• Indigenous peoples in India

    Indigenous peoples in India

The Indigenous World 2024: India

In India, some 705 ethnic groups are listed as Scheduled Tribes. In central India, the Scheduled Tribes are usually referred to as Adivasis, which literally means original inhabitants, Indigenous Peoples.[i] 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 and consequently, the total populations of the Scheduled Tribes 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 Government of India has increasingly been using the term “Indigenous Populations” in official notifications such as the establishment of a High-Level Committee to look into the “social, economic, cultural and linguistic issues of the indigenous population in the State of Tripura”[ii] or in its justification for the Citizenship Amendment Bill, 2019. The State government of Jharkhand declared the International Day of the World’s Indigenous Peoples, celebrated on 9 August every year worldwide, a state holiday.[iii]


The right to land and forest resources, and free, prior and informed consent diluted

The rights of Indigenous Peoples to land and forest resources have been increasingly targeted through changes to forest and conservation laws.

On 4 August, despite stiff opposition from scientists, conservationists, activists and Indigenous people, the Government of India passed the Forest (Conservation) Amendment Act, 2023.[iv] The Act empowers the central government to divert land without forest clearance from certain categories of forest lands. It provides exemptions from the mandatory requirement of forest clearance for security-related linear projects within 100 kilometres of international borders or up to 10 hectares for construction of defence-related projects or camps for paramilitary forces or public utility projects in Left-Wing Extremism-affected areas. The Act also allows for land acquisition for development, eco-tourism, mining and security projects.[v]

The FCA Amendment Act, 2023 violates the forest rights of the Scheduled Tribes and the right to free, prior and informed consent (FPIC) of the Gram Sabhas under Section 4(e) of the Scheduled Tribes and Other Traditional Forest Dwellers (Recognition of Forest Rights) Act, 2006[vi] (FRA) and Section 4 of the Provisions of the Panchayats (Extension to the Scheduled Areas) Act, 1996 (PESA).[vii]

The FCA Amendment Act, 2023 came into force on 1 December. A Public Interest Litigation (PIL) was filed in the Supreme Court of India challenging the constitutional validity of the amendments. However, on 30 November, the Supreme Court refrained from staying the amendments after the central government assured that no ‘precipitative action’ would be taken until guidelines had been framed for an exemption from the definition of forest under the new law.[viii]

Across India, the forest rights of Indigenous Peoples were thus violated. In the Parsa East and Kanta Basan (PEKB) coal mining project being operated by the Adani Group in Hasdeo Arand forest in Chhattisgarh, Indigenous communities face renewed onslaught.[ix] In December 2023, tree felling for the project started despite protests. Several Indigenous activists travelling to the area to protest against the large-scale felling of trees were detained by the police on 22 December. Phase 2 of the mining for PEKB will affect Ghatbarra village, which will be “displaced entirely”. However, as of today, the Ghatbarra Gram Sabha has not given its consent for mining in the area. Previously, the tribals had alleged that fake consent was obtained from the Gram Sabhas in the Hasdeo Arand area.[x]

Contradictory policy developments: the case of Indigenous communities on the verge of extinction

Of all the Indigenous Peoples in India, some 75 groups are identified as Particularly Vulnerable Tribal Groups (PVTGs) by the Government of India, effectively on the verge of extinction. The total population of the PVTGs as per the 2011 Census was 1,702,545, spread across 18 States and the Union Territory (UT) of Andaman and Nicobar.[xi]

On 15 November, Prime Minister Narendra Modi launched the Rs 240,000 million Pradhan Mantri Janjati Adivasi Nyaya Maha Abhiyan (PM-JANMAN) scheme for the PVTGs of India[xii] to provide a number of facilities including housing, drinking water, sanitation, access to education, health, nutrition, roads, telecom connectivity, and sustainable livelihood opportunities.[xiii]

On the other hand, the government has continued with the much-criticized Rs 72,000 crore (EUR 8,116.42 million) mega project on Great Nicobar Island, which threatens the survival of two Indigenous tribes – the Shompens and Nicobarese – who are classified by the Government of India as “PVTGs”. The first phase of the International Container Transhipment Port (ICTP) project is to be commissioned in 2028 and the Detailed Project Report of the ICTP project is under finalization to invite tenders in early 2024.[xiv] Apart from ICTP, three other components involve building an international airport, a township and a power plant over 16,610 hectares of the Island.[xv]

On 3 March 2023, the National Green Tribunal (NGT), a statutory body that deals with the expeditious disposal of complaints related to environmental protection and other natural resources temporarily put a hold on the mega project on Great Nicobar Island while hearing a petition challenging the hasty clearances given to the project. The NGT constituted a High-Powered Committee (HPC) to revisit the Environment Clearance (EC) granted to the project.[xvi] However, the NGT refused to interfere with the environmental or forest clearances, saying the project is of great significance not only for economic development but also for defence and national security. The NGT’s stand was criticized by activists and conservationists.[xvii]

On 20 April, the National Commission for Scheduled Tribes (NCST) also intervened in the matter by directing the administration of Andaman and Nicobar Island to submit facts and an “action taken” report. The Commission also stated that the project was being undertaken without “prior consultation with the NCST”.[xviii]

The Government of India also failed to submit any information to the UN Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (CERD Committee). In April 2022, the CERD Committee asked the government to submit information, by 15 July 2022, on the measures adopted to prevent any adverse and irreparable impact of the mega project on the PVTGs.[xix] On 8 December, the CERD Committee expressed its regret about the lack of response from India and urged the Government of India “to adopt all necessary measures to address the allegations mentioned above and to protect the rights of the PVTGs in Andaman and Nicobar Islands.” [xx]

Across India, alienation of the land rights of the tribals continues unabated. On 14 November, the Odisha government decided to amend the Odisha Scheduled Areas Transfer of Immovable Property (by STs) Regulation, 1956, allowing the tribals to transfer their land to non-tribals in Scheduled Areas with a written permission from the Sub-Collector. It also allows the tribals to mortgage land with any public financial institution for purposes other than agriculture.[xxi] On 24 November, the Odisha government withheld its decision to amend the Regulation following stiff opposition from tribal groups and opposition political parties. The matter was referred to the Tribes Advisory Committee (TAC) for reconsideration of the decision. However, the decision was only “withheld” and the TAC was headed by the Chief Minister, who approved the 14 November decision.[xxii]

Violations of Indigenous Peoples’ rights by security forces and armed opposition groups

With the exception of Jammu and Kashmir, armed conflicts in India are concentrated on the territories mainly inhabited by Indigenous Peoples. Indigenous Peoples were the victims of human rights violations in 2023, including death in custody and torture.

Some of the cases reported included torture such as rubbing of green chilies in the eyes and private parts of seven Indigenous men, including a minor, aged 17, by police during their illegal detention in Villupuram, Tamil Nadu from 25 to 28 February on charges of theft;[xxiii] killing of an 18-year-old Indigenous man by police firing during a protest in Madhya Pradesh on 15 March;[xxiv] torturing to death of a 23-year-old Indigenous man by police officers and Forest Department officials in Uttarakhand on 20 March;[xxv] killing of a 33-year-old Indigenous man by police firing during a protest in West Bengal on 27 April;[xxvi] custodial torture of a 40-year-old Indigenous man by a police officer in Madhya Pradesh for refusing to pay a bribe to settle a case related to an illegal liquor sale on 7 July;[xxvii] death in custody of a 41-year-old Indigenous man from Manipur after his arrest in Andhra Pradesh on 16 July;[xxviii] arrest of a 30-year-old forest rights activist after allegedly implicating him in a false case for protesting against the illegal felling of trees by timber mafia in Madhya Pradesh on 29 August;[xxix] death of an Indigenous man due to lack of timely medical care during judicial custody in Chhattisgarh on 4 September after his arrest in connection with a case of alleged encroachment on land;[xxx] and death of a 30-year-old Indigenous man following alleged torture by police after he was detained for creating a ruckus in Madhya Pradesh on 23 August.[xxxi]

