Counterinsurgency Warfare The Use & Abuse of Military Force

Discussion in 'Internal Security' started by Ray, Sep 21, 2014.

  1. Ray

    Ray The Chairman Defence Professionals Moderator

    Apr 17, 2009
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    Counterinsurgency Warfare
    The Use & Abuse of Military Force
    Vijendra Singh Jafa*
    Since 1945, the majority of the larger armies of the world have spent more time in counterinsurgency warfare than in conventional forms of war.1 Several governments have, in the recent past, used advanced military technologies to combat rebellions and insurgencies – helicopter gunships, napalm, chemical warfare, and electronic devices, to name a few. On the other hand, easy availability of modern arms, better organised and politically educated dissident leaders, hostile neighbours offering arms, training and sanctuary, are some of the factors which have contributed to a growing number of unresolved internal wars in the post-1945 era. In short, protracted small wars, causing immeasurable suffering and pain to an increasingly larger number of people, have become an inextricable aspect of our civilization. What was once a last resort is now adopted as a means of expression.

    Independent India has had its own share of insurgencies. The earliest was the Naga insurgency, which dated back to the very moment of independence, entered a distinct military phase in 1954, and still persists. Since the late sixties, political discontent has found expression in a number of other "small wars", including secessionist insurgencies in Mizoram, Manipur and Tripura; activities of the Bodos and the United Liberation Front of Asom (ULFA) in Assam; the Sikh insurgency in Punjab; and Pakistan's proxy war in Jammu & Kashmir (J&K). Numerous other, smaller militant organisations – often clustered around what is termed "Left" ideology – have also raised the standard of revolt against the State in some form or the other, prominently in West Bengal, Andhra Praesh, Madhya Pradesh and Bihar.

    India's experience in counter-insurgency operations has, consequently, been long, and marked by a few dramatic and hardwon successes. In achieving these, it has never been the policy of the government to resolve insurgencies by military means alone, although for many years, a degree of military pressure has been used. The ultimate basis of resolution of the Mizo insurgency, for instance, was the creation of a political quid pro quo – an arrangement that allowed the groups in conflict to exercise some authority over each other, roughly in proportion to their size. This, perhaps, is what Eisenstadt called "the permeation of the periphery by the center and... the weaker impingement of the periphery on the center." In political terms, it means increased consultation and wider participation in decision-making or "consociational democracy",3 "coalitions of commitments or alliances, that have in-built incentives to conciliation"4 or simply "fundamental revisions in the relations between the regime and its people."5 Bluntly put, it meant Indira Gandhi's master strategy which broke the Mizo rebellion by getting some of the important dissidents amongst the insurgents into the Congress (I) fold and pouring in enormous quantities of money for the enrichment of this class along with the bureaucracy and the new breed of local contractors.

    While the simple expedient of buying off the opposition was not significant in Punjab, insurgency there was similarly defeated through a combination of political initiatives that created the mandate for the reorganisation and mobilisation of the State's police force – backed by the army and paramilitary forces – to fight the terrorists, as well as fundamental revisions in the relations between the regime and its people. This included the progressive isolation of extremist elements in the state, the aggregation of the support of moderate political leaders, and, at the very height of the terrorist movement, the holding of elections to the state legislature in 1992. The voter turnout in this election was, no doubt, abysmally low, as a result of a sustained intimidatory campaign by the terrorists that involved a large number of pre-election killings and the declaration by them of a total curfew on pain of death to impose their boycott. Almost all the "moderate" Sikh political parties succumbed to these tactics, and withdrew from the elections. The election, nevertheless, resulted in the installation of a democratically elected government that oversaw what proved to be the terminal and most savage stage of the terrorist movement. Critics dismissed this government as unrepresentative, inept and corrupt, but it served to restore the lines of civilian control and local mechanisms of grievance redressal that revived options for a distressed people – options that, for well over a decade, had simply ceased to exist. Significantly, this government was a fully "functional government – not a puppet regime",6 and it soon extended the democratic process through municipal and panchayat (village council) elections that secured large-scale participation. In September 1992, despite terrorist threats, elections to 95 Municipal Committees in the State were concluded peacefully, with an extraordinary voter turnout of 75 per cent. In January 1993, panchayat Elections were held in 12,342 villages in the State with a voter turnout of 82 per cent. Significantly, the police saw to it that the semi-criminal elements that usually took charge of the Panchayats through a process of intimidation and manipulation were not permitted to do so, and a comparison of previous Panchayats with the ones that came into being through the '93 Election would show that an entirely new breed of politicians emerged.

    The State police, moreover, successfully engineered a direct mobilisation of large numbers of the people of Punjab in the counter-terrorism effort by creating, training and arming hundreds of Village Defence Committees (VDCs) and appointing ex-servicemen and civilians as Special Police Officers (SPOs). The VDCs and SPOs were usually stationed to protect their own villages. They played a critical role in fighting the terrorists, were specially targeted by them, and suffered a large number of casualties. Nevertheless, they continued to stand as a bulwark against the terrorist assault. Perhaps even more significant was their psychological impact in the countryside, as the common people began to see the war against terrorism as their own war, fought by fellow villagers and by close relatives.

    However, with the exception of the extraordinary and unconventional use of the civil police in Punjab, the Indian army has been the primary force in counterinsurgency warfare from the time of the country's independence in 1947. Its tactics and strategy have remained fundamentally conservative and traditional, influenced substantially by accounts of the British experiences in Malaya (1946-49), Kenya (1954-56), and Cyprus (1955-58) that have, in considerable measure, defined the Indian army's training and response. The writings of British authorities such as Sir Robert Thompson, Julian Paget, Frank Kitson and C.M. Woodhouse have been a part of the Indian infantry officer’s accoutrement at least since the 1960s. To some extent, the experiences of the French in Indochina (1946-54) and Algeria (1957-61) and the United States in Vietnam (1958-72) have also contributed to the development of the science of counterinsurgency warfare in India. Since the 1960s, training has been given a high priority. Specialized inputs at the Counterinsurgency and Jungle Warfare School (established at Haflong and later transferred to Vairengte), the training curricula at the National Defense Academy, the Indian Military Academy, Infantry School, Defense Services Staff College, and the National Defense Staff College have also been upgraded to cater to the emerging internal security requirements of the nation in a more sophisticated manner.

    Of late, however, there has been an increasing awareness among army officers that Western precepts of counterinsurgency warfare devised by the British, French and American strategists are suitable only for colonial or interventionist armies fighting in foreign lands; that the internal wars that afflict the developing countries are an altogether different military problem. These conflicts arise when ethnic minorities inhabiting geo-politically sensitive border areas move into the process of negotiating new terms of integration with the central authority, or when such minorities take up arms at somebody else's bidding and promise of support. The Army's capabilities are severely restricted when dealing in such cases with their own people. Northern Ireland is often cited as a signal example.

    This growing awareness has, at least in part, found expression in the increasing development and use of India's para-military forces (PMFs) such as the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF), the Border Security Force (BSF), Assam Rifles, and the armed police forces of the States in the national response to insurgencies. The PMFs have been extensively deployed in situations of widespread terrorism, and have acquired considerable experience in counterinsurgency warfare. Although these forces have traditionally worked under the overall command of the army while handling insurgencies in India's Northeast, they have shown remarkable levels of success even when they have been on their own. The expansion of para-military forces in India between 1965 and 1996, moreover, has been greater than the expansion of the nation's army. Despite the fact that this growth, as Janowitz points out, may be on account of rapid population increase, extensive urbanization and the resulting increase in crime, it has contributed to the regime's stability because of the increased resources available to the government for dealing with political crime.7

    Nevertheless, in terms of strategic perspectives and control of operations, the Army continues to dominate the nation's response to low intensity warfare in most theatres, particularly and overwhelmingly in J&K and the Northeast. It is, moreover, in the Northeast that insurgencies have proved to be the most intractable and persistent. A wide range of continuously evolving strategies and tactics have been employed by the Army in this region, and a review of these lies well beyond the scope of this paper. Here, the historical and intellectual context of the military response to insurgency is explored with specific and exclusive reference to the crises and contradictions of the Unified Command structure, and the experience with the policy of the relocation of villages in Mizoram. To understand these issues, however, the legacy of colonial policies and the received wisdom on counter-insurgency strategies as conceived of and implemented by Western powers must first be examined.

    The Background

    The origin of the guerrilla tactics adopted in irregular warfare is ancient, but the ideological, political, and socio-economic trappings have been added to insurgency in fairly recent times, and perhaps not earlier than the emergence of the communist revolutionary warfare based on the theories of Mao-Tse-tung, Vo Nguyen Giap, Che Guevara and Carlos Marighela in the 20th century. Marx and Engels declared in 1848 that the objectives of communists "can be attained only by the forcible overthrow of all existing social conditions."8 Force, in their view, encompassed a variety of forms: mass demonstration, general strikes, even relatively passive boycotts, as well as armed uprisings. The Communist International set down the conditions for armed struggle succinctly: "An absolute essential condition precedent for this form of action is the organization of the broad masses into militant units, which, by their form, embrace and set into action the largest possible number of toilers."9

    Mao-Tse-tung added new scope and depth to the armed struggle strategy and tactics, and combined guerrilla warfare with regular protracted warfare through which he delivered the decisive blow in the last stages of the Chinese Revolution (1928-49). Most effective was Mao's strategy of establishing liberated bases far away from the ruling-class power centres, making the peasantry the base of the struggle, subversive activities in the cities followed by surrounding and capturing them from the countryside. He summarised his tactics in the celebrated remarks: "Divide our forces to arouse the masses, concentrate our forces to deal with the enemy. The enemy advances, we retreat; the enemy camps, we harass; the enemy tires, we attack; the enemy retreats, we pursue. To extend stable base areas, employ the policy of advancing in waves; when pursued by a powerful enemy, employ the policy of circling around. Arouse the largest number of the masses in the shortest possible time and the best possible methods. These tactics are just like casting a net; at any moment we should be able to cast it or draw it in. We cast it wide to win over the masses and draw it in to deal with the enemy...."10 Giap agreed with Mao in three main respects: the concept of protracted war, use of regular army as the main tool of the people's war, and the primacy of political activity and propaganda over military operations. Guerrilla warfare was useful only in the early stages of the revolutionary war as it was effective both in the mountain and the delta regions of Vietnam and could be waged with good as well as mediocre men and material. Giap had expected Dien Bien Phu war to last "five, ten, twenty or more years."11 In this readiness for protracted warfare lay his trump card against the USA. He could not hope to win militarily against the Americans, but the longer the Vietcong fought, the more difficult became a prolonged US involvement because of domestic and foreign policy considerations.12 As Townshend says: "In conventional war, time is expensive to governments; in irregular war it is cheap to their opponents."13

    Unlike Marxist-Leninist and Maoist philosophy, which regarded armed insurrection as an important phase of the struggle, Guevara thought it was only an initial means and nothing more. Nor did the political party, ideology or political education play an important role in his scheme of things.14 He drew four fundamental lessons from the Cuban revolution: (1) Popular forces can win a war against the army; (2) It is not necessary to wait until all conditions for making revolution exist; the insurrection can create them; (3) In underdeveloped America the countryside is the basic area for armed fighting; (4) Guerrilla outbreak cannot be promoted against a government which has come to power through popular vote. (He later changed this last view and asserted that conditions for armed struggle existed anywhere in Latin America).15

    The modern approach to counterinsurgency dates from the publication of Callwell's book in 1896,16 which drew its lessons of minimum force, firm action and civilian control from incidents like Amritsar (1919) and Cyprus (1931), and became the text-book at the Imperial Defense Staff College between the two World Wars.17 Clausewitz's 'people's war' was essentially about the role of partisans in conventional warfare.18 But the sophistication of revolutionary warfare preached by Mao-Tse-tung inspired a cascade of literature on the subject. Among the first notable studies was Thompson's seminal work on the Malayan communist insurgency.19

    The American Approach

    In 1962-63, the Centre for International Affairs of Harvard University sponsored a study that resulted in a small but extremely practical book by a French army officer, David Galula. This was based on his observation (from Hong Kong where he was Military Attache in 1950-53) of the communist Huk rebellion in the Philippines (1946-54), of Greek civil war during 1949-50 as the UN Military Observer, and his personal experiences in Algeria (1956-58).20 Galula and his contemporary American theorists like Pushtay21 and McCuen22 were most influential in the formulation of the global counterinsurgency doctrine adopted by the Kennedy administration.23 But it is one of the greatest paradoxes of modern military history that whereas the US succeeded in an advisory role in the Philippines and Latin America in the 1950s-60s, they failed to successfully apply the same principles when confronted with the communists in Vietnam themselves.

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  3. Ray

    Ray The Chairman Defence Professionals Moderator

    Apr 17, 2009
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    The likely reason was that time-tested principles of flexible approach and the adoption of socio-economic programs to erode the popular support of the insurgents were replaced by purely military objectives and the consequent reliance on massive firepower and aerial bombardment in Vietnam.24 USA dropped 13 million tons of high explosives (six times the bombs dropped by USA in World War II), and 90,000 tones of gas and herbicide in Vietnam.25 This "saturation bombing" principle has also been the undoing of the Soviets in Afghanistan and the Iraqis against their Kurd rebels. Beckett and Pimlott have observed: "Firepower, however, may not be an adequate substitute for.... having men on the ground hunting down the insurgent in his own environment.... In Malay ten minutes by helicopter was calculated as the equivalent of ten hours by foot, but experience has shown that the tendency to become 'heli-bound' in the way that the French were road-bound in Indochina must be resisted. There is little doubt that, in Vietnam, US forces often forgot that it is necessary to get out of the helicopter in order to fight effectively against the insurgent on the ground. The reliance on technology in counter-insurgency, although not entirely misplaced (notably in the increasing use of computers in intelligence analysis and of sophisticated surveillance devices), inevitably carries the risk that it will dominate the conduct of the campaign. Generally speaking, the less sophisticated the army, the better able it has been to defeat insurgency. Indeed, reliance on the helicopter or firepower may be regarded as pacification rather than counter-insurgency. The latter also requires contact with the people on the ground, for the civilian population will always be the arbiters of success or failure for both Security Forces and insurgents."26 In the last twenty years, a new concept in counterinsurgency warfare, called Low Intensity Conflict (LIC), has been a recurring theme in the United States with the US Army and Air Force Joint Center for Low Intensity Conflict as the focal point. But the central issue is the difficulty of agreeing on the definition of LIC, and it has provoked disagreements that are much more than semantics. Differences between prolonged counterinsurgency warfare (involving political, economic, and military measures) and special operations (involving counter-terrorism, rescue missions, commando operations, raids etc.) continue to fuel unresolved debates over the meaning of LIC, a doctrine that is supposed to cover all these and much more. At the same time, every serious military study of LIC has concluded that the United States is still no better prepared to counter insurgencies now than it was thirty five years ago when it began the long march to defeat in Vietnam.27 "The fundamental lesson to draw from our misadventures of the counterinsurgency era is the one already emphasised by many – the lesson of the limits of American power", says Blaufarb.28 The emphasis on ‘Rambo-oriented’ individuals and units in the LIC, and the suggestion that this force should be privatised to avoid Congressional oversight and accountability while maintaining a more genuinely covert profile, has raised new doubts in the background of the Iran-Contra affair. Many military experts in the United States have also come to believe that if USA cannot win against an insurgency, this does not mean that it will disengage: the idea is to deny the enemies the opportunity to achieve a real victory either. The utility of LIC for this limited purpose is seen by them as sufficient reason for its continued development.

    The irony of the American situation has been aptly pointed out by Stone:

    In reading the military literature on guerrilla warfare now so fashionable at the Pentagon, one feels that these writers are like men watching a dance from outside through heavy plate glass windows. They see the motions but they can't hear the music. They put the mechanical gestures down on paper with pedantic fidelity. But what rarely comes through to them are the injured racial feelings, the misery, the rankling slights, the hatred, the devotion, the inspiration and the desperation. So they do not really understand what leads men to abandon wife, children, home, career, friends; to take to the bush and live with gun in hand like a hunted animal; to challenge overwhelming military odds rather than acquiesce any longer in humiliation, injustice or poverty..."29
    British Refinements

    The British army is credited with having developed the best counterinsurgency warfare techniques in the modern world. It may be due to their valuable experience in many such wars since 1945: Palestine (1945-48), Malay (1948-60), Kenya (1952-60), Cyprus (1955-59), Brunei and Borneo (1962-66), Radfan and Aden (1963-67), Dhofar (1970-75), and Northern Ireland (1956-62 and 1969 onwards). Cyprus, Aden and Northern Ireland may not be the best examples of their success, but the British have allowed neither men nor weapons to rust after the 2nd World War.

