North East Insurgency

Topics Covered

  • Introduction
  • Importance Of North-East Region
  • What Is Insurgency?
  • Reasons For Conflict In North East India:
  • Different Insurgent Groups In The Region.
  • Current Situation
  • Role Of The Neighbours
  • Suggestions
  • Conclusion

Introduction

  • North East India is the region situated in the eastern-most part of India comprising of the eight states of Arunachal Pradesh, Assam, Manipur, Meghalaya, Mizoram, Nagaland, Tripura and Sikkim.
  • It is linked with Indian heartland through the 21 km. wide Siliguri Corridor, which is commonly known as the chicken neck, created by the Radcliffe line.
  • The corridor is flanked by Bhutan, Bangladesh and Nepal.
  • The Northeast borders on four countries, namely, China and Bhutan on its North; Myanmar on its East; and Bangladesh on its South and West.
  • It has an area of 2.6 lakh sq. km. (7.6% of India’s land area) while its population is 39 million plus (3.6% of India’s population).
  • It has 475 ethnic groups and 400 languages/ dialects are spoken here.

Importance Of North-East Region

  • Strategic Importance of the region: About 99% of the 6387 km border of this Region is international border along Bangladesh, Myanmar, China and Bhutan. It makes up close to 40% of India’s land borders with its neighbours. It thus has an extraordinarily important international strategic dimension and is a vital part of the nation’s defence architecture.
  • Bridge to South East Asia: The region is a bridgehead between India and the vibrant economies of Southeast Asia, including southern China.
  • Economic Significance: North East is endowed with huge natural resources (oil, gas, coal, hydro, fertile land, etc) which can be harnessed for nation development.

What Is Insurgency?

  • An insurgency is an armed rebellion against a constituted authority when those taking part in the rebellion are not recognized as belligerents.
  • In case of Indian scenario it can be seen as armed rebellion and violent protests against Indian Government or authority.

Reasons for conflict in North East India

  • Historical reasons – loosely administered under British India.
  • Tensions between these states and the central government.
  • Tensions between tribal people, who are natives of these states, and migrant peoples from other parts of India.
  • Geographical reasons – not well connected with present Indian mainland.
  • Developmental reasons – Poorly developed due to lack of fund from Center/States.
  • Environmental reasons.
  • Military reasons –  AFSPA (Armed Forces Special Power Act).
  • Foreign Policy – Look easy policy and market changes bought.
  • External support – China and Myanmar.

Different Insurgent Groups In The Region.

  • Nagaland
    • Being a part of the larger state of Assam, it was the first to experience militancy in pursuit of a grant of autonomy. Under the leadership of the Naga National Council (N.N.C.), headed by A.Z. Phizo, Nagas declared independence around 1951.
    • The N.N.C. split to form National Socialist Council of Nagaland (N.S.C.N.). The N.S.C.N. further broke into two factions: Isak-Muivah faction (N.S.C.N.-I.M.) and the Khaplang faction (N.S.C.N.-K.).
  • Mizoram
    • It was a part of the state of Assam before it was granted statehood in 1987, experienced militancy after the Union government failed to respond positively to its demand for assistance during the massive “Mautam famine”.
    • The Mizo National Front (M.N.F.), led by the legendary leader Laldenga, demanded independence for Mizoram in 1966.
  • Tripura
    • Migration of Hindus from the British-ruled East Bengal is believed to have been responsible for reducing the indigenous tribal people in the state to minority status; this development sparked a violent backlash among the indigenous people.
    • Militant groups sprang up in the state demanding the restoration of the tribal rights from the Bengali population.
  • Assam
    • A movement that started demanding the deportation of the illegal migrants also witnessed the birth of the militant outfit the United Liberation Front of Assam (U.L.F.A.) in 1979.
    • The other groups that formed are Bodo Liberation Tigers, National Democratic Front of Bodoland (N.D.F.B.), the United People’s Democratic Solidarity (U.P.D.S.).
  • Manipur
    • Militancy originated in protest against the forcible merger of the former Manipur Kingdom with India.
    • United National Liberation Front formed in 1964, with an objective of ending the discrimination against Manipur, which was accorded statehood only in 1972 nearly 23 years after its merger.
  • Meghalaya
    • The Meghalaya state was carved out of the Assam state, with an aim to address the unique needs of the major tribes in the region: the Garos, the Jaintias and the Khasis.
    • The rise of aspirations of tribal autonomy led to the emergence of several insurgent groups in the state, like Garo National Liberation Army (GNLA ) and Hynniewtrep National Liberation Council (HNLC).
  • Arunachal Pradesh
    • The state remains under peace more or less in history but the proximity of state with Myanmar and Nagaland border is gradually being afflicting insurgency in recent time.
    • The only case of indigenous insurgency movement in Arunachal Pradesh was the rise of the Arunachal Dragon Force (ADF), which was rechristened as East India Liberation Front (EALF) in 2001.

Current Situation

  • The state response has effectively curbed violence in North-east.
  • The political nexus have helped them carry out their illicit works. In return, run extortion rackets and all types of other illegal trades and get right to operate within limits with impunity.
  • This results in dismal law and order situation in these areas. It is this absence of rule of law that these groups are still operating. Chances of a political settlement are bleak because of the kind of diversity it holds.
  • The region has also received little attention from either the national or the international media. Achievements by a separate ministry created by the Indian government for the development of the region remain minimal.
  • While the government’s military options have achieved only minimal results, lack of development continues to alienate the people of the region further from the mainstream.

Role of the Neighbours

  • Pakistan, through its intelligence agency the I.S.I., is believed to have assisted the militant groups in terms of training and finance.
  • Neighbouring countries like China and Myanmar are accused of promoting insurgency in the region.
  • China has provided some assistance to groups such as the N.S.C.N. in the 1980s.
  • Bhutan remains the only country that successfully dislodged several militant camps of the northeastern groups through a military operation launched in December 2003.
  • Militant camps in Nagaland, as well as Manipur, exist in the bordering areas of Myanmar. Outfits like U.L.F.A. and the N.D.F.B. have reportedly used the facilities.

Suggestions

  • Stringent law and fast criminal justice system for quick disposal of insurgents attack cases.
  • Enhance communication and connectivity, infrastructure improvement for better integration of the region with the mainland.
  • Greater coordination between central forces and state forces for better tactical response.
  • Decentralization with alertness, Improving administrative efficiency, pro-people governance and coping up with regional aspirations
  • Greater cultural interaction with the rest of the country and socio-economic development that includes a holistic inclusive development.

Conclusion

  • The ceasefire agreements have led to a reduction in the militancy-related fatalities in their respective states, a road map toward a situation of a permanent agreement is desired from GoI.
  • It will develop a conducive environment for investments in the region and will solve the socio-economic backwardness of the region.