A number of Indigenous Peoples in the North-Eastern region and the Naxalite-affected areas in the “tribal belt” were victims of human rights abuses in 2023, including extrajudicial killings by security forces. The incidents included the killing of an Indigenous man by police in a case of mistaken identity during an encounter in Assam on 24 February;[xxxii] killing of two Indigenous men by security forces in an alleged fake encounter in Chhattisgarh on 5 September;[xxxiii] killing of a 24-year-old Indigenous man from Arunachal Pradesh by officials of the Assam Forest Department due to disproportionate use of firearms in Assam on 18 September;[xxxiv] and death of three Indigenous men and injuries to five others in the custody of the Army due to alleged torture during questioning in connection with the killing of four soldiers by militants in Jammu and Kashmir on 23 December.[xxxv]

Armed opposition groups (AOGs), especially the Maoists, continued to target Indigenous Peoples during 2023 on charges of being “police informers”, in clear violations of international humanitarian laws. The victims of Maoist violence included a tribal man who was beaten to death with sticks in Andhra Pradesh on 4 January;[xxxvi] a 26-year-old tribal student killed after he was abducted in Maharashtra on 9 March;[xxxvii] a tribal man killed in Odisha on 10 May;[xxxviii] a 40-year-old tribal man killed in Odisha on 19 October;[xxxix] a 32-year-old tribal man killed following abduction in Maharashtra on 15 November;[xl] and a tribal man also killed in Maharashtra on 24 November.[xli]

In north-east India, killings of Indigenous People by AOGs were largely reported from Manipur, where ethnic violence is ongoing between the majority Meitei community and Kuku-Zo tribals since 3 May following the Meiteis’ demand for Scheduled Tribe status. Instances included three Kuki tribal men, aged 20, 31 and 35, who were allegedly tortured, stabbed and their limbs dislocated before being shot at close range by suspected militants in Ukhrul district on 18 August while they were guarding their village;[xlii] killing of three tribals belonging to the Kuki-Zo community, and the killing of another two Kuki-Zo men allegedly by suspected militants in Kangpokpi district.[xliii],[xliv] Armed groups belonging to Kuki-Zo tribes were also allegedly involved in targeting and killing of Meitei people in the continuing ethnic violence.[xlv] In Arunachal Pradesh, a tribal leader and former Member of the Legislative Assembly was shot dead by a suspected militant on 16 December.[xlvi]

Situation of Indigenous women

The individual and collective rights of Indigenous women and girls are regularly denied or violated in private and public spaces. Sexual violence, trafficking, killing or being branded a witch, militarization or State violence, and the impact of development-induced displacement remain major issues faced by women and girls.

In its latest report “Crime in India 2022”, published on 3 December 2023, the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) recorded a total of 1,347 cases of rape against Indigenous women and girls in 2022.[xlvii] The sexual assaults were perpetrated by both civilians and security forces/government officials.

On 18 July, a horrific video of two Indigenous women being paraded naked and sexually assaulted by a mob in Manipur amid the ongoing ethnic violence sparked nationwide outcry. The mob also killed two Indigenous men who tried to protect the women. The victims were reportedly abducted from police custody in Kangpokpi district on 4 May but the incident came to light only on 19 July. The police did not act after the first complaint was lodged on 18 May and did not arrest the culprits even after the First Information Report (FIR) was transferred to the nearest police station on 21 June. The first arrest was made on 19 July, 77 days after the assault and a day after the video of the incident went viral. Pursuant to a complaint filed by the Indigenous Lawyers Association of India (ILAI), the Manipur government informed the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) during its open camp hearing in Guwahati, Assam on 17 November that compensation of Rs. 1,300,000 each was paid to the two sexual assault survivors and the criminal case was being investigated by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI).[xlviii]

In another gruesome case from Manipur, two Indigenous women, aged 21 and 24, were abducted, tortured, gang-raped and murdered by a mob of some 100-200 persons in the state’s capital, Imphal, on 5 May. There was serious police inaction despite a complaint being filed and a FIR registered. This case is also being investigated by the CBI.[xlix]

Elsewhere, the trend of sexual violence against Indigenous women and girls continued both on the part of security forces/government officials and non-tribals.

On 4 January, a 30-year-old Indigenous woman was raped and murdered, allegedly by forest officials in a forest in Bihar when she went to collect firewood.[l] On 15 June, five Indigenous women from Tamil Nadu were allegedly subjected to sexual harassment and torture by six policemen in Andhra Pradesh after they were arrested.[li] On 15 August, a tribal woman was forcibly picked up, tortured and her modesty outraged by police in Telangana. The police claimed that the victim was brought to the police station for creating a nuisance.[lii] On 18 November, a young tribal girl was raped and physically assaulted by two Beat Constables of the Forest Department in Madhya Pradesh. The victim was called to the forest outpost by the two accused on the pretext of cooking food for them.[liii]

Some of the reported cases of Indigenous women/girls targeted for sexual violence by non-tribals/upper castes during 2023 included a 12-year-old tribal girl who was gang-raped by three youths from a dominant caste in Madhya Pradesh on 15 January;[liv] a tribal woman who was kidnapped and gang-raped by three youths in Odisha on 19 January;[lv] two young tribal girls, aged 14 and 17, who were gang-raped by five men in Odisha on 16 April;[lvi] a 20-year-old tribal woman gang-raped in front of her husband by around seven individuals while returning home after attending a fair in Jharkhand on 27 April;[lvii] the rape of four Irula PVTG tribal women, aged between 19 and 30 years, by their employer, who kept them as bonded labourers and subjected them and their families to ill-treatment, humiliation and torture at a woodcutting unit in Tamil Nadu in May;[lviii] a 16-year-old tribal girl who was abducted and gang-raped by eight non-tribals while she was on the way from a marriage function along with her uncle in Bihar on 6 June;[lix] a 15-year-old tribal girl who was abducted and raped by two influential persons in Maharashtra on 10 June;[lx] a 26-year-old tribal woman labourer was gang-raped by her employer in Maharashtra on 19 June;[lxi] a 50-year-old tribal woman who was gang-raped and murdered by three non-tribals in Madhya Pradesh on 22 June;[lxii] two young tribal girls, aged 14 and 16, who were gang-raped by seven individuals while they were grazing goats in a forest area in Madhya Pradesh on 13 July;[lxiii] a 17-year-old tribal girl who was raped, her eyes gouged out and killed for refusing sexual advances from two upper caste persons in Madhya Pradesh in the intervening night of 24 and 25 August;[lxiv] and a 21-year-old tribal woman raped and physically assaulted by a deputy Sarpanch (village head) under threat in Madhya Pradesh on 20 November.[lxv]

Indigenous Peoples are the largest group of Internally Displaced Persons in India

Apart from the Kashmiri pandits and Meiteis of Manipur, most of the Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs), both conflict and development-induced, are Indigenous Peoples. The Government of India does not have any data on the number of Indigenous Peoples internally displaced by industrial and infrastructure projects or armed conflicts.