    British counterinsurgency theory and practice has been greatly influenced by the campaigns of Field Marshal Sir Gerald Templer in Malaya, Field Marshal Harding in Cyprus, and Major (later General Sir Frank) Kitson in Kenya. The first two cases are good examples of the application of what Thompson later enunciated as the 'five principles' of counterinsurgency: (1) clear political aim on the part of the government; (2) adherence to the rule of law; (3) a co-ordinated plan in which political, economic, social and military responses are clearly laid down; (4) security of own bases before launching military operations; and (5) initial concentration on destroying the political infra-structure of the insurgents.30

    The key elements of the British strategy were "political primacy, insurgent isolation, intelligence and appropriate military response."31 This meant: (1) a close political control over the army demonstrated by over-all control of a civilian vested with political powers; (2) emphasis on collection and collation of intelligence by the police to take advantage of their local knowledge and to recreate an air of normalcy; (3) isolation of the insurgents from support among the people by giving them a vested interest in the legitimate administration and by influencing their "hearts and minds" (Templer); (4) isolation could sometimes take the drastic form of resettlement of population away from insurgents' activity and influence; (5) elimination of cells of passive support and suspects by temporary detention and intelligence screening; (6) army to pursue insurgents when they are forced by isolation measures to retreat into countryside or slums and urban sprawls; (7) avoidance of civilian casualties to prevent alienating uncommitted people; and (8) sustained military campaign.32

    Kitson is the best known exponent of the new ideas on special operations (counter-terrorism, raids, rescue and commando operations etc.) which form much of the basis of the British army's training in counterinsurgency warfare, and his well-known book33 is considered to be an outstanding professional manual on the subject. Having had counterinsurgency experience in Malay, Kenya and Cyprus, as well as having commanded the 19th Airportable Brigade in Northern Ireland during the 1970s, his qualifications are beyond question. The only problem with his views, however, is that they are based on the assumption that the enemy is the ‘Left’, the protesters, organisers of strikes and demonstrations in Third World countries, and maker of movements for national liberation – in short, a colonial orientation. He sees all types of political protest by the Left, the ‘subversives’, as a preparation for armed action. This plants the idea in the minds of the soldiers that the radical elements in the society or the exercise of the democratic rights by the people must be dealt with by military methods.

    It is significant that "strengthening of indigenous police and armed forces" to secure their loyalty still remains an objective principle of the post-colonial British army. The implication is clear: their role is still visualised largely outside the country. Most modern theories of counterinsurgency in the non-communist world have been developed in Britain, France and USA. With the exception of Britain, which has had a kind of insurgency in Ireland (now Northern Ireland) from 850 AD onwards, these countries have not experienced the impact of insurgencies and terrorism within their own towns and countryside as India has during the first 50 years of its independence. All British and French counterinsurgency theories propounded until the 1960s were based on conclusions drawn from uprisings in their colonies.

    Inevitably, their concept of counterinsurgency warfare was essentially colonial. In the post-colonial times counterinsurgency warfare has been practiced by superpowers for effective military intervention aimed at securing bases and influence. The techniques are ideally suited for vanquishing or pacifying enemies, and there is very little which can be borrowed from these techniques for resolving problems connected with indigenous ethnic insurgencies in the developing world. According to Ekbal Ahmad,

    Contemporary revolutions have been occurring in the non-western world. Yet all the counterinsurgency theorists are westerners. More than their native clients they need ideological and moral arguments to justify their intervention to the natives no less than to the western soldiers who are sent to wage a confusing war on alien soil. Hence the counterinsurgency ideology seldom develops in response to local needs; it is mechanically manufactured or imported and characteristically lacks not only native roots but even the necessary adaptations to the local culture and values...34

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  4. Ray

    Ray The Chairman Defence Professionals Moderator

    Apr 17, 2009
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    The Question of Command

    Civil-military relations and their respective roles in a counterinsurgency operation have been subjects of considerable debate and disagreement in most democracies. The question of overall command has often been a critical one, with the British favouring a Committee at every level comprising a senior military commander, a senior policeman and intelligence officers under the chairmanship of the head of the local administration. The French have preferred a single commander system, who is usually a military officer, with advisors from the military as well as the civil administration. The British model is based on the democratic model defined by Vagts in which civilian-political supremacy is guaranteed by democratic parliamentary institutions, and by the professional ethics of the army itself,35 which excludes it from involvement in domestic partisan politics.36 The civilian-political elites exercise control over the military through a formal set of rules that specifies the functions of the military and the conditions under which the military may exercise its authority.

    The French follow a slightly democratic variant of the old aristocratic model in which civil and military elites are socially and functionally integrated. These are what Huntington calls the "objective control" (democratic) and "subjective control" (aristocratic) of the military.37 There is no doubt, however, that a unified command is necessary for fighting an insurgency. Only the problem of co-ordinating civil and military measures is complicated. Regaining the allegiance of the population is both the prelude to destroying the power of the insurgents as well as the ultimate goal of a counterinsurgency operation. In an area of active hostility, the army is inevitably seen by a beleaguered civil population as an adversary in the initial stages of fighting and the situation does not change until well after the army establishes its superiority. The task of increasing the material comforts of the population and rectifying their grievances remains the exclusive business of a civil administration.

    The British took the idea of the unified command to its logical conclusion in Malay and Cyprus when their Generals became the heads of the government. In a democratic system like India, however, pressure groups like the Civil Service and the Press would be equally vocal against an administration headed by a serving military man, even if the political leadership was inclined to accept it as an emergency measure. For instance, the 1968 decision to post a serving army general as the Commissioner of a Division in Assam so that he could be the overall and unified commander of all agencies dealing with the Mizo insurgency had to be reviewed and set aside within a week under pressure from the Indian Administrative Service. Attempts to secure this unification of command under a retired military officer have also failed to pay significant dividends. Many ex-Chiefs and retired Generals of the Indian army have been Governors of states riven by insurgencies but they have, despite such states having often been under President's rules for long durations, failed to resolve insurgencies as effectively as States working under popularly elected governments. This confirms Horowitz's view that such conflicts can be better resolved through a combination of electoral politics, re-distribution of economic resources, and military campaigns rather than through military means alone.38

    In this context, K.P.S. Gill made a unique contribution to counterinsurgency warfare. He is credited with resolving the Punjab insurgency largely through the use of the State's police force – something inconceivable in a sphere in which the regular Army has traditionally been the ultimate panacea the world over. If the conflict in J&K is treated in its correct perspective as a protracted Low Intensity War between India and Pakistan, the insurgency in Punjab was the most serious internal conflict in post-independence India in terms of the intensity and frequency of violence, lives lost on both sides, the world-wide propaganda capabilities of the insurgents, and the political significance that was accorded to the Khalistan insurgency internationally. The active and direct involvement of Pakistan's ISI from right across the border and from inside India turned it into a formidable conflict. The efficiency and speed with which the insurgency in Punjab was resolved under the command of K.P.S. Gill as the Director General of the Punjab Police has been a subject of considerable debate and discussion for a long time. Gill introduced "one of the most unique experiments in multi-force counter-terrorist strategic initiatives and integrated command structures", what he refers to as the idea of "cooperative command".39 It is unfortunate that this experiment has yet to receive the attention it deserves from strategists, and has not been attempted in any other theatre in India. It must, of course, also be acknowledged that the command structure in Punjab was an organic development based on K.P.S. Gill's emergence as the dominating personality in the counterterrorism campaign, with an aura of authority that no other wing of the security forces operating in the State cared or dared to question. Critically, it was not a product of state policy, but of the personal strength and vision of a single commander, and this, perhaps, is the reason why the experiment has not been replicated in any of the other States rife with insurgency. What is abundantly clear from the Punjab experience, however, is that once the best person to lead the operations has been identified, he should be left free to command.


    Grouping of Villages as Counterinsurgency Strategy

    The years 1967-69 saw the entire rural population of Mizoram (roughly eighty per cent of the total population) uprooted from their homes, to be relocated miles away in what were euphemistically called ‘Protected and Progressive Villages’. The army argued that the segregation and control of the population by this method was necessary for a successful counterinsurgency campaign. The general humiliation, loss of freedom and of property, and, very often, injury and death involved in this process of so-called 'grouping of villages' were incidental to the military operations in Mizoram (1966-1986), as perhaps they are to internal wars anywhere. But it appeared to many then, as it would appear to many more acutely now, that the policy of 'grouping' was tantamount to annihilation of reason and sensibility and certainly not the best policy to follow against our own ethnic minorities.

    The Mizo Insurrection

    The context for the policy of grouping of villages was created by the Mizo insurrection which commenced when the Mizo National Front (MNF) declared the "independence" of Mizoram from India in the early hours of March 1, 1966. Laldenga and 59 others issued a statement to justify the extraordinary step that they had taken.40 The Mizo National Front government had Laldenga as its ‘President’. Its other important functionaries were: Lalnunmawia – ‘Vice-President’, R. Zamawia – ‘Defence Secretary’, Sainghaka – ‘Home Secretary’, Lalkhawliana – ‘Finance Secretary’, J.F. Manliana – ‘Chief Justice’, and Malsawma Colney – the ‘Speaker of the Parliament’. The military hierarchy of the Mizo National Army was fairly well-defined. The MNA was headed by a Chief of Staff, and ‘Lieutenant General’ Thangzuala Sailo held this position in 1966. His Vice-Chief of Staff was ‘Major General’ Vanlalhruaia. Other members of the general staff were: ‘Major General’ Thankima, ‘Adjutant General’, ‘Major General’ J. Sawmvela, ‘GOC-in-C Western Command’, and ‘Major General’ R. Lalngura, ‘GOC-in-C Eastern Command’.

    At the time of the Mizo uprising in March 1966, the Mizo National Army (MNA) consisted of eight infantry battalions organised on the pattern of the Indian army, but the number of men in each ‘battalion’ was about 50 in the hope that future recruitment and training would raise the strength sufficiently to match the Indian army's infantry battalions. Seven battalions were named after legendary Mizo heroes Vnapa, Khuangchera, Taitesena, Lalvunga, Saizahawla, Chawngbawia, and Zampui Manga, and one after a Biblical character, Joshua. The battalions were known by their initials, e.g. ‘V’ Battalion stood for Vnapa, ‘J’ for Joshua and so on. T, CH, S and K battalions made the Lion Brigade, and V, J, L, and Z battalions the Dagger Brigade. The Brigades had their clearly demarcated area of operation in the early days of insurgency, with the northern half of the district under the Dagger Brigade and the southern half under the Lion Brigade. In the beginning the main body of the MNA consisted of about 2000 men who had gone through various levels of training, and about an equal number of irregulars, known as the Mizo National Volunteer Force. The approximate number of weapons MNA had by end of March 1966 (including both the arms smuggled from Pakistan and looted from Assam Rifles, Border Security Force and Assam Police in the early days of the uprising) was: 600 rifles (mostly .303 bore), 20 light machine guns, 75 sten-guns, 25 carbines, 30 revolvers/pistols, and about 1500 shotguns including muzzle-loading guns.

    The Army’s Response

    On the night of February 28/March 1, 1966, the MNA simultaneously engaged the 1st Assam Rifles garrisons at Aizawl, Lunglei and Champhai and the 5th Border Security Force posts at Tipaimukh, Hnahlan, Vaphai, Tuipang, Vaseitlang, Chawngte, Demagiri, Marpara, and Tuipuibari. On March 1, they raided the Aizawl treasury and telephone exchange and made off with ten rifles and some cash. The same day they succeeded in attaining complete surprise at Champhai, killed the sentries at the Assam Rifles quarter guard and took possession of the weapons before the garrison knew what had happened. They took over Aizawl town on March 3 and T.S. Gill, the Deputy Commissioner of the District, took shelter in the Assam Rifles headquarters. Lunglei was invested by the MNA on March 5, and R.V. Pillai, the Sub-divisional Officer, was kidnapped. The BSF posts held out despite the severity of the attacks.

    The army was asked by the central government to deal with the situation on March 2, and the 61 Mountain Brigade was moved from Agartala (Tripura) to Silchar on March 3 and to Aizawl on March 7 to start operations against the MNF. The over-all responsibility for the army operations as well as liaison with the Government of Assam was given to Major General (later Lt. Gen.) Sangat Singh, GOC 101 Communication Zone, with Headquarters in Shillong. The first army battalion (8th Sikh) advanced from Silchar into the hills on March 3 and, after some minor skirmishes on the way, linked up with the besieged Assam Rifles garrison at Aizawl on March 7. On March 8, 2nd/11th Gurkha Rifles moved towards Champhai and 3rd Bihar towards Lunglei. Lunglei was secured by the Indian army on March 14 and Champhai on March 15. On March 14-15, 5th Para were flown in by helicopters into Lunglei. They made a dash for Demagiri on the East Pakistan border and took over this area on March 17.

    During the first month of operations, the Security Forces (SF – this expression will now be used as, by the end of the month, it was a composite army/ para-military/ police force) were able to take back all the posts which had fallen to the MNA in early March. The cost in terms of casualties was heavy. The SF suffered 59 killed, 126 wounded and 23 missing. The MNA casualties during this period were 95 killed, 35 wounded and 558 (which included unarmed MNV) captured. The SF also captured 175 rifles of various bores and types, 332 shotguns, 467 muzzle loading guns, 57 pistols/revolvers and about 70,000 rounds of ammunition. These weapons also included the ones that were seized from the villagers during search operations.

    The MNA headquarters was in Aizawl in the beginning of March. On March 3 it moved to South Hlimen, about thirty miles south of Aizawl. On March 18, it was shifted to Reiek, east of Aizawl. By the end of the month Laldenga and the entire MNF and MNA high command had crossed the border and established their headquarters in Chittagong Hill Tracts of what was then East Pakistan.

    During the next eight months, the SF were joined by two more army battalion (18 Punjab and 9 Bihar), three Assam Rifles battalions (6th, 18th and 19th) and four armed police battalions belonging to the Central Reserve Police and the States. These forces were able to secure the district, sub-divisional and block civil administration headquarters and to some extent the main Silchar-Aizawl-Lunglei road by the end of the year 1966.

    By the end of April 1966, the MNA dispersed in smaller units and merged with the population. From the safety of their villages they launched guerrilla attacks on the SF, often inflicting considerable damage and casualties. The routine activities of the SF, such as escorting road convoys and manning of static posts at administrative centres, SF movements on interior roads, as well as their ignorance of the topography made them easy targets to guerrilla bands. They had very little access to hard intelligence, and the Mizos could not initially be involved in this work as they were too scared of the punishment the MNA might meet out to them. SF operations were, therefore, undertaken on scanty or no information throughout 1966. Between March and December 1966, the SF lost 95 men and 60 weapons.

    The high casualties and the inability of the SFs to effectively check MNA depredations were viewed with some concern. There was only a semblance of Indian authority in the Mizo Hills during 1966, and with the reported arrival of fresh MNA reinforcements from East Pakistan with more arms, it was feared that the situation would not be qualitatively better in the days to come unless a longer-term view was taken of the counterinsurgency operations and its strategic/logistic requirements. The army was under pressure to provide evidence of a higher level of competence than they had shown over the past year. The government was equally under pressure. Hundreds of Mizo families had run away to Shillong and other places in Assam to escape the chaos at home, and a further and much larger migration of Mizos caught between two fighting armies was feared. There was scarcity of food and other essential commodities in the district as most non-tribal shopkeepers had run away and no fresh goods were finding their way into the district. The convoys being run to bring in food and other goods under SF protection were few and far in-between because of the frequency of ambushes and heavy SF casualties. The Border Roads Organisation, who had been building strategic roads in the district since 1964, was also finding it difficult to build and maintain roads under such insecure conditions. And to add to the government's discomfiture, there were reports of serious human and civil rights violations and maltreatment of civilians at the hands of the SF in the Indian as well as the foreign press.

    The army proposed that insurgency could not be controlled without more troops for operations and without recourse to resettlement of villages in order to isolate the guerrillas from the populace. The country had a difficult choice. Many battalions of the Army were already committed in a similar role in Nagaland and Manipur. An indecisive war had been fought with Pakistan in the previous year (1965) and the situation was too uncertain to allow thinning of the troops on the western border. Although a war with China had been fought four years earlier, the massing of Chinese troops on the border, their belligerence in Tibet and the extension of their support to the Naga (and later Mizo) insurgents precluded withdrawal of troops from the northern borders.

    There were clearly two options in so far as additional troops for the Mizo Hills operations were concerned: either the army could reduce the period the troops were allowed in family stations between postings in non-family stations on the borders, or the government could agree to the raising of more battalions and, consequently, the size of the army itself. On the basis of a re-assessment of infantry battalions which were likely to be involved in counterinsurgency operations in the Northeast, it was decided that another infantry division would be added to the army. Plans had already existed for the creation of this division as part of a larger scheme to give the army more teeth in the eastern sector in the event of a major conflict with either Pakistan or China in the future, and the Mizo Hills situation speeded up the process.

