What is insurgency?
An insurgency is an armed rebellion against a constituted authority when those taking part in the rebellion are not recognized as belligerents . In case of Indian scenario it can be seen as armed rebellion and violent protests against Indian Government or authority.
Why is the North-eastern region prone to insurgency?
  • The seven sister states are predominantly tribal with some states having more than 90% tribal populations.
  • The forest laws since the British times became intrusive & drastically affected their livelihoods & culture.
  • The diversity within even small territories proved to be difficult to accommodate within the same political administration.
  • This led to numerous demands, ranging from more autonomy to complete independence.
  • The Bengali migration from present day Bangladesh to the north-east during 1947 & later has also added considerable resentment that has shown up both in electoral & militant modes.
What are some of the prominent militant groups in the north–east?
  • Nationalist Socialist Council of Nagaland, was formed to advance the Naga cause for sovereignty.
  • This organisation has operations in the Naga inhabited regions of India & Myanmar, with easy cross border access.
  • This group has had major splits. Issac-Muivah faction (NSCN – IM) is currently involved in peace talks with the Indian government, while the Kaplang faction with its major operations in Myanmar is designated as a terror outfit by India.
  • The United Liberation Front of Assam is operating to establish a sovereign Assam through an armed struggle.
  • The Indian government banned it in 1990s & a severe crackdown was launched in 2010, which considerably brought down their numbers.
Some other organisations of significance are Mizo National Front and National Liberation Front of Tripura. 
Naga Insurgency and Government’s approach:
North eastern part of India has been plagues by many insurgencies in different parts. Out of them the Naga Insurgency has been the longest running insurgency which began soon after Independence in 1947, led by Naga Nationalist Council (NNC) under Angami Phizo.
After the rebel group gave up armed resistance and came to the negotiating table with the government, the state of Nagaland was created in 1963. However a new rebel group National Socialist Council of Nagalim (NSCN) was established in 1980 with the purpose of establishing a sovereign state of ‘Greater Nagaland’ comprising of areas from Myanmar, Nagaland, Mizoram etc.
The Indian Government has always followed the position that it will not negotiate under the threat of violence. Thus, till the time the insurgent groups swear on armed activity, they are repressed by use of instruments like the armed forces, police etc. However, if they renounce violence then the government engages with them to settle their grievances in a democratic manner.
This has been the policy of the government in Nagaland as well, where a cease fire between the government and the insurgent groups have been in place since 1997. However, there are many problems with the government’s approach –
  1. Use of repression by armed forces has alienated the civilian population of the region, thus providing support and cadres to the insurgents.
  2. The government has tried to turn the various groups against one other for tactical gains. However, this policy has caused a lot of collateral damage in the form of civilian deaths.
  3. The central government has not kept the state government in the loop on the question of its negotiations with the insurgents. This deprives the government of local insights and input in the matter.
  4. The excessively long duration of negotiations – 18 years and continuing has been the cause of considerable heartburn among the people. Also, govt. does not negotiate with khaplangs (myanmarese) but only with Issac muivah faction of NSCN
  5. Close co-operation and co-ordination with neighboring countries like Myanmar and Bangladesh to ensure that there are no safe havens for insurgents.
On the other hand the government policy has ensured that the number of deaths due to militant violence has been brought down. It must now ensure that it can negotiate a permanent solution to the problem and thus help bring peace and attendant prosperity to the region
Related Qs:
  • Critically comment on India’s approach towards dealing with the Naga insurgents in the Northeast. (200 Words)

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