National security is the requirement to maintain the survival of the state through the use of economic power, diplomacy, power projection and political power. Initially focusing on military might, it now encompasses a broad range of facets, all of which impinge on the non military or economic security of the nation and the values espoused by the national society.
Accordingly, in order to possess national security, a nation needs to possess economic security, energy security, environmental security, etc. Security threats involve not only conventional foes such as other nation-states but also non-state actors such as violent non-state actors, narcotic cartels, multinational corporations and non-governmental organisations; some authorities include natural disasters and events causing severe environmental damage in this category.
Measures taken to ensure national security include:
1) Using diplomacy to rally allies and isolate threats
2) Marshalling economic power to facilitate or compel cooperation
3) Maintaining effective armed forces
4) Implementing civil defense and emergency preparedness measures.
The deliberate commission of an act of violence to create public fear through the suffering of the victims in the furtherance of a political or social agenda. It is the use of unlawful violence against people or property to achieve political objectives. It may also be a form of psychological manipulation through warfare to the purpose of political or religious gains, by means of deliberately creating a climate of fear amongst the inhabitants of a specific geographical region
It may also be a person, group, or organization that uses violent action, or the threat of violent action, to further political goals.
The use of the label “terrorist” is often controversial or subjective, since one person’s terrorist may be another’s “freedom fighter”, and vice versa depending on somebody’s personal ideology of beliefs. A cynical definition may be that a terrorist is someone who murders or terrorizes more of those for whom the terrorist is fighting, than his supposed enemies.
State and Non State Actors
State Actors are countries, for instances Indonesia, Malaysia, United States etc. They are sovereign countries formed under national consciousness, which then called as Nation State. These actors have different political systems, they mostly refers to democratic states. There also some states that are being controlled by their political elite and private, which make them look like apart from its political society. This domestic political system effects fundamentally on the characteristic of International Relation.
Non-state Actors, consist of Multi National Corporations, International Government Organisations, International Non-Government Organisations, Transnational Organizing Crime TOC, and terrorists.
State actors are governments or their agencies of foreign countries and non state actor are individual/ organisation who have social, political & economical power to influence national/international policies but they are not allied with any particular country.
Difference between state and non state actors are converging as state actors support non state actors whose ideologies converge with that of state actor. For example Pakistan using LeT and JeM against India. Sometimes non state actors also influence state policies like IMF’s condition to open India’s economy during balance of payment crisis of 1980s.
A non-state actor is an organized entity which answers to no government, that has its own agenda and confers its own “legitimacy” on itself. ISIS is a non-state actor. Seal Team Six, the Tenth Mountain Division and the CIA are state actors.
There are also “proprietary” actors, entities which are “deniably” supported by governments.
The Naxalite movement first came to the forefront in the late 1960s, when Naxalbari became famous for the left-wing revolt that took place in West Bengal. Since then, it is perceived as the greatest threat to law and order within India. The movement has now advanced to the hilly and forest regions of around eight different states, with more than 150 districts are believed to be under its direct influence. It is mostly active in the tribal areas spreading from Andhra Pradesh to Bihar and Maharashtra, and also covering parts of Karnataka, Jharkhand, Madhya Pradesh, Orissa, Chhattisgarh, and Tamil Nadu.
Naxal violence has resulted in the death of over 10,000 civilians and displaced 12 million people since 1980s with a significant rise in the number of killings in Naxalism-hit states. Additionally, more than 200 of India’s 640 districts are indirectly under Naxal control.
Naxalism signifies a particular kind of militant and violent armed struggle by the peasants and tribals who accept Marxist-Leninist ideology. Inspite of Naxalism being termed as the biggest problem in Adivasi areas, the social problems are actually much wider in the form of unemployment, poverty and an untold number of socio-economic injustices. Here are some points to justify the statement: What ‘Ignited The Fire’ To What Is Believed To Be India’s Biggest Law And Order Problem?
In spite of the government laying down a clear plan to tackle the left-wing extremism like launching a Police Modernization Scheme in areas affected by Naxal movements, the bill for safeguarding land rights introduced by the UPA, etc which were all modest measures in the right direction, the local elites still continued to manipulate the Panchayati Raj structures, as it was noticed. Such a move gave fuel to the already ignited fire to the tribals to start the Naxalism movement.
