Q. Analyzing the various reasons for the survival of insurgencies in the North-Eastern part of India, discuss the various strategies that should be adopted to address this challenge. (250 Words)
- Source: Indian Express - The Editorial Page/Page 12 - BECOMING STAKEHOLDERS
- GS 3: Internal Security
Introduction: The unique geography, socio-economic factors, history and ethnicity and porous nature of border with multiple jurisdictions has kept the insurgencies in various states like Assam, Nagaland, Manipur and Mizoram alive.
Various reasons behind survival of armed insurgency in the extended period of time:
- British kept the regional kingdom in alienation due to Commercial interests Tea/Coffee/Jute/Bamboo plantations.
- Relatively less role of people from NE in the freedom struggle.
- Historically they have been relatively aloof from mainland India. Although there are remarkably similar cultures.
- 21km wide Siliguri Corridor or Chicken's neck.
- Terrain: Hills, Jungles and ravines.
- Socio-Economic factors:
- Ethnicity: Strong sense of Distinct/ culture and Identity. Inter-tribal conflicts.
- Huge diversity: It has 475 ethnic groups and 400 languages/ dialects are spoken here. More than 50 ethnic rebel groups – a few demanding complete secession from India, others fighting for ethnic identities and homelands.
- Fruits of development reach with difficulty to the remote areas of the nation.
- Employability: 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.
- Broad racial differences between India and its Northeast and the tenuous geographical link
- Cross-border issues:
- Multiple borers: China and Bhutan in North; Myanmar in East; Bangladesh in South-West.
- Porous borders: For example a free movement regime of 16kms at Myanmar border.
- Organized crimes: Leading to trafficking of Drugs/Narcotics/Arms/Humans/Fake currency
- International Angle: For example, 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.
- Terrorism: It acted as safe havens for the terrorists in 90s.
- Nature of terrorism:
- State of Anarchy: 2nd Administrative Reforms Commission: Northeast represents a state of stable anarchy where the rule of law and other institutions of governance are subverted directly or through collusive arrangements to serve personal or partisan ends of the militants.
- Extortion rackets: some running the insurgency as an industry to spin easy money without any political ideology. Ex: There is a possible nexus between the NSCN (I-M) and the Dimasa National Liberation Army (DNLA) which is notorious for its extortion activities.
- Administrative reasons: 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.
- Dismal law and order situation: 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.
- Lack of development continues to alienate the people of the region further from the mainstream.
- Lack of Coordination between state and central agencies: Border with Bangladesh is guarded by BSF, with Myanmar by Assam Rifles, with Tibet by ITBP, Insurgencies are handled by Indian Army along with Assam Rifles and State Police. Thus establishing coordination is difficult.
Strategies that must be adopted to route out different insurgencies:
- Political engagement: In the recent times, Naga Peace Accord of 2015, and the Tripartite agreement of Karbi Anglong - 2021 are the models on which the government can work to motivate insurgent to surrender while ensuring the cultural and economic rights.
- Development: Enhance communication and connectivity, infrastructure improvement for better integration of the region with the mainland.
- Effective Law enforcement: Stringent law and fast criminal justice system for quick disposal of insurgents attack cases.
- Greater cultural interaction with the rest of the country and socio-economic development that includes a holistic inclusive development.
- Decentralization with alertness, Improving administrative efficiency, pro-people governance and coping up with regional aspirations
- Operational Clarity: Greater coordination between central forces and state forces for better tactical response. Appropriate security structure is important.
- Countering Propaganda: through advertisement, street plays, academic discussions, and using media.
- Intelligence gathering: to assess the role of foreign forces, and the sources fake news and paid news.
- Political will: with clear conceptual understanding of the issues and resolute efforts.
- Making use of North eastern Council(NEC) as a forum for discussions between governors, Chief Ministers and the members of the community.
- Securing the borders: the Borders act as the supply lines for the terror financing and arm smuggling, which can be cut off with greater security presence and bilateral agreements with Myanmar and Bangladesh.
Conclusion: The 2nd ARC's 7th report on Conflict resolution has talked in detail about resolving various insurgencies in the North Eastern part of India. These include enhanced communication and connectivity, infrastructure improvement for better integration of the region with the mainland along with cultural integration is important to remove the insurgencies. Further, the Act East Policy has potential aid to fulfil these objectives.