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Thursday, November 13, 1997 Published at 08:24 GMT


Nagaland: The world's longest running conflict ends

A fresh ceasefire has just been announced in one of the world's longest running guerrilla conflicts.

Nagaland, a mainly Christian state in north-east India, declared itself independent 50 years ago. The move was never recognised by Delhi and there has been fighting in the region ever since. Hundreds of people have died in the ongoing clashes between miliant groups and the Indian security forces.

Kohima, the capital of Nagaland, was the scene of some of the fiercest fighting of the Second World War, as Allied forces finally halted the Japanese westward advance towards India. the region has been torn by violence ever since.

[ image: The Naga's fight for independence is over 50 years old]
The Naga's fight for independence is over 50 years old
The people of Nagaland have a strong sense of national identity and tradition and harbour many grudges against both the Indian government and the British.

[ image: Guerrilla factions fight the government and each other]
Guerrilla factions fight the government and each other
Lhouvitsu Kesiezie, of the Naga National Council, accuses the British of being dishonest during the closing days of the Raj. "When they were about to leave, our forefathers and leaders expressed their whole minds. If the British were to go, Naga should be left as it was before they came."

But instead the British gave the Indian government a toehold in Nagaland and the Indian army is using the new cease fire to step up its campaign to win the hearts and minds of local people by setting up much needed medical centres.

Yet not all the Naga factions involved in the struggle with the Indian government have signed the ceasefire agreement. Zeluolie Angami, of the Natoinal Socialist Council of Nagaland was quite blunt in his assessment of the situation when he said: "There is no meaning in entering into any agreement with the government of India unless the various factions get together. Since the ceasefire started more killings have taken place."

As the warring factions have so far failed to put aside their differences the people of the region have little reason to beleive that the present ceasefire will succeed where those of 1960s and 1970s failed.

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