India: Challenges To Peace In Nagaland – Analysis


By Afsara Shaheen

On February 21, 2024, a ‘deputy leader’ of National Socialist Council of Nagalim-Isak-Muivah (NSCN-IM), ‘Kilonser’ Khampei Opeiham Konyak, was shot dead by a group of six unidentified assailants, at his residence in Tizit in the Mon District of Nagaland, near the Assam-Arunachal border. The NSCN-IM leader reportedly succumbed to a suspected inter-factional assassination. Konyak had a complex history of affiliations, having defected from the Yung Yang faction of the NSCN-Khaplang (NSCN-K-YA) to join the Ang Mai faction of NSCN-K, before eventually surrendering to the Assam Rifles in 2023. He later joined the NSCN-IM in October 2023.

This is the lone fatality recorded in Nagaland in 2024, till date (all data till February 25)

In 2023, Nagaland recorded three fatalities (all militants), all in inter/intra-factional clashes:

  • July 30, 2023: NSCN-IM cadres killed one NSCN/Government of the People’s Republic of Nagaland (GPRN), cadres identified as ‘deputy kilonser‘, Temzei Konyak, and abducted three others – Honchai Konyak aka Tatar, Talem Konyak aka Leacy and ‘captain’ Wanglem Konyak – at Lapalampong Village under Tizit Area in Mon District.
  • March 12, 2023: Two cadres of the Non-Accordist faction of the Federal Government of Nagaland (FGN-NA), identified as ‘brigadier’ Eleazer Whuchitu Thupitor and ‘private’ Shetshale, were killed. Their bodies were recovered later, on March 19, at Mokie village in Phek District. These cadres were allegedly killed by their ‘aides,’ identified as Ventsüthong, Zükhomong and Puisang.

No fatality was recorded in Nagaland in 2022, while there were four insurgency-linked fatalities (three civilians and one terrorist) in 2021. Since March 6, 2000, when South Asia Terrorism Portal (SATP) started compiling data, Nagaland has recorded a total of 830 fatalities: 191 civilians, 22 Secuirty Force (SF) personnel, 603 terrorists and 14 in the not-specified (NS) category.

Not surprisingly, on September 26, 2023, responding to the improved security scenario in the state, the Union Ministry of Home Affairs (UMHA) removed the Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA) from the jurisdiction of three Police stations in the Wokha and Zunheboto Districts of Nagaland. AFSPA was extended across the whole of eight Districts, and in 21 Police stations in five other Districts, of Nagaland for another six months, down from nine Districts earlier. The eight Districts are Dimapur, Niuland, Chumoukedima, Mon, Kiphire, Noklak, Phek and Peren.

The security situation in the state has improved gradually over the years, as overall fatalities, which remained in three digits between 1993 and 2000, dropped to two digits between 2001 and 2015, with the exceptions of 2007 and 2008 when they again touched three digits. However, since 2016, after the signing of the Framework Agreement on August 5, 2015, between the Government of India (GoI) and NSCN-IM, the security situation in the state has witnessed dramatic improvement, and fatalities have since remained in single digits. 

There were two arrests in 2024 (a cadre each of NSCN-IM and NSCN-K) in two separate incidents. These were in addition to 36 arrests in 17 incidents in 2023: 19 NSCN-IM, 10 NSCN-K-Nikki Summi (NSCN-K-NS), three NSCN-K-YA, two NSCN-K and one each of the Khango Konyak led faction of NSCN-K (NSCN-K2) and NSCN-Reformation (NSCN-R). There were three arrests [two NSCN-Unification (NSCN-U), and one NSCN-K2-Issac] in two separate incidents in 2022.

Nagaland recorded five surrenders in 2024 [four Naga National Council-Non Accordist (NNC-NA) and one NSCN-K]. In 2023, there were 14 surrenders in five separate incidents [Kamatpur Liberation Organisation (KLO), nine; NSCN-K, three and NSCN-U, two]. 

The activities of Naga insurgents continue to affect the neighbouring states. In Arunachal Pradesh, Changlang and Longding Districts remain the operating grounds for Naga militants. The NSCN-K-YA, the most active group in Arunachal Pradesh, works in alliance with other militant groups, such as the United Liberation Front of Assam – Independent (ULFA-I). Recently on February 18, 2024, ten workers employed at the Finboro coal mine in Changlang District of Arunachal Pradesh, were abducted for the failure to meet extortion demands by suspected militants of NSCN-K-YA and ULFA-I. Sources stated that a group of seven armed militants held the workers at gunpoint and transported them in a dumper truck towards Old Longtoi, a remote location within Arunachal Pradesh. SFs later rescued seven of the 10 coal miners, while the remaining three were still missing at the time of writing. 