In 2023, the ethnic conflict in Manipur, displaced around 70,000 people, mostly Indigenous people belonging to Kuki-Zomi tribe who were forced to take shelter in relief camps in the state as well as neighbouring states.[lxvi]

Those displaced from Manipur were forced to live in pitiable conditions with shortages of essential items, including food and medical supplies in the relief camps. On 1 September, the Supreme Court directed the central and state governments to ensure basic supplies of food and medicine to the displaced people in Manipur.[lxvii] Some 12,000 displaced Indigenous persons who had fled to Mizoram were living in deplorable conditions in relief camps due to the lack of assistance from the central government despite the requests of the Mizoram government. Acting on a complaint filed by ILAI, the Mizoram government confirmed to the NHRC that it had received no assistance from the central government and “has been managing the IDPs with monetary contribution from MLAs, Corporators, Departments of Central and States Governments, Churches, NGOs”. The matter is now under consideration of a full commission of the NHRC.[lxviii]

The resettlement of the Brus, also known as Reangs, who were displaced from Mizoram due to ethnic violence in 1997, in Tripura was not fully completed by the year’s end. In October, the general secretary of Mizoram Bru Displaced Peoples’ Forum (MBDPF) alleged that over 600 Bru families, out of 6,953, had not been resettled in new areas.[lxix] Further, some 2,000 Bru families had not been paid their monthly allowance of Rs. 5,000 since October 2022, thereby putting the displaced families in great financial difficulty and distress.[lxx]

The displaced Gutti Koya Indigenous people from Chhattisgarh who sought shelter in Telangana and Andhra Pradesh due to the conflict between the Salwa Judum and Maoists in 2005 continued to be at risk of forcible eviction. Acting on a complaint filed by the ILAI on the eviction of the Gutti Koya displaced persons, the NHRC directed its Special Rapporteur for Andhra Pradesh to make enquiries into the matter and submit a report to the NHRC. Pursuant to the directions of the NHRC, the Special Rapporteur submitted the enquiry report (30 January) confirming the allegations of forced evictions to be “true”, together with molestation of four Guthi Koya women, merciless violations of human rights on an unprecedented scale, only 13,000 acres out of 1,024 million acres being encroached, abysmal poverty and denial of fundamental facilities, stopping of the issuance of the Scheduled Tribes certificates to Guthi Koyas Tribes without any official communications etc., and no response from the relevant authorities on sharing of policy document that reflect the way and manner through which the field-level officers are handling the Guthi Koya issue.[lxxi] The case is under adjudication and the NHRC also directed that, without due process, the tribals should not be evicted.

The rights of Indigenous Peoples are often violated in the process of evictions or acquiring of lands for business and infrastructure development.

On 16 January, the National Commission for Scheduled Tribes (NCST) summoned the Collector of Jalgaon district, Maharashtra in connection with a complaint alleging unlawful purchase of tribals’ land by a private company with forged documents.[lxxii]

On 11 April, 29 Indigenous families were forcibly evicted by Forest Department officials in Manipur. The Forest Department also dismantled their houses claiming that they were forest land encroachers. However, the evicted tribals claimed that they had been living in the two villages since 1961.[lxxiii]

On 18 April, a 30-year-old Indigenous man belonging to the Jenu Kuruba tribe died due to alleged torture by Forest Department officials in Nagarahole Tiger Reserve, Karnataka, after he was caught fishing at Kabini backwaters.[lxxiv]

On 24 May, an Indigenous man was killed and four others, including two women, were beaten by non-tribals, including a police constable, after they protested against the grabbing of their land in Jharkhand. The accused police constable and his associates were trying to grab the land. A police complaint was filed from the victims’ side but no action was taken.[lxxv]

On 13 August, a tribal couple attempted suicide, perturbed at the forcible attempts by a government official and others to illegally grab their land in Telengana. Prior to the suicide attempt, the couple had submitted a number of representations to the officials concerned to safeguard their land. And yet no prompt action was taken by the authorities.[lxxvi]

NAGA HOMELAND

The Naga ancestral land is a geographically compact territory “straddling the official boundary of India and Burma/Myanmar, from just south of the Chinese border.”[lxxvii] However, when the British colonial forces intruded into Naga territory, they divided Naga land and placed it under different powers to “satisfy their allies, and each time the lines inevitably moved further inside the Naga country.”[lxxviii] The international boundary runs across Naga territory thereby separating the people between two countries, India and Burma, who in turn further divide the Nagas into different states and regions.[lxxix]

Naga Peoples and their lands – The soul of self-determination

Like most Indigenous Peoples, Naga peoples are intrinsically connected to their geography and their continuing history. This connection is reflected in the Naga political identity, which is closely interwoven with the Naga concept of land and territories. The land is far more sacred and inclusive through Naga eyes, as it represents “territory, place, homeland, culture, religion” and encompasses “water, forests, rocks, stones on the ground, the mineral below ground, and the clouds and sky above ground.”[lxxx]

Land is not simply a commodity to be parcelled off, labelled and exploited but is alive, life-giving, and in a relationship with humans.[lxxxi] The land enables the Nagas to become “fully human as creators of culture”.[lxxxii] This fundamentally means that Nagas cultivate the land to transform their lives and, by acting with it, create a new world.[lxxxiii]

In the summer of 2023, the President of Konyak Union spoke on the continuing violence and trauma of colonisation while interacting with the Recover Restore and Decolonise Team of the Forum for Naga Reconciliation (see more about this in the next section). He said, “These divisions created since the British times continue to hurt us. First, we were split into India and Burma. Later, we were further separated into Assam, Nagaland, and Arunachal Pradesh by the Indian government. ”[lxxxiv] He says this policy was a “colonial project, and the trauma of that division continues to cause great suffering and grief to this day.”[lxxxv]

The violent division of the Naga territory by artificial boundaries and the continuing militarisation has turned their land into one of the most geographically divided and complex areas in the region. This social and territorial fragmentation impedes the Naga peoples’ identity and right to self-determination by fracturing their relationship with history and geography, which is leading to a “steady de-recognition of the peoplehood of the Nagas.”[lxxxvi]

Interregnum and decolonisation

In many ways, 2023 was a continuation of 2022 with no significant shift away from the existing macro trends of previous years. The 26-year-old protracted peace process[lxxxvii] continued without leading to any genuine resolution, thereby inducing an interregnum. Naga society continues to be further entrenched with new divisions and alignments within the Naga political movement and Naga civil society. In the absence of a political solution, “Nagas have been living within a culture of perpetual flux which is eroding the core foundational values and worldviews of life and co-existence” where “their culture and world are not defined and determined by themselves and for their own purposes,”[lxxxviii] but by State and corporate interests that have filled the interregnum.

The weakening of Naga societal values and traditional institutions has fuelled several phenomena, including the unchecked migration of people, a consolidation of market forces with more multinational corporations in Naga territories, an assimilation of culture, increasing pressure on Indigenous land and resources, a growing drug trade and drug abuse,[lxxxix] and rising tensions between the idea of State-centric development and Indigenous land ownership systems.

Despite these negative trends, the ceasefire between the Government of India (GoI) and the various Naga political groups has held. While the political solution remains elusive, the process did not lapse into armed confrontation. Even though there were isolated incidences of factional violence and splintering between some of the Naga groups,[xc] their resolve to support Naga reconciliation remained.

2023 was also a year that Naga women broke gender barriers when Salhoutuonuo Kruse and Hekani Jakhalu became the first women elected to the Nagaland Legislative Assembly, in which Kruse also became the first Naga woman minister. This was the first time that women have been directly elected in parliamentary or assembly elections in Nagaland.[xci]

With the ceasefire holding, the democratic space has continued to expand with vibrant dialogue and public engagement on critical social issues. These conditions have created opportunities for Nagas to connect with the outside world, in addition to opening many avenues for building collaboration, partnerships and institutions, especially around areas of education, business, entrepreneurship, creative arts, music and tourism.

One critical intervention that broadened the scope of inter-generational dialogue in 2023 was through the Forum for Naga Reconciliation’s (FNR) initiative called Recover Restore and Decolonise (RRaD). FNR “has been facilitating a process to develop and enable a Naga response around the future care of Naga ancestral human remains”[xcii] taken during the British colonial period and which are currently housed in the Pitt Rivers Museum in Oxford, UK. The RRaD Team visited Naga towns and villages where they engaged in a participatory process of dialogue and storytelling. This experience enabled people to connect the past, present and future around questions of colonisation, decolonisation, generational trauma of colonial violence, healing and unity, identity, and territory.