Linkages between development and spread of extremism
It is a truism that underdevelopment often creates the conditions for insurgency and spread of extremist ideologies among the people, who perceive that their needs are not being taken care of by the government.
While it has been the policy of governments around the world today to emphasise on “inclusive development”, there are always groups in every state who feel alienated because they perceive that they are left out of the developmental efforts. Such perceptions coupled with inefficient and corrupt governance create an ideal condition for extremism and militancy. More than lack of development, it is the perception of injustice, misgovernance and inability of the system to engage the disaffected lot that lead people to violence and extremism.
With regards to socio- economic issues, education must be the prime intervention and this needs to be addressed with innovation. Once education enters the blood stream of the people of particular region they would be discrete with their violent actions.
Most of the people who are entering into the movement of extremism are lacking primary education, basic amenities and infrastructure facilities.
Efficient and impartial policing is an important requirement of good administration.Weaker section of people does not have much faith in police. People have no faith that justice will be done to them against the powerful person in the society. Here lies one of the attractions of the naxalite movement and extremist thoughts.
Frustrations have built among the society where disputes and conflicts are not settled in time. Today’s judicial system is time consuming in nature. The parties to the dispute lose control over even the terms and details of the dispute once it goes to the court. This way the people minds are turning towards extremist thoughts.
Developmental issues which pertain to the spread of extremism are linked to lack of access to basic resources to sustain livelihood. However development is a useful tool against extremism but it must operate in tandem with the security forces.
Various estimates suggest Maoist rebels could number up to 40,000. Of these, thousands may be armed with weapons ranging from AK-47s to light machine-guns raided from police stations or bought from dealers in Nepal. The cadre mostly comprises farmers, landless labourers, tribals and the extremely poor, including women and children.
Naxalites have been charged by the government with running an extortion economy in the guise of a popular revolution, extorting vast amounts of money from local branches of mining companies and other businesses.
Development Issues Related to extremism
Special Economic Zones
Land acquisition for Special Economic Zones (SEZ) has given rise to widespread protest in various parts of the country. Large tracts of land are being acquired across the country for this purpose. Already, questions have been raised on two counts. One is the loss of revenue in the form of taxes and the other is the effect on agricultural production.
In both these debates there is no understanding that land is a livelihood resource. Whether it is multi-cropped or single-cropped, whether it is fertile or infertile, it is the source of livelihood for the farmer and also for other rural inhabitants whose livelihood depends directly or indirectly on land.
The very notion of a SEZ requires a single huge block of land, and therefore it is impossible to avoid acquiring productive land if SEZs are to be established at all. Thus, the notion of an SEZ, irrespective of whether it is established in multi-cropped land or not, is an assault on a major livelihood resource.
Common Property Resources
Common Property Resources (CPR) constitute an important component of the natural resource endowment which contribute significantly to the rural economy and provide sustenance to local communities in rural areas. CPRs cover a wide basket of land, water and vegetation resources consisting of community pastures, common dumping and threshing grounds, watershed drainages, village tanks, rivers and rivulets, and wastelands.
The poor depend upon CPRs far more than the rich due to their lack of or low-productive assets, not enough work or purchasing power, particularly in the lean seasons. Therefore, the health of CPRs and ease of access are critical for these vulnerable groups.
Since colonial times, however, the area of CPRs has been shrinking considerably on account of a number of factors, such as State appropriation for revenue generation, industrialization, privatization and development projects. Privatisation is carried out through extension of field boundaries of private farms, forcible grabbing, and distributive policies of the government. State policies focusing on increasing productivity of CPR lands exposed them to influence of the market, which resulted in raising products from it which catered to commercial demand.
Displacement and Rehabilitation
Displacement, which is, in fact, enforced eviction of people from their lands and natural habitats, has for long been a serious problem. Displacement takes place on account of development projects such as large irrigation projects, industrial and mining projects, power plants, declaration of sanctuaries and national parks, setting up of field firing and testing ranges and a myriad other activities of the State itself. Displacement is a multi-dimensional trauma, with far-reaching impacts, which cannot easily be compensated. The displacement caused by large projects can be physical, occupational and even
Unless the nature and magnitude of displacement in all its dimensions are fully analysed and appropriate safety nets put in place, well in advance of the implementation of the project itself, it will lead to discontent. The track record of the Government in this regard has so far been dismal and those likely to be displaced are rightly apprehensive about their future.
