- Mention the start of insurgency in post-independent India.
- Chart out the reasons for insurgency, pointwise.
- Briefly mention what needs to be done to counter it.
The North-Eastern India, comprising of 8 states, has strategic, political and economic significance for India. It is connected to the mainstream India through the 22 km narrow ‘Siliguri Corridor’. North East had been witnessing insurgency since 1950s. With few states gaining peace after long enduring insurgencies, overall, the situation is not conducive to peaceful living and prosperity.
Genesis of insurgency in NE post-independence : the British had generally followed a policy of non-interference in the NE. However, the integration policy followed by the Indian government was resented to by the distinct cultures of the NE. The insurgencies started with Naga Hills. Under the leadership of Phizo, the Naga National Council declared independence from India on 14th August 1947. Despite efforts it could not be controlled, so Indian Army was ordered to undertake a counter-insurgency operation in 1956. Thereafter, various regions proactively voiced their demands for secession from India by initiating insurgencies in the region.
Reasons for insurgency:
- It is ethnically diverse region. Thus, each tribal sect resents being integrated into the mainstream India as it means losing their own distinct identity. Hence, insurgency is a reaction to preserve their own distinct culture.
- Unequitable development of the region has given rise to much discontent. Lack of structured development has led to fewer employment opportunities for its people. Thus, youths are easily lured into insurgency, often to earn easy money.
- Being distant from the nerve center of Indian politics, and with a meagre representation in the Parliament, they feel isolated and deprived both politically & economically. This has stirred disillusionment among them.
- The influx of refugees from former East Pakistan (Bangladesh) into Assam led to dramatic change in the demographic landscape. This created discontent among the people, giving rise to insurgency in Assam with the United National Liberation Front in 1979.
- The insurgencies in NE is found to be supported by Pakistan, in the form of training and supplying weapons. The Pakistan Special services Group trained the Naga guerillas in the 1960s through their bases in East Pakistan. Later, China too provided weapons and moral support, which was at its peak in 1967-1975. Recently, there is increased evidence of China’s revival of its covert offensive in the region.
- Insurgencies are also fuelled by revolutionary politics in the region.
- Promulgation of the Armed Forces Special Powers Act has further alienated the local populace. It is often portrayed as draconian by Human Rights proponents.
Even though many regions have witnessed an overall decline in insurgency, the discontent continues. At present the scenario is less violent than earlier times.
What can be done ?: A peaceful NE is a strategic necessity for India, especially for the success of its ‘Act East Policy’.
- Signing of peace accords should be actively pursued and bring the erring individuals into the mainstream by providing formal employments.
- Mainstreaming should be done with the view to preserving their distinct identities.
- Proactive inclusion of insurgent leaders in peace talks as well as in grassroots development planning.
- Continued efforts by Civil society.
- Increased socio-economic development.
- Continued military operations against Select Insurgent groups.
- Monitor and check the spread of radical Islam.
Resolving ongoing insurgencies in the NE will be a harbinger of peace and consequent economic prosperity – an essential for the success of India’s Act East Policy. This can help India emerge as one of the strongest regional powers in the 21st century multipolar world.