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Insurgency In The North-East | Internal Security



  • 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.  Insurgency in the North-East | Internal Security


Historical Background Of The North-East | Insurgency In The North-East | Internal Security  

  • Nagaland, Manipur, Assam and Tripura had been witnessing conflict since 1950-60 period, but since 1990, the intensity of conflicts started to decrease. Now the only state where prominent insurgency exist is Manipur. But in this region several armed factions operate. Some groups call for a separate state, others for regional autonomy while some extreme groups demand complete independence.
    • During the British era, the tribal groups constituted an overwhelming majority of the population in most of the areas they inhabited. Outsiders were not allowed to acquire land in the tribal areas. At the same time, the British government supported the Christian missionaries to move in and establish schools, hospitals and churches.
    • There was a virtual absence of any political, cultural, social, geographical, religious or business contact of the tribals in the North-East with the rest of the India. So India’s freedom struggle had very little impact on the tribals.  Insurgency in the North-East | Internal Security


    Factors Responsible For Insurgency In North East

    • The inter-tribal conflicts, the youth unemployment and the inability to compete with non-tribal businesses, illegal migration from neighbouring States and countries leading to the competition of resources and land have led to various conflicts and demands of secession/ autonomy.
    • The broad racial differences between India and its Northeast and the tenuous geographical link (the chicken neck Siliguri Corridor) contributed to a sense of alienation, a feeling of ‘otherness’ that subsequently gave rise to a political culture of violent separatism.
    • Northeast India is home to more than 50 ethnic rebel groups – a few demanding complete secession from India, others fighting for ethnic identities and homelands and some running the insurgency as an industry to spin easy money without any political ideology.
    • Militants in their formative years voiced genuine grievances of the people such as poor governance, alienation, lack of development and an apathetic attitude from the central government in New Delhi. However, with time and opportunist motives, these have taken forms of insurgencies across the region.    Insurgency in the North-East | Internal Security

    State Wise Status | Insurgency In The North-East | Internal Security 


    • The Nagas believe that they were not part of India, whether through conquest or consent.
    • The Nationalist Socialist Council of Nagaland (NSCN) is a Naga nationalist group operating in North-east India.
    • The main aim of the organisation is to establish a soverign state, “Nagalim” unifying all the areas inhabited by the Naga people in Northeast India and Burma.
    • Issues:
      • Clashes among different tribal groups and factions
      • Presence of underground groups that deal in extortion, arms, drugs, smuggling etc.
      • Parallel government
    • Latest developments:
      • The govt of India and Naga insurgent group NSCN (IM) signed a peace accord on 3 August 2016.
      • However, this is only a framework agreement. The details of the accord are yet to be fleshed out. It is likely to be followed by more detailed agreements and negotiations.



    • The perceived threat to the political identity of the Assamese people from the illegal migrants from Bangladesh lies at the core of the Assam problem. The indigenous people of Assam feel that in future the illegal migrants will become the majority population and they will lose political power.
    • Statehood demands in Assam:
      • Bodoland
      • Karbi Anglong
      • Dimaraji
      • Kamtapur
    • General reasons behind their demand of separate statehood
      • To preserve and promote their ethnic identity
      • For rapid economic development in backward areas
      • To ensure control over natural resources like land
    • Recent developments:
      • In July 2012, violence broke out with riots between indigenous Bodos and Bengali-speaking Muslims (who were suspected to be illegal Bangladeshi muslims).
      • Violence in Assam later had its repercussions in other parts of India, Azad maidan riots in Mumbai, Rumour mongering (via sinisterSMSs) triggered exodus of NE Indians.