It is important, therefore, that in the case of all major projects, including SEZs, socio- economic impact appraisals are carried out by independent expert institutions so that, before the project is implemented, effective steps are taken to upgrade the skills of the members of the families likely to be affected, so as to ensure that they are in a position to take full advantage of the livelihood opportunities provided by the project.
Articles 14, 15 and 16 of the Indian Constitution provide the framework for a harmonious conjuncture of equality as citizens and compensatory discrimination and affirmative action in favour of SCs/STs and the other backward sections in certain areas. The Directive Principles cast an obligation on the State to promote the educational and economic interests of these sections, and social and economic justice and equality. These mandates have been translated into specific policy instruments for social justice.
Reservation provisions in public services are intended to ensure that the vast gap in educational attainments and economic status does not stand in the way of occupying decision making positions. This has been done by earmarking a percentage share in recruitment and promotion to them.
Similar provisions for entry into educational institutions seek to ensure equality of opportunity for acquiring eligibility qualifications to compete in the employment market and to take up desired professional vocations.
Political participation is facilitated by a percentage share of seats in elected democratic bodies at the State, central and PRI levels and representation in the Central and State cabinets. The dedicated committees of the Parliament and State legislature advice concerned Government on matters concerning these communities. Constitutional and statutory bodies [National/State Commissions] have also been created for safeguarding the interests of these communities and to protect their entitlements against encroachment by non-eligible persons and neglect by the State.
Steps taken by the Government to tackle extremism:
The endurance of terrorism and the rise of violent extremist groups around the world highlight the limits of conventional approaches to counter them. Many years of experience has proven that heavy-handed approaches and a single-minded focus on security measures are inadequate in the global fight against terrorism. What we really need is a broader and smarter approach to reverse the tide of terrorism – one that goes beyond countering terrorists with military and law enforcement tactics.
An effective strategy should incorporate efforts aimed at preventing people from becoming terrorists in the first place. Only then can we ensure that the terrorists who are eliminated physically, through the use of force, are not replaced. That is how sustainable progress can be made in the fight against terrorism.
It begins with addressing the forces that radicalize individuals to join violent extremist groups. Yearning for belonging, perceptions of injustice, corruption, neglect, and marginalization – all can create fertile ground for violent ideologies to grow. In the present age, digitalized communication platforms and the easy flow of people and goods make it much easier for religious extremists to penetrate our communities with hateful messages and false promises of fulfillment. Social media has revolutionized terrorism.
As traditional security tools alone cannot effectively counter this process, “countering violent extremism” (CVE) has become the preferred option.
India’s ability to prevent violent extremism rests on civil society – academics, professionals, religious leaders, local leaders, and youth – stepping up to repulse horrible ideologies and promote messages of peace. Western countries can benefit from India’s example of tolerance and resilience in the face of the Wahabbism-inspired rhetoric. Extremist Islamists and their backers are desperate to divide communities but the ability of Indian society to maintain its resilience makes their divisive agenda look hollow and absurd.
As we are confronted with growing violent extremism across the South Asian subcontinent, we must continue to speak out against discrimination and marginalization. Extremism of all stripes often flourishes when basic human dignity is violated, aspirations for inclusion are ignored, and young people lack good prospects.
Success in countering violent extremism would depend a great deal upon government officials and administrators, as they play a crucial role by governing effectively and inclusively, which limits the grievances that are exploited by the violent extremists.
The police should play a pivotal role too in preventing radicalization and extremism from emerging by empowering the civil society and staying true to the values of tolerance and forgiveness. The policemen should listen carefully to the grievances of the people they claim to serve and diligently act to address them.
Left Wing extremism in India
Left Wing Extremism (LWE) is widely recognised as one of the most serious security threats in post-independence India. Apart from that, it is also a politico-socio-economic challenge. Former Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh had described the LWE as “India’s biggest internal security challenge ever”.
