With more and more insurgent groups from the Northeast joining peace talks with the Government of India, the region has been witnessing a drastic decline in insurgency in the last five years.
Home Ministry data from 2019 shows that insurgency in the Northeast region is continuously declining since 2014.
According to the data, the Northeast region witnessed the highest number of insurgency activities in 2014 but they started to register a declining trend thereafter.
The insurgent groups carried out 824 attacks and killed 212 civilians in 2014. In response, the security forces gunned down 181.
In 2015, the insurgents launched 574 attacks in which 149 extremists, 46 civilians and 46 security personnel were killed. The insurgent activities continued to diminish in 2016 in which 87 extremists were killed during 484 insurgent attacks. The figure of civilian and security casualty stood at 48 and 17 respectively.
The insurgent attacks reduced to 308 in 2017 in which 57 insurgents, 37 civilians and 12 security personnel were killed.
In 2018, the extremism violent incidents came down to 252 in which 34 insurgents, 23 civilians and 34 security personnel were killed.
Why RSTV: In times of numerous sources of Current Affairs, it becomes difficult to choose the important one. The gap is filled by RSTV, it provides a good analyses of some of the important happenings. Here, we are providing Gist of Rajya Sabha TV discussion on ‘End of the Road for Northeast Insurgency’ for UPSC.
Topic relevance from RSTV Debate on ‘End of the Road for Northeast Insurgency’ for UPSC: Direct questions can be asked on:
Overview of Insurgency in the Northeast
Reasons for insurgency in Northeast
The Gateway Paradigm – A Necessity to End the Insurgency
EDITED EXCERPTS FROM THE DEBATE
History of insurgency
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 Mizo National Front (M.N.F.), led by the legendary leader Laldenga, demanded independence for Mizoram in 1966.
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.), and the United People’s Democratic Solidarity (U.P.D.S.).
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.
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).
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.
Major reasons behind the current decline in Insurgency
Improved relationship with Myanmar and Bangladesh.
More insurgent groups brought to the table for negotiations.
The popularity of insurgents has come down.
Splintering of groups, leaders getting old or dead, the cycle is getting over.
The non-state actors have remained divided and conflicted, much to the delight of the State
State of Insurgency: Official Data
Official data shows that insurgency-related incidents have fallen dramatically over the past decade.
In 2009, official data from the Ministry of Home Affairs shows that there were 1,297 violent incidents in the Northeast.
According to the data the region witnessed highest number of insurgency activities in 2014 but they started to register a declining trend thereafter.
In 2019, the figures had fallen to 223 incidents in which 124 persons died, of which 108 were civilians.
In 2019, Assam, Tripura, Mizoram and Manipur did not report a single fatality among its security forces.
What are the major challenges and issues that we are still facing?
National projects such as the extension of the rail lines have either been stalled or have moved with a tardy pace after militants attacked the construction sites and abducted workers.
Militancy has also stalled the prospect of linking the economy of the northeast with the neighbouring Southeast Asian countries.
In the oil-rich Assam, militants have periodically targeted oil and gas pipelines for sabotage, alleging that India is exploiting the natural resources of the state.
Tourism, which could have flourished in the scenic northeast, has suffered a lot due to instability in the region.
The education sector too has been affected by militancy. A number of schools in states like Tripura’s interior areas have been shut as teachers avoid the areas due to fear of militant strikes.
Extortion by the militant groups on the national highways that connect the different states with mainland India has shot up the prices of essential commodities.
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.
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.
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.
Hostile neighbour likes China extending moral and material support to the insurgent groups.
Poverty, Unemployment, inadequate health care, the feeling of neglect has also contributed to insurgencies.
What we have been doing to address the problem and how successful we are in our endeavour?
Greater coordination between central forces and state forces for better tactical response.
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.
A system of work permit should be issued so that the illegal Bangladeshi migrants do not end up as Indian citizens.
Enhance communication and connectivity, infrastructure improvement for better integration of the region with the mainland.
Stringent law and fast criminal justice system for quick disposal of insurgents attack cases.
The Autonomous District Councils should be empowered.
The Ministry of the Development of the North East region (DoNER) should be merged with the North East Council (NEC) for better strategic planning and coordination of various developmental projects in the region.
Pragmatic land use policy should be formulated for attracting industries in the region. Micro, small and medium enterprises should be encouraged.
Local tourism should be promoted. Tourists residing in the eight North Eastern states should be encouraged to travel within the region.
Greater awareness about the Look East Policy and its benefits to the North East should be generated among the policymakers and the intelligentsia of the region.
Special economic zones along India-Bangladesh border, especially in Meghalaya and Assam should be set up.
Matching infrastructure and military capability should be build to ensure peace and enable negotiations from a position of strength.
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.