The Nagas

Hill Peoples of Northeast India

Project Introduction The Naga Database

book : 'Konyak Nagas' by Christoph von Furer-Haimendorf, (1969)

caption: Chapter Five. Present and Future
caption: establishment of Nagaland
medium: books
person: Furer-Haimendorf/ C.
date: 1969
refnum: with permission from Holt, Rinehart & Winston, New York104:1
text: The slow growth of contacts between Nagas and plainsmen continued until 1947, when India gained independence and government policy vis-a-vis the Naga hills and other tribal areas came up for revision. An understandable desire to promote the unity of India led to administrative changes aimed at bringing all parts of the country under a uniform system of government. The Naga hills were to be integrated into the state of Assam, and in order to achieve this aim, the regular district administration, involving numerous officials of many different departments, was extended to the previously lightly administered hill tracts. While Assamese and other Indian officials posted in the Naga hills saw themselves as the bearers of a superior civilization and of such benefits as schools and medical care, the Nagas regarded these newcomers as novel rulers who sought to deprive them of the virtual self-government their villages had enjoyed in British days. This prospect dismayed them even more, as none of the Naga tribes had ever been conquered by the Assamese, who had lived in awe of the fierce hill men. Indeed, many Nagas, and particularly the Angamis and Lhotas, who had received a fair amount of education in schools established both by government and by the American Baptist Mission, felt that after the withdrawal of the British, they should be allowed to run their own affairs. After protracted and fruitless negotiations between the government of India and the leaders of the Nagas, hostilities broke out when in 1956 tribal extremists murdered a pro-Indian Naga politician. Troops were dispatched to the Naga hills to restore order, but many of the Naga leaders went underground, and ever since there has been intermittent fighting between the regular Indian army and Naga guerrillas. Unable to suppress the rebellion, the government of India has been prepared to make concessions to Naga national feeling, and in 1957 placed the Naga Hills district and the Tuensang Frontier division, which contained part of the Konyak area, under the Ministry of External Affairs. In 1960 a Naga state, known as Nagaland, was established, and this was to enjoy as high a degree of autonomy as the other states of the Indian union. However, for an interim period, which has not yet come to an end, responsibility for law and order was vested in the governor of Assam, who acted as governor of Nagaland.