India signs historic peace treaty with tribal separatists

Peace accord with Naga separatist militants ends one of country's oldest insurgencies

Indian government on Monday signed a landmark peace treaty with a tribal separatist group that has fought against Indian forces for more than sixty years for an independent homeland in the country's north. 

The National Socialist Council of Nagaland (NSCN-IM) was one of several separatist groups that had waged guerrilla war against New Delhi rule, among several others, in the remote and underdeveloped northeastern region bordering China, Myanmar, Bangladesh and Bhutan. The group has been fighting for an independent homeland for the Naga people and negotiating with the Indian government since 1997. 

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced the treaty after the signing ceremony on his Twitter account, describing it as "historic" and “beginning of a new future."

"We are making a new beginning today ... 60 years is a long time of fighting, the wounds are deep," Modi said during a press conference with the NSCN-IM secretary-general and co-founder Thuingaleng Muivah, Reuters reported.

"Since becoming prime minister, peace, security and economic transformation of the northeast have been among my highest priorities. It is also at the heart of my foreign policy, especially Act East. Our oldest, insurgency is getting resolved, it is a signal to other smaller groups to give up weapons," Modi added. 

The NSCN-IM runs a government-in-exile in Nagaland as well as in the states of Manipur, Assam and Arunachal Pradesh, near Myanmar region. At least one Naga faction reportedly continues a guerilla war against New Delhi.

Although the details of the agreement have not yet been revealed, the Indian government said it aims to develop the neglegted region which is believed to be one of the reasons behind the insurgency. Analysts say the treaty could open ways to sign similar aggreements with orher seperatists groups in the country. 

TRTWorld and agencies