Hornbill festival cancelled in Nagaland

In a recent incident, armed forces in Nagaland mistakenly shot civilians. As a result, the Hornbill festival has been cancelled.

  • Naga celebrate this festival to revive, sustain, protect, and promote the rich heritage and traditions of the Naga.
  • It is celebrated every year during the 1st – 10th of December.
  • It is also known as the “Festival of Festivals”.
  • This festival pays tribute to Hornbill, the most admired bird for the Nagas, for its qualities of alertness and grandeur.
  • It is organised by State Tourism and Art & Culture Departments and also supported by Union Government.
  • The Hornbill Festival was established on the 1st of December 1963 and was inaugurated by the then President Dr S Radhakrishnan.

 Great Indian Hornbill

  • As far as IUCN status is concerned, it is Vulnerable (uplisted from Near Threatened in 2018), Similarly on CITES: it is included in Appendix I
  • It is one of the large members of the hornbill family.
  • Primarily, it is a fruit-eating species. However, it is also seen as an opportunist and preys on small mammals, reptiles and birds.
  • Due to its impressive size and colour, it has become important in many of the tribal cultures and rituals.
  • A significant number of their population is found in India with a significant proportion in the Western Ghats and the Nilgiris, Nilgiris North Eastern Range

Their ecological significance

It is also referred to as ‘farmers of the forest’ or ‘forest engineers’ as they play a key role in dropping seeds of tropical trees. They also indicate the prosperity and balance of the forest they build nests in.

Why is the North East a unique case with respect to security and peace?

  • The Northeast is embedded in a complex web of identities and a different history of nation-building.
  • Their affinity to linguistic, regional, ethnic and clan identity is too deep.
  • So overt nationalism mixed up with religion and over-securitisation emphasis in peace advancement can have dire consequences.
  • Its geography, history and political economy are also conducive for insurgent groups to operate.

Impact on the Naga Peace Process

There have been multiple insurgent groups operating here for years. Among these groups, the talks with the “NSCN-IM” for a settlement to end the seven-decade-old Naga insurgency is at an advanced stage. This incident could impact the process. The unrest in Myanmar may spillover to Nagaland and Manipur as unrest has reportedly influenced Naga and Manipur insurgent groups that have a base in that country.

Powers of armed forces under Armed Forces Special Power Act

 This empowers the armed forces to maintain public order in the areas notified as “disturbed areas”.

  • Armed forces have the authority to prohibit the gathering of an assembly of 5 or more persons in an area. The forces can also use force after giving due warning if they feel a person is in contravention of the law.
  • The army can also arrest a person in the absence of a warrant; enter or search premises in the absence of a warrant; and ban the possession of firearms if reasonable suspicion exists.

Disturbed Area

It is an area which is declared by notification as per Section 3 of the AFSPA due to conflict between members of different religious, language,  racial, regional groups, castes or communities.

The Union Government or the Governor of the respective State or administrator of the Union Territory has the power to declare the whole or any part of the State or Union Territory as a disturbed area.

The Union government, under the leadership of Justice B P Jeevan Reddy in 2004, appointed a 5 member committee headed by to review the provisions of AFSPA.


(a) AFSPA should be repealed, and instead, appropriate provisions must be inserted in the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, 1967
(b) The Unlawful Activities Act should be amended in order to clearly define the powers of the armed forces
(c) grievance cells could be set up in such districts where the armed forces are deployed. The 2nd Administrative Reforms Commission