Identity politics

In 2019, the Union Cabinet approved removing the generic term “any Naga tribes” in Arunachal Pradesh and replacing it with the specific names of the tribes.[xciii] In 2023, questions about identity continued. The Rengma Naga People’s Council of Karbi Anglong in Assam opposed removing the word “Rengma” when East Rengma Mouza was renamed East Mouza.[xciv] The removal of the name “Rengma” denies their self-definition as Nagas in a relationship with their ancestral land, “alienating them from their [I]ndigenous rights, and de-legitimizing their identity as a people.”[xcv] Removing the Naga identity in states like Assam and Arunachal Pradesh where Nagas are a minority further fractures the collective identity. This negates the Naga aspiration to live together as a people and exercise their right to self-determination.

For the Nagas whose territory falls under the administrative state of Manipur, 2023 was a year of anxiety and uncertainty. The identity-based conflict between the Meitei and Kuki-Zo people in Manipur, which began on 3 May 2023,[xcvi] has greatly impacted the Nagas. The ongoing conflict has led to the loss of lives, gender-based violence, destruction of properties, distortion of history and the dehumanisation of each other.

This history of identity conflict was institutionalised during the British colonial rule. What triggered the violence in Manipur was a recommendation made by the Manipur High Court to the state government to include Meiteis in the Scheduled Tribe category.[xcvii] The conflict involves questions of land, resources, identity, economics, and governance. One concern is that the violence will evict tribals from their land, thereby making way for private industries and businesses for mining.[xcviii]

The Naga people are not part of this ongoing conflict. However, with violence also perpetuated in Naga territories, daily lives are affected. A few violent incidents against Naga individuals led to a loss of life. While these incidents were seen as attempts to provoke and draw the Nagas into the conflict, the United Naga Council, Manipur urged the Meitei and Kuki-Zo people to refrain from “hostile acts and to hold an immediate ceasefire from intermittent firing.”[xcix] Furthermore, the Naga Legislators Forum, Manipur told the Home Minister of India that “in the event of any arrangements” between the Meitei and Kuki-Zo, “Naga areas should not be touched … Naga people should be consulted properly … that arrangement for the Nagas should be as per the outcome of the Indo-Naga Peace process.”[c]

Within Nagaland State, the Eastern Nagaland People’s Organisation’s (ENPO) demand for a separate Frontier Nagaland state has gained momentum.[ci] Following several years of rallies, petitions and negotiations, ENPO accepted GoI’s proposal to form a Frontier Naga Territory with legislative, executive, administrative and financial autonomy.[cii] Accordingly, the proposed set-up is to be reviewed after a period of 10 years to assess its efficacy in fulfilling the people’s aspirations in the region. The ENPO accepted the proposal “without insisting on dividing the Nagaland State” considering the Naga sentiments towards unity and togetherness.[ciii]

Since 2021, Nagas in Burma have been directly impacted by the military coup as the ongoing armed conflict has intensified. Many Nagas in the east of the Naga territories have been displaced and forced to seek refuge, across the international border, with Nagas in the west.[civ] Burma’s volatile political situation continues to disturb the well-being of the Nagas in Burma.

Consequently, the changing geopolitics of the South Asia and Southeast Asia regions continues to affect the destiny of the Nagas.

Commodification of land, resources and development

Over the past decade, market forces have grown considerably and systematically consolidated their presence in Naga territories. This has led to various trajectories around materialism, land commodification, ownership patterns, land-based disputes, mono-cropping, State-centric development versus people’s development, and the question of extracting minerals and other natural resources. Some examples from 2023 that demonstrate the increasing tensions are:

  • The Forest (Conservation) Amendment Act, 2023, passed by the Indian Parliament on 26 July 2023,[cv] is being contested by the north-east states, including Mizoram and Nagaland, who argue that the law undermines their autonomy in forest management, affecting special entitlements granted under Article 371 and the Sixth Schedule of the Constitution. Local councils fear a loss of decision-making power and threats to traditional land ownership, while ecologists highlight the potential impact on biodiversity and concerns over forest diversions for commercial purposes.[cvi] The Nagaland Community Conservation Area Forum labels the Act as unconstitutional, undemocratic, and unacceptable.[cvii] The Nagaland Legislative Assembly passed a resolution stating that the Forest (Conservation) Amendment Act, 2023, would be applicable only if the constitutional guarantees provided for in Article 371A were adhered to in order to safeguard tribal communities' existing rights to forest lands and resources.[cviii]
  • Land in Nagaland State is owned by the people. Because of this landholding system, the Annual Administrative Report 2022-23 of the Planning & Coordination Department of the Government of Nagaland said, “The issue of land ownership is the biggest hurdle in taking up developmental activities. And therefore, Government has to purchase land from private individuals for taking up of developmental activities.”[cix] Landowners have often been told by the government not to “obstruct progress”.[cx] The traditional landholding system has thus been projected as an obstacle to development. There are concerns angling to shift the land tenure from community-owned to private ownership.[cxi]
  • Significant push for oil palm cultivation in the north-east, including in the Naga territories of Nagaland State and some Naga districts in Manipur, which involves big companies. The Kezekevi Thehou ba (Peace Morung) said the “bid to push oil palm cultivation in North East rings alarm bells” and oil palm plantation in Nagaland State, which began with 140 ha in 2015-2016, had grown to 4,623 ha by 31 March 2021.[cxii] As of July 2023, the plantation area had increased to 5,423 ha, which is a 39-fold growth since 2015.[cxiii]

A report pointed out that the forest lands targeted for oil palm plantation “are crucial for biodiversity, climate resilience and protecting the interests of [I]ndigenous cultures, their lifestyles and livelihoods”.’[cxiv] It said that due to “ecological and cultural significance, the North-East should be a ‘No-Go’ area for oil palm cultivation.”[cxv]

  • Oil and gas exploration in the Naga context is intimately “intertwined with the Naga political issue.”[cxvi] For this very reason, oil extraction in the villages of Changpang and Oil Tssori by the Oil and Natural Gas Corporation Limited were halted in 1994 due to protests and opposition by communities and organisations. In April 2023, the Assam and Nagaland governments agreed in principle to resume oil and gas exploration in contested areas while considering an out-of-court settlement for their long-standing border dispute.[cxvii] According to reports, the two governments proposed that they would equally share the proceeds from the exploration, aiming to address economic losses caused by the border dispute.[cxviii]

The agreement to resume oil and gas exploration once again brought the question of oil to the fore. Public opinion differed among several civil society organisations and business associations as well as others. The National Socialist Council of Nagalim (Isak Swu and Th. Muivah) stated that: “Unless an honourable political settlement between the Nagas and Government of India is reached, no exploration of oil and natural gas in Naga territories in any form shall be allowed.”[cxix] Similarly, the Working Committee of the Naga National Political Groups said, “As and when political Agreement is inked, natural resources including fossil fuels will be explored, extracted and utilised for the benefit of Naga people.”[cxx]

Conclusion: Just peace and self-determination

The events and trends of 2023 are once again a reminder that a resolution of the Naga political question is imperative because Naga polity and future revolves around it and requires finding a new path forward.

The Naga conflict is “one of the world’s least-known, but longest-running and bloodiest armed conflicts,”[cxxi] and “one of the most persistent and least-known struggles of [I]ndigenous [P]eoples in the world today.”[cxxii]

In response to the colonial incursions into their territories, the Nagas initiated “their own national movement for regaining of their sovereignty”[cxxiii] and is “the oldest of the self-determination struggles.”[cxxiv]

India’s position was (and remains) “that the Indian Union legally includes all the territories formerly embraced by British India”[cxxv] and it claims that “Nagaland forms an integral part of India and that complete independence for the Nagas is a preposterous proposition.”[cxxvi] The Nagas maintain that: “When the British left India, Nagaland was not part of India, but under direct occupation”[cxxvii] and that their struggle for self-determination was “part of the unfinished decolonization of the Indian subcontinent.”[cxxviii]

Over the decades, the Indo-Naga relationship has been an interplay of statecraft, militarisation, and some form of peace agreements. Despite appeals and petitions for a final solution to the current Indo-Naga political negotiations,[cxxix] the outcome of the 26-year-old peace process remained elusive throughout 2023. Now, the peace process seems to be frozen.