    There was considerable debate on the question of resettlement or re-grouping of villages, which the army thought was essential for effective counterinsurgency operations.41 This proposal was advanced by the army as a solution to two more pressing problems - the attacks on convoys by insurgents living in the villages and high SF casualties. The Silchar-Aizawl-Lunglei road was the lifeline of the district and convoys carrying food and other essential commodities were necessary both to save the population from starvation and for the maintenance of the SFs. The convoys could move only if they were escorted by the SFs and the road was made secure. The insurgents, who had merged with the local population, ambushed the SF escorts or the road patrols, and made away with looted weapons, back to hideouts in the villages. Unless, the army argued, the villages within ten miles from the main road were depopulated and were regrouped along the main road and put under constant SF surveillance, they could not hope to isolate the MNA from the population and make the roads more secure from their attacks. Once isolated, the insurgents would tend to go back to the jungles where the SF would be able to tackle them more effectively. Such a step, moreover, would facilitate better intelligence, as informers would be more forthcoming when the population had confidence in the ability of the SFs to protect them from the rebels. So far they were working on the basis of information gained from observation or from interrogating prisoners. The interrogation was also inefficient because it was very difficult to make sense out of prisoners’ stories, especially since there was no advance information available to either check a story or trip up the prisoner when the lying started.

  5. Ray

    Ray The Chairman Defence Professionals Moderator

    Apr 17, 2009
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    Resettlement of Villages

    In a report sent to the army headquarters in October 1966, Lt. Gen. (later Field Marshal) Sam Manekshaw, GOC-in-C Eastern Command, Calcutta, recommended that to be effective militarily, grouping must be extensive and must intern a very large portion, if not all, of the population. He, however, suggested that grouping may initially be undertaken in a 10-mile belt on both sides of the Vairengte-Aizawl-Lunglei road. The military advantages of this action, according to him, would be to make the road axis secure and thus increase the logistic capacity as well as relatively unhampered road-construction work by the Border Roads Organisation. The grouped villagers could also be gainfully employed to work on the new roads. The 20-mile secure belt thus created would restrict movement of hostile gangs from one sector to another and to and from East Pakistan. Coupled with a ‘food denial’ programme based on monitoring and controlling food supplies to the grouped villages, the policy envisaged forcing the insurgents into devoting their energies to personal survival rather than armed activity. This would compel the MNA to migrate into ungrouped and depopulated areas, thus diminishing the territory that was required to be dominated by the SF. Manekshaw was also of the opinion that grouping of villages would enable the civil administration to exercise more effective control over a larger population than it was able to do at that time, and would eventually lead to destruction of the political infrastructure of the insurgents by isolating the militants from their support among the people. He visualised that the provision of administrative facilities for the newly re-grouped villages would include food supplies and fair-price shops, house-roofing material like galvanised corrugated iron sheets, dispensaries and doctors, and schools.

    Meanwhile, the Government of Assam had also separately proposed to the Government of India the grouping of 75 villages, mainly to the north of Aizawl, with a population of 36,517, and had envisaged these centres as protected villages with basic civic amenities. This proposal was initiated by R. Natarajan, the Deputy Commissioner of Mizo Hills District, who thought that the army scheme was likely to be drastic, and that it could be effectively kept in check only if the civil administration could foist a scheme of its own. The central Cabinet rejected the army proposal on October 20, 1966.

    It appears that the main opposition to the army scheme came from B. K. Nehru, Governor of Assam, and the central Ministries of Home and Finance. But the army embarked on a programme of most forceful lobbying of their case during the next few weeks, and also launched a major public relations exercise with the Government of Assam to get them to agree to a scheme of village relocation which would meet their operational requirements and yet be acceptable to the state government. In any case, dithering on such an important policy issue at the behest of the Government of Assam, which was largely held responsible for insurgency in Mizo Hills, was considered bad form in Delhi in those days, particularly when mounting army casualties had become a matter of serious concern. The Army's endeavours were fruitful and the scheme was finally cleared by the Government of India on December 5, 1966. The government also specified certain guiding principles.42

    The Army called it ‘Operation Accomplishment’. In its 6 p.m. news broadcast on January 3, 1967, the All India Radio announced the decision of the Government of India to group villages in Mizo Hills for security reasons. Lt. Gen. S.H.F.J. Manekshaw and A.N. Kidwai, Chief Secretary of Assam, announced the decision in press conferences held in Calcutta and Shillong simultaneously on that day. The Indian press generally appreciated the gesture of the government to have taken them into confidence in this matter. Formal orders were issued by B.C. Carriapa, Commissioner of Division of Cachar and Mizo Hills and ex-officio Central Government Liaison Officer for Mizo Hills, under Rule 57 of the Defence of India Rules, 1964, which directed habitants of 100 villages within a 20-mile belt astride Vairengte-Aizawl-Lunglei road to move with all their property to 18 specified group centres and authorised the army to remove them, if necessary, by use of "minimum force".

    ‘Operation Accomplishment’ was executed by the army with the best possible speed and efficiency. In forty-nine days between January 4 and February 23, 45,107 inhabitants of 109 villages were relocated in 18 group centres on the main road. The army, assisted by the first batch of civilian officers earmarked for the administration of these new centres, carried out screening of the entire population, supervised the layout of the new habitations and house-sites, constructed bamboo and barbed-wire stockades along the perimeters, recorded particulars of all individuals and issued identity cards, distributed rations based on a daily scale approved by the government, organised medical cover including vaccination of all population to guard against disease and epidemic and posted army doctors to look after the health of the villagers. Each centre was initially placed in the charge of an officer of the rank of a Major or Captain, with a company of troops to look after the security and protection of the centres as well as road protection duties for the passage of civil and army convoys. These new grouped village centres were designated ‘Protected and Progressive Villages’ (PPVs), and were handed over to the civil administration during the course of the following three months.

    The Mizo National Front started interfering in the grouping of villages around the end of January 1967 when the army found two villages, Keifang and Tualbung, partially deserted after they were ordered to move to the Thingsulthliah center. About 2000 villagers were successfully prevented by the MNA from being grouped. The SF launched their ‘Operation Satsriakal’ to deal with the MNA, and in the ensuing confrontations between January 4 and February 15, 1967, they again suffered heavy casualties. 75 soldiers were killed and 60 wounded, and the SFs lost about 40 rifles, 5 light machine guns, 6 sten-guns and other assorted arms and ammunition. MNA losses were 36 men killed, 10 wounded and about 100 apprehended. The SF also seized some 30 weapons of different types and as well as ammunition from the MNA.

    Operations During 1967 & 1968

    As was expected, the Security Forces carried out large-scale offensive operations against the MNF during the whole of 1967 to consolidate whatever they had gained from the grouping of villages. They first combed the depopulated areas on both sides of the road along which grouping had been done to destroy possible hideouts and hidden stocks of foodgrain. There were also regular smaller operations undertaken by the SF posts in the interior that emphasised vigorous patrolling and ambushes. Major operations, involving employment of troops from different sectors as well as helicopter-borne troops, were also conducted in the interior. The pattern generally followed was to lay stops around areas selected on the basis of information and reconnaissance analysis, and to flush the areas with troops to make it impossible for any hostile to escape. Thickly wooded areas in the vicinity of villages and watercourses, which were often used by the MNA guerrillas as their camping places, were subjected to special searches.

    The ‘Operation Blanket’ concept, which was tried by 5 Para in 1966 with some success, was also frequently employed. This involved the sending out of self-contained patrols for 10 to 15 day sorties to dominate a group of nearby villages in each mission, in order to give the villagers an impression of almost permanent presence so that they could be rid of MNF influence. Though the operations undertaken during 1967 were not very successful from the point of view of MNF casualties or recoveries of arms, they did, for the first time, result in the relative security of road convoys and reduced SF casualties. They also kept the insurgents constantly on the run as the whole district was patrolled and dominated by the SFs throughout the year.

    But the tables were turned again during January-April 1968. The MNA carried out some very successful ambushes against the SFs early in the year and let loose a reign of terror against their own kith and kin who they suspected of assisting the SFs. This resulted in one of the biggest operations, with about twelve battalions taking part, launched in April. Ironically, an SF column was ambushed within a few hours of the commencement of the operation. Nevertheless, in many ways, this was a decisive year from the military point of view.

    1968 saw the heaviest rainfall in Mizo Hills in living memory, and throughout the summer months the SFs kept tightening their noose between Tuipui and Tuichang rivers, the area where hostile movement was most conspicuous. By the end of the year, about 90 insurgents had been killed and many more taken prisoner, though the SFs also suffered a loss of about 35 of their men. These operations dealt a severe blow to MNF morale, and the majority of the guerrillas escaped into East Pakistan, leaving Mizo Hills relatively free from military activity for the next two years, with the exception of some isolated and minor skirmishes.

    At the beginning of 1968, it was estimated that the MNF had about 650 rifles of .303 calibre, 25 self-loading rifles of 7.62 calibre, 75 sten-guns, 50 light machine guns and 10 two-inch mortars. During the first four months of the year they grabbed another 16 rifles of 7.62 calibre, 7 rifles of .303 calibre, 9 sten-guns, 3 light machine guns and 1 two-inch mortar, in successful ambushes on the SFs. The SFs, however, recovered 5 light machine guns, 15 sten-guns and 156 rifles of .303 calibre from the MNF during the operations launched during the year. By 1969, consequently, the MNA were left with about 10 two-inch mortars, 47 light machine guns, 67 sten-guns, 503 rifles of 303 calibre, and 40 self-loading 7.62 rifles as their main fighting weapons. The estimates of the Security Forces regarding the weapons held by the MNF were fairly accurate. The initial figures were compiled on the basis of the interrogations of MNF Vice-Chief of Staff, Major General Vanlalhruaia, who was captured on December 19, 1966. These were substantiated by the MNF Quatermaster General, Brigadier Liandawla, who was captured on December 27, 1966 in Aizawl. This information was further verified from the MNF Lion Brigade documents that the SFs seized on December 31, 1967. These sources and documents also confirmed that the Pakistani army had so far given them 360 rifles, 24 carbines, 35 sten-guns, 30 LMGs and 4 two-inch mortars. The ostensible reason for the MNF to take to terrorising of the civilian population was either to strike down proven army informers or a move to prevent people from hampering further recruitment. But some MNF cadres later confessed after they came overground that, for many of them, it was also the release of an enormous strain that had been mounting on their nervous systems, a kind of emotional catharsis. They were of the opinion that Mizos were not temperamentally suited to a long drawn-out war and prolonged isolation from their families. This often resulted in discharge of wrought-up emotions, and anything, even shooting at a tree, sometimes soothed their nerves.

    It is estimated that during the two distinct phases of terror in 1968 and 1973-74, the MNF wiped out about 350 of civilians from their own communities.

    The First Amnesty

    In August 1968, the Government of India took advantage of the military superiority of the SFs, and offered amnesty to the rebels. The terms included pardon for participation in the war against India for those who surrendered with their serviceable arms, and cash rewards of Rs. 4,000 for a light machine gun, Rs. 600 for a mortar or rocket launcher, Rs. 500 for a 7.62 calibre self-loading rifle, Rs. 300 for a .303 calibre rifle/sten-gun/carbine and Rs. 250 for a pistol or a revolver. This resulted in 60 insurgents surrendering with weapons and 1464 without weapons.43 The insurgents who surrendered revealed that the MNF morale had been shattered by the combined effect of the latest operations, very high incidence of sickness, particularly malaria, and inability to get adequate food from the population, and general disgust and disillusionment in the rank and file of the MNA and volunteers. In fact, the morale of the MNF was so low during 1969 that Laldenga sent Vanlalngaia, the chief of the MNF intelligence branch, to Mizo Hills to study the possibility of a rapproachment with the Government of India. This initiative was, however, frustrated due to the arrest of this emissary by the SFs. The news of low rebel morale encouraged the government to make several amnesty offers during 1969-70, though the renewed offers did not always elicit the desired level of response.44

    Further Resettlement

    The army took advantage of this success to press home the demand for further re-grouping of villages along the Mizo Hills borders with Tripura, Burma and Pakistan. There was again some hesitation on the part of the Government of Assam, but the Government of India went largely by the Army's advice, and an order for grouping of another 185 villages, with a population of 95,917, to be relocated in 41 centers was issued by the District Magistrate of Mizo Hills under the Assam Maintenance of Public Order Act, 1948, as the earlier order under the Defence of India Rules was found to have some legal flaws.

    The second grouping order was executed by the SFs’ ‘Operation Accomplishment Two’ over 1968-69. This was followed by a third grouping of 63 villages with a population of 34,195 at 17 centres. The army, however, carried out a further grouping of 110 villages with a population of 47,056 in 26 centres without any order from the government on the ground that these villagers had expressed a desire to be shifted voluntarily. The government had no choice but to regularise this grouping by an ex post facto order issued in 1970. By 1972, there were 102 group centres accommodating 240,000 persons, or more than 80 percent of Mizo Hills’ population of 285,000. The remaining 45,000 people lived in Aizawl, Lunglei and Saiha and a few ungrouped villages in the Pawi-Lakher region in the south.

    An interesting development had taken place in the meantime. While the last two phases of grouping of villages were being carried out, the general resentment against grouping mounted to such an extent that some Mizos challenged the orders in the Gauhati High Court as violative of the Fundamental Rights guaranteed in the Constitution. The High Court directed the suspension of all further grouping and asked the government to show cause why this order should not be made absolute. The matter was, however, dropped by the High Court after the government had assured it that no further grouping of villages was planned. By this time, however, 80 per cent of the population of Mizo Hills District had already been re-located.

  6. Ray

    Ray The Chairman Defence Professionals Moderator

    Apr 17, 2009
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    The Resettlement Strategy Examined

    When Roman legions marched across Europe and Asia, they had a rather simple way of dealing with the local hostile population: they just carted the natives to their capital and sold them off as slaves. Modern armies have developed more sophisticated ways of dealing with such problems. The concentration camps established during the Boer War were instrumental in isolating the Commandos from their economic and spiritual bases and contributed materially to the British success. This method was used by the Nazis to wipe out almost the entire population of ethnic Jews who were herded into concentration camps. But it was essentially the successful British experiment in re-settlement in Malaya (1948-60) which has provided a model for use of such tactics in the counterinsurgency campaigns of the last forty years.

    Re-settlement and other similar forms of population control have, however, been a favourite counter-insurgency technique with most modern armies. Although the French army never adopted this as a general policy in Vietnam, re-settlement was undertaken in the border areas of Cambodia in 1947 and 1951 as part of their pacification programme with some success in so far as it removed the sources of food, shelter and recruits from the Viet Minh. The South Vietnamese under Diem continued these efforts. During the Algerian war, the French army, as part of their regroupement policy, uprooted more than one million peasants from their homes, and created immense social discontent and suffering. In Vietnam, the agrovilles created by the French became ‘strategic hamlets’ under the Strategic Hamlet Programme of the US army in the 1960s. But this strategy failed largely because of the American adherence to a ‘search and destroy’ policy rather than the ‘clear and hold’ concept recommended by Robert Thompson of the British Advisory Mission in Saigon.

    The United States army had hired a team of British advisors45 for the purpose of formulating the re-settlement or the ‘strategic hamlets’ plan, and, like many other American obsessions, "their creation became the purpose itself."46 It served no military or administrative objective and, in fact, one sceptical US official commented: "If you stand long enough down there, they will throw a piece of barbed wire around you and call you a strategic hamlet."47 The British army had, as mentioned above, successfully tested this strategy under Thompson when they re-settled about half a million Chinese in Malaya in 1950-51 in new villages protected by military units and wire fences. Incidentally, the Portuguese army had also experimented with re-settlement in Mozambique, Angola and Guinea between 1945 and 1974, by establishing senzalas do paz or aldeamentos to serve a variety of objectives including the separation of populations from the guerrillas, the accommodation of refugees returning from Zaire, and the release of more land for further white settlement. The Portuguese brought together more than one million Angolans and 15 percent of the population of Mozambique into the aldeamentos with disastrous results. Re-settlement was also undertaken on a large scale in the whole of black rural Rhodesia from 1973 onwards and, besides causing immeasurable suffering to the tribal communities, failed to achieve the objective of containing violence.

    Tactically, the strategy of resettlement has been used (a) to isolate the hostiles from villages to deny them intelligence, food, money and new recruits; (b) to achieve full freedom of operation against the guerrillas in the depopulated and unenclosed countryside; (c) to free more troops for operations; and (d) to build up the confidence of the villagers in the SFs’ ability to protect them so that they become willing members of the military-intelligence set-up. Strategically, re-settlement helps (a) to protect the population; (b) to unite the people in positive action on the side of the government; (c) to instill in them the will to morally and physically resist the demands of the hostiles so that some responsibility for the defence of the new settlements can devolve on the inhabitants; and (d) to provide a framework for social and economic improvement.

