On the morning of 14 August, while the final preparations for Independence Day were underway at the Red Fort in Delhi, Kohima, Nagaland’s capital city, saw a blue flag with rainbow stripes and a white star flying against a gentle wind—the Naga national flag. The Naga Students Federation, an apex body of all Naga youth and students’ organisations, had hoisted the flag to mark the seventy-fourth Naga Independence Day. “It was celebrated by all the 17 federating units”—the 17 Naga tribes—“and a few subordinate units,” Ninoto Awomi, the president of NSF, told me. The unequivocal display of Naga nationalism was not a sudden development, but it assumed relevance in the wake of deteriorating peace talks between the Naga nationalist groups and the Indian state.
The Naga Independence Day was also celebrated in Camp Hebron, the headquarters of the National Socialist Council of Nagaland (Isak-Muivah), the largest armed Naga nationalist group. David Mero, the kilo kilonser, or home minister, of the Government of the People’s Republic of Nagalim—a self-declared state of the NSCN (IM)—addressed the gathering, reading out a speech by the organisation’s general secretary, Thuingaleng Muivah. “The British came in the 19th century and occupied a portion of our land, administered their laws for 115 years till we declared a Sovereign Nation on 14 August 1947,” Mero said. “This prompted the era of force Dominion by India which continues till today. Our journey has been one of untold sufferings and bloodshed.” He continued, “The Naga people have neither accepted the Union of India nor her constitution at any point of time. History will ever speak of that fact. We will not accept them today and even in days to come. We have also told them that Nagas and Indians are two poles apart in terms of history, race, identity, culture, language, geography, political concept and faith.”
On 16 August, the ministry of information and publicity of the GPRN released a press statement accusing the Indian government and RN Ravi, the governor of Nagaland and interlocutor in the Naga peace process, of attempting to derail the peace talks. In August 2019, when Ravi was appointed the governor of Nagaland, the Narendra Modi-led government had reportedly given him a deadline of three months to reach a conclusive and permanent agreement with the NSCN (IM). But a year later, peace talks seem to be stalling.