February 24, 2020
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The Kohima Conundrum

The long genesis of the Naga conflict and the various bids at a permanent solution

The Kohima Conundrum
Graphic by Prashant Chaudhary
The Kohima Conundrum

The Naga Conflic

  • 1947 Agreement between Assam governor Akbar Hydari and NNC
  • 1951 NNC ‘referendum’ claims 99% for independence
  • 1960 Agreement  with Naga People’s Convention for creating the state of Nagaland
  • 1980 The National Socialist Council of Nagaland (NSCN) formed
  • 1988 NSCN splits into two, NSCN (Khaplang) and NSCN (Isak & Muivah)
  • 1997 Rajesh Pilot meets NSCN (I-M) leaders in Thailand; they meet PM H.D. Deve Gowda in Geneva
  • 1998 Swu and Muivah meet PM Vajpayee in Paris. Indian army extends ceasefire to include the NSCN(K).
  • 2001 Government of India and NSCN(K) agree to a ceasefire
  • 2011 NSCN(K) splits. Khaplang, a Burmese national, asked not to interfere.
  • Mar 2015 NSCN(K) abrogates ceasefire agreement


The spurt In Violence

  • April 2 NSCN(K) ambush army convoy in Tirap district, Arunachal Pradesh, and kills three Army jawans
  • May 3 Another attack in which nine Assam Rifles personnel killed in Mon dist, Nagaland
  • May 6 One Assam Rifles soldier killed in Kohima
  • June Eighteen armymen of the Dogra regiment killed in an ambush in Chandel, Manipur
  • June 7 Another attack on Assam Rifles in Arunachal Pradesh, no casualties


Experts Talk Of Five Mistakes

  1. Misunderstanding the nature, causes of insurgency in the Northeast
  2. Clubbing all rebel groups together while only a few of them have demanded independence
  3. Believing that there can be a military solution to the insurgency
  4. Failure to link counter-insurgency strategies to creating jobs and proactively ending the alienation of the Northeast
  5. Failure in taking neigbouring countries into confidence

Striking Questions

  • Why publicise details of the covert operation?
  • Was it hot pursuit, preemptive or punitive?
  • Inside Myanmar or “along the border”?
  • 40 minutes or 13 hours?
  • No hard evidence of the covert strike so far
  • Was Myanmar informed before or after ops?
  • Were tweets #ManipurReve­nge & #56InchRocks authorised?
  • PR coup or PR overdrive?
  • Risk of the strike being taken to international fora
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