    It is evident that in modern counterinsurgency warfare, there is a greater emphasis on 'clear and hold' operations as opposed to 'search and clear' or sweep operations, since the latter, howsoever aggressive, do not achieve the dual purpose of killing insurgents and destroying their infrastructure. Moreover, massive deployment of infantry and air power, which is essential for ‘search and clear’ operations, is generally wasteful and not within the means of all countries to afford. Even US armed forces failed to get proportionate benefits out of the massive ‘search and clear’ operations that were launched throughout the intensive phase of the Vietnam War. On the other hand, 'hold' operations have very little effectiveness in counterinsurgency campaigns if re-settlement, or similar methods aimed at physical and political isolation of the population from insurgents, is not the basis of the security framework. But re-settlement of populations or their control by similar methods has had many other vital implications in recent military history.

    Whether in its more extreme form, as practised by the Nazis against the Jews, or in moderate forms of varying degrees as adopted in Malaya, Vietnam, Algeria, Angola, Mozambique and Rhodesia (or even nearer home in Mizoram in 1967-70), patterns of control of populations through concentrating in camps display certain discomforting similarities.

    First, they have always been used against people who are racially or ethnically different. The white races have practised control of ethnic populations in the American continent as a means to subdue the natives and to colonise their lands and resources for almost four centuries. In modern counterinsurgency warfare, too, the seminal experiment in re-settlement came with the control of the Chinese population by the British in Malaya and this provided a model for its application by other armies.

    Secondly, re-settlement has often been used to maintain economic and strategic interests and to suppress struggles for democratic advance and national and social liberation. These frankly anti-democratic and anti-national-liberation purposes were pursued by the British army against Malaya (1948-60), Kenya (1952-55), Aden (1963-68), Oman (1957-59), Cyprus (1954-58), Malaysia (1963-66). Clearly, there is a stigma attached to these tactics in their application in the Third World, where colonialism and ethnic heterogeneity have been among the most common factors responsible for insurgency.48 It appears unlikely that a section of white citizens in an economically stable country like the USA will take to terrorism or warfare against the state. But it is equally unlikely that, in case that happens, an entire white population would be herded into camps with barbed wire thrown around them.49 Just as it would be impossible for the British and Spanish governments to agree to a plan of their armies to exercise control over the Catholic population of Northern Ireland or the Basque population of Spain by resettling them in stockaded centres guarded by armed troops. Such extreme measures would always hold good for peoples other than those who belong racially and ethnically to the dominant majority.50

    Arguably, this is a serious charge that India will be confronted with internally and externally if such a strategy was to be adopted today against an ethnic minority as the reach of the media in the new millenium would be a million times more extensive than what it was in the 1960s. Although the Mizo crisis is over and many of the PPVs have been de-grouped with villagers returning to their native villages, the grouping exercise carried out over 1967-70 has left a huge scar in the Mizo psyche. The romance of Mizo village life disappeared forever. A personalised account of the enormity of the exercise and its impact are provided in the reminiscences of one Army officer who was engaged in the execution of the policy of relocation:

    "Darzo was one of the richest villages I have ever seen in this part of the world. There were ample stores of paddy, fowls and pigs. The villagers appeared well-fed and well-clad, and most of them had some money in cash. We arrived in the village about ten in the morning. My orders were to get the villagers to collect whatever moveable property they could, and to set their own village to fire at seven in the evening. I also had orders to burn all the paddy and other grain that could not be carried away by the villagers to the new center so as to keep food out of the reach of the insurgents. For about three hours I tried to convince them that they would have to shift bag and baggage to Hnathial Protected and Progressive Village, as the group centres were officially known. They argued with me endlessly, until I had no choice but to tell them that the soldiers would deal with them if they did not obey my orders. It was obvious they could not carry away even one fourth of the paddy they had in storage. Now, it was a dilemma as I had orders to burn all paddy that could not be carried away so that the insurgents don't benefit from it. Imagine, we were supposed to destroy all that food for which hundreds of families had toiled for months. I somehow couldn't do it. I called the Village Council President and told him that in three hours his men could hide all the excess paddy and other foodgrain in the caves and return for it after a few days under army escort. They concealed everything most efficiently.

    Night fell and I had to persuade the villagers to come out and set fire to their homes. Nobody came out. Then I had to order my soldiers to enter every house and force the people out. Every man, woman and child who could walk came out with as much of his or her belongings and food as they could. But they wouldn't set fire to their homes. Ultimately, I lit a torch myself and set fire to one of the houses. I knew I was carrying out orders, and would hate to do such a thing if I had my way. My soldiers also started torching other buildings, and the whole place was soon ablaze. There was absolute confusion everywhere. Women were wailing and shouting and cursing. Children were frightened and cried. Young boys and girls held hands and looked at their burning village with a stupefied expression on their faces. But the grown up men were silent; not a whimper or a whisper from them. Pigs were running about, mithuns were bellowing, dogs were barking, and fowls setting up a racket with their fluttering and crackling. One little girl ran into her burning house and soon darted out holding a kitten in her hands.

    When it was time for the world to sleep, we marched out of Darzo – soldiers in front, with the Mizos following, and the rear brought up by more soldiers. We had enough troops for the job. If anyone had tried to run away from the column, he would have been shot. We walked fifteen miles through the night along the jungle and the morning saw us in Hnathial. I tell you, I hated myself that night. I had done the job of an executioner. That night when I saw children as young as three years carrying huge loads on their heads for fifteen miles with very few stops for rest, their noses running, their little feet faltering, with pregnant women hardly able to carry their burden up the hill from the Mat river valley - for the first time in my life as a soldier I did not feel the burden of the fifty pound haversack on my own back. It was a miracle that we reached Hnathial without a casualty, or perhaps the Mizos are a very tough people, physically and emotionally. But there was something more to be carried out. I called the Darzo Village Council President and his village elders and ordered them to sign a document saying that they had voluntarily asked to be resettled in Hnathial PPV under the protection of the Security Forces as they were being harassed by the insurgents, and because their own village did not have communications, educational, medical and other facilities. Another document stated that they had burnt down their own village, and that no force or coercion was used by the Security Forces. They refused to sign. So I sent them out and after an hour called them in again, this time one man at a time. On my table was a loaded revolver, and in the corner stood two NCOs with loaded sten-guns. This frightened them, and one by one they signed both the documents. I had to do it as I had no choice in this matter. If those chaps had gone to the civil administration or the courts with complaints, there would have been all kinds of criminal cases against us. We had to protect ourselves with these false certificates. We had no choice. All individual officers were expected to carry out their tasks in such a manner that it left no scope for embarrassment to our higher formations."51

    There is, of course, no doubt that grouping contributed considerably to the success of the army's counterinsurgency operations. But the irony is that the colonial strategies adopted by the British to suppress independent movements and other anti-colonial insurrections in Kenya, Aden, Oman, Cyprus, and Malay, and which had at one time been decried most vehemently by our national leaders, were used by us against some of our own people in the post-independence era. One hopes that Indian government would not allow use of such outdated colonial military strategies while dealing with our own ethnic minorities who have not been able to finally settle their terms of political association with India. The problem is that in the nation's internal wars against terrorists and insurgents, it is very often not the culpable segment of the population that suffers the most. Those who had set up insurrections in Nagaland, Mizoram, Tripura, Manipur and Assam soon became fleeting, elusive shapes, like the phosphorescent creatures of the deep ocean, directing their confused struggles from the safety of foreign sanctuaries, while the village folk, most of whom knew very little about anything, have borne the brunt of an exasperated, and often clueless, system of governance.

  7. Ray

    Ray The Chairman Defence Professionals Moderator

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    Appendix I

    Text of Mizo National Front’s Declaration of 1966

    In the course of human history it becomes invariably necessary for mankind to assume their social, economic and political status to which the Law of Nature and Nature's God entitles them. We hold this truth to be self-evident that all men are created equal, and that they are endowed with inalienable fundamental human rights and dignity of human person; and to secure these rights governments are instituted among men deriving their just power from the consent of the governed and whenever any form of Government become destructive of this end, it is the right of the people to alter, change, modify and abolish it and to institute a new government and laying its foundation on such principles and organising its power in such forms as to them shall see most likely to effect their rights and dignity. The Mizo, created and moulded into a nation and nurtured as such by Nature's God have been intolerably dominated by the people of India in contravention of the Law of Nature.

    The leaders of the Mizo Nation had, many a time, verbally and in writing, put forward to the Government of India their desire of self-determination for creation of free and independent Mizoram for bringing about protection of Human Rights and Dignity, which the Mizo, by nature, ought to have, but the Government of India, violating the Charter of the United nations and its Universal Declaration of Human Rights re-affirmed in the Principles of Bandung Conference, have ignored the voice of the Mizo people and determined to continue domination and colonisation ruling over us with tyranny and despotism by instituting self-designed administrative machinery with which they endeavour to mislead the world to win their confidence.

    Our people are despised, persecuted, tortured, manhandled and murdered without displaying justice while they preach and profess before us and throughout the world that they have instituted for us a separate administrative set up in conformity with the principles of Democracy. To conceal their evil and selfish design, religious assimilation and Hindu indoctrination they preach to have established which we cannot accept as it leads to suppression of Christianity.

    To prove this, let facts be submitted to the candid world:

    1. They have instituted government to rule over us in our own country without any respect for Human Rights and Dignity even in the face of the present candid world which is committed to these rights and dignity.

    2. They have been pursuing a policy of exploitative measures in their attempt to wipe Christianity, sole religion, and no consideration has ever been paid to our national way of life,

    3. They have been preaching throughout the world as if they have instituted a separate administrative machinery in conformity with the principles of Democracy to conceal their policy of degeneration of our national morality and of assimilation while what had been instituted for us is a pattern of Colonial administration.

    4. They refuse not only to procure supply of food and arrange other forms of assistance in times of famine, but also prohibited us from seeking and receiving assistance from friendly countries, which resulted in the death of many people.

    5. They have established a multitude of offices and sent hitherto swarms of Indian officers, who had an immoral life, cruelly appeasing our womenfolk to commit immorality with them by taking advantage of their official capacity and of the position they occupy in the administrative machinery.

    6. Taking the advantage of economic frustration of the people they subject us to economic slavery and force us to enter into the door of poverty.

    7. Curbing freedom of expression, our patriots are arrested and kept in jails without displaying any form of justice.

    8. The export facility which we used to enjoy before the pre-Indian domination has been totally closed.

    9. Without exploring our country's economic resources in agriculture, industries and mining and giving no consideration for their development, they maintain suppressive measures against our economic right.

    10. Realising the importance of our country to India in its defence strategy, the Government of India is establishing military bases throughout our country and thereby creating an atmosphere of cold war while nothing is done for its economic and social development.

    11. Inspite of our repeated appeal for peaceful settlement of our rightful and legitimate demand for full self-determination, the Government of India is bringing exploitative and suppressive measures employing their military might and waging war against us as done in the case of the Nagas and the Kashmiris.

    12. Owing to absence of medical facilities in our countries, our people died without having medical treatment and attention.

    For these and all other innumerable causes, we declare to the candid world that India is unworthy and unfit to rule over the civilised Mizo people who are created and moulded into a nation and nurtured a such and endowed with territorial integrity by Nature and Nature's God.

    We, therefore, the representatives of Mizo people, meeting on this day, the first of March, in the year of our Lord, 1966, appealing to the supreme Judge of the World for the rectitude of our intention so, in the name and by the authority of the good people of this country, solemnly publish and declare, that Mizoram is, and of right ought to be, free and independent, that they are absolved from all allegiance to India and its Parliament and all politica1 connections between them and Government of India is and ought to be dissolved and that as a free and independent state, they have full power to levy war, conclude peace, contract alliances, establish commerce and to do all other Acts and Things which Independent state may of right. And for the support of this Declaration, we mutually pledge to each other with a firm reliance on the Protection of Divine Providence, our lives, our fortunes, and our sacred Honour. We appeal to all freedom loving nations and individuals to uphold Human Rights and Dignity and to extend help to the Mizo people for realisation of our rightful and legitimate demand for self-determination. We appeal also to all independent countries to give recognition to the Independence of Mizoram.

    V.S. Jafa serves in the Indian Administrative Service (IAS) and is a former Chief Secretary of Assam. He studied the Northern Ireland conflict as a Visiting Fellow at the University of Oxford (1986 87); as John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Fellow and a Visiting Fellow at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (1988 89), he researched the revolutionary, ethnic and religious roots of violence, counter insurgency and counter terrorism in the context of the theory and practice of conflict resolution. He is a lso a Consulting Editor with FAULTLINES

    See Walter Laqueur, Guerrilla: A Historical and Critical Study (Boston: Little Brown, 1976), p. 8; also see Lewis H. Gann, Guerrilla in History (Hoover Institution Press, Stanford, 1971).
    EISENSTADT, S.N., "Cultural Orientations and center-periphery in Europe in a comparative perspective" in Per Torsvik, (Ed.), Mobilization, Center-Periphery Structures and Nation-Building (Bergen: Universitetsforlaget, 1981), p. 96.
    LIJPHART, Arend, Democracy in Plural Societies (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1977), p. 165. According to Lijphart, consociational democracy "assumes that political elites enjoy a high degree of freedom of choice, and that they may resort to consociational methods of decision-making as a result of the rational recognition of the centrifugal tendencies inherent in plural societies and a deliberate effort to counteract these dangers."
    HOROWITZ, Donald L., Ethnic Groups in Conflict (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1985), p. 578.
    FOLTZ, William J., "Building the Newest Nations", in Roger E. Kasperson and Julian V. Minghi, edited, The Structure of Political Geography (Chicago: Aldine Publishing Company, 1969), p. 285.
    GILL, K P S, "Endgame in Punjab – 1989-93", Faultlines, Volume 1.1, New Delhi: ICM-Bulwark, 1999, p. 62.
    See Morris Janowitz, Military Institutions and Coercion in the Developing Nations (Chicago: Chicago University Press, 1964, 1977, pp. 36-37. According to him Indian para-military forces doubled from 100,000 in 1966 to 200,000 in 1974. The total strength of Central para-military and State armed police forces now exceeds the one million mark.
    Concluding paragraph of MARX, Karl and ENGELS, Frederick, Communist Manifesto, first published in 1848.
    "Program of the Communist International" (1928), Handbook of Marxism, edited by Emile Burns (Moscow: International Publishers, 1935) pp. 1034-35.
    Selected Writings of Mao-Tse-tung, (Peking, 1968), Chapter entitled "A single spark can start a prairie fire", p. 72.
    MCGARVEY, Patrick J., Visions of Victory: Selected Vietnamese Communist Writings 1964-68, Stanford, 1969, p. 40.
    LAQUEUR, Walter, Guerrilla: A Historical and Critical Study, Boston: Little Brown, 1976, pp. 268-269.
    TOWNSHEND, Charles, Britain's Civil Wars: Counterinsurgency in Twentieth Century London: Faber and Faber, 1986, p. 14.
    LAQUEUR, op.cit., pp. 330-331.
    GUEVARA, Che, Guerrilla Warfare, Widenfield & Nicholson, (London, 1969), p.9.
    CALLWELL, C.E., Small Wars: Their Principles and Practice, His Majesty's Stationery Office, 1896.
    GWYNN, Sir Charles, Imperial Policing, Macmillan, London, 1934, p. 38.
    CLAUSEWITZ, Karl von, On War, edited by Michael Howard and Peter Paret, New Jersey: Princeton University Press, 1976.
    THOMPSON, Sir Robert, Countering Communist Insurgency, London, Chatto and Windus, 1966.
    David Galula, Counterinsurgency Warfare: Theory and Practice, New York: Praeger, 1964.
    PUSHTAY, J.S., Counter-insurgency Warfare, New York: Free Press, 1965.
    McCUEN, J.J., The Art of Counter-Revolutionary War, London: Faber and Faber, 1966.
    BLAUFARB, D.S., The Counterinsurgency Era: US Doctrine and Performance, New York: Free Press, 1977, p. 217.
    A famous Washington Post cartoon during the 1960s showed President Johnson exclaiming: "We are there only in an advisory capacity and only last week we dropped fifty thousand tons of advise."
    DIXON, Norman, On the Psychology of Military Incompetence, New York: Basic Books, 1976, p. 21.
    BECKETT, Ian F. W., and PIMLOTT, John, edited, Armed Forces and Modern Counter-Insurgency, New York, St. Martin's Press, 1985, p. 10.
    US Army-Air Force Joint Low-Intensity Conflict Project, 1987.
    STONE, I. F., In a Time of Torment, New York, Basic Books, 1968, pp. 173-174.
    THOMPSON, op.cit., 1966), pp. 50-57.
    BECKETT & PIMLOTT, op.cit., p. 24.
    This has been adapted from Beckett & Pimlott, Ibid., pp. 16-45. The British army's training manual, Land Operations, Volume III, Counter-Revolutionary Operations (1975) sets out the following measures for conducting such wars: (1) passing of emergency regulations to facilitate the conduct of a campaign; (2) political, social and economic measures designed to gain popular support and counter or surpass anything offered by the insurgents; (3) setting up of an effective organization for joint civil and military control at all levels; (4) the forming of an effective, integrated and nationwide intelligence organization; (5) strengthening of indigenous police and armed forces so that their loyalty is beyond question; (6) control measures designed to isolate the insurgents from the population.
    KITSON, Frank, Low Intensity Operations, Harrisburg, PA: Stackpole Books, 1971.
    AHMAD, Ekbal, ‘Revolutionary Warfare and Counterinsurgency’ in Gerard Chaliand, edited, Guerrilla Strategies: A Historical Anthology from the Long March to Afghanistan, Berkley: University of California Press, 1982, p. 260. This is an extract from National Liberation and Revolution, edited by N. Miller and E. Aya, New York: The Free Press, 1970.
    According to Samuel P. Huntington, professionalisation of military men contributes to and in fact ensures their political neutrality. See Political Order in Changing Societies, New Haven: Yale University Press, 1968.
    See Alfred Vagts, The History of Militarism, New York: W.W. Norton, 1937.
    Cited in Morris Janowitz, Military Institutions and Coercion in the Developing Nations, Chicago: Chicago University Press, 1964, 1977, pp. 187-88.
    Chapters 11 to 16 of Donald L. Horowitz, Ethnic Groups in Conflict, University of California Press, 1985.
    GILL, op. cit., p. 59.
    See Appendix I for Text.
    A Planning Commission Study Team under the Chairmanship of Tarlok Singh, which visited Mizoram in February 1966, also recommended resettlement of villages for the purpose of development. The Team was of the view that about 1000 hamlets with a population of 100 were dispersed all over the district and the provision of schools, medical care and water supply for all of them would be difficult unless they were grouped together along the main roads. This was on the lines of resettlement carried out in east Africa during the early 1960s. It is interesting to note that the Planning Commission did not recommend similar strategies of development for equally dispersed populations in Arunachal Pradesh, J&K, and Himachal Pradesh. It appeared to some that the army in Mizoram had done an excellent PR job.

