North-east Insurgency

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    In News

    • Recently, the Information and Broadcasting Minister said that the insurgency-related violence in the northeast has declined by 80%.

    About

    • Northeast India (NEI) today comprises eight states of India: Sikkim and the “seven sister states” of Assam, Arunachal Pradesh (ALP), Nagaland, Manipur, Mizoram, Tripura and Meghalaya.
      • NEI is bounded by Tibet Autonomous Region (TAR), Nepal, Bhutan, Myanmar and Bangladesh.
    • NEI has been witnessing insurgency since the 1950s.

    Reasons for Insurgency in NEI

    • Multi-Ethnic Region: NEI is the most ethnically diverse region in India. It is home to around 40 million people including 213 of the 635 tribal groups listed by the Anthropological Survey of India. The situation gets further aggravated due to inter-tribal rivalries, which fuel tribal/ethnic insurgencies. 
    • Underdeveloped Region: Due to the difficult terrain configuration of jungles and mountains, infrastructural development in NEI has generally been slow. This has widened the schism between the NEI and mainstream India, and further increased a sense of disenchantment with the GoI.
    • Lack of Economic Development: GoI’s economic policies have also fuelled resentment and insecurity amongst the people. Thus, the youth are easily lured by various insurgent groups to earn easy money.
    • Sense of Isolation, Deprivation and Exploitation: Distance from New Delhi and meagre representation in the Lok Sabha has further reduced the vox populi being heard in the corridors of powers, leading to more disillusionment in the dialogue process, thereby making call of the gun more attractive. 
    • Demographic Changes: The influx of refugees from now Bangladesh into Assam led to a dramatic change in the demographic landscape of the region. 
    • External Support: The insurgencies in the NEI have been supported by erstwhile East Pakistan in the late 1950s; and in early 1960s, in the form of training of personnel of Naga Army and giving them weapons. Later, China also provided weapons and moral support.

    Way Forward/ Suggestions

     

    • Strengthening law and agencies: The government had worked on the legal front by strengthening the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA) and taken steps at the enforcement level by giving the National Investigation Agency (NIA) a truly federal structure through amendments to the relevant law.
    • Probe agencies have achieved a conviction rate of 94% in cases of terror financing.
    • Landmark agreements: The government has worked to create an atmosphere of lasting peace across the northeastern region through a series of peace pacts such as the Bodo Accord, Bru-Reang Agreement, NLFT-Tripura Agreement, Karbi Anglong Agreement and the Assam-Meghalaya Inter State Boundary Agreement.
    • The Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA) has been rolled back from large parts of the northeast, including the whole of Tripura and Meghalaya, and 60% of Assam.
    • Continued Efforts by Civil Society: Notwithstanding the progress in peace talks, efforts by the civil society for rapprochement with the insurgent organisations must continue. This enables a respectable way out for the insurgent leaders and leads to a win-win situation for all the stakeholders.
    • Sanctity of Indo-Myanmar International Border (IB): India shares approximately 1400 km long IB with Myanmar in states of Arunachal Pradesh, Nagaland, Manipur and Mizoram.14 The sanctity of the same must, therefore, be strengthened to preclude insurgents from crossing the border at will.

    Source: TH