As it began in 1967, LWE was limited to the three police station areas namely Naxalbari, Khoribari and Phansidewa of Darjeeling district in West Bengal. However, in recent years, the movement has assumed alarming proportions, threatening peace and security over a vast stretch of land spreading across 10 states, described as the ‘Red Corridor’. The history of LWE movement, which dates back across 50 years, has survived on some basic issues like poverty, disparity, and discontent among the masses. It is a common phenomenon worldwide, but its intensity is high in developing countries in particular.
The Maoist insurgency doctrine, as elicited from copious documents recovered from their hideouts during several raids and encounters, is based on the glorification of the extreme left ideology. It legitimises the use of violence to overwhelm the existing socio-economic and political structure. Based on this ideology, People’s Liberation Guerrilla Army was created as an armed wing of the Communist Party of India – Maoists (CPI-M).
The movement got strengthened in 2004 with the merger of People’s War Group (PWG) that was influential in Andhra Pradesh, the Maoist Communist Centre of India (MCCI) with a stronghold in the central Indian states and the CPI-M (Oetken 2008). This merger significantly upgraded the combat capabilities of LWE groups together.
Over the decades since, the LWE movement is assessed to have impacted 40 percent of India’s territory and 35 percent of its population (Morrison 2012). In 2016, according to the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA), 106 districts in 10 states of Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, Bihar, Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Odisha, Uttar Pradesh and West Bengal, were intensely affected by the LWE movement (M. P. Government of India, LWE affected districts 2016).
Based on the intensity of insurgency, 35 of the 108 districts spread over the ten States mentioned above, have been classified as most affected LWE districts. The States of Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand, Odisha, and Bihar are considered severely affected. The States of West Bengal, Maharashtra, Andhra Pradesh and Telangana are considered partially affected. And the States of Uttar Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh are considered slightly affected.
Currently, the lethality of the LWE movement has increased multi-fold, establishing a complex web across the 10 states of India. It is estimated that these extremist outfits now have around 9,000-10,000 armed fighters with access to about 6,500 firearms. In addition, there are estimates of about 40,000 full-time cadres (L. M. Government of India 2017).
Left Wing Extremism (LWE) Division
This Division was created w.e.f. October 19, 2006 in the Ministry to effectively address the Left Wing Extremist insurgency in a holistic manner. The LWE Division implements security related schemes aimed at capacity building in the LWE affected States. The Division also monitors the LWE situation and counter-measures being taken by the affected States. The LWE Division coordinates the implementation of various development schemes of the Ministries/Departments of Govt. of India in LWE affected States. The States of Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand, Odisha, Bihar, West Bengal, Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh and Uttar Pradesh are considered LWE affected, although in varying degrees.
Role and Functions of the Division
1. Deployment of Central Armed Police Forces (CAPFs) in LWE affected States.
2. Reimbursing security related expenditure incurred by the LWE affected States under the Security Related Expenditure (SRE) scheme.
3. Providing assistance to the State Governments for construction/ strengthening of fortified police stations under the Scheme for Construction/ Strengthening of 400 Fortified Police Stations in LWE affected districts.
4. Providing funds to the CAPFs for Civic Action Programme in LWE affected areas.
5. Reviewing the security situation in the LWE affected States and issuing advisories to the State Governments concerned..
6. Providing assistance to State Governments towards capacity building to combat LWE.
7. Coordinating implementation of LWE related Schemes of other Central Ministries for LWE affected Districts.
Dynamics of Maoist Insurgency
The Communist Party of India-Maoist (or Maoists) aims to violently overthrow the democratic institutions of India. The growing insurgency has killed hundreds of citizens each year since 2004, with hundreds of thousands more now living in conflict zones throughout India’s heartland.
To understand the present realities of the conflict, and provide suggestions for a durable resolution, we will address the mechanisms by which India incorporates conflict management (utilizing all tools from development to negotiation to force), how interactions between the centre and states color the conflict, and the challenges and opportunities that decentralization presents when managing a conflict crossing subunit boundaries.
India’s decentralized federal government contains mechanisms that can both facilitate and impede conflict management. The Maoists are exploiting India’s federal structure and disparate conflict responses to find the most conducive battleground for their fight.