In December 2023, Naga National Political Groups (NNPGs) stated that Indo-Naga political negotiations had been “concluded, not deadlocked”[cxxx] while the National Socialist Council of Nagaland (NSCN), in its last round of formal talks on 14 November 2023, said it was “not conclusive but not deadlocked.”[cxxxi]

The Indo-Naga process offered an opportunity to imaginatively explore creative ways of finding resolutions to self-determination and sovereignty-based conflicts. However, over the years it has become more apparent that the GoI’s approach is designed to manage the conflict through a State-centric bureaucratic negotiating process that focuses on short-term gains without making concessions rather than addressing the core political issues in order to find sustainable resolutions. There is an increasing need to shift away from the current Westphalian approach of peace towards one in which a relational understanding of territory, justice and self-determination is the cornerstone of a just peace.

In the Naga cultural worldview, it is the people who define the land and its destiny based on the historic continuity and relationship they share. However, the question as to whether or not the Naga people can determine the destiny of their land and territories continues to decisively impact on the present, and will also shape their polity in the coming years. The Naga peoples’ ability to cultivate, interact and be interrelated and interdependent with their land defines their self-determining capacities which, in turn, empowers the Nagas’ ability to be self-transforming. When Indigenous Peoples freely exercise their self-determining ability over their land, then just peace, renewal, healing and reconciliation processes will emerge.[cxxxii]

 

 

Tejang Chakma is Head of Research at the Indigenous Lawyers Association of India (ILAI).

 

Tungshang Ningreichon is with the Naga Peoples Movement for Human Rights (NPMHR), based in Delhi.

 

Akhum Longkumer is a member of the Naga Peoples Movement for Human Rights (NPMHR).

 

Nepuni Piku, an Indigenous peace and rights activist, works with the Recover Restore and Decolonize (RRaD) project, Forum for Naga Reconciliation (FNR).

 

Aküm Longchari is a member of the Forum for Naga Reconciliation.

 

This article is part of the 38th edition of The Indigenous World, a yearly overview produced by IWGIA that serves to document and report on the developments Indigenous Peoples have experienced. The photo above is of an Indigenous man harvesting quinoa in Sunimarka, Peru. This photo was taken by Pablo Lasansky, and is the cover of The Indigenous World 2024 where this article is featured. Find The Indigenous World 2024 in full here

 

Notes and references

[i] Since the Scheduled Tribes or “tribals” are considered India’s Indigenous Peoples, these terms are used interchangeably in this text.

[ii] Government of India, Ministry of Home Affairs, North East Division. 11011/53/2012-NE-V. 27 September 2018. https://mha.gov.in/sites/default/files/filefield_paths/HLC_Tripura.PDF

[iii] “World Indigenous People’s Day: Jharkhand CM declares public holiday, Congress plans grand celebration.” The Times of India, 9 August 2020. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/ranchi/world-indigenous-peoples-day-cm-declares-public-holiday-cong-plans-grand-celebrations/articleshow/77438738.cms

[iv] The Forest (Conservation) Amendment Act, 2023, https://egazette.gov.in/WriteReadData/2023/247866.pdf

[v] Ibid

[vi] The Scheduled Tribes and Other Traditional Forest Dwellers (Recognition of Forest Rights) Act, 2006. https://www.indiacode.nic.in/bitstream/123456789/8311/1/a2007-02.pdf

[vii] The Provisions of the Panchayats (Extension to the Scheduled Areas) Act, 1996. https://www.indiacode.nic.in/bitstream/123456789/1973/1/A1996-40.pdf

[viii] “SC refrains from staying amendments to Forest Conservation Act.” Hindustan Times, 30 November 2023. https://www.hindustantimes.com/india-news/screfrains-from-staying-amendments-to-forest-conservation-act-101701337562226.html

[ix] “Hasdeo Arand Deforestation Raises Questions of Adivasi Justice for Chhattisgarh’s First Tribal CM.” The Wire, 2 January 2024. https://thewire.in/rights/hasdeo-arand-deforestation-raises-questions-of-adivasi-justice-for-chhattisgarhs-first-tribal-cm

[x] Ibid

[xi] “Advisory on protection of Human Rights of the PVTGs amid Covid-19.” NHRC, 3 June 2021. https://nhrc.nic.in/sites/default/files/NHRC%20Human%20Rights%20Advisory%20for%20PVTGs%20amid%20Covid-19.pdf

[xii] “PM Modi launches Rs 24,000-crore scheme for vulnerable tribal groups.” The Indian Express, 16 November 2023. https://indianexpress.com/article/india/pm-modi-launches-rs-24000-crore-scheme-for-vulnerable-tribal-groups-9028379/

[xiii] “Cabinet approves Rs 24k-cr tribal welfare scheme.” The Indian Express, 30 November 2023. https://indianexpress.com/article/india/cabinet-rs-24k-cr-tribal-welfare-scheme-9047521/

[xiv] “NGT’s Stand on Nicobar Mega Project Disappointing, Say Conservationists.” The Wire, 8 April 2023. https://thewire.in/environment/ngt-great-nicobar-project-disappointing#:~:text=Kochi%3A%20The%20National%20Green%20Tribunal,affect%20indigenous%20communities%20and%20damage

[xv] Ibid

[xvi] Ibid

[xvii] Ibid

[xviii] “Great Nicobar project: NCST launches probe into allegations of ‘adverse’ impact on local tribals.” The Print, 20 April 2023. https://theprint.in/india/great-nicobar-project-ncst-launches-probe-into-allegations-of-adverse-impact-on-local-tribals/1547332/

[xix] INT_CERD_ALE_Ind_9556_E. April 29, 2022. https://tbinternet.ohchr.org/_layouts/15/treatybodyexternal/Download.aspx?symbolno=INT%2FCERD%2FALE%2FInd%2F9556&Lang=en

[xx] INT_CERD_ALE_IND_9937_E. 8 December 2023. https://tbinternet.ohchr.org/_layouts/15/treatybodyexternal/Download.aspx?symbolno=INT%2FCERD%2FALE%2FIND%2F9937&Lang=en

[xxi] “Odisha govt allows ST people to sell their land to non-tribals; can also mortgage for non-agriculture purpose.” The Indian Express, 15 November 2023. https://indianexpress.com/article/cities/bhubaneswar/odisha-govt-st-sell-land-non-tribals-mortgage-non-agriculture-purpose-9026912/

[xxii] “Orissa rescinds decision on sale of tribal land to non-tribals amid criticism.” Hindustan Times, 24 November 2023. https://www.hindustantimes.com/india-news/orissa-rescinds-decision-on-sale-of-tribal-land-to-non-tribals-amid-criticism-101700817585135.html

[xxiii] NHRC Case No. 1356/22/42/2023 filed by ILAI on 2 May 2023

[xxiv] “MP teen dies in police firing during stir over death of tribal woman.” Hindustan Times, 16 March 2023. https://www.hindustantimes.com/cities/delhi-news/mp-teen-dies-in-police-firing-during-stir-over-death-of-tribal-woman-101678989970615.html

[xxv] NHRC Case No. 217/35/9/2023 filed by ILAI on 22 March 2023.

[xxvi] NHRC Case No. 1222/25/16/2023 filed by ILAI on 27 April 2023.

[xxvii] NHRC Case No. 1803/12/25/2023 filed by ILAI on 17 July 2023.