    The grouping will cover Aizawl-Serchhip, Aizawl-Vairengte and Serchhip-Lungleh roads in three phases;
    Rations, iron sheets for roofing etc. would intially be provided by the army and the cost reimbursed by the Government of Assam;
    The villages would be rendered uninhabitable after the v1illagers had shifted to the new centers with their belongings;
    Rations will be provided free to all villagers. As the villagers would need, in addition to rations, some money to bu1y other necessities of life, all able-bodied villagers would be engaged on road construction work; the rules for payment of wages would be liberalised so that payment of wages could be made as frequently as possible;
    The villagers would be allowed to keep their crop produce with them even after they moved to the centers. Also suitable precautions would be taken to ensure that stocks left behind did not fall into the hands of the hostiles;
    The army would complete the grouping by the end of February 1967 and hand over the administration of the newly created group centers to the civil authorities by the first week of April 1967. At the time the centers are handed over to the civil administration, they would have stocks of food for 15 days and medical supplies for one month to tide over the transition problems;
    Among other arrangements at the new centers, adequate educational facilities and places of congregational worship would be provided;
    When the responsibility for the administration of the grouped villages is made over to the civil administration, the Government of Assam would make arrangements for supply of food and other essential articles to the villagers, as well as as the transport for moving these materials. Army would, however, provide for their safe escort;
    The civil administrators and staff including the medical officers would be carefully selected and placed in position well in time to take over the administration from the army;
    Measures for agricultural development, utilization of land near group centers for cultivation and establishment of subsidiary industries should receive the highest priority;
    The GOC-in-C Eastern Command would brief selected press correspondents about the implication of the scheme. They might also be allowed subsequently to visit the Mizo Hills district to see things for themselves so that they could project a correct and balanced picture;
    In view of the fact that the majority of the population to be moved were Christians, the operations should commence only after Christmas 1967 and the New Year day.
    There were broadly three reasons why so many people surrendered without arms. One, those who surrendered without arms were mostly from the Mizo National Volunteer Force who were not allotted any weapons because there were not so many weapons to go around. They were, however, free to carry weapons which they had themselves bought from the illegal arms market or captured from the Security Forces. Secondly, those who were suspected of being potential deserters were deprived of their weapons. And, lastly, many hid their arms in the jungles before surrendering to be able to go back to fighting if the resettlement terms offered by the government were not suitable.
    The majority of ex-rebels I interviewed told me that at least half of the total MNA force would have surrendered with arms, and the back of the insurgency would have been effectively broken, if the cash rewards were about five times of what was offered. The reason given was that higher cash rewards would have increased the financial security and the means to make a fresh beginning in life; nobody who had taken to arms wanted to return to a life of poverty and deprivation.
    Malaya veteran Sir Robert Thompson headed the British Advisory Mission in Vietnam from 1961 to 1965.
    THOMPSON, R., Defeating Communist Insurgency, London, Chatto and Windus, 1970, p. 124.
    U.S. army officer, in R. Marston, "Resettlement as a Counter-Revolutionary echnique", Journal of the Royal United Services Institute, Vol. 124, No. 4, 1979, pp. 46-49.
    HUNTINGTON, Samuel P., Political Order in Changing Societies, New Haven: Yale University Press, 1968, p. 42.
    In the event of such treatment being meted out to the Blacks, Indians (they have been confined to reservations for three centuries) and the Inuits, it would not in all probability inspire a strong public outcry in the USA, as would perhaps happen in the case of the whites, if they were to be herded, hypothetically speaking, in a concentration camp. As the situation stands today, a crime committed by an individual `black' is construed by the white majority as a serious reflection on the whole community. A crime committed by a white does not lend itself to similar construction. The dangers of such a situation should be obvious in all multi-ethnic societies.
    The preface to the British army's training manual - Land Operations, Volume III - Counter-Revolutionary Operations states that between World War II and 1 January, 1969 Britain's armed forces were engaged in no less than 53 `counter-revolutionary actions' in different parts of the world. These military interventions were mainly to repress social unrest, workers' strikes, national independence movements and struggles, and some even democratic movements to throw out autocratic rulers. On the basis of this vast experience, the manual sets out its approach for handling similar situations in other overseas territories. One of the important techniques set out in the manual is `control measures to isolate the insurgents from popular control.' But this strategy to isolate the insurgents has been used against non-British, and mostly third world, populations outside the British isles. It has not been resorted to in Northern Ireland.
    Acknowledgement for this excerpt is due to my wife, Jyoti Jafa, who recorded this conversation in her Mizo Hills diary. The identity of the officer remains undisclosed for obvious reasons.

    Counterinsurgency Warfare: The Use & Abuse of Military Forces
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    Ray The Chairman Defence Professionals Moderator

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    Interesting read.

    Any comments?
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    Ray The Chairman Defence Professionals Moderator

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    Anatomy of an Insurgency
    Ethnicity & Identity in Nagaland
    Sushil K. Pillai*

    The unrest in Nagaland is rooted, not in the classic factors of deprivation or social injustice, but in a deep fear of the loss of both ethnicity and identity; and it is this fear that animates one of the most serious insurgencies in India’s Northeast. Unfortunately, a superficial understanding of the nature of identity and ethnicity has often led to serious lapses of judgement by policy makers, and these have exacerbated the problem over time.

    Ethnographic literature abounds in social theories and definitions of identity and ethnicity. The earlier concepts of identity and ethnicity were simplistic. Both factors, in reality are multi-dimensional, and complex. They have now been politicised and are viewed by the ethnic groups concerned, as resources to be mobilised for political advantage.1 There is also a view that ethnicity is a colonial construct. Julian Jacobs, in ‘The Nagas’, writes ‘Administrators and ethnographers shared a common interest in classifying things in a certain way…(and later)... the British over a period of time ‘created’ the Naga tribes as relatively fixed groups’.

    Identity was considered as the collective sum of the unique qualities and beliefs of a people, while ethnicity was the sense of belonging to a definable group of people with a common origin and ancestry. The former flowed from the latter.

    It was this simple and easily understandable approach that was taken by A.Z. Phizo (1900-1990), the charismatic Naga leader, to convince the many Naga tribes that they were in fact one people who were totally different from Indians. Hence they would be swamped by the plainsmen, culturally and economically if they remained a part of India.

    Today, identity is considered the outcome of complex and changing influences.2 Lange and Westin3 view identity as a multi-dimensional concept which has two aspects – social and personal identity. The former concerns the definition of an individual, in this case the definition of the Nagas by the early British administrators and missionaries, by the plainsmen of Assam and by other tribes. Personal identity on the other hand is a definition of oneself either as an individual or as a member of a sub-ethnic group eg, as an Ao defines himself in relation to a Khiamniungan, or as a villager of Chanki defines himself in relation to a villager of Longsa.

    Ethnicity, unlike Identity defines a people by their common ancestry, physical attributes, language, and geographical origin.4 These being easily recognisable and objective, one would expect lesser complexity in its concept, but this is far from the case. Here too, there are changes in perception. The Kukis were once considered Nagas. Indeed, a Kuki was a signatory to the Memorandum submitted in 1929 to the Simon Commission by the Naga Club, a group of 20 Nagas who made a representation against being bracketed with any Indian area in the proposed Reformed Scheme of India.5 This group represented the Naga intelligentsia of that time and was largely composed of interpreters. Today, the Kukis in Manipur are fiercely pitched against one of the Naga insurgent groups, the National Socialist Council of Nagaland–Isak-Muivah Group (NSCN-IM) who do not consider them to be Nagas. Implicit in the concept of ethnicity is the presence of ‘The Other", and this is constantly redefined.

    For our purpose, without entering into academic controversies, ‘Identity’ means a body of shared beliefs, attitudes, customs and institutions which in totality combine to make a regional culture. These beliefs manifest themselves differently in varying situations. By ‘Ethnicity’ is meant the sense of belonging to a group with a common ancestry and geographical origin and sharing common customs, values and traditions. The structure of this group is dynamic. Factors of geography, land ownership, culture, history, politics and above all powerful tribal personalities influence the constant voluntary groupings and de-groupings taking place.

    Naga Ethnicity

    Ironically, the term ‘Naga’6 is a name given to them by outsiders on the basis of 14 shared physical and cultural traits.7 Many of the tribe names too have been given by outsiders and accepted by the tribes themselves till recently – an example of ‘acquiring a social identity given to them by others’, Angami, Kacha Naga, Kalyo Kengnyu are not the original names of these tribes. The traditional name of the Angamis is Tengima or Tenyimia,8 the Kalyo Kengnyu are actually Khiamniungans and the Kacha Nagas were variously called Kabui, and Rongmai, till they merged with the Zemei and Lingmai tribes to form a new tribal identity – the Zeliangrong.

    On the other hand, the Pochurys have separated from the Chakesangs, which is a composite of the Chakri, Kheza sub-tribes and a branch of the Sangtams. This flux is also reflected in personal names. Today many Nagas are replacing their tribal surnames by their clan names such as Aiyer, Longkhumer, while many Khiamniungans have started to use only their first names like Khongo, Sedem, Hai, or descriptive names like Thangnyem Hoklai (Hangnyem-the-long-legged).

    Certainly in the 19th and early 20th Centuries there was no generic consciousness amongst the tribes themselves. This was reported in various British Expedition accounts from 1832 onwards9 and is also mentioned in the Naga Memorandum to the Simon Commission in 1929 ("...we have..different languages which cannot be understood by each other…we have no unity amongst us, and it is only the British Government that is holding us now"). While an awareness of a common bonding was always present, tribes and villages fought each other in the same way that the princely states of India fought each other though bonded by a common culture and religion. Naga ethnicity as an expression of a united Naga consciousness was a much later phenomenon.

    There is considerable debate about the number of Naga tribes. In the 19th Century this was a socio-anthropological question. It is now firmly a political one. Even so there are variations. Asoso Yonuo in ‘Rising Nagas’ mentions 50 tribes, while B.P. Singh in ‘Problems of Change’ mentions 8 distinct tribes and 31 sub-tribes (obviously only within India). Panger Imchen in his ‘Ancient Ao Naga Religion and Culture’ writes of 50 Naga tribes of which only 14 are in Nagaland.

    Generally, the working figure is 35 Naga tribes, 17 of which are in Nagaland (Census of India, 1991), the remainder living in Manipur, Arunachal Pradesh and Myanmar.10 In the 1961 Census, there were 14 Listed Tribes and in 1981, 16 Listed Tribes.11 This illustrates the dynamic and evolutionary nature of ethnicity.

    The number of tribes has increased because earlier erroneous classifications have been rectified, and also due to internal tribal dynamics. There is an awareness now of the political benefits that accrue from being classified as a tribe. The growth of sub-tribalism has also taken place since Independence. K.S. Singh, retired Director General of the Anthropological Survey of India wryly remarks in the magnum opus of his Directorate, The People of India, "Perceptions appear to be amorphous, fluid, changing all the time. Therefore lists vary from Census to Census and no two lists are exactly comparable."12

    The mosaic of Naga ethnicity becomes more complex when the tribes in Myanmar are also considered. The Konyaks in Northern Nagaland are cognates of the Heimies of Upper Burma. S.S. (Robert) Khaplang, the leader of the second dominant insurgent group, the NSCN(K), is a Heimei. The Khiamniungans are kin to the Nagas of the Thesang district in the Hkampti area of Upper Chindwin where they are known as Para. The same Naga and Mizo tribes bestride the political boundaries of India and Myanmar.

    According to Isak Swu (a Sema), Chairman NSCN(IM), Nagaland extends to the Chindwin in Myanmar and down the Manipur valley to the Kuki area, an extent of 47,000 square miles with a population of 2.5 million. This was expanded by an additional 10,000 square miles with a population of 3 million in a speech delivered by him at Geneva in July 1993 at the UN Committee for Indigenous Peoples and Human Rights.13 This perception is however not shared by all Eastern Naga (Myanmar) tribes who have closer affiliations with the Kachins. As Bertil Lintner points out, in some areas in Myanmar, as at Kesan Chanlam, the NSCN(IM) had to forcibly establish themselves amongst the Naga tribes there and convert them to Christianity.14

    Two surprising factors stand out regarding Naga ethnicity. Despite legends of migration westwards into India from various parts of South East Asia, none of the Naga origin myths are located in distant lands. They originate from caves (the Tikhirs), stones (Angamis, Aos) or the sky (Wui village) which are roughly in or near their present tribal areas. The Khiamniungans show a unique difference, which is strangely reflected in their independent approach to insurgency. Their origin myth is linked to a Great Flood and their expansion is eastwards into Myanmar. Are they autochthons?

    From the points of origin, the migrations are recorded in great detail in oral memory, though often at variance with other tribes. The Aos have a meticulous count of their generations (one generation ‘putu’ = 30 years), tracing their history back 500 years, after which their accounts merge with legends. South West of the Ao area live the Khiamniungans who point to a long line of spaced out trees and groves (Lamkuilui) going all the way upto Chare village which indicates the migration route taken by the Aos. The Aos scoff at this and have their own legend of crossing the Dikhu river first, from whence they have got their name (‘Aor’ – the ones who went ahead).15

    A caveat must be sounded here. Folklore with its many variations provides enough latitude to fit in with anyone’s pet theory. Which is why centuries later when Phizo talked of profound ethnic differences even with neighbouring tribes in India and Myanmar, no one questioned him.

    The second unusual factor is that despite the great diversity amongst cognate tribes with no common language except for Nagamese (a patois of Assamese and words from various Naga languages), lack of literacy, different economic conditions and religious beliefs in Myanmar and India, Phizo was able to ignite a Pan-Naga nationalism, albeit stronger in India than in Myanmar.

    Naga ethnicity struck a ready and deep chord amongst the various tribes even though some of its roots lay not in the feeling of commonality but in the desire to be left alone. There was also a deep distrust of the 'Indians' (consisting of Hindus and Muslims, according to Phizo).16 India, that vast heterogeneity, was homogenised in Naga consciousness as an exploitative, unpleasant stereotype.

    The Anatomy of Ethnicity

    Naga ethnicity was built up through a series of developments. The Naga Hills District was formed in 1866 as part of Assam. The promulgation of the Inner Line Regulation in 1873 restricted contact of outsiders with the Nagas. This was to protect the tribal from exploitation, mainly from traders. But exclusion or inclusion of a people with the mainstream is always double-edged.

    While it did serve its purpose, it had a negative fallout. The area continued to be unfamiliar to most of the Indian intelligentsia except for the hand picked members of Indian Frontier Administrative Service (IFAS) which was raised in 1957. Officers like N. F. Suntook and ‘ Bob’ Kathing became legends as effective administrators. Their deep love and empathy for the Nagas was warmly reciprocated. This is an important point. Whenever dealings with the Nagas were conducted with fairness, empathy and respect for their customs, they always responded in equal measure. There was a sharp drop in standards when the IFAS was wound up and replaced by five separate cadres of the Indian Administrative Service (IAS) in the latter half of the 1960s.