Review and Monitoring
The government has set up a committee chaired by the Home Secretary to monitor and review the implementation of the multi-pronged strategies worked out to tackle Left Wing Extremism. Schemes like Security Related Expenditure (SRE), Special Infrastructure Scheme (SIS), Integrated Action Plan (IAP)/ Additional Central Assistance (ACA), Counter Insurgency and Anti-Terrorism (CIAT) Schools and Fortified Police Stations, were part of the strategy. Inclusion of some new districts under the SRE Scheme has also been proposed. States can initiate pilot projects for construction of roads with these technologies. States can project any requirement for dispensation in LWE areas.
Important schemes for LWE affected areas
In order to holistically address the LWE problem in an effective manner, the Government has formulated National Policy and Action Plan adopting multi pronged strategy in the areas of security, development, ensuring rights & entitlement of local communities etc.
Security Related Expenditure (SRE) Scheme:
Under the Security Related Expenditure (SRE) Scheme, assistance is provided to 106 LWE affected districts in 10 States for recurring expenditure relating to operational needs of security forces, training and insurance and also for Left Wing Extremist cadres who surrender in accordance with the surrender and rehabilitation policy of the concerned State Government, community policing, security related infrastructure by village defence committees and publicity material.
Road Requirement Plan-I (RRP-I):
For improving road connectivity, the Government approved the Road Requirement Plan PhaseI (RRP-I) on 26.02.2009 covering 34 LWE affected districts of 8 States i.e. Andhra Pradesh, Bihar, Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Odisha and Uttar Pradesh. The scheme envisages 5,422 km road lengths at an estimated cost of ₹ 8,585 Crores. 4,290 km roads have been completed. 08 critical bridges are also being constructed under RRP-I in 6 LWE affected States. The progress is being reviewed regularly. Out of 8 bridges, 2 have been completed in Telangana (1) and Maharashtra (1), while other 6 are under progress at various stages.
Road Connectivity Project for LWE affected areas (RRP-II):
The Government approved this scheme on 28.12.2016 for further improving road connectivity in 44 districts of 9 LWE affected States. This Scheme envisages 5412 km roads and 126 bridges at an estimated cost of Rs. 11,725 Crores. Ministry of Rural Development is the nodal Ministry for this project. The roads included under the scheme have been identified by the Ministry of Home Affairs in consultation with the State Governments and the security agencies.
LWE Mobile Tower Project:
To improve mobile connectivity in the LWE areas, the Government on 20.08.2014 approved installation of mobile towers in LWE affected States, namely: Andhra Pradesh (227), Bihar (184), Chhattisgarh (497), Jharkhand (782), Madhya Pradesh (22), Maharashtra (60), and Odisha (253). The Department of Telecommunication, has been implementing this Scheme. 2187 mobile towers have been installed and the project stands completed.
Scheme of Fortified Police stations:
The Ministry has sanctioned 400 police stations in 10 LWE affected States at a unit cost Rs. 2 crores under this scheme. A total of 373 of PSs have been completed, work at 27 PSs is under progress.
Civic Action Programme (CAP):
This scheme is under implementation from 2010-11 in LWE affected areas. Under this scheme funds are provided to CAPFs (CRPF, BSF, ITBP and SSB) @ Rs. 3.00 lakh per company per year for conducting various civic activities for welfare of local poor peoples in LWE affected areas. This is a very successful scheme to bridge the gap between the Security Forces and the local people and also helpful for winning their hearts and minds. In this context, funds of Rs. 19.02 crore and Rs. 19.00 crore were released during the financial years 2015-16 and 2016-17 respectively. For the current financial year 2017-18, an amount of Rs. 19.00 crore has been allocated under the Scheme.
LWE Division initiated a new proposal of GIS mapping of the essential services in the 35 most affected LWE districts. A project has been initiated for mapping of financial services, school, post offices, health facilities, mobile towers, PDS services, Road and security features etc. in time bound manner. This will help to the stakeholder to take informed decision on the developmental and security related issues.
A Unified Command has been set up in the States of Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand , Odisha and West Bengal. The Unified Command have officers from the security establishment, besides civilian officers representing the civil administration and it will carry out carefully planned counter LWE measures.
The Left Wing Extremism affected States have been asked to effectively implement the provisions of the Panchayats (Extension to the Scheduled Areas) Act, 1996 (PESA) on priority, which categorically assigns rights over minor forest produce to the Gram Sabhas.
