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End of the Road for Northeast Insurgency (26 August 2020)

End of the Road for Northeast Insurgency (26 August 2020)

Why in News:

Home Ministry data shows that insurgency in the Northeast region is continuously declining since 2014.

Context:

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.

Background:

 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.

Summary of the Debate

Reasons for the insurgency:

  • Before Independence, most of these states excluding plains of Assam, Manipur and Tripura, most of the hilly region which were brought into the political mainstream of India under the British occupation, the British has deliberately excluded these area and called them ‘Excluded Area’ under Government of India Act, 1935. Prior to that Act, they were called backward tribes but they were later on designated as excluded areas.
  • When the country became independent, there was political group in this region which nurses their ambition of becoming independent and the Naga National Council (NNC) was the primary political organization at that time in Nagaland. They gave slogans of Independence of Nagaland and that became the mother of insurgency in the entire Northeast. Later on, they adopted violence to pursue their goal of independent nationhood.  
  • The Northeast region is home to more than 50 ethnic rebel groups and there are some groups, who demanding complete secession from India and others fighting for ethnic identities and homelands.
  • The illegal migration from neighbouring States and countries leading to the competition of resources.
  • China and Pakistan, through its intelligence agency have been assisting the militant groups in terms of training and finance.
  • Large-scale unemployment.

Reasons for decline in insurgency:

  • During the last few years, there is a marked improvement in the security relationship between the government of India, Myanmar and Bangladesh. The way Manipur is located; the incidence cannot survive and cannot function effectively as they would have like to unless and until they use Bangladesh and Myanmar territory for exit through which they go about bringing in weapons.
  • There are lots of insurgent groups are engaged in talk and this is fact that, when these groups are engaged in talk, the incidence will naturally decline.
  • There is extortion and other activities still going on but the violence have come down, because they have also recognised; what is the thinking of the people, the people are fed up of all these activities. Therefore, the popularity graph of insurgency is likely to further decline, if they continue to involve in violence incidence.
  • The two-decade old insurgency (1966-1986) in Mizoram came to an end with the signing of the Peace Treaty on June 30, 1986.
  • Recently, a document called “Northeast Vision 2020” was released by the Prime Minister.
  • There are ceasefire agreements going on between Union government and with six militant groups.

               Why there is so much insurgency in North-East India? - Quora

Way Forward:

  • We must be able to establish very comprehensive economic links and geographical connectivity through a transit arrangement to Bangladesh. This is one of the key reasons; why after partition the sense of isolation in the Northeast increased and this will not go away because this is a major economic stumbling block to the integration of the Northeast with the rest of the country socially, economically and politically.
  • Access to the region, access of people to the rest of the country is a both way process and must happened at both end.
  • The external relationships with the neighbours are the key to settling the insurgency in the Northeast and bring peace and order in the region.
  • There is need to address aspirations, to have a real dialogue with people and understand where they coming from and look at everything in terms of the military outcome.
  • There is need to identify, who are the people causing hurdles to normalcy.
  • The government must settle the political questions, the question of political integration with the rest of the country and giving them a sense of political empowerment not isolation. The region is diverse in nature, it has large number of ethnic community, but the political power which this region exercises is very small compare to its geographical diversity.
  • There is need to stop treating insurgency problem as a law and order problem.
  • The present system of random deployment of forces, who does not understand these places and people and in bargain they go and create some problems and they further alienate the people, so this need to be stop.
  • Counter insurgency policy has to be evolve with a major role to be played by local police.
  •  With the economic integration, there is also need of cultural integration.  

Important points made by the Guests

R. R. Rashmi, Former Chief Secretary and Chairman, Finance Commission, Manipur 

  • Northeast is very special region of our country. It is home to almost more than 100 tribes. The 7 states in the region alone comprise very large ethnic community, each one of them has specific political demand and specific social and political orientation.
  • In this region, there are so many divisive forces, which have given rise to insurgency. Insurgency is essentially a rebellion against political establishment. So, most of the ethnic community feel that, they are not fully being represented, there is a sense that they are being neglected or discriminated. This is the primary reason which gives rise to insurgency.
  • Some of the sources of problems have been handled well and they have been resolved to a large extent, for example; the political isolation and political separatism issue have been largely resolved except in some residual cases.

 John S. Shilshi, Former Director, National Security Council 

  • Today n number of groups are talking with the government of India including the important one that is Nagas, the thing is; even if the political solutions are brought to the insurgent groups who are engaged in the talk with the government of India, right now the biggest challenge is for the state government and central government to identify the splinter groups, for example; there is a group called MNPF (Manipur Naga People Front), today government of Manipur may be thinking, this is a very insignificant group but fact of the matter is that when they are insignificant group, they need to be engaged, they need to be spoken to and it has to be rooted out.
  • So, right now the biggest challenge for the security and also the intelligence is that they must dwell down to the root of these small organisations.

Avalok Langer, Author & Journalist 

  • How a state approaches conflict and how a movement approaches conflict is totally different, because a state has a prolonged life, the successive government will come, it can have different representative one after another, it can have different soldier posted on the front. So, there is continuous energy that can come from a state point of view. But for a movement to sustain need an individual to constantly be there.
  • We are witnessing the end of one cycle of this conflict. The local population might still feel some emotion with the movement, but not necessarily identify with the means of these movements and where they are today.
  • So, right now is the completion of one cycle, where what was the mode of putting across your demands is coming to an end.
  • The military actions and the better relationship with both Myanmar and Bangladesh have really helped, because a lot of these groups have their camps in Myanmar as well in Bangladesh and that space is just shrinking and because that space is shrinking, these groups don’t have ability to keep fighting and generate revenues, so lot of these groups are coming to the negotiating table.

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