[xxviii] “Vijayawada -Three policemen suspended after Kuki tribal man of Manipur dies in custody.” The Hindu, 23 July 2023, https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/andhra-pradesh/vijayawada-custodial-death-of-a-kuki-tribe-of-manipur-creates-tension-in-police-station-three-policemen-suspended-four-sent-to-vr/article67112356.ece

[xxix] NHRC Case No. 2168/12/52/2023 filed by ILAI on 31 August 2023.

[xxx] NHRC Case No. 493/33/25/2023-AD filed by ILAI on 8 September 2023.

[xxxi] “MP: Tribal Man Detained By Police Found Dead At Home In Raisen.” The Free Press Journal, 25 August 2023. https://www.freepressjournal.in/bhopal/mp-tribal-man-detained-by-police-found-dead-at-home-in-raisen

[xxxii] “Udalguri encounter: Justice sought for Dimbeswar Muchahary’s family.” The Sentinel, 5 April 2023. https://www.sentinelassam.com/guwahati-city/udalguri-encounter-justice-sought-for-dimbeswar-muchaharys-family-644062

[xxxiii] “Chhattisgarh: Families of two ‘Maoists’ killed allege police staged ‘fake encounter.’” Scroll.in, 13 September 2023, https://scroll.in/latest/1055910/chhattisgarh-families-of-two-maoists-killed-allege-police-staged-fake-encounter

[xxxiv] “Youth fatally shot near reserved forest area; locals accuse Assam’s forest battalion.” The Arunachal Times, 20 September 2023. https://arunachaltimes.in/index.php/2023/09/20/youth-fatally-shot-near-reserved-forest-area-locals-accuse-assams-forest-battalion/

[xxxv] “Army faces flak over custodial death of three tribal Gujjar men in Jammu and Kashmir.” Telegraph India, 24 December 2023. https://www.telegraphindia.com/india/army-faces-flak-over-custodial-death-of-three-tribal-gujjar-men-in-jammu-and-kashmir/cid/1988995

[xxxvi] “Maoists brand tribal as police informer, kill him.” The New Indian Express, 6 January 2023. https://www.newindianexpress.com/states/telangana/2023/jan/06/maoists-brand-tribal-as-police-informer-kill-him-2535208.html

[xxxvii] “Maharashtra: Maoists killed a tribal student after branding him a police informer in Gadchiroli.” Organiser, 14 March 2023. https://organiser.org/2023/03/14/164839/bharat/maharashtra-maoist-killed-a-tribal-student-after-branding-him-a-police-informer-in-gadchiroli/

[xxxviii] “Tribal leader shot dead by Maoists in Odisha's Kandhamal: Police.” Deccan Herald, 11 May 2023. https://www.deccanherald.com/india/tribal-leader-shot-dead-by-maoists-in-odishas-kandhamal-police-1217780.html

[xxxix] “Tribal sarpanch killed by Maoists in Odisha.” The Times of India, 25 October 2023. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/tribal-sarpanch-killed-by-maoists-in-odisha/articleshow/24693351.cms

[xl] “Maoists kill 32-year-old tribal in Gadchiroli, claim he was a police informer: SP.” Hindustan Times, 16 November 2023, https://www.hindustantimes.com/cities/mumbai-news/maoists-kill-32-year-old-tribal-in-gadchiroli-claim-he-was-a-police-informersp-101700129781471.html

[xli] “Tribal shot by Naxals in 3rd killing in 15 days.” The Times of India, 26 November 2023. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/nagpur/tribal-shot-by-naxals-in-3rd-killing-in-15-days/articleshow/105502353.cms

[xlii] “3 tribals killed in Manipur’s Ukhrul dist in dawn attack.” The Times of India, 19 August 2023. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/guwahati/3-tribals-killed-in-manipurs-ukhrul-dist-in-dawn-attack/articleshow/102848461.cms

[xliii] “3 tribals belonging to Kuki-Zo community shot dead in Manipur: Officials.” Business Standard, 12 September 2023, https://www.business-standard.com/india-news/3-tribals-belonging-to-kuki-zo-community-shot-dead-in-manipur-officials-123091200262_1.html

[xliv] “Manipur cycle of violence: 2 Kuki-Zo tribals gunned down.” The New Indian Express, 21 November 2023. https://www.newindianexpress.com/nation/2023/nov/21/manipur-cycle-of-violence-2-kuki-zo-tribals-gunned-down-2634852.html

[xlv] “‘Gunned down in sleep’, ‘hit by mortar’: 5 dead as Manipur gunfight intensifies.” Newslaundry, 5 August 2023. https://www.newslaundry.com/2023/08/05/gunned-down-in-sleep-hit-by-mortar-three-casualties-among-meiteis-two-kukis-as-gunfight-intensifies

[xlvi] “Former Arunachal MLA Shot Dead By Suspected Militants Near Myanmar Border.” ABP Live, 16 December 2023. https://news.abplive.com/northeast/former-arunachal-mla-shot-dead-by-suspected-militants-near-myanmar-border-1650516

[xlvii] National Crime Records Bureau, Ministry of Home Affairs. “Crime in India 2022.” https://ncrb.gov.in/uploads/nationalcrimerecordsbureau/custom/1702029772TABLE7C2.pdf

[xlviii] NHRC Case No. 49/14/16/2023-wc filed by ILAI on 20 July 2023.

[xlix] ILAI complaint dated 22 July 2023 filed with the NHRC and clubbed with Case No. 49/14/16/2023-wc.

[l] NHRC Case No. 47/4/28/2023-WC filed by ILAI on 9 January 2023.

[li] NHRC Case No. 1086/1/3/2023 filed by ILAI on 27 June 2023.

[lii] NHRC Case No. 1180/36/2/2023 filed by ILAI on 21 August 2023.

[liii] ILAI complaint dated 22 November 2023 filed with the NHRC.

[liv] NHRC Case No. 91/12/22/2023-WC filed by ILAI on 16 January 2023.

[lv] NHRC Case No. 304/18/7/2023 filed by ILAI on 20 January 2023.

[lvi] NHRC Case No. 1083/18/26/2023 filed by ILAI on 21 April 2023.

[lvii] NHRC Case No. 578/34/17/2023-WC filed by ILAI on 23 May 2023.

[lviii] NHRC Case No. 1834/22/3/2023-WC filed by ILAI on 26 June 2023.

[lix] NHRC Case No. 1/2/4/2023 filed by ILAI on 15 June 2023.

[lx] NHRC Case No. 1568/13/11/2023-WC filed by ILAI on 16 June 2023.

[lxi] NHRC Case No. 1730/13/27/2023 filed by ILAI on 18 July 2023.

[lxii] NHRC Case No. 1622/12/20/2023-WC filed by ILAI on 26 June 2023.

[lxiii] NHRC Case No. 2019/12/36/2023 filed by ILAI on 8 August 2023.

[lxiv] NHRC Case No. 2177/12/45/2023-WC filed by ILAI on 31 August 2023.

[lxv] NHRC Case No. 2783/12/41/2023-WC filed by ILAI on 22 November 2023.

[lxvi] “Press Release: About 70,000 Displaced, Manipur’s Riots Destabilising North East’s Regional Peace and Security.” RRAG, 3 July 2023. http://www.rightsrisks.org/press-release/press-release-about-70000-displaced-manipurs-riots-destabilsing-north-easts-regional-peace-and-security/

[lxvii] “Ensure no denial of basic human facilities in Manipur: SC to govt.” Hindustan Times, 2 September 2023. https://www.hindustantimes.com/india-news/supreme-court-orders-centre-and-manipur-government-to-ensure-basic-supplies-for-people-affected-by-ethnic-strife-101693594394663.html

[lxviii] NHRC Case No. 11/16/0/2023 filed by ILAI on 20 November 2023.

