Syllabus subtopic: Security challenges and their management in border areas
Prelims and Mains focus: about the Naga-Kuki conflict and its impact on India’s internal security; about strategic importance of Northeast region
News: Umbrella organisations of two tribes have called a truce in Manipur after almost four decades of violence and uneasy existence.
About the two groups in conflict
The conflict between the Nagas and the Kukis in 1993 had claimed more than 230 lives and displaced 1,00,000, mostly Kukis.
The NNPGs, which has been in talks with New Delhi since 2017, comprises the National Socialist Council of Nagaland (Unification), the NSCN (Reformation), the NSCN (Khango), the Naga National Council and two of its factions, and the Federal Government of Nagaland.
The KNO, which is seeking a territorial council in Manipur, is the umbrella body of 17 militant outfits now engaged in peace talks with the Centre.
Manipur has a population of 2,855,794 as per 2011 census. Of this total, 57.2% live in the valley districts and the remaining 42.8% in the hill districts.
The hills are inhabited mainly by the Nagas, and Kukis, and smaller tribal communities and the valley (plains) mainly by the Meiteis, ManipuriBrahmins (Bamons) and Pangal (Manipuri Muslims). Bishnupriya Manipuri, Naga and Kuki settlements are also found in the valley region, though less in numbers.
About the Naga-Kuki conflict
On September 13, 1993, Naga militants allegedly belonging to the National Socialist Council of Nagaland (Isak Muivah) massacred around 115 Kuki civilians in the hills of Manipur. The Kukis refer to the killings as the Joupi massacre after the village which saw the highest number of casualties.
However, The National Socialist Council of Nagalim Isaac-Muivah (NSCN-IM) faction has accused Kukis of being responsible for the start of Naga-Kuki conflict in 1992.
Hostility between the Nagas and the Kukis dates back to colonial times, but the conflict of the 1990s was primarily over land: large swathes of what the Kuki claim to be their “homeland” in the Manipur hills overlapped with Greater Nagaland or Nagalim, envisioned by the NSCN (IM) as a sovereign Naga homeland. The proposed map of Nagalim consists of Nagaland and “all contiguous Naga-inhabited areas” of Assam, Manipur, Arunachal Pradesh and, across the international border, Myanmar.
The Kukis, one of the bigger hill tribes of the region, are spread across the North East, and even parts of Myanmar and the Chittagong Hill Tracts in Bangladesh.
The working committee of the Naga National Political Groups (NNPGs) and the Kuki National Organisation (KNO) have signed a declaration to settle contentious issues and inter-community differences peacefully.
According to the declaration, the two sides will “work together closely to resolve differences through a democratic political process, and by respecting each other’s history and identity”.
Strategic Importance of Northeast:
Strategic Importance of North East: Northeast India has an extraordinarily important international strategicdimension and is a vital part of the nation’s defence architecture. Its importance is enumerated below:
These states share their borders with other countries like Bangladesh, Bhutan, Myanmar and China. It makes up close to 40% of India’s land borders with its neighbours.
1. Bridge to South East Asia: The region is at the crossroads of India and Southeast Asia. It is a bridgehead between India and the vibrant economies of Southeast Asia, including southern China.
2. Economic Significance: North East is endowed with huge natural resource (oil, gas, coal, hydro, fertile land, etc) which can be harnessed for nation development.