Ending The Armed Conflict In India (Nagaland)

Ending The Armed Conflict In India (Nagaland)

Year(s): 1995 – present.

Location: Nagaland, India.

UN Regional Group: Asia-Pacific.

Type of Conflict: Horizontal (non-state) Intrastate Conflict, Vertical (state-based) Intrastate Conflict with Foreign Involvement, Risk of a Conflict Relapse.

Type of Initiative: Mediation of a peace agreement, diplomacy, an observation mission, and stabilising international borders.

Main Implementing Organisation(s): The governments of Bangladesh and India.

Impact: Limited.

Summary: An ongoing peace process effectively contained the armed conflict in Nagaland for 14 years until a more comprehensive settlement was reached in 2015.

Description of Case 

Naga is a generic term for a group of over 30 tribes that inhabit some hilly areas of Northeast India. During British rule, this population was offered certain protections. Upon the independence of India in 1947, the area was incorporated into the province of Assam. After decades of campaigning (both peaceful and militant) by Naga groups, Nagaland was established as a federal state of India in the 1960s. Not all were satisfied with this outcome, with several armed groups committed to complete Naga independence from India emerging in the 1970s and launching insurgencies against security forces and violently forcing non-Naga populations from the territory they claimed.[1] Despite some noteworthy efforts at negotiating a peaceful end to the conflict, such as the 1975 Shillong Accord, certain cadres consistently splintered from such processes, formed new armed groups such as the National Socialist Council of Nagaland (NSCN), and continued to employ violence in pursuit of their goals.[2] While much of the fighting has taken place within Nagaland State, the NSCN vision for a “greater Nagaland” has inspired violent campaigns against non-Naga populations in claimed territory across Northeast India. Pakistani intelligence is alleged to have armed Naga militants at various stages, while the armed groups themselves regularly used rear bases in Bangladesh and Myanmar, adding layers of complexity to a conflict which is estimated to have cost the lives of 40,000 people.[3]

Contemporary efforts to end the conflict in Nagaland began in 1995, when the Indian government met with the leaders of one NSCN faction in Paris. In 1997, these talks resulted in a ceasefire and further talks.[4] In 2001, a ceasefire with another NSCN faction was negotiated in Bangkok. That year, the Indian prime minister established a ceasefire monitoring group of retired Indian police servicemen in support of the peace process.[5] These efforts allowed for more comprehensive talks, which were reliant on regular reiterations of the ceasefire agreements and ongoing dialogue, to begin in 2003.[6] These mechanisms effectively contained the armed conflict until June 2015, when an NSCN faction ambushed and killed 19 Indian soldiers. After declaring that faction a terrorist organisation, the Indian government signed a framework peace agreement with other NSCN groups in August 2015 and the remaining factions have since joined the peace process.[7] The framework agreement was initially kept secret, but included provisions to establish a Naga regional council, integrate NSCN troops into the military, and offer the Naga population with other constitutional protections.[8] A key aspect of the accord was its stipulation that Naga political institutions would share sovereignty with the Indian government, satisfying the demands of both parties involved.[9]


[1] H. Srikanth & C.J. Thomas. “Naga Resistance Movement and the Peace Process in Northeast India.” Peace and Democracy in South Asia, Vol. 1, No. 2. (2005) pp.58-64

[2] Shillong Agreement between the Government of India and the Underground Nagas, 1975. Available at: https://peacemaker.un.org/india-shillong-agreement75 (Accessed 11/01/2022)

[3] UCDP. India: Nagaland. (UCDP, 2022) Available at: https://ucdp.uu.se/conflict/251 (Accessed 11/01/2022)

[4] Extension of Ceasefire with the NSCN-IM, 2001. Available at: https://peacemaker.un.org/india-extension-ceasefire-NSCNIM2001 (Accessed 11/01/2022)

[5] Namrata Biji Ahuja. “The secret deal: Exclusive details of the framework agreement with the Nagas.” The Week (India). (23 April 2017) Available at: https://www.theweek.in/theweek/cover/the-secret-deal.html (Accessed 11/01/2022)

[6] Joint Statement of the Government of India and the NSCN-IM, 2004. Available at: https://peacemaker.un.org/india-joint-statement-NSCN (Accessed 11/01/2022)

[7] Polstrat. “Where are the Naga peace talks headed after the recent ceasefire?” Medium. (14 September 2021) Available at: https://polstrat.medium.com/where-are-the-naga-peace-talks-headed-after-the-recent-ceasefire-bada408df18c (Accessed 11/01/2022)

[8] Ahuja. “The secret deal.”

[9] Sanjib Baruah. In the Name of the Nation: India and its Northeast. (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 2020) p.108