What ‘ANEK’ Missed? The Nagaland Insurgency- the longest running insurgency issue of India

On May 27, Anubhav Sinha’s 4th film in his 2.0 avatar hit the theatres. Expectancy levels were high as the last three films of his were hard hitting and though provoking to a great extent. With Anek, which is the second collaboration of Anubhav Sinha and Ayushmann Khurrana, the director points the camera to the northeastern region of the country. But at this very point the film fails to comprehend its own intentions.

What ‘ANEK’ Missed?  The Nagaland Insurgency- the longest running insurgency issue of India

For most part, the term ‘northeast’ is used in the film, which is merely a geographical direction and not a place. People need to understand that northeast India hosts 8 states, and every state has its own history to be told, hence we cannot homogenize the entire region.

Throughout the film, the story of some anonymous location is being told to the audience, although, people with some knowledge about insurgency in northeastern states would quickly guess the state. Hence, we cannot rely on mainstream Bollywood films to learn about issues like insurgency, and especially if the issue is from ‘northeast’ (which we should remember is not homogenous).

In the pretext of discussing Anek, let us have a brief look into the issue of Naga insurgency. The Nagaland insurgency is one of the first and the longest running insurgency issue of India.

The Initial Stages

Back in 1929, when the Simon Commission came to India, the representatives of Nagaland requested that rather than being a part of the Indian Union, they would remain under British rule. They gave reasons like, their language was quite different from what is spoken in mainland India, they have no social affinity to Hindus or Muslims, their food habits include pork and beef which is considered sacred by most Indians. Hence, Naga Hills was demarcated as ‘Excluded Area’ under the Govt of India Act, 1935.

The Naga National Council (NNC) came into existence during the 1940s, with both moderate and extremist leaders. When India became independent in 1947, moderate leaders of NNC decided to join the Indian Union at the request of the Jawaharlal Nehru government. But there were extremists too, and they were strictly against the idea of merging with India, as they wanted an independent nation. One such extremist leader was Angami Zapo Phizo.

Rise of Extremism

Phizo along with his supporters declared Nagaland’s Independence on 14th August, 1947, a day before India’s. He also called for complete boycott of India’s Independence Day celebration on the 15th. Moreover, the NNC organized a plebiscite, through which they claimed that 99.9% Nagas wanted an independent Nagaland. This was followed by a boycott of the first general elections of 1952. People of Nagaland insulted and booed the then interim P.M. Jawaharlal Nehru, when he came for campaigning.

In the year 1956, Phizo announced the formation of Federal Govt. of Nagaland and started an army of his own. But later, Phizo had to leave Nagaland and take refuge in London because of aggressive progression of Indian Army into Nagaland. Later in 1958, the infamous AFSPA (Armed Forces Special Powers Act) was passed and invoked in Nagaland.

Formation of Nagaland

Due to these developments violence and brutal killings increased in the region, and hence, leaders defected from the NNC to form the Naga People’s Convention (NPC), with the motive of holding talks with the Indian government and install peace in the region. The NPC, in 1959, proposed a separate state for Naga Hills Region, and eventually Nagaland became an official state in the year 1963 (before 1963, all mentions of Nagaland was actually the Naga Hills Region of Assam Province).

After formation of a separate state, peace prevailed to some extent but tensions still loomed large as the NNC was still partially active. In 1975, the Indira Gandhi government convinced most NNC leaders into signing the Shillong Accords, according to which the NNC will accept the Constitution of India. But some leaders still had the dream of an independent nation intact and hence didn’t sign the accord.

These extremist leaders, who also had close links with Mao Zedong of China, established the militant outfit known as National Socialist Council of Nagaland (NSCN) in 1980 in Myanmar. The sole demand of NSCN was the establishment of a sovereign land for Nagas – The Greater Nagalim. They also claimed land of neighboring states of Assam, Manipur and Arunachal Pradesh for the Greater Nagalim, which they still do.

Present Situation

Currently, NSCN has two factions – the NSCN (Isak Muivah) and the NSCN (Khaplang) and the Indian government regularly hold talks with both the factions. Ceasefire agreements have also been signed with both these factions, which resulted in maintaining some peace in the state. But NSCN’s demand for a separate nation, a separate flag and a separate constitution continues.

And between all these scuffles, the people of Nagaland are getting affected in their everyday lives. Any region that has problems of insurgency or political instability cannot rise economically and cannot provide a good environment for its people to reside peacefully. Hence, matters like economy, employment, education, health etc. should be given more importance than anything else.

Pratik Deka,
Content Writer,

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