INSURGENCY : Challenges to India’s Internal Security
INSURGENCY : Challenges to India’s Internal Security
- Various groups are involved in the Insurgency in Northeast India. In the region several armed factions operate. Some groups call for a separate state, others for regional autonomy while some extreme groups demand complete independence.
- Regional disputes exist among North-Eastern states, NE states and Central government, amongst the tribal natives of the states and migrant peoples from neighbouring countries and other parts of India are being fuelled by the insurgency in North-Eastern areas, which adversely affect the socio-political-cultural-economic milieu in the region.
- Difficult terrain, porous border, underdevelopment, ethnic conflicts etc. are the main reasons behind rising insurgency in North Eastern states. This is aided by external adjoining states and Non-state actors. INSURGENCY : Challenges to India’s Internal Security
- Several insurgency movements have sprung up in most of the constituent states of the region. Demands of the insurgent groups have been wide-ranging. While groups like the United Liberation Front of Asom (ULFA), NSCN-IM (National Socialist Council of Nagaland: isak-Muivah group) aim at establishing independent states, outfits such as the Bodo Liberation Tigers (BLT) demanded separate states for their tribal constituency.
- Fringe outfits, such as the United People’s Democratic Solidarity (UPDS) and Dima Halam Daogah (DHD), confining their activities to the geographical limits of separate districts in Assam, have fought for maximum autonomy, within the purview of the Indian constitution. Reasons behind dissent against the Indian state too have been diverse.
- The National Liberation Front of Tripura (NLFT) and the All Tripura Tiger Force (ATTF) insurgencies in Tripura are rooted in the sense of alienation of the indigenous tribes as a result of the unhindered migration from Bangladesh (formerly East Bengal / East Pakistan). INSURGENCY : Challenges to India’s Internal Security
- The ULFA, too started highlighting among others, Assam’s sorry plight as a result of Bangladeshi migration. Several outfits operating in the valley areas of Manipur protest against the forcible accession of the state to the Indian union and subsequent neglect of their language and the delayed statehood conferred on the state. Apathy shown by the central government to the population suffering from a famine triggered the militancy in Mizoram spearheaded by the Mizo National Front (MNF).
- Insurgency in different states often overflowed into the neighbouring states and contiguous regions. Tribal populations belonging to the same stock/ clan are often found on both sides of the boundaries between various states and hence, the militant outfits find it convenient to expand their activities to both the sides.
- For example, the Hmar insurgency is noticed in all the Hmar inhabited areas of Mizoram, Assam and Manipur. In addition, states like Meghalaya and Arunachal Pradesh are used by the insurgents to set up safe houses and also as transit routes. Thus, both these states have been affected by activities of ULFA, NDFB, NSCN cadres.
- Safe havens in the adjoining states like Myanmar, Bangladesh, Nepal, China; financial and arms support by various countries have worsened the Insurgency situation in NE India over the years. INSURGENCY : Challenges to India’s Internal Security
- Unemployment problem in the region stands as a major cause for sustained insurgency. Thus lots of the unemployed youths become easy target for recruitment for the insurgent outfits.
- Extortion activities are also on a rise in the region, with militants collecting extortion money from almost everywhere, including educational institutions and religious places. The extortion activities have also disrupted the work of many important development projects in the region.
- Trans-national linkages have remained a crucial force-multiplier for the insurgents in Northeast India. While the Naga insurgents received patronage from the Chinese in the 1960s and 1970s, safe bases in countries including Bhutan, Bangladesh and Myanmar have been used by the outfits to sustain themselves. In December 2003, Bhutan launched a military crackdown targeting the ULFA, NDFB and Kamtapur Liberation Organization (KLO) militants.
- Such manoeuvres remain unrepeated in either Myanmar or Bangladesh. Myanmar, since the 1980s, has conducted periodic onslaughts against the militants, with only transitory results.
- The NSCN-K (Khaplang faction of the National Socialist Council of Nagaland) and a number of outfits operating in Manipur continue to maintain their facilities in Myanmar. According to Indian army sources, UNLF today supplies arms and ammunition to various militant groups in the Northeast with active connivance of Myanmar’s security forces.
- Bangladesh has been accused by the Indian authorities of housing about 190 camps of the north eastern Indian insurgents. Many top leaders of a number of outfits, including the ULFA, NLFT, ATTF and KLO were based in Dhaka, Chittagong and other cities. Their presence in Bangladesh facilitated strategic and operational nexus with the Pakistani Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI).
- The ISI, is not only known to have trained ULFA cadres, but also has been accused by the Indian security agencies, of having a decisive say over their activities in Assam. However, after the Awami League Government came to power in Bangladesh it initiated a crackdown on the Indian insurgent outfits based in Bangladeshi soils. It has led to the fleeing of top leaders of these outfits from Bangladesh and trying to set up their bases at newer areas, especially China.
- Similarly, some of the outfits in the region have also tried to wage their struggle in the international level by associating themselves with international organisations. Since, 1996, the ULFA has attended meetings of an international organisation representing indigenous and minority groups called the Unrepresented Nations People’s Organisation and the United Nations Group on Human Rights (UNWGIP).
- The NSCN-IM, too, is a member of the UNPO. The ULFA too has attended UNPO sessions. The NSCN-IM maintains its office in Thailand and Netherlands. Such attempts have provided the outfits with international publicity, although the overall attempt of bringing international pressure on New Delhi for resolving the ongoing conflicts as per the wishes of the outfits has been limited. INSURGENCY : Challenges to India’s Internal Security
- Easy availability of small arms in neighbouring countries like Bangladesh and Myanmar has been another factor behind the sustenance of insurgency in the region. Arms have entered India’s Northeast from the Southeast Asian markets through the region’s porous borders with these countries.
- Inter-linkages between the outfits have ensured the smooth transfer of military hardware and the technology to use them. As a result, even the weakest of the outfits, have access to sophisticated arms and explosives. INSURGENCY : Challenges to India’s Internal Security
- The NSCN has trained armed cadres of several outfits active in different states in the region. ULFA cadres, even today, continue to use the NSCN-K facilities in Myanmar’s Sagaing division.
“There are reports that the insurgent groups operating in the north eastern states of India have been augmenting their armoury by acquiring arms from China and Sino-Myanmar border towns and routing them through Myanmar. There are no confirmed reports to suggest that the insurgent groups are receiving funds from China”– Minister of state for Home Affairs, M Ramachandran.