitioner, he has conducted independent research of India’s counter insurgency strategies using propaganda and new media tools. He is associated with the Naga Peoples Movement for Human Rights since mid1990s.

Paritosh Chakma, Trustee, Asian Centre for Human Rights.

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