Extremism in North East India
The Northeast region of India comprising of eight states – Assam, Nagaland, Manipur, Arunachal Pradesh, Mizoram, Tripura and Sikkim– a region poorly connected to the Indian mainland by a small corridor, and surrounded by many countries such as Bhutan, Myanmar, Bangladesh and China, is the setting for a multitude of conflict that undermines the idea of India as a prosperous and functioning democracy.
For instance, the Naga insurgence, which started in the 1950s, known as the mother of the Northeast insurgencies, is one of the oldest unresolved armed conflicts in the world. In total, Manipur, Assam, Nagaland and Tripura have witnessed scales of conflict that could, at least between 1990 and 2000, be characterised as low intensity conflicts. However, it must also be mentioned that internal conflicts have been a permanent feature of the Asian political landscape since 1945, of which post-colonial India is no exception.
Currently, most of the states in the region are affected by some form of conflict, expect for Arunachal Pradesh, Mizoram and Sikkim in which the situation is at the moment relatively stable. The reasons for the respective conflicts are wide ranging from separatist movements, to inter-community, communal and inter-ethnic conflicts.
At another level, conflict in the region has been an all pervasive phenomena, and in its violent form, it has not only affected the territorial and political sovereignty of the Indian state, but also the life of the various people living in the region in incomprehensible and inexplicable terms. In a drastic and dreaded sense, there is a “culture” of conflict and unfortunately, people have submitted to such an existence. However, amidst the widespread sense of helplessness, there is also an overwhelming desire and force to be free from such a situation of conflict which cripples the people from all sides.
To gain a holistic understanding of the problem that has historical and contemporary dimensions, it is important to assess and understand the various facets of the problem that interact with each other.
1. Unique Tribal and Ethnic Divisions
The northeast state are home to a very culturally diverse population that speaks 45 different languages belonging to 3 distinct language families – Tibeto-Burman, Indo-Aryan and Tai-Kadai. There are even 3 languages that do not belong to any of those families. This linguistic array makes them unique, even in a highly diverse country like India.
Sadly, these communities have not always lived in peace, and ethno-communal conflicts have sometimes bled over into full-blown insurgencies. For instance, the National Democratic Front of Bodoland (NDFB) is a separatist group that demands a sovereign state for the Bodo people of North Assam. This conflict has its roots in the recurring conflict between the Bodo people and the sizeable Muslim Bengali minority that lives in Assam.
2. Lack of Economic Opportunity
Perhaps the biggest cause of disaffection is the persistent underdevelopment of the region. There has been a steady trend of internal immigration from the north-east to the rest of the country due to the lack of jobs, especially for the youth.
The history of revolutionary activity suggests that addressing this major concern would greatly help reduce economic disenfranchisement and violent insurrection.
3. History of Discrimination and Neglect by the Central Government
The economic backwardness described above has been the result of years of neglect by the rest of the country. The stats here are less populated than the remainder of India and therefore have a relatively smaller representation in the India Parliament. This means that political parties have paid less heed to the needs of these states because there are only a few seats on offer here. This has also resulted in the muting of the voices that represent this region in New Delhi, as louder voices representing more politically critical populations dominate time and again.
4. AFSPA and Abuses of Power by the Military
IIn post-independence India, as successive incidents of violence in the Northeast overwhelmed local police forces, the government decided to deploy military forces to maintain security. This move was made under the terms of the Army Forces (Special Powers) Act, which was applied in 1958 and granted the Army sweeping powers in its mission to ensure security.
However, in practice this has led to long and bloody disputes with atrocities committed on all sides. The violent battles against ULFA and other organisations are estimated to have taken over 30,000 lives, usually with neither side emerging completely victorious. Indeed, today some parts of the Northeast can feel like occupied territories due to the heavy military presence. While it was once seen as a temporary measure in trying times, AFSPA has created a hostile environment where the Central government is seen as the enemy and military abuses of power help swell the ranks of the insurgents.
5. Long and Insecure International Border
Assam and its sister states have long international borders which often pass through extremely difficult terrain and remain unsecured. This has been to the advantage of insurgent groups who find safe refuge and establish camps across the border from India where the government has no jurisdiction, allowing them to launch their attacks from a safe location.