    Assam Nagaland Border Crisis

    • More than 20 protestors were injured and two killed in police action at Rangajan, Golaghat District, Assam against an economic blockade on Asian Highway 1 (also called NH 39) leading into neighbouring Nagaland. (2014)
    • Major Groups involved were:
      • Asom Jatiyatabadi Yuva Chhatra Parishad,
      • All Assam Tea Tribes students Association,
      • All Assam Tai Ahom Students Union, and
      • All Adivasi Students Association
    • The Assam-Nagaland border is disputed since Nagaland achieved statehood in 1963. The disputed land is claimed by private individuals and communities on both sides of the official border based on historical rights in the absence of bona fide documents.
    • In spite of the Supreme Court’s intervention, the dispute remains unresolved with an interim agreement between Assam and Nagaland to place the disputed border areas under the control of a neutral Central Police force.      Insurgency in the North-East | Internal Security


    • Kingdom of Manipur was merged with the Indian Union on 15 October 1949. However, only after a protracted agitation interspersed with violence, it was declared a separate state in 1972.
    • The emergence of insurgency in Manipur is formally traced to the emergence of the United National Liberation Front (UNLF) on 24 November 1964. The alleged ‘forced’ merger of Manipur and the delay in the conferring of full-fledged statehood to it was greatly resented by the people of Manipur.
    • The people of Manipur include the Meitei tribe, the Kuki tribe and the Naga tribe. Meitei tribe forms about 60% of the total population and lives in the plains while Nagas and Kukis live in the hill districts.
    • Issues:
      • There are more militant groups in the states than anywhere else and the rivalry between these outfits often leads to greater violence.
      • The situation is further complicated because insurgent groups are not united for the same cause. The Nagas wish to annex a part of Manipur and merge with a greater Nagaland or Nagalim, which is in conflict with Meitei insurgents’ demands for an independent state.
      • Unlike other conflict theatres of the Northeast, not many ‘surrenders’ have been reported from Manipur, thus indicating the tight control that the outfits have maintained over their cadres.
      • Also, non-Manipuris are being targeted increasingly in Manipur.
    • Recent developments:
      • In June 2015, 18 Indian Army jawans were killed and several others were injured when suspected militants ambushed their convoy in Manipur’s Chandel district.
      • In response to the killing of 18 of its troops by militants in Manipur, the Indian Army in one of its biggest covert missions sent troops into Myanmar to strike at two camps and, according to official estimates, killed over 20 suspected militants.  Insurgency in the North-East | Internal Security

    Inner line permit controversy

    • Manipur is demanding the implementation of Inner Line Permit(ILP) in the state.
    • If ILP bill is passed and enacted into law, it will require outsiders to obtain a special pass or permit to enter the state.
    • System is already in force in the state of Nagaland, Mizoram and Arunachal Pradesh.
    • Since Manipur is not officially a tribal State there are constitutional challenges to implement the ILP System.
    • Among 3 major communities of Manipur – Meities, Kukis, Nagas, the ILP System is demanded by Meties.
    • The govt. could implement the 6th Schedule in the hill areas which would ensure autonomy for the Kukis and Nagas in their respective regions within Manipur.
    • The Inner Line Permit (ILP) is an official travel document issued by the Government of India to grant inward travel of an Indian citizen into a protected area for a limited period. It is obligatory for Indians residing outside those states to obtain permission prior to entering the protected areas.
    • Currently, the Inner Line Permit is operational in Arunachal Pradesh, Mizoram and Nagaland.
    • The document has been issued under the Bengal Eastern Frontier Regulation, 1873 and the conditions and restrictions vary from state to state.
    • The system was introduced by the British to protect their commercial interests, particularly in oil and tea, and continues now essentially as a mechanism to firewall the tribal peoples and their cultures from onslaughts by outsiders.  Insurgency in the North-East | Internal Security


    • Meghalaya is perhaps the least affected by insurgency in the north-east region.
    • Problems in Meghalaya arise from the divide among various tribes as well as the divide between tribal and non tribal settlers, identity issues and growing corruption, besides the sharp changes in demography due to Bangladeshi infiltrators. Also, criminal activities like extortion and drugs smuggling are a major concern in the region. The state lies in a major smuggling route between Bangladesh and India.
    • Mizoram and Tripura have shown remarkable success in controlling insurgency and now they are largely peaceful.