[lxix] “One year on, no monthly allowance for 2000 Bru families resettled in Tripura, claims leader.” The Print, 29 October 2023. https://theprint.in/india/one-year-on-no-monthly-allowance-for-2000-bru-families-resettled-in-tripura-claims-leader/1823753/

[lxx] Ibid

[lxxi] Proceedings dated 27 March 2023 of the NHRC in Case No. 586/1/5/2022 filed by ILAI on 3 March, 2022.

[lxxii] “NCST summons DC over ‘unlawful’ purchase of tribals’ land by private firm in Maharashtra’s Jalgaon”, The Print, 30 January 2023. https://theprint.in/india/ncst-summons-dc-over-unlawful-purchase-of-tribals-land-by-private-firm-in-maharashtras-jalgaon/1343835/

[lxxiii] NHRC Case No. 19/14/14/2023 filed by ILAI on 2 May 2023.

[lxxiv] NHRC Case No. 370/10/15/2023 filed by ILAI on 25 April 2023.

[lxxv] NHRC Case No. 693/34/1/2023 filed by ILAI on 26 May 2023.

[lxxvi] NHRC Case No. 1219/36/15/2023 filed by ILAI on 16 August 2023.

[lxxvii] Chadda, Maya. “Minority Rights and Conflict Prevention: Case Study of Conflicts in Indian Jammu and Kashmir, Punjab and Nagaland” Minority Rights Group Report, (2006): 12.

[lxxviii] Luithui, Luingam and Haksar, Nandita. Nagaland File: A Question of Human Rights (New Delhi: Lancer International, 1984):18.

[lxxix] According to Atai Shimray, the Nagas live in the current administrative state of Nagaland, in the Naga Hills of Manipur, in North Cachar and Mikir Hills, Lakhimpur, Sibsagar, in Nowgong in Assam, in the north-east of Arunachal Pradesh [Longding, Tirap and Changlang districts], and in the Somra tracts, and the Nagas in Myanmar occupy areas from the Patkai range in the North to the Thaungthut State in the south, and from the Nagaland state border in the west to the Chindwin river (and beyond), in the east. A.S. Shimray, S., A. Let Freedom Ring: Story of Naga Nationalism. (New Delhi: Promilla & Co., Publishers, 2005): 30-31. Sanjib Baruah also adds that: “There are no precise official figures, not only because there is no good census data on Burma, but also because the Indian census data do not correspond with the category ‘Naga.’” Baruah, Sanjib. “Confronting Constructionism: Ending India’s Naga War” Journal of Peace Research. Vol. 40, Issue 3, (2003): 322.

[lxxx] Imsong, Mar. God - Land - People: An Ethnic Naga Identity (Dimapur: Heritage Publishing House, 2011): 1.

[lxxxi] Longchari, Aküm. Self-determination: A Resource for JustPeace. (Dimapur: Heritage Publishing House, 2016): XLIII.

[lxxxii] Longchari, Aküm. Self-determination: A Resource for JustPeace. (Dimapur: Heritage Publishing House, 2016): XLIII.

[lxxxiii] Njoroge, J. R. and Bennaars, A. G. Philosophy and Education in Africa (Nairobi: TransAfrica, 1986), 204.

[lxxxiv] Kuvethilu Thuluo, Manngai H Phom, Rev Dr Ellen Jamir & Dr Dolly Kikon. “Repatriation: The Naga Process - Learning from Mon District.” The Morung Express, 23 June 2023. https://morungexpress.com/index.php/repatriation-the-naga-process-learning-from-mon-district. Accessed 24 December 2023).

[lxxxv] Ibid.

[lxxxvi]“GNF opposes renaming of East Rengma Mouza, warns against systematic annulment of Naga peoplehood.” The Mokokchung Times, 10 October 2023. https://mokokchungtimes.com/gnf-opposes-renaming-of-east-rengma-mouza-warns-against-systematic-annulment-of-naga-peoplehood/. Accessed 19 December 2023.

[lxxxvii] In 1997, a ceasefire agreement was signed between the National Socialist Council of Nagalim (Isak Swu and Th. Muivah) and the Government of India (GoI) as two entities. More ceasefire agreements followed between the GoI and Naga Political Groups. The ceasefire paved the way for negotiations, which have been ongoing. A Ceasefire Agreement was also signed between National Socialist Council of Nagaland (SS. Khaplang) and Burma on 9 April 2012.

[lxxxviii] “The Interregnum.” The Morung Express, 9 April 2023. https://morungexpress.com/the-interregnum. Accessed 4 January 2024.

[lxxxix] The Morung Express, “Longwa battling with sunflower drug trafficking and addiction.” The Morung Express. 1 June 2023. https://morungexpress.com/longwa-battling-with-sunflower-drug-trafficking-and-addiction. Accessed 4 January 2024. See also: ”Myanmar-based narcotics trade replaces insurgency as bigger threat in N-E.” The Morung Express, 17 December 2023. https://morungexpress.com/myanmar-based-narcotics-trade-replaces-insurgency-as-bigger-threat-in-n-e. Accessed 4 January 2024.

[xc] “After infighting, Yung Aung-led NSCN (K) has split.” The Morung Express, 6 June 2023. https://www.morungexpress.com/after-infighting-yung-aung-led-nscn-k-has-split. Accessed 4 January 2024.

[xci] Jamir, Moa. “‘Historic’ 2023 for Nagaland amid protracted Naga political issue.” The Morung Express, 30 December 2023, https://morungexpress.com/historic-2023-for-nagaland-amid-protracted-naga-political-issue. Accessed 2 January 2024.

[xcii] Kuvethilu Thuluo, Manngai H Phom, Rev Dr Ellen Jamir & Dr Dolly Kikon. “Repatriation: The Naga Process - Learning from Mon District.” The Morung Express, 23 June 2023. https://morungexpress.com/index.php/repatriation-the-naga-process-learning-from-mon-district. Accessed 24 December 2023.

[xciii] “Specific Naga names to be mentioned in ST list.” The Hindu, 2 January 2019. https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/other-states/specific-naga-names-to-be-mentioned in-st-list/article25893011.ece. Accessed 3 January 2024.

[xciv] The Mokokchung Times. “GNF opposes renaming of East RengmaMouza, warns against systematic annulment of Naga peoplehood.” The Mokokchung Times, 10 October 2023. https://mokokchungtimes.com/gnf-opposes-renaming-of-east-rengma-mouza-warns-against-systematic-annulment-of-naga-peoplehood/. Accessed 19 December 2023.

[xcv] Ibid.

[xcvi] Rathore, Shruti. “Navigating the Kuki-Meitei Conflict in India’s Manipur State.” The Diplomat, 1 August 2023. https://thediplomat.com/2023/08/navigating-the-kuki-meitei-conflict-in-indias-manipur-state/. 3 January 2024.

[xcvii] Ibid.

[xcviii] “Manipur violence is Centre’s ploy to give platinum mining contract to industrialist friend: VBA president.” Express News Service, 10 August 2023. https://indianexpress.com/article/cities/mumbai/manipur-violence-vba-president-prakash-ambedkar-8885651/. Accessed 27 December 2023.

[xcix] “United Naga Council Peace Committee Calls for Immediate Ceasefire Amid Prolonged Meitei and Kuki-Zo Violence in Manipur.” Newmai News Network, 23 September 2023. https://ukhrultimes.com/united-naga-council-peace-committee-calls-for-immediate-ceasefire-amid-prolonged-meitei-and-kuki-zo-violence-in-manipur/. Accessed 3 January 2024.

[c] “Manipur Naga legislators forum meets Amit Shah in Delhi.” The Morung Express, 9 June 2023. https://morungexpress.com/manipur-naga-legislators-forum-meets-amit-shah-in-delhi. Accessed 4 January 2024.

[ci] Jamir, Moa. “‘Historic’ 2023 for Nagaland amid protracted Naga political issue.” The Morung Express, 30 December 2023. https://morungexpress.com/historic-2023-for-nagaland-amid-protracted-naga-political-issue. Accessed 2 January 2024.