This was a major reason for the failure of counter-insurgency operations, and major breakthroughs were only made when neighbouring countries cooperated with the Indian government. For instance, Assamese insurgents sought refuge in Bhutan during the 1990s, and only after much diplomatic pressure was exerted did the Bhutanese government take aggressive measures, flushing out the camps in 2003’s Operation All Clear.
The main problem in the North East remains. In spite of the Central Government’s efforts, alienation of the people and perceived grievances still continue. These get multiplied many times as and when reports of molestation and rape of girls from the region and humiliation to North East youth in other parts of the country are reported. These incidents get more than due publicity in electronic and print media of the North East.
Such incidents make the North Easterners feel that they are still are still discriminated against – economically, politically and socially. But all the allegations are not true. The Central Government has provided crores of rupees to all the North East states for development projects. Some of these states survive only on Central Government largesse. The slow implementation of projects cannot be blamed on the Centre alone. Problems such as corruption, bureaucratic delays, power shortages and poor work culture delay completion of projects.
Besides, there have been distinct changes in the pattern of unrest and conflicts since 1956 when the first armed struggle in the North East by the Naga rebels commenced in the Naga Hill district of erstwhile Assam. Some of the changes are positive but many are negative. The region which consisted of only one state Assam and two Union territories Tripura and Manipur in the 1950s now comprises seven states known as “The Seven Sisters”. The Seven Sisters unfortunately do not have the best of relations due to mutually conflicting interests.
If one goes by the classical definition of insurgency as an armed struggle by a section of people against the lawfully constituted government, it can be concluded that classical insurgency has almost ceased to exist in the region. The most important element of an insurgent movement is the popular support which has greatly eroded in the recent past.
The situation has been brought under control by coordinated efforts of the Indian Army, Paramilitary Forces, State Police and Intelligence Agencies. Unfortunately, the political leadership at the Centre as well as the state though could have provided much better vision and direction. The contribution of civil society, student organisations, NGOs, intellectuals and media cannot be over emphasized. But much is needed to be done for sustainable peace in this strategic region. The fissiparous tendencies exhibited by some tribes as well as multi-directional aspiration of various ethnic groups have added new dimensions to the internal security situation.
Extremism, terrorism, gun-running and other forms of criminal activities have over taken classical insurgency. Insurgents in earlier decades followed an established code of conduct. Strictly speaking, the situation is under control in most parts of the region, except for in Manipur, parts of Northern Assam and some areas around the Assam-Arunachal and Assam-Meghalaya borders. Yet it will not be correct to state that the overall situation in the region has dramatically improved in the recent past. The population especially in the remote areas has not yet gained requisite confidence in the administration as well as law enforcing agencies.
In fact, extortion, kidnapping, killing, intimidation and gun-running have increased many times. Militants, terrorists, surrendered militants and disgruntled youth are indulging in nefarious activities.
Recommendations to solve the NE Problems
It should not be forgotten that the NE which has eight per cent of the total Indian landmass and about four per cent of the people is full of diversity. There are more than 75 tribes in the region speaking more than 400 dialects and languages. Quick-fix solutions to appease one group do not provide long term solutions.
Another very pertinent issue is that tribal affiliations spill across the geographical borders of the states. For example, the Nagas live in Assam, Arunachal Pradesh, Manipur nd Myanmar besides Nagaland. Exactly for this reason, the NSCN (IM) is demanding for Greater Nagaland (Nagalim), which will include areas of Assam, Arunachal Pradesh as well as Manipur. The present area of Nagaland is 16,500 sq.km. However, if their demand for Greater Nagaland is accepted, the area will become 120,000 sq.km. Obviously, no state will like to give up territory. Hence, a permanent solution is not very easy.
Another very important issue to be noted is that the NE people are extremely sensitive and emotional. The psyche of the people needs to be appreciated before making political statements. There are many instances when a casual statement or even a well-meaning policy has been resented since people have not been taken into confidence.
The ‘emotional barrier’ with Delhi is much more than the physical barrier which needs to be factored in before major policies can be formulated. Some solutions that are common need to be explored with specifics derived from them for specific regions and groups and even for neighbouring countries.
1. Meeting the political aspirations of groups by giving them autonomy. Implementing ‘sixth schedule’ provisions of the Indian constitution in these areas will help them to preserve their identity and culture while giving them greater autonomy.