In Manipur, the NSCN-IM has been involved in clashes with the Zeliangrong United Front (ZUF), which signed a peace accord with GoI on December 27, 2022. ZUF is a splinter group of the NSCN-IM, formed in 2011.Several incidents between the groups occurred in 2023. Some of the notable incidents included:

  • September 24: A suspected ZUF militant, David Gaingamlung Gonmei, was killed and another sustained injury in a gunfight with suspected NSCN-IM cadres at Phoibut Village in the Tupul area of Noney District in Manipur. 
  • July 28: Two suspected NSCN-IM militants, ‘Major’ Alen Sekho (42) and ‘Captain’ Angam, were killed, and one civilian, Gaitaguang Gangmei, sustained injuries, in firing by suspected ZUF cadres at Rengpang Village under the jurisdiction of the Khongsang Police Station in the Noney District of Manipur. It was suspected that the killing of the two NSCN-IM cadres by ZUF was revenge for the killing of its cadre, Obed Kamei, by NSCN-IM, on July 20, 2023.
  • July 20: A ZUF cadre, Obed Kamei, was killed by suspected NSCN-IM cadres at Dailong Village in the Tamenglong District of Manipur. Kamei had been kidnapped by suspected NSCN-IM cadres on July 19 from Noney District, and was found shot dead at Dailong Village the next day.

Thus, despite improvements in the security situation since the signing of the Framework Agreement, activities of Naga groups have not come to a complete halt.

While signing the Framework Agreement and on several occasions thereafter, GoI has reiterated that the Naga issue would be resolved ‘soon’. For instance, on February 20, 2023, Union Home Minister Amit Shah reiterated, “Our aim is to make peace talks successful and solve Naga political problem quickly.” The negotiations linger on, despite this, as both NSCN-IM and GoI adopt an unyielding and opposite stance on the issues of a separate flag and constitution.

Indeed, on December 9, 2023, NSCN-IM reiterated its demand for a separate flag and a separate constitution for the Naga people as part of any peace agreement: 

Despite government of India’s wavering stand, nothing could be further from the truth as flag and constitution are the integral parts of sovereignty. Sovereignty without flag and constitution is a form without content.

NSCN-IM also claimed that the representatives of GoI had initially agreed to a separate Naga flag and constitution. However, they later backtracked on the commitment.

Again, on January 31, 2024, on the occasion of its 45th Raising Day celebration, NSCN-IM’s ‘chairman’ Q. Tuccu declared that NSCN remained steadfast on its commitment to the Naga political issue even in the face of the rapidly changing times:

We have shown remarkable resilience and loyalty to Framework Agreement despite all the difficulties, because it is our stand that the implementation of the political and peace agreement that FA [Framework Agreement] stands for remains the only viable and ideal solution to the long-delayed Naga political solution.

Nevertheless, in pursuit of the goal of long-lasting peace in the areas impacted by the Naga insurgency, GoI has extended ceasefire agreements with a number of the Naga insurgent groups, in continues with the peace talks. For instance, on September 6, 2023, NSCN-K-NS, and GoI decided to extend the Ceasefire Agreement signed between the two for another year, with effect from September 8, 2023, to September 7, 2024. GoI and NSCN-K-NS first entered into a Ceasefire Agreement on September 8, 2021, for one year, enabling the latter to formally join the Indo-Naga peace process. The Agreement was later extended in September 2022.

Meanwhile, on December 30, 2023, three Naga groups – the Akato Chophy-led NSCN, the Khango-led NSCN-K and the Z. Royim-led NNC – decided on a “joint political venture” and to engage in political talks with GoI. Akato disclosed that his group and NSCN-K had mutually entered into an agreement, and later, the Khango and Z. Royim factions had signed another agreement. The “joint political venture” is intended to initiate collaborative efforts from 2024, focusing on mutual support and shared objectives in their engagement with the Union Government.

Even though Nagaland’s security situation has improved, a number of issues persist. The peace process is yet to reach a conclusion due to the NSCN-IM’s refusal to budge on the question of a distinct flag and constitution. At the same time, NSCN-IM’s on-going activities on the ground are a matter of serious concern. The potential of breakaway NSCN groups to operate in other Northeastern states, which could have a cascading effect on these states, also needs to be neutralized. The Naga insurgency has been the ‘mother of all insurgencies’ in Northeast, and it is imperative that all these conflicting interests and concerns be brought to a practical, sustainable and comprehensive resolution.

  • Afsara Shaheen
    Research Assistant, Institute for Conflict Management


SATP, or the South Asia Terrorism Portal (SATP) publishes the South Asia Intelligence Review, and is a product of The Institute for Conflict Management, a non-Profit Society set up in 1997 in New Delhi, and which is committed to the continuous evaluation and resolution of problems of internal security in South Asia. The Institute was set up on the initiative of, and is presently headed by, its President, Mr. K.P.S. Gill, IPS (Retd).

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