    The ‘Inner Line’ system of 1873 was reiterated under the Home Rule regime introduced by the Government of India Act of 1935, in which the Naga Hills District was declared an ‘Excluded Area’. This placed it outside the control of the Assam Provincial Legislature. No responsibility was, consequently, imposed on the then Congress Ministry of Assam for the development of the Naga Hills, or for any untoward disturbances in that district.

    The establishment of the Naga Club17 was followed by the setting up of Lotha and Ao Tribal Councils in 1923 and 1928, respectively. In 1929, the Naga Club presented a Memorandum to the Simon Commission expressing their unwillingness to merge with India. Thereafter, a Naga Hills District Tribal Council was formed in 1945 by the Deputy Commisoner C.R. Pawsey, ostensibly for post-war relief and rehabilitation work. This soon became a political organisation, as awareness of the struggle for Independence in India and Myanmar grew. On February 2, 1946, it became the Naga National Council (NNC). It had 29 members but was not representative of all the Naga tribes. It became the ‘dominant minority’ which profoundly influenced Naga political aspirations – a portent of things to come.

    T. Aliba Imti, an Ao, then Joint Secretary of the Tribal Council recalls the questions18 that faced its members:

    What were the Nagas going to do when the British left India?
    What is the future of the Nagas?
    Are we Indians?
    Are we not a part of India? What will be our future provisions?
    What are our safeguards?
    Where do we stand in the future?
    The questions raised by Aliba Imti were discussed but the answers were not unanimous. Some favoured independence, others an autonomous status in Free India, while yet others desired Protectorate status under the British Government for a specified period of time. The Government of Assam responded with a characteristically bureaucratic decision in forbidding Government servants from becoming members of the NNC. This may have been appropriate elsewhere in the country but not in the Naga Hills. Since the bulk of the intelligentsia were Government servants, it excluded their views in the NNC discussions, which were consequently dominated by Phizo and his supporters. This was the first in a series of errors made by the Assam Administration due to lack of understanding and sensitivity of the tribal ethos. It illustrates how very serious problems arise when a Government is not sufficiently aware of the strength of ethnicity and lacks the institutions to deal with it. Reliance on ad hoc Committees, Commissions and Core Groups rather than on permanent, dedicated organisations providing continuity and forward planning, is a faultline that runs through the iron framework of Indian bureaucracy.

    No attempt was made to allay the fears of the Nagas on crucial issues raised by them. The Nagas felt that a Constitution drawn up by a people with no knowledge about the Naga way of life, and their merger with four hundred million Indians, would wipe them out. There were also strong apprehensions about the ownership of community-land and the security of land tenure. The Nagas also feared interference with their traditional methods of livelihood and customs. Similar fears also haunted the Mizos; but because Mizo society was much more homogenous than that of the Nagas, there was greater assurance among them, and their fears were not as magnified.

    Strangely, Phizo raised the issue of colour. This is echoed by Tajenyuba in his 'British Occupation of the Naga Country’. He writes "Nagas favoured white people who were working as missionaries and administrators among the Nagas for many years, than the people of black colour found in the plains." Not having ever come across colour prejudice in Nagaland, I am not too sure whether this was just an emotive issue artificially whipped up to give a sense of separateness to the Nagas.

    In June 1947, a Nine Point Agreement was signed between the Government of Assam and the NNC giving considerable autonomy to the Nagas, safeguarding their customary laws and ensuring that there would be no alienation from their land and forests. The Agreement was not referred to the Sub-Committee of the Constituent Assembly. This caused Phizo to distrust Indian motives. An ambiguous Clause 9 regarding a choice for the renewal or re-negotiating a new Agreement after a ten-year period and Clause 6 regarding the return of certain Forest Areas transferred to Assam were picked up by extremist elements under Phizo who were playing the Ethnicity card. Phizo declared Naga independence from India on August 14, 1947. He thus took the ultimate step in the assertion of Naga ethnicity by rejecting the authority of the Indian State as the rightful and legitimate representative of the Nagas. To the separatists this also morally legitimized Naga insurgency.

    A power struggle between a separatist Phizo and a moderate Aliba Imti took place within the NNC culminating in Phizo’s resignation from the NNC in 1949. He rejoined later and by a series of shrewd moves was elected by a majority of one vote as President of the NNC in December 1950. The tussle between the Moderates and Separatists was over. Ethnicity has both an internal and external dynamic.

    In 1951 Phizo organised a controversial plebiscite in the Naga Hills District19 to ascertain whether the Nagas favoured independence or merger with India. He claimed that 99% Nagas were in favour of Independence. The plebiscite was held only in the Kohima and Mokokchung Districts (though this is not known to most Nagas today). The Tuensang Division, then a part of Northeast Frontier Agency (NEFA), with its roughly 150,000 Naga population, was unaware of the plebiscite at that time, and women were not included in the voting.20 The fact, nevertheless, is that most Nagas now believe in the validity of this ‘plebiscite’.

    Once again due to bureaucratic and political insensitivity, the plebiscite was ignored by the Administration, possibly on the grounds that it was too absurd to be even taken note of. Moreover, Phizo was not to be given any importance. But Phizo was impossible to ignore, especially since there was no alternative leadership to present a point of view that effectively countered Phizo’s claims that:

    The white Government has gone; a black Government has come. This government will take away your land; they will tax your houses, your cows; your pigs will be counted and you will be asked to pay according to the number of pigs you keep. You will not be allowed to drink. Do you want such a Government or Independence? If you are independent you will enjoy life as we had before the British came.21
    Alienation is the constant companion of politicised ethnicity. In the case of Nagaland, all the facets of alienation – cultural, bureaucratic and political – were operative. As with the other North Eastern insurgencies, a certain section of the population did not identify itself with India and its aspirations. An active dislike or at best a grudging tolerance for the Security Forces was widespread in large tracts of Nagaland.

    One of the causes of alienation was a general feeling amongst the Nagas that unlike the foreign missionaries, the Indian church and social workers did not come forward to work amongst them. Only wily traders came. Though there was not much contact with the plains apart from trade, the Inner Line restricted movement. The Roman Catholic Church which was largely staffed by Indians was allowed to practice in Nagaland much later in 1973. A group of Sisters was permitted to serve the sick at Kohima from 1948 onwards. They were, however, forbidden to exercise any pastoral ministry due to the strong presence of the Baptist Church. The Baptists were the first to bring Christianity to the Nagas. Today, 92.48% of the population is Christian, of whom 99% are Baptists. The Baptists resisted efforts of the Roman Catholic Church on theological grounds. By mid-1967, the hiatus between the two had widened and led to an indecorous sectarian controversy, which was fortunately resolved soon after. A remnant of the controversy is reflected in the Constitution of the NFG which states that Baptist Christianity and Naga religion are alone recognised by the Nagas.22

    A few other individuals who were interested in the Nagas also contributed their mite. In 1955, the Nagaland Gandhi Ashram was established at Chuchuyimlang by Natwarbhai Thakkar who has spent most of his life in the service of the Nagas. He was awarded the 1994 Indira Gandhi Award for National Integration. There were a few well-intentioned though woolly-headed people too, like Triloknath Purwar, a social worker from UP and Harish Chandola, a journalist, who attempted to mediate between the Government and the insurgents, earning the Government's displeasure by being ‘excessively sympathetic’ to the separatist cause. Their efforts came to naught, and their contributions, no doubt, pale before the dedicated work done by the early American Baptist missionaries since 1876.

    It was not only the Indian Administration that made mistakes. The Nagas also hurt a few of their friends (including Nehru) due to their obstinacy and mishandling of events.23

    Nevertheless, it took five years after Independence for the insurgency to boil over into violence. An Assam Rifles patrol was ambushed in 1953. Thereafter, stray shooting incidents increased. In September 1954, Phizo announced the formation of the ‘People’s Sovereign Republic of Free Nagaland’ popularly known as the Hongkin Government. A hitherto unknown person with the exotic sounding name of Hongkin was proclaimed as President. It was short-lived. Two years later, this Government was replaced by a ‘Naga Federal Government’ (NFG).

    To the best of my knowledge a story about the Hongkin Government has not appeared in print so far, but everyone in Nagaland still chuckles about it.24 It bears telling to illustrate how an ethnic movement can be built up around fact and fiction. Hongkin in the Chang dialect means ‘Foreigner-out!’ Hongkin is also the name of a Gaon Bura (headman) of the Khiamniungan village of Noku. He was 62 when I first met him in 1961and was still as alert when I met him again in 1993. He recollects the day Phizo visited his village in 1954. "He gave me a tie and a suit to wear and took photographs of me. He then told me that he was appointing me as President of a Naga State but I was not to tell this to the Indians." Thereafter Hongkin added indignantly "He then took back the suit and didn’t even leave behind the tie!" The NNC started collecting taxes and laying ambushes in his name while Hongkin went about his life undisturbed.

    Violence increased. By June 1955, a rift between Phizo’s extremist group and the moderates had widened and inter-faction assassinations commenced. Those opposed to Phizo were assassinated, prominent among them being the brilliant T. Sakhire, Dr. Imkongliba and ‘General’ Kaito Sema, one-time Defence Minister. The NNC, however, was coming under pressure both from Burma and India. Phizo’s wife was taken into custody. Placing Phizo in a coffin, his followers spirited him to the Zeliang Naga area and thence to Dacca on December 6, 1956. He was fully supported by Pakistan. Phizo felt that he would be able to further the cause of Naga Independence, both internationally and regionally, by operating from well outside both India and Burma. The Pakistani Government arranged for an El Salvador passport for him, and he reached Zurich in May 1959. Rev. Michael Scott, who was once a member of the Peace Mission along with Jay Prakash Narayan, helped Phizo get to London on June 20, 1960. Meanwhile, between 1957 and 1960, three Naga Peoples’ Conventions (NPCs) were held, the last attended by 3,000 delegates, seeking a peaceful solution to the Naga problem. The NNC was against this, and did not participate. The consequence of the NPCs was the announcement of the grant of Statehood to Nagaland by the Lok Sabha in August 1960. Nagaland attained full Statehood on December 1, 1963. Phizo, however, was never to return to India. On his death in April 1990, his body was brought back to Nagaland, and his funeral was attended by the largest gathering Kohima had ever seen. On the occasion J.B. Jasokie, a former Chief Minister of Nagaland said, "His greatest achievement was the change he brought about in political life of the Nagas, which he accomplished by awakening the political consciousness of the Naga people."25 Phizo was indeed the most dynamic personality to stride the Naga scene during his time. He gave form to Naga ethnicity and moulded it into a strong force that ultimately resulted in the formation of India’s 16th State. It was in July 1960 that a 16 Point Proposal was agreed to by the Government of India and the NPC, and this became the basis for the creation of the State of Nagaland on 1 December, 1963. Violence, however, continued, as some splinter groups sought complete independence. The Shillong Agreement of November 11, 1975 resulted in the NFG and NNC accepting the Constitution of India and agreeing to lay down arms. Once again a splinter group did not accept the Agreement and continued its violence against the State.

    It is important, in the context of what was to happen later, to reiterate Nehru’s farsighted views, outlined during discussions on Statehood for Nagaland:

    The traditional machinery of Naga self-governance at village, range and tribal levels should be strengthened. He even suggested that tribal names be given to the Legislative Assembly and to the Council of Ministers.
    A top heavy Administrative system as in other states would be wasteful if adopted in Nagaland. The Nagas should be allowed to develop on their own lines and select an organisation with tribal roots.26
    Wise words, if only they had been followed when Nagaland was constituted. Among the Naga intelligentsia, there were many like Dr. A. Lanununsang, an eminent sociologist and ex-President of the Naga Scholar's Society, who recommended that the electoral system should be allowed to evolve from the old quasi-democratic Councils (Ho-Ho – a Sema word) in which representatives were nominated by the villagers to the village councils and thereafter elected from among these, to tribal and State levels.27 During an interview, S.C. Jamir, the Chief Minister mentioned to me, "Panditji kept asking us if we really wanted the adult franchise system. Why could we not select something more traditional?"28

    It was not only Nehru who voiced the need for an indigenous polity. Jairamdas Daulatram as Governor of Assam had also warned in 1951, "The Nagas should not be forced to practice the adult franchise system... The minute they are forced to go with the Indian system of election, their society will be divided into pieces and their cultural heritage, tradition and identity will disappear."

    Haimendorf similarly speaks of the dangers of29 the imposition of a top-heavy bureaucracy " the long run the local economy will be unable to carry the administrative and educational superstructure which is now being built up with outside funds provided by the Central Government."

    What is amazing is that despite these grave warnings, Nagaland and the Centre chose to give the Naga Government its present form, and this has had serious effects on Naga identity. Visier Sanyu, an Angami historian points out, "...the nature of political activities were (sic) mainly responsible for the emergence of the bourgeoisie… all this led to social stratification based on material strength. The exploitation of the Nagas by their fellow tribesmen commenced speedily, for the first time Naga millionaires came into existence ... the newly imposed government led to the erosion of traditional authority of the village council."30

    Such is the multi faceted anatomy of ethnicity!

    To understand insurgency in India’s Northeast one must also understand the situation in Myanmar. The banality of this statement can only be matched by our lack of interest in, and knowledge of, what goes on in Myanmar. The Indian media covers Myanmar and its insurgencies, at best, cursorily.

    At present, movement of locals is permitted within a 20 kilometre zone on either side of the Indo-Myanmar border. Though there are two trading points, one at Moreh in Manipur and the other at Zokhothar (Rih) in Mizoram, the entire border is porous, and illegal trade in weapons, drugs and consumer goods flourishes.

    Occasional joint Indo-Myanmar operations against insurgent groups have been successful. Unfortunately, the anti-democracy stance of the Myanmar Government has stood in the way of the exploitation of the potential of joint-operations, and this is compounded by a certain suspicion of India's motives.

    U Ohn Gaw, Minister of Foreign Affairs, Standing Law and Order Restoration Committee (SLORC – now re-designated as the State Peace and Development Council SPDC) announced at the UN General Assembly on September 27, 1996, that 15 out of the 16 insurgencies in Myanmar have been effectively contained though not fully resolved. A new Ministry for Progress of Border Areas and National Races and Development had been constituted. The Eastern Nagas along with five other minority racial groups31 were granted autonomy by the National Constitution Convention. In 1995, three townships near the Indian border were designated as self-administered areas for the Nagas. Despite this, unrest persists. The Kachin Independence Army (KIA), which came into being in 1960, continues to aid various Naga insurgent factions on payment, as do other Chin and Arakanese insurgent groups. Nevertheless, institutional mechanisms set up to create greater autonomy as part of the Myanmarese anti-insurgency policy, are significant.

    A curious aspect of Naga ethnicity is that its centre lies in India. Judging from Naga ‘nationalist’ published work and from extensive conversations, there seems to be no clear vision or acknowledgement of the problems of the viability of a landlocked state and the difficulties of gaining independence from two countries – a problem shared by the Nagas with many other ethnic groups like the Kurds, Chechens and Baluchis. The vocabulary regarding the viability of small ethnicity-based nations has changed since 1947. The examples of landlocked Switzerland and Zambia, and small sea-ringed Singapore, have been replaced by Afghanistan, Kosovo and Timor. And as these examples amply illustrate, the independence of a small group may bring greater misery to them than before.

    The current political dialogue is mainly between the two main insurgent groups and the Indian rather than the Myanmar Government. This, paradoxically, has much to do with the better educational standards and quality of life of the Indian Nagas in comparison to the far less developed Eastern Nagas of Myanmar.

    Naga ethnicity lies as a thin crust over the strong tectonic plates of inter-tribal loyalties and animosities. In 1968 an anti-Communist faction calling itself the Revolutionary Government of Nagaland came into being, but soon faded away. Further splits have occurred in the NNC and NFG, largely along tribal groupings. Disagreement within the NNC led to the formation of the NSCN on 31 January, 1980. This new insurgent organisation for Naga Independence split, after the massacre of a cadre of 200 NSCN men by one of the factions in May 1988, into two groups, composed largely along tribal lines – the NSCN(IM) and the NSCN-Khaplang. After Phizo’s death, the NNC split into two groups, NNC-A and NNC-K under his daughter, Adino and a former Phizo aide, Khodao Yanthan, respectively. Khodao has since reportedly joined the NSCN-IM.

    The NSCN-IM and the NSCN-K are engaged in a power struggle, which is not likely to end as long as their present leadership continues. Though the NFG and NNC factions now play a peripheral role, they cannot be ignored. The interference from Pakistan and enlarged co-operation with other insurgent groups in the Northeast has created a situation that shows no hope of an early resolution.