2. Economic development of the area in a calibrated manner. Any development should be sustainable and should have the participation and acceptance by the locals.
3. Improving Governance and delivery mechanisms of the government and administration.
4. Dialogue should be ongoing process to reach concrete solutions by involving all the stakeholders and not a single group.
5. Draconian laws like AFSPA should be repealed as it is one of the causes for inflating insurgency in north east.
6. 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.
7. State police and central forces should cooperate on intelligence sharing, investigation and operations against militants. It has been alleged by the army that the June ambush of the army became possible because state police did not share the intelligence about the attack with it. It is unfortunate and counter-productive.
8. Effective border management with smart border solutions should be implemented
9. Strengthening of Regional Forums and diplomatic initiatives (Bilateral and Multilateral) can be done.
10. Joint military exercises and operations should be carried out.
11. Uniform Simple Laws against Insurgents will help to tackle more efficiently.
Bezbaruah Committee Recommendations
These are the five key recommendations made by the Bezbaruah Committee on tackling discrimination against the community:
1. New law against discrimination: Either a new law should be promulgated as directed by the High Court of Delhi or the Indian Penal Code should be amended. The offence should be cognizable and non-bailable. The investigation of the FIR should be completed in 60 days by a special squad and investigated by a police officer not below the rank of deputy SP or ACP. A special prosecutor should be appointed to handle all such cases of atrocities. And the trial should be completed in 90 days.
2. Fast-track courts and special police squads: The Committee strongly suggests the creation of fast-track courts for handling the cases relating to the North East people, particularly those which are racially motivated and involving heinous crimes against the North East women and children. Specially designated public prosecutors should be appointed for cases involving people from the North East. They should also be properly trained and sensitised.
3. The committee feels that the creation of a special squad supervised by the North East Special Police Unit would go a long way in ensuring speedy justice in criminal cases. The squad could be manned by people specially selected for such purposes and they could be specially trained and sensitised about the problems of people from the North East.
4. Interventions in Education: Suitable innovative ways should be devised to integrate each and every aspect of the North East into the consciousness of people outside. The Committee recommends that when the next the NCERT takes place, one, all teacher training institutes be advised to make their syllabus in a way that can sensitise their trainees on the North East and, two, universities and schools outside the North East make projects on North East a mandatory part of the course curricula.
5. Large migration of students for Higher Education in Delhi and other metros has been a prominent feature in recent times. One reason for such exodus is the absence of institutions of excellence in the North East. A detailed socio-economic study of the nature of student migration from the North East would be worthwhile as it will provide valuable insight for planning of higher education in the region.
6. Social media outreach and legal awareness campaigns: The committee recommends legal awareness campaigns in neighbourhoods that have a significant presence of members from the North East community and on introducing lectures on legal rights for university students. It underlines the role of social media in improving connectivity and communication with the community. A dedicated Facebook page should be created and nodal police officers should be in constant touch with members of the community on WhatsApp.
7. Bonding power of sports: The committee recommends that the Ministry should take steps to hold regular national and international events in the North East as such events will create greater harmony and better understanding. The ministry should, therefore, review the status of present facilities and make an assessment if they are suitable for such events. If not, such facilities should be created in every state of the North East. Indigenous games of the North East should be promoted.
North East Division
The North East Division was created for focusing on the developmental and security issues relating to North Eastern Region.
Unlike other parts of the country the North East holds an important position from a strategic point of view as these states share their borders with other countries like Bangladesh, Bhutan, Myanmar and China. The terrain, the state of Socio-economic development and historical factors such as language/ethnicity, tribal rivalry, migration, control over local resources and a widespread feeling of exploitation and alienation have resulted in a fragile security situation in the North Eastern States. This has resulted in violence and diverse demands by various Indian Insurgent Groups (IIGs).
While the infrastructural developments like road,rail link, power supply, water supply etc. are dealt with by Ministry of Development of North Eastern Region and various other line Ministries, the issues relating to strengthening of security, rehabilitation of people affected by militancy, bringing underground outfits to the main-stream through negotiations, confidence building measures etc. are looked after by the North East Division. Diplomatic initiatives pertaining to security related issues with Bangladesh and Myanmar are also taken to strengthen the security situation there.