    Arunachal Pradesh

    • The people of three eastern districts of Arunachal Pradesh, namely Tirap, Changlang and Longding live in perpetual fear due to presence of cadres of two NSCN factions in the area, who resort to kidnapping, extortion and factional feuds. These three districts are a part of NSCN-IM’s  projected state of Nagalim (Greater Nagaland)



    • Insurgency in Tripura finds its root in the influx of refugees from the newly emerged East Pakistan after partition, post independence and post 1971 war liberation in Bangladesh.
    • Migration fuelled discontent and demographic inversion in Tripura.
    • The ratio of population of tribals and non-tribals which was 70:30 at the time of independence in 1947 changed to 70: 30 in favour of non tribals.This injustice has led to insurgency.
    • The evolution of insurgency in Tripura can be traced to the formation of the Tripura Upajati Juba Samiti (TUJS) in 1971, followed by the Tripura National Volunteers (TNV) in 1981.
    • The National Liberation Front of Tripura (NLFT) was formed on March 2, 1989 and its armed wing, the National Holy Army and All Tripura Tiger Force (ATTF), in July 1990, queering the pitch.
    • The two outfits came up with a secessionist agenda, disputed the merger of the kingdom of Tripura with the Indian Union, and demanded sovereignty for Tripura, deportation of “illegal migrants,” the implementation of the Tripura merger agreement and the restoration of land to the tribal people under the Tripura Land Reform Act, 1960.
    • Between 1990 and 1995, the insurgency remained low-key.
    • But it grew in extent and magnitude between 1996 and 2004 — and then started melting.  Insurgency in the North-East | Internal Security
    • Recent Development:
      • The changing religious composition of tribal groups (particularly, the Jamatiyas) is giving rise to newer tensions with apprehension of increased inter-tribal conflicts.
      • While the tribal non-tribal clashes are on the decline, there is growing resentment among the tribals due to the restrictions on their ‘freedom to use’ the forests and their nominal participation in district development.
      • Despite impressive strides made by the State in the last decade lack of economic opportunities and improper connectivity has made situation fragile.
      • As a result of Land Boundary Agreement with Bangladesh border dispute will be resolved.

    Government’s Response To North East Extremism | Insurgency In The North-East | Internal Security  

    • The Central Government is pursuing a policy for talks/negotiation with such groups which categorically abjure violence, lay down arms and seek solutions for their problems peacefully within the framework of the Constitution of India.
    • Deployment of Central Armed Police Forces to aid the State authorities for carrying out counter insurgency operations and providing security for vulnerable institutions and installations  Insurgency in the North-East | Internal Security
    • Reimbursement of security related expenditure to the State Governments under SRE Scheme. The scheme is being implemented in all States of the region except Mizoram and Sikkim.
    • Central assistance to the State Governments for modernization of State Police Forces
    • Sanction of India Reserve Battalions for augmenting and upgrading the states’ police forces to deal with insurgency /militancy
    • Banning the Unlawful Associations operating in NE Region under UAPA (Unlawful Activities(Prevention) Act, 1967)
    • Declaring specific areas/states as ‘disturbed areas’ for the purpose of AFSPA and issuing notifications for Unified command Structure etc.
    • Scheme for Surrender-cum Rehabilitation of militants in North East to wean away the mis-guided youth and hard-core militants who have strayed into the fold of militancy and later find themselves trapped into that net.
    • Civic Action Programme in the North Eastern States in order to take the local populace in confidence and boost the image of armed forces amongst the common people. Under this Programme, various welfare/developmental activities are undertaken like holding of medical camps, sanitation drives, sports meets, distribution of study material to children, minor repairs of school buildings, roads, bridges, etc. and running adult education centres etc.
    • Advertisement and publicity to highlight the activities being undertaken by the Government for peace in the region and also with a view to convey that “Peace pays”.