    After the grant of Statehood, new factors have come into play. While Nagaland has seen development as never before, its politicised ethnicity has created new ‘tribes’ of corrupt officials, drug runners and a stratification of the early egalitarian Naga society. The irony is that the indigenous dominant groups that emerged,32 are as exploitative as the earlier dominant groups. The Assam Government, which itself was victim of colonial exploitation, repeated the process by dominating the Northeastern tribes through policies that included an attempt to force the adoption of Assamese as the State language in1952. In the anatomy of ethnicity there is evidently a blind spot regarding the treatment of ones own minority sub-groups.

    The emergence of a middle class and a nexus between politicians, drug dealers, contractors and the insurgent groups has vitiated the body politic and Naga civic life. Some members of the State Administration are nothing more than middlemen in the flow of funds to insurgent groups.33 This has been made possible by ensuring that no system of accountability exists.

    The developmental policies of the Central and State Governments, formulated without consultation with the various tribes, have resulted in an alarming degree of acculturation and a sense of neglect. The lack of understanding of the Naga psyche is significant. Many officials thought that once District Councils were set up and development work commenced, the insurgency would die down. In its early phases, the agitation was simply regarded as a Law and Order problem and allowed to grow as long as there was no untoward violence.

    The ignorance of senior Indian politicians and intellectuals regarding the Northeast is well documented.34 The result as Ramunny points out35 was that " … the Government of India and the administrators slowly but steadily and perhaps, unconsciously, ‘handed over’ Naga Hills into the hands of Phizo".

    The effect of ethnicity amongst youth is even more profound. Their teenage idealism soon dissipates in contact with the realities of unemployment and unfulfilled desire. By AD 2000, 67% of the Naga population will be under 34.36 The aspirations and hopes of this group have not been given the attention they deserve, with the result that many of the youth, in frustration, turn to insurgency as alternative employment.

    The aspirations of the youth have also changed. In the 1930’s, young people aspired for employment in the Church or in Government. In the post-Independence era, the choice of employment changed to business, contracting, politics and Government jobs, in that order. The educated and aware youth hold the key to a weaning away of the Nagas from insurgency. There is much that is positive in Naga youth. They seek new horizons and are prepared for participating in new ventures. The role of the Naga Students Federation in achieving this is important, provided it does not remain trapped in perceptions of the past. The population of Naga students studying outside the state is also substantial, and this exposure broadens their outlook. Unfortunately, for some students, the experience turns negative as they come up against ignorance about the Northeast and racial stereotypes. Nevertheless, many among the Naga youth have a strong social sense and are keen to work for the betterment of their State, though this desire is yet to be channelled effectively into constructive programmes.

    The Government has, of course, made several attempts to overcome the divisive confines of ethnicity. However, despite the Nine Point Understanding, the Sixteen Point Proposals and the Shillong Agreement,37 there is still no sign of reconciliation, especially since, whenever an agreement is reached, a dissident group emerges to feed the strife further. Inter-tribal factions have remained divisive forces, obstructing both regional and Pan-Naga movements. Recently, T. Muivah and Isak Swu were given safe passage to the State after 33 years under the provisions of the present cease-fire and stayed for a month in May,'99 at Niuland near Dimapur. No signs of unity or consensus were apparent at the end of their stay, though an uneasy cease-fire has survived since August, 1997.

    The anatomy of Naga ethnicity is clearly based on inter-tribal affinities that, instead of opening outwards to take in new influences, have become inward looking and xenophobic. Naga ethnicity has blinkered many of its leaders the overall political situation in India. In this of course, they are no different from their counterparts in other regions of the country who support narrow sectarian interests. A crucial difference is that the latter predominantly function within the framework of the Constitution. The lack of institutions to tackle alienation at the Centre and State levels, together with political and administrative ignorance, apathy and lack of empathy towards the Northeast have exacerbated the situation. As Verghese points out "The dominant Aryan bent of national thinking has accommodated the Dravidian reality but has yet to appreciate the Mongoloid factor in the Indian ethos."38

    In this dismal scenario, a new sense of realism has emerged in Government. Current efforts to achieve better governance through de-centralisation are encouraging. The need to understand the anatomy of Naga ethnicity has at last been accepted. Failings in policy and execution are being frankly admitted and new solutions are being worked out. Efforts to increase people-to-people contact with the rest of India are now being made, as had been urged since long by Niketu Iralu, a well-known Naga social activist and by journalists such as Kuldip Nayer and the late Nikhil Chakravorty. Methods to manage the media to help in achieving this are also being explored. Nevertheless, information and media management, powerful resources to fight alienation, still remain the weakest links in bonding the Northeast to the rest of the country.

    Sadly, there is still no evidence of the establishment of institutions needed to remove alienation and perceptions of neglect. Ignorance about the Northeast among politicians, bureaucrats and the public, continues to be abysmal. One of the main causes for the lack of political interest in the Northeast is that only 4% of Members of Parliament represent this region, which holds 8% of India's population.39 Nagaland has but one seat each in the Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha. Many North Eastern MPs lament that their voice is not heard. The total insurgent cadres in Nagaland amount to 2.53% of the population of the State. Yet they hold the State to ransom as a result of our failure to isolate them.

    Naga Identity

    Naga Identity is not as closely linked to politics, as is Naga ethnicity. Naga Identity has more to do with the human, social and cultural nature of the Nagas, while ethnicity is concerned with the larger issues of Naga and Pan-Naga assertion and their relationship with plural Indian ethnicity. Though not exclusive of each other, one is the human aspect while the other is the political aspect of the Naga psyche.

    The spread of Christianity has been the single most important factor in moulding the Naga identity, starting from nine converts in 187240 to the present, when 92.48 % of the Nagas are Christians. The British burned villages, clipped the wings of the tribal chief's, changed the political structure of the village by appointing new gaon-buras (village heads), imposed taxes and froze village land holdings; yet they are remembered with affection because of the great moral strength brought to the Nagas through Christianity and the gift of education.

    Though Christianity altered and destroyed many basic social structures like the morung (bachelor's dormitory), the tsuki (girl's dormitory), feasts of merit and other festival dances and observances, these were replaced by the social safety nets of the many Church organisations for men, women and youth. Later, in the 1970s, public performances of dances, sports and ceremonies connected with traditional festivals were reintroduced, though in a form divested of their connection with the old religion.41 The first public celebration of the revived Moatsu festival (observed in the end of March or early April) at Mokokchung was held in 1993.

    There is a clearly a crisis of identity with the Nagas. At one time it was even fashionable to have an identity crisis. Yusuf Ali, a long-time administrator in Nagaland and Arunachal Pradesh recalls how, in the 1960s, many Nagas would laughingly greet each other by asking "And how is your identity crisis today?"42 Earlier this was linked mainly with political alignment. This conflict is symbolised eloquently by the headstone on a grave that lies in a quiet forest grove near Nokyan:



    COL. YAMTSUTONG 1953 -59 INA

    CAME – 1924 3RD A/ R

    REST – 25-7-79 1960-69 F/GOVT

    – 1968 -69 C/JAIL

    – 1970 -76 D.B.

    – 1976 -79 F/GOVT

    Apart from the puzzling INA entry, the service of this ex-‘Colonel’ of the NFG was divided between Government service as a soldier with 3rd Assam Rifles and later as a Dubashi (DB – interpreter) on the one hand, and with the Naga Federal Government, on the other. From all local accounts, he was not an opportunist. He was a brave and upright man. The pressures and dilemmas faced by many Nagas during that period are well illustrated by his life.

    Naga identity is, today, pulled by four centripetal forces: i. Pan-Naga nationalism; ii. Western culture; iii. urbanisation and consumerism; and iv. the pressures of coming to terms with a pluralistic India. The first three have produced severe strains, resulting in the familiar fallout of drugs, heavy drinking, lack of discipline, and alienation from the land and old customs and traditions. The fear of being culturally swamped keeps the Naga from coming to terms with mainstream India. The substantial Central Government budgetary allocations have not helped the cause of integration, as they are misused with impunity and fund the insurgents as well.43 This is because of extortion, lack of accountability and a feeling that the money is being poured in to corrupt the Nagas and make them soft and dependent on India. These perceived threats to Naga identity create distrust and financial profligacy.

    In their interaction with outside culture and the state apparatus, the perception of their own identity by the Nagas is complex. S.C. Jamir, Chief Minister, Nagaland asserts, "Naga identity is still essentially that of the clan, tribe and village. Thereafter, it changes into a more abstract feeling which has to be understood in the context in which the term is being used."44

    Ex-‘Lt. Gen.’ Makhanmayang Ao, once a Kilonser (Minister) in the NFG and later Vice President of the Ao Senden Salang (the apex Ao Tribal Council), feels that Naga identity is of comparatively recent origin and argues that there has been a strengthening and not, as many people bewail, a loss, of Naga identity in recent times.45 This is a significant point. There is far too much negative reportage on the Northeast. The many positive developments at individual, district and State levels do not get objective exposure.

    For me, the pieces fell into place at Pangsha, a renowned warrior-village. Pangsha jealously guards its freedom to follow its ways in the approximately 35-40 square kilometres of its land. Their observances and their customary laws give a form and meaning to their existence. This is their anchor, their identity, which in many small details is different from that of the other villages of its tribe. In the past, when required, Pangsha fought for its particular identity with its own tribe living in other Khiamniungan villages and with other tribes such as the Konyaks. Today there are wider concentric circles of trans-border identity with the Khiamniungans in Myanmar. There is yet another larger circle of the Nagas as a whole. The last and weakest outer ripple is that of being Indian. In a time warp, each of these circles exist simultaneously, though frozen in different periods of time. The current trend, at least in urban Nagaland, is a growth of individual identity competing against the conformist expressions of collective identity. This is not regressive as is commonly believed, but is a process of the crystallisation of identity.

    The loss of identity leads to ‘loss of nerve’. Yet, if replacements are found for that which is lost, the individual and tribe is strengthened and something new emerges. More than pedantic, erudite explanations, the story of Keshe of Noklak in Tuensang District illustrates how the essence of identity can be retained, even as identity changes.

    Keshe was the last Ain46 of the village. She had converted to Christianity just three months before I met her. I was told she was a witch but as I talked to her it became clear that she was an oracle and a priestess in the old order. Her whole family had converted to Christianity and she had come under considerable social pressure to do likewise. I asked her how she had made the transition from her old religion to the new one. She replied that it was initially a conflict but one night she saw a beautiful vision. She saw her old Gods, Kovatsu and Ankova in heaven. They were surrounded by light and glory and all the spirits stood around Them in awe. But on Kovatsu and Ankova shone a brilliant shaft of light from further above. There she saw Jesus surrounded by angels and His Apostles. She intuitively understood that here was a Holy Spirit of greater brilliance and love than she had ever known. In the cosmology of spiritual life here was the Ultimate. She gave herself time to understand this vision and after a month decided to become a Baptist. She had moved painlessly from one belief to another by incorporating both into one cosmology. Keshe has an inner strength that is not in conflict with the past. But what about passing on her ancient knowledge to someone who still follows the old beliefs? Keshe answered gently, but in a matter of fact manner, "There is no need for all that now."

    Recipe for an Omelette

    Stalin’s down-to-earth observation that an omelette cannot be made without breaking an egg has a corollary. You cannot unscramble an omelette,47 if it's badly made. This, however, does not mean that there is no hope for Nagaland; something new can always be whipped up.

    The solution to an insurgency, as we are told all the time, is political. What constitutes this ‘political’ solution is evident in the various agreements with the Naga, Mizo and Assamese insurgent groups.48 The common elements are:

    Legal provisions on Statehood or increased autonomy – this includes the all-important aspect of power-sharing;
    delineation of inter-state and inter-regional boundaries;
    financial provisions for various items such as development schemes, border trade and taxes;
    Cultural, social, linguistic, and demographic safeguards;
    ownership of land; and
    rehabilitation and safety of insurgents.
    This list is unexceptionable, but in practice what seems to become the only element that matters is power-sharing. But if it is to be lasting, the ‘political solution’ has to cover a field much wider than the politics of power-sharing. It must have a human and moral component that has, so far, been ignored, and the issues of identity and ethnicity that lie at the root of the Naga problem must also be confronted and resolved. Future initiatives will have to take these aspects into consideration and cannot escape certain basic principles and policies that must include:

    Good Governance: One of the key features in the bonding of a tribal society with the Adminstration is the latter's accessibility to the people and in giving them quick decisions. The hand-picked members of the Indian Frontier Administrative Service, in the initial phase, provided this bond. But with its replacement by the Indian Adminstrative Service, bureaucratic alienation set in. While the clock cannot be turned back, a better system of selection of temperamentally suitable officers to the Northeastern cadres needs to be evolved. Some incentives to the Northeastern IAS Cadres, such as foreign postings for good performance as Deputy Commissioners and Superintendents of Police, were announced in September 1998. But these are palliatives. Much more attention needs to be given to this area, not only to improve the quality of officers, but also to evolve administrative processes suitable for a people with a tradition of self-governance. There has to be more decentralisation, transparency and accountability. The Nagas understand this because, in essence though not in form, this was how their village-states functioned.

    Border Management: The human problem of tribes whose areas are artificially divided by the international boundary needs to be tackled beyond the present 20 kilometre free-movement zone. A paradigm shift is required in our concept of political boundaries though, though the possibility of extending analogous arguments to J&K will inevitably crop up as an inhibitor. Boundaries can remain intact without hindrance to movement of people. Surely this points to one possible way out of the current impasse at least in the case of the Northeast? The suggestion of work permits made by Atal Behari Vajpayee, or dual citizenship, or the Swiss model of three levels of citizenship, need to be examined more seriously. Dr. Roy Burman, referring to boundary management, points out that "all the countries in the region have hardly shown any collective sensitivity about these facts of history." Perseverance will be required to resolve this bilateral issue with Myanmar.

    The Northeast is the surface bridge to south east Asian markets. The land routes and inland waterways that were in widespread use prior to Indpendence have tremendous potential. The idea itself is acceptable to all the countries concerned. But when it comes down to details such as working out the requirements of infrastructure, improvement of roads, ware-housing, customs clearance procedures, rates of exchange, taxes and levies, there is more evidence of timorousness than reasonable caution on the part of Myanmar and Bangladesh.

    Participatory Development: Above all, the involvement of the people in the shaping of their destinies is vital. This would mean extensive training in participatory planning and co-operative ventures at village level before actual projects are executed. Advantage must be taken of the ancient tradition of voluntary community work that exists in all Naga tribes, such as the yim mapa of the Aos. The basic planning unit has to be the clan or village and not the individual, because the former represents the primary sources of Naga identity. Thus allocation of loans should be through the Village Council with incentives for timely repayment and penalties for delays in the form of deductions in future village allocations. At present planning is paternalistic, top-down and community-oriented only in name. The paradox is that there are a number of State and Government training organisations and NGOs with ample expertise in Participatory Management.

    Media Management: Good Media Management is a cardinal element in overcoming alienation and reinforcing the social and individual aspects of identity. At present there are two ad-hoc co-ordinating agencies in the Ministry of Home Affairs, one for J&K and the other for the Northeast. The Joint Secretary (East) is responsible for the Northeast region. The Ministry of Information and Broadcasting has a Media Relations Committee at the Centre and an Inter-Media Publicity Co-ordination Committee in each State capital. There are no signs of a co-ordinated media policy to tackle the sense of alienation in the Northeast. The radio, not TV, is still the most important media agency. Yet our radio signals on the eastern border are so weak that villagers prefer to tune into transmissions from Bangladesh and Myanmar. The weekly Doordarshan programme on the Northeast is transmitted at 9a.m., when there are hardly any viewers.

    Alienation is the child of ignorance and prejudice. Media management is perhaps the most potent force to widen horizons and wean the Nagas from ethnocentrism. That this has not been adequately attended to these last fifty years only indicates the lack of understanding of how alienation can be overcome. The emphasis in development still seems to be on allocation of funds. Keeping in mind the difficult terrain and poor condition of roads, the flow of information should be in order of priority, through the radio, TV and then newspapers and journals.

    In this context, the Bharat Darshan scheme that introduces Northeastern students to the plurality of Indian culture through a national tour has been a success story. A scheme that encouraged students from other parts of the country to tour the Northeastern states would also help the ‘national mainstream’ overcome its own prejudice as well.

    Institutions, Not Committees: Given the magnitude of the problems of the Northeast, a reorganisation at the level of the Ministries is required. However, the creation of a new Ministry of Border Areas and National Races, as in Myanmar, may not be necessary. All that is required is to upgrade and adequately staff the North Eastern section of the Home Ministry, and to set up a Directorate of Psychological Operations and Civic Action which would be responsible for long and short term information and media policies. The two are quite different. The former defines macro-policy and its dissemination while the latter applies this specifically to the management and co-ordination of inter-national, national and regional media. The Directorate would specifically tackle the problems of alienation and training in participatory civic action. An Inter-Media Publicity Co-ordination Wing under the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting could replace the existing Committee.

