With a possible split in the NSCN-R, it would also mean that the central authorities have yet another hardline faction to try to mediate, prolonging the 14-year effort to reach a binding ceasefire.
Reports in the Indian press this week suggest that National Socialist Council of Nagaland-Reformation (NSCN-R) is likely to split into two. The ethno-separatist group is currently observing a bilateral ceasefire that it agreed with the Indian central government earlier this year. Naga separatist groups have fragmented at various times in recent years due to disagreements over whether to engage in peace talks with the Indian government.
If reports of a possible split are true, then it will probably make it more difficult for the Indian authorities to reach a lasting peace agreement with the various separatist groups, particularly given that rejectionist factions such as NSCN-K have threatened attacks against the state in the region.
The Indian government agreed to a ceasefire with the NSCN-R at the end of April, but the more hardline NSCN-K refused. Soon after, the NSCN-K appeared to form an alliance with other separatist groups in Manipur, Assam and Nagaland to target the security forces. This bloc conducted the largest attack on the military outside of Kashmir for several years, when up to 40 armed men ambushed a convoy in Manipur and killed up to 20 soldiers.
There has been a 25% increase in the number of separatist attacks in the northeastern states in the past two months compared with the same preceding period. Almost half of the recent incidents have occurred in the southeastern areas of Manipur, western Meghalaya and Nagaland. Further such incidents are likely in southeastern areas of Manipur, and in the neighbouring states of Assam and Nagaland, in the coming months.
The authorities have continued security operations against the NSCN-K and they appear to be closing in on the group’s weapons and people smuggling channels into Myanmar. According to the Indian press, separatist fighters have been pushed back into the dense jungle areas across the border in Myanmar, meaning that these operations are likely to continue for the coming weeks at least. With a possible split in the NSCN-R, it would also mean that the central authorities have yet another hardline faction to try to mediate, prolonging the 14-year effort to reach a binding ceasefire.