    Recent Initiatives by the Government | Insurgency in the North-East  | Internal Security 

    • The Kaladan Multi Modal Transit project:
      • The project will connect Sittwe Port in Myanmar to the India-Myanmar border via roadway. It will provide alternative cost effective shortcut to landlocked north eastern states. Originally, the project was scheduled to be completed by 2014, but work on it is still underway.
      • Once operational, it will provide an alternate access route to India’s north east region and contribute towards the regional economic development and reduce pressure on the Siliguri Corridor.  Insurgency in the North-East | Internal Security
    • From Look East Policy(LEP) to Act East Policy(AEP):
      • A greater focus on:
        • External Angle : Essentially, concerning relations of India as a whole with ASEAN & East Asia
        • Internal Angle : Development of North East India that makes it a viable gate way for the rest of India to ASEAN & East Asia North East in Hydrocarbon Vision 2030 aims to double oil and gas output in the next 15 years.
      • The India-Myanmar-Thailand trilateral highway
        • The India-Myanmar-Thailand (IMT) trilateral highway is expected to become operational by 2018-19. Also, the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) is planning to extend the proposed India-Myanmar-Thailand highway to the CLMV (Cambodia, Lao PDR and Vietnam) countries in the second phase. This will then give India direct access to the South-East and East Asian markets
      • North East Rural Livelihood Project
        • It is being implemented in 2 districts in each of 4 North Eastern States of Mizoram, Nagaland, Sikkim and Tripura. The objective is to create sustainable community institutions around women Self Help Groups (SHG), Community development groups (CDG) and the youth of the select districts. It was launched in 2013 for a period of 5 years and is aided by the World Bank. Development of Moreh (Manipur) as a smart city:
          • Manipur is the most critical state in India’s connectivity to Myanmar and South East Asia. 99% of overland formal trade goes through Moreh.

    North East Insurgents And Their Foreign Links  | Insurgency In The North-East | Internal Security  

    • Many ethnic groups in the region especially in the areas bordering the international boundaries have more in common with the population living across the boundary than with their own nationals. The affinity of groups with their kin groups across the border and the sense of support (both material and non material) they derive from them, have had serious implications
    • Countries surrounding India have been active in exploiting the volatile situation presented by the turmoil in the northeast. Not only countries such as China, Pakistan, Bangladesh and Myanmar, but also smaller powers such as Bhutan and Nepal have been involved in the region. Through political backing, economic assistance, logistic support, military training or arms supplies these countries have varyingly contributed to the ongoing violence in this region.
    • Pakistan, through its intelligence agency the I.S.I., is believed to have assisted the militant groups in terms of training and finance.
    • China has provided some assistance to groups such as the N.S.C.N. in the 1980s.
    • 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.
    • Bhutan remains the only country that successfully dislodged several militant camps of the northeastern groups through a military operation launched in December 2003. Insurgency in the North-East | Internal Security


    Counter Terrorism- Steps Being Taken/ Required |  Insurgency In The North-East | Internal Security 

    • Meeting the political aspirations of groups by giving them autonomy. Implementing sixth schedule provisions in these areas will help them to preserve their identity and culture while giving them greater autonomy.  Insurgency in the North-East | Internal Security
    • Economic development of the area in a calibrated manner. Any development should be sustainable and should have the participation and acceptance by the locals. Developments like road and rail connectivity, infrastructure building, Modernization of the primary sector etc.
    • Improving Governance and delivery mechanisms of the government and administration.
    • Rebel groups must also be more pragmatic by seeking greater autonomy within the constitutional mandate rather than demanding newer states and regions based on ever narrowing ethnic and linguistic identities, which are beyond acceptance.
    • Centre and states should coordinate in decision making. In the recent agreement of the Centre with NSCN (IM), it did not take concerned state governments and other groups on board. It should be avoided.


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