[cii] “ENPO accepts GoI’s proposal of ‘Frontier Naga Territory’.” The Morung Express, 27 June 2023. https://morungexpress.com/enpo-accepts-gois-proposal-of-frontier-naga-territory. Accessed 3 January 2024.

[ciii] Ibid.

[civ] “Refuge sought for Nagas fleeing Myanmar conflict.” The Hindu Bureau, 8 September 2023. https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/other-states/refuge-sought-for-nagas-fleeing-myanmar-conflict/article67284595.ece. Accessed 3 January 2024.

[cv] Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change. “Lok Sabha passes the Forest (Conservation) Amendment Bill 2023 by PIB.” 26 July 2023. https://pib.gov.in/PressReleaseIframePage.aspx?PRID=1942953. Accessed 20 December 2023.

[cvi] Zaman, Rokibuz. “Why states in the North East are opposing the new forest law.” Scroll, 29 August 2023. https://scroll.in/article/1054882/why-states-in-the-north-east-are-opposing-the-new-forest-law. Accessed 15 November 2023.

[cvii] Karmakar, Rahul. “Nagaland village councils pledge to stir against Forest (Conservation) Amendment Act.” The Hindu, 15 August 2023. https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/other-states/nagaland-village-councils-pledge-to-stir-against-forest-conservation-amendment-act/article67196829.ece. Accessed 15 November 2023.

[cviii] Yhoshü, Alice. “Forest act to apply if Article 371A adhered to: Nagaland House.” Hindustan Times, 15 September 2023. https://www.hindustantimes.com/india-news/forest-act-to-apply-if-article-371a-adhered-to-nagaland-house-101694719121007.html. Accessed 15 November 2023.

[cix] “Land ownership ‘biggest hurdle’ for developmental activities in Nagaland.” The Morung Express, 30 March 023. https://morungexpress.com/land-ownership-biggest-hurdle-for-developmental-activities-in-nagaland. Accessed 2 January 2024.

[cx] “Don’t obstruct progress – Rio tells landowners.” The Morung Express, 15 November 2011. https://morungexpress.com/index.php/dont-obstruct-progress-rio-tells-landowners. Accessed 2 January 2024.

[cxi] “Bid to push oil palm cultivation in North East rings alarm bells: KTB.” The Morung Express, 21 August 2023. https://morungexpress.com/bid-to-push-oil-palm-cultivation-in-north-east-rings-alarm-bells-ktb. Accessed 30 November 2023.

[cxii] Ibid.

[cxiii] Naga Club, “Oil Palm Plantations: A Disaster for Farmers and the Environment.” The Morung Express, 24 October 2023. https://morungexpress.com/oil-palm-plantations-a-disaster-for-farmers-and-the-environment. Accessed 3 January 2024.

[cxiv] “Loss of land, culture and identity – oil palm plantations threaten communities in NE India, warns report.” The Naga Republic, 29 March 2023. http://www.thenagarepublic.com/news/loss-of-land-culture-and-identity-oil-palm-plantation-threatens-communities-in-ne-india-warns-report/. Accessed 30 November 2023.

[cxv] Ibid.

[cxvi] “Logic behind oil exploration.” Nagaland Post, 18 September 2023. https://nagalandpost.com/index.php/logic-behind-oil-exploration/#:~:text=But%20in%201981%2C%20it%20started,with%20the%20Naga%20political%20issue. Accessed 3 January 2024.

[cxvii] Kalita, Prabin. “Assam, Nagaland CMs agree on oil & gas exploration in contested areas.” Times of India, 22 April 2023. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/guwahati/assam-nagaland-cms-agree-on-oil-gas-exploration-in-contested-areas/articleshow/99680081.cms. Accessed 30 November 2023.

[cxviii] The Assam-Nagaland border dispute is currently before the Supreme Court of India where Assam is seeking to maintain the current border demarcation while Nagaland is advocating restoration of the historical boundary that was demarcated before colonial rule. See Kalita, Prabin. “Assam, Nagaland CMs agree on oil & gas exploration in contested areas.” Times of India, 22 April 2023. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/guwahati/assam-nagaland-cms-agree-on-oil-gas-exploration-in-contested-areas/articleshow/99680081.cms. Accessed 30 November 2023.

[cxix] Singh, Bikash. “No oil, gas exploration in Nagaland without political settlement between Nagas, GoI: NSCN-IM.” India Times, 3 May 2023. https://economictimes.indiatimes.com/news/india/no-oil-gas-exploration-in-nagaland-without-political-settlement-between-nagas-goi-nscn-im/articleshow/99967895.cms?from=mdr. Accessed 2January 2024.

[cxx] “WC, NNPGs reiterates stance on oil exploration.” The Morung Express, 21 September 2023. https://morungexpress.com/wc-nnpgs-reiterates-stance-on-oil-exploration. Accessed 3 January 2023.

[cxxi] Baruah, Sanjib. “Confronting Constructionism: Ending India's Naga War.” Journal of Peace Research. Volume 40, Issue 3 (2003): 321.

[cxxii] Maya Chadda. “Minority Rights and Conflict Prevention: Case Study of Conflicts in Indian Jammu and Kashmir, Punjab and Nagaland.” Minority Rights Group Report. (2006): 12.

[cxxiii] Franke, Marcus. “War and Nationalism in South Asia: The Indian State and the Nagas.” London, New York: Routledge (2009): 39.

[cxxiv] Manchanda, Rita and Bose, Tapan. “Expanding the Middle Space in the Naga Peace Process” Economic & Political Weekly. Volume XLVI, Issue 53 (2011): 51.

[cxxv] Young, Gavin. “Indo-Naga War: A Journalist Account (1961).” Reprinted from the Observer: Gase Publications (2001):15.

[cxxvi] Means, P. Gordon and Means, N. Ignunn. “Nagaland – The Agony of Ending a Guerrilla War.” Pacific Affairs. University of British Columbia, Volume 39, Issue 3/4 (1966): 290-291.

[cxxvii] Ibid): 290.

[cxxviii] Sundar, Nandini. “Interning Insurgent Populations: The Buried Histories of Indian Democracy.” Economic & Political Weekly. Volume XLVI, Issue 6, (2011): 48.

[cxxix] Following the 1997 ceasefire, negotiations ensued and the GoI signed the Framework Agreement with National Socialist Council of Nagaland (NSCN) (Isak and Muivah) on 3 August 2015 and the Agreed Position with the Naga National Political Groups (NNPGs) on 17 November 2017 to find a solution in consonance with “contemporary realities” for an “enduring peaceful co-existence”. The phrases “contemporary realities” and “enduring peaceful co-existence” are noted in Framework Agreement between the Government of India (GoI) and the NSCN, 3 August 2015, and Agreed Position Between the Government of India (GOI) and Naga National Political Groups (NNPGs) Working Committee (WC) on Resolution of Naga Political Issue, New Delhi: 17 November 2017. The GoI independently set the 31 October 2019 as the deadline to end the talks. This date passed on a “somewhat ambiguous note” as negotiations with the NNPGs concluded while they continued with the NSCN.

[cxxx] “WC-NNPGS: Indo-Naga political talks concluded, not deadlocked.” The Morung Express. 7 December 2023. https://www.morungexpress.com/wc-nnpgs-indo-naga-political-talks-concluded-not-deadlocked. Accessed on 4 January 2024.

[cxxxi] The Morung Express, “Indo-Naga talks not conclusive, but not deadlocked: NSCN (IM)” December 8, 2023, https://morungexpress.com/indo-naga-talks-not-conclusive-but-not-deadlocked-nscn-im. (Accessed on January 4, 2024).

[cxxxii] Longchari, Aküm. “Self-determination: A Resource for JustPeace.” Dimapur, Heritage Publishing House, 2016.

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