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The conflict in Nagaland, one of many in India’s northeast, has largely abated since the ceasefire in 1997. With most death toll estimates of around 25,000, Nagaland has played host to considerable violent conflict. It is India’s longest running ethnic rebellion, according to the BBC. We’ve noticed parallels between the Baloch and Kashmiri separatist movement in Pakistan and Nagaland in India.
The conflict is no longer a high intensity-one. Political violence and deaths continue to occur there, but in 2007 Nagaland reported 108 deaths compared to the 437 in neighboring Assam and 408 in Manipur. Since the ceasefire, violent clashes have largely been between the factions of the National Socialist Council of Nagaland (NSCN), the rebel group that led the separatist movement. Flashpoint events are few and infrequent, as evidence by this timeline of the region’s various conflicts.
As with Balochistan and Kashmir, there is a political deadlock in the region between the Government of India and the NSCN’s various factions. They extended the ceasefire in 2006, but there has been little progress towards meeting the NSCN’s demand to create “Nagalim,” a Naga homeland. The political situation has worsened recently by a parliamentary impasse that led to the imposition of president’s rule in the state.
The discussion about Nagaland, like those on Kashmir and Balochistan, on the internet appears to be quite sparse. I found few blogs dealing with the political situation in the region. See Naga Blog with contributors from Kuknalim, and the news blog Sinlung. There seems to be little activity on social networking sites like Facebook and Orkut, which is more popular in India. A group on Orkut titled ‘Independent Nagaland’ had two members. Searches on Digg and Technorati for the query ‘Nagaland’ yielded no results. International media websites remains largely silent about recent clashes, except for Reuters Alertnet and the BBC. Local news media like The Morung Express and Naga Realm are the most active in covering the region.
Naga is written in Latin script, so there’s no code barrier to access for local populations. However, Internet penetration figures for Nagaland are very low, with less than 5000 broadband subscribers in all of northeast India. So access remains a key issue. It will be interesting to see whether and how information and online activism grows as access improves.
As we’ve noted on Kashmir and Balochistan, an intractable conflict is often reflected in a passive discussion in the digital realm. The meagerness of information and discussion of the Naga conflict in the digital sphere is also related to the political impasse and relative calm in the region. It still takes ideas, organization, and commitment to engage, whether in the physical or virtual worlds.
Guest post by Anand, with small additions from Ivo