    The political temptation to order yet more Committees, Commissions and Reports, instead of building institutions, should be curbed. There are already more than half-a-dozen Reports to go by.49 There have been numerous and erratic Prime Ministerial initiatives on the Northeast as well. Rajiv Gandhi set up a Northeast Council (along with an Islands Development Authority for Lakshadweep and the Andaman & Nicobar Islands). This was in addition to the Northeast Council already established at Shillong. Narasimha Rao set up a Council of Senior Central Ministers to monitor progress in the Northeast. So did H.D. Deve Gowda. All these bodies were to report directly to the then Prime Minister, and most, if not all, have died an early death due to their innate ad hoc nature.

    Accountability: Accountability is not only a matter of fiscal discipline. It is also a human problem. The free flow of funds without accountability has wreaked havoc on the moral fibre of the Nagas, and it has failed to earn their goodwill. "Loyalty cannot be bought" is a phrase often heard in Nagaland. What is worse is that it, at least partly, flows into the coffers of the insurgents. It is as important to assess the effect of such funding on the value system of the Nagas, as it is to compile statistics of numbers of primary schools opened through fund allocations for this purpose in a financial year. Mechanisms for monitoring and accountability in the utilisation of funds exist, but are not enforced. Auditors fear for their lives. In such an environment the Village Development Board (VDB) Scheme, with all its faults, is an example of the benefits of decentralisation, transparency and accountability at village level. Extortion from this fund by the insurgents rebounds on them because the development of the village is seen to suffer directly. In the VDB Scheme, development is planned and executed by the villagers. They are responsible for the utilisation of the funds. Penalties and incentives are built into the rules governing the scheme. Unfortunately, interference by local politicians has somewhat vitiated the functioning of the VDBs. Nevertheless, more schemes based on these principles, and on yim mapa (voluntary community social work) can exploit a traditional strength of the Nagas

    There is a host of other macro issues, beyond ethnicity and identity, which also demand attention, but which remain outside the scope of this paper. Education, Employment, Vocational Training and the development of micro-economies centred around groups of villages will help fight insurgency and develop the economy. Nevertheless, the use of force will always be a part of counter-insurgency, and a pro-active model for fighting militancy needs to be evolved. The present model is reactive because it views an incipient insurgency as a Law and Order problem. It is only when it gets out of hand at the State level that the Centre intervenes with its Security Forces. Unfortunately, turf battles have obstructed the evolution of a better model.

    The causes of insurgency in each of the Northeastern States are different and have to be tackled accordingly. The vexed issue of ethnicity and identity is central to Nagaland and common to all the other States in the region. The challenge is to understand its dynamic, evolutionary nature that contains elements that are both self-perpetuating and self-destructive. Janus-like, ethnicity and identity have the choice to look at once at the past and the future. Looking at the past is self-destructive, and results in what may be termed ‘museumisation’. On the other hand, looking outwards and to the future, identities may be strengthened as they acknowledge other societies as part of a larger whole. A culture rejects, or enriches itself, with the influences of these societies by using the touchstone of its own core values.

    I was once asked to speak at a Sunday Service at the Baptist Church in Mokokchung. It was a gracious invitation, since the Church elders knew that I was not a Christian. I looked through the Bible to find a keynote for the talk – something that was universal and yet specific to the situation in Nagaland. I found it, across two thousand years, in St. Paul’s letters to the Corinthians: "…the body is one and hath many members… if the ear shall say, Because I am not the eye, I am not of the body’; is it therefore not of the body?… And whether one member suffer, all members suffer with it; or one member be honoured, all the members rejoice with it"50

    If only the other face of Janus would pay heed.

    *Lt. Gen. (Retd) Sushil K. Pillai, PVSM, is a former Deputy Chief of Army Staff and Director General of Infantry. He was commissioned to the Assam Regiment in 1955. After retirement in 1991, he has written extensively on India's Northeast, and is currently writing a History of the Assam Regiment. He is also a Consulting Editor with FAULTLINES.
    JAYASURIYA, Laksari, "The problems of Culture and Identity in Social Functioning," Journal of Multicultural Social Work, Volume 12 (4), 1992


    LANGE, A., & WESTIN, C., Social, Psychological Aspects of Radical& Ethnic Relations, University of Stockholm. 1984.

    JAYASURIYA, Immigration and Multiculturalism in Australia. University of Western Australia, 1997.

    Memorandum of 10 Jan 1929 submitted to the Hon. Mr. E. Cadogan and Clement Atlee on their visit to Kohima. The text is available in Tajenyuba Ao, British Occupation of Naga Country, Naga Literature Society, Mokokchung, 1993, pp. 272-273; as well as in Murkot Ramunny’s The World of the Nagas, Northern Book Centre, 1993, p. 249. Out of the 20 Nagas, 14 were Angamis, 2 Kacha Nagas and one each from Sema, Lotha, Rengma and Kuki tribes. They represented 6 out of the then classification of 8 known Naga tribes. Today there are 17 Naga tribes. Cf. Murkot RAMUNNY, The World of Nagas, Northern Book Centre, 1988.

    There are a number of theories. One is that it means ‘People’ as given in the Borunjis (history) of the 13th Century Ahom Rajas. The more popular meaning as given by Phizo is ‘Na-Ka’, a Myanmar word for "Pierced Ear’.

    SMITH, W.C., The Ao Naga Tribe, 1925. These were head-hunting, dormitory for young men, house on piles, disposal of dead on platforms, tribal marriage customs, betel chewing, aversion to milk, tattooing, lack of political organisation, double cylinder forge, loin loom, hexagonal shields, residence in hilly regions and jhum cultivation. These commonalities are questionable and in any case are not applicable now, which only illustrates the dynamic nature of both identity and ethnicity.

    SANYU, Visier, A History of Nagas and Nagaland, Commonwealth publishers, 1996.

    Including an 1881 paper read at the Anthropological Institute, London by Lt Col RG Woodthorpe.

    1.Ao, 2.Angami, 3. Chang, 4. Chirr, 5. Chakesang (earlier known as the Eastern Angamis. Now combined with Chakri, Kheza and a branch of the Sangtams), 6. Pochury ( a break-away group from the Chakesang), 7. Khiamniungans, 8. Konyaks, 9. Lotha, 10. Makware, 11. Phom (earlier grouped with Konyaks), 12. Rengma, 13. Sema, 14. Sangtams, 15. Tikhir, 16. Yimchungr, 17. Zeliangrong ( combined Zemei, Lingmai, Rongmai-this tribe was earlier called Kacha, then Kabui).

    There are 12 unlisted tribes in the 1991 Census such as the Jeru, Jothe, Kharam, Uchonpok, Yachimi.

    People of India, Volume 1, An Introduction, Seagull Books, Calcutta, 1992, p. 40.

    Various proposals for independence of Nagaland were also articulated by the British. In 1946, Sir Robert Reid, ex-Governor of Assam, proposed a Crown Colony including the Naga, Lushai and Chin Hills, along with the Hukwang valley, curving upto the Lakhimpur Frontier Tract. Sir Reginald Coupland, who had served in Burma, made a somewhat similar proposal of a Condominium of Britain, India and Burma, to look after the common tribal areas. (Verrier Elwin, Nagaland, Research Department, Advisor’s Secretariat, Shillong, 1961, pp. 51-52. Both the proposals were rejected by Whitehall and by the NNC, which felt that the proposals smacked of colonialism. (Tajenyuba Ao, op.cit., p. 276; and Sir Reid’s Notes in the Raj Bhavan Records, Shillong). Dr. J.H. Hutton, a distinguished anthropologist, author and administrator who had served two decades as DC, Naga Hills, in a Memorandum (Cf. Raj Bhavan Records, Shillong) to the Simon Commission, recommended the gradual creation of self-governing communities, semi-independent in nature on the lines of the Shan States of Burma. (Ramunny, op.cit., p. 14). In his Geneva speech, Swu described Free Nagaland as lying between China, India and Burma (Tajenyuba, ibid., Appendix 3, p. xxi).

    Bertil Lintner. Land of Jade. Kiscadale.1990. This book is reportedly banned by the NSCN(IM).

    Cf. K.S. Singh, People of India, Volume 34, Nagaland, Seagull Books, Calcutta, 1994, p. 76. The Khiamniungan legends were related to the author on October 30, 1993, by Putsong, President, Khiamniungan Tribal Council, at Noklak. Also cf. Maj. Gen. S.C. Sardeshpande, The Patkoi Nagas, Daya Publishing House, New Delhi, 1987.

    RAMUNNY, The World of Nagas, op.cit.

    The Naga Club was set up in 1918 by the British Administration. Prior to British control, the Nagas lived in autonomous village-states. The purpose was to set up a representative body bringing together, first, the villages, and then, whole tribes. Its members were Naga Government officials (mainly interpreters) and headmen from villages around Kohima and Mokokchung. The motive was administrative and not political, though it did eventually lead to politicisation and the demand for an autonomous state within India. This was changed, on February 20, 1947, to a demand for an independent state.

    IMTI, Aliba , Reminiscence: Impur to NNC. This valuable book had a limited edition in 1988 and is out of print.

    Naga Hills District of Assam. On 1 Dec, 1957, Tuensang Division was detached from NEFA and merged with the Naga Hills District. The new area was renamed the Naga Hills and Tuensang Area (NHTA) and was under the direct control of the Governor of Assam. NHTA became the new state of Nagaland on 1 Dec, 1963.

    Prakash Singh. Nagaland. National Book Trust.1972. There are, predictably, two versions of the Plebiscite. Tajenyuba Ao, in his British Occupation of Naga Country presents the NNC Naga view. According to this, Phizo decided to hold a plebiscite before the First Indian General Election of 1952 to demonstrate the Naga desire for independence. The Plebiscite was approved by the NNC in February 1951. On May 16, 1951. "hundreds of Tribal delegates and thousands of people" assembled at Kohima, including Naga observers from Manipur and Tuensang. They were told by Phizo that all adults above 15 years could sign or put their thumb impression on their declaration of their desire for Naga Independence. The Plebiscite was completed in two months and copies of the forms (with thumb impressions) wre sent to the President of India and to the Secretary General of the United Nations. The unilateral plebiscite, according to Tajenyuba, became binding on all Naga tribes in India and Burma. Prakash Singh, IPS (Retd), in his account on Nagaland presents the version that the plebiscite covered only two districts of the Naga Hills and is a disproportionately exaggerated claim which does not stand the test of scrutiny. The villagers were fed with wrong and oversimplified information. A similar view has been expressed by Ramunny in The World of Nagas. Viewed objectively, the plebiscite was a rough and ready effort that cannot be termed as truly representative of the opinion of all the Nagas then. But it was an indicator of incipient agitation. To this the Administration remained a silent spectator, making no effort to present the Government view. In fact, on the eve of May 16, 1951, a Naga delegation called on the DC, Shri Duncan, a Khasi officer, to thank him for not interfering with the ceremony! Today, however, the reality of how the Nagas view the pelbiscite cannot be wished away.

    RAMUNNY, op.cit.

    SINGH, Prakash, op. cit, p. 173.

    At a public meeting at Kohima for Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru and Prime Minister U Nu of Burma on 30 Mar,1953, the bulk of the audience walked out in protest against the NNC not being permitted to present a Memorandum there. It was an insult that Nehru had never faced before, but he was magnanimous to the NNC. He faulted the Deputy Commissioner for mismanaging the show (which is correct) but did not comment on the obduracy of the NNC who also must share the blame for inciting the walkout. On Feb 17,1966, Jaya Prakash Narayan resigned in distress from the Peace Mission because of the discourtesy shown to him by a Naga delegation following an incorrect newspaper report that JP had said the Nagas could be liquidated by the Government. Earlier, in 1965, Y.D. Gundevia, the then Foreign Secretary, thought that creating a friendly ambience for the Peace talks would help and bent backwards in giving in to some of the demands of the Naga delegation. He was soon disillusioned. B.P. Chalia, another member of the Peace Mission, also resigned in May1965, after two train explosions took place while peace talks were on. On his resignation, Jerenkoba, ‘Home Minister’ of the NFG, said he would badly miss a friend like Chalia who understood the mind of the Nagas. Both chivalry and obstinacy are part of the Naga temperament.

    Tochi Hansao, at one time Minister for Health in Nagaland, who was my travel companion in Khiamniungan area was the first to relate this story to me. Hongkin, laughingly, later confirmed it.

    RAMUNNY, op. cit., pp. 234-235.

    Ibid., p. 91.

    L. Ao. Rural Development in Nagaland. Har Anand, 1993

    Interview with the author at Kohima, October 9, 1993.

    Christof von Furer-Haimendorf, Return to the Naked Nagas, Vikas, 1976.

    SANYU, Visier in his essay "What Nagaland State Did to the Nagas: A Historical Perspective", in Nagaland: A Contemporary Ethnography, Ed: Subhadra M. Channa. Cosmo. 1992.

    The Kokang, Wa, Danu, Pa-o and Palang. Cf. Maj. Gen. D. Banerjee, Myanmar and North East India, Delhi Policy Group, 1997.

    A mixture of the six dominant tribes (Angami, Ao, Sema, Lotha, Changs and Tangkhuls)

    This is also echoed by Rajni Kothari in State Against Democracy. New Horizons Press. New York. 1989.

    Cf. for instance, V.S. Jafa, "Administrative Policies and Ethnic Disintegration: Engineering Conflict in India’s Northeast, Faultlines: Writings in Conflict & Resolution, Volume 2, ICM-Bulwark Books, August 1999, pp. 48-115.

    The World of Nagas. op.cit.

    T. Lanusosang. Nagaland. A Study in Social Geography. Department of School Education. Kohima. 1989.

    Prakash Singh, op.cit., pp. 184-192.

    B.G. Verghese. India's Northeast Resurgent. op.cit.

    MADHAB, Dr. Jayanta, "The Northeast: A crisis of Identity, Security, Under-development", Talk at the India International Centre, September 1998. There are 24 Lok Sabha seats for the NE in a House of 545.

    CLARK, Mary Mead, A Corner in India. American Baptist Publication Society, 1907.

    IMCHEN, Panger, Ancient Ao Naga Religion and Culture, Har-Anand Publishers, 1993.

    Narrated to the author on June 3, 1994, at Shillong.

    Media reports place extortions and 'voluntary contributions' to the tune of Rs 300 crores per anum.

    Conversation with the author on October 9, 1993, at Kohima.

    Interview with the author at Mokokchung on May 19, 1994.

    Ain (pronounced as in ‘main’) means ‘oracle’. Khiamniungan society is fairly complex and is composed of two major groups, divided into two major clans, each with a total of 24 minor clans. In addition, there are eight important people in the village: The War Leader (Nyokpao), the Peace Maker (Petchi), the Priest (Meya), the Doctor (Meshwon), the Priestess and Oracle (Ain), the Blaksmith (Sonlan), the Story Teller (Paothai) and the Keeper of the Stone (Ainloom). The Ainloom is a man of probity and peace. He keeps a magical stone that warns of any impending disaster, such as a fire or raid, by either moving out of its basket or by creating a sound by striking some other object. His home will not be touched by raiding parties. Of these various tribal institutions, only the Petchi, the Sonlan and the Ainloom have relevance today. For the rest, they are to be remembered only in books and in the oral tradition. The author was fortunate to meet each of them, the last in their line, over the period 1993-94, except for the Paothai.

    Verghese. Ibid., on Assam's demographic predicament and the influx of 'foreigners'.

    Nagas The Nine Point Understanding (28 June,'47) & 16Point Proposals (28 July, '60. Statehood announced in Lok Sabha 1 August, 1960). Mizos. Memorandum of Settlement. 30 June, 1986. Assam (a) Memorandum of Settlement with AASU & AAGSP on Foreigners issue15 August 1985. (b) Bodo Accord. 20 February 1993.

    These reports range from vintage 1950's to current ones. To name a few – The Shilu Ao Study Team on Tribal Development, Dr. Roy Burman's Poverty Alleviation in Nagaland and Manipur, Dr. L.P. Vidyarthi's Task Force on Development of Tribal Areas, S.C. Dube's Expert Committee on Tribal Development, R.N. Haldipur Working Group on Tribal Personnel Policies and the recent Shukla Commission.

    The Holy Bible, I Corinth 12, 12-26, Gideons International, 1985, pp. 1194-95.
    Anatomy of an Insurgency Ethnicity & Identity in Nagaland
  10. Ray

    Ray The Chairman Defence Professionals Moderator

    Apr 17, 2009
    Likes Received:
    I have served with Gen Pillai.

    He is a scholarly person, gentle and an excellent person with no false egos.

    He was always open to suggestions and encouraged the same.

    One should read what Gen Pillai has to write since many of us, including those at the helm of affairs. would not have known the Naga issue in such details.
    Last edited: Sep 21, 2014

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