International terrorism poses the greatest challenge to the security and stability of the country. It was until recently confined to the state of Jammu & Kashmir but has gradually spread across the length and breadth of the country. The terrorists are opposed to the very idea of India; they want to destroy its icons and its symbols.
Terrorist modules are active in several urban conglomerations. The security forces and intelligence agencies of the country are quite capable of handling the terrorist threat, but they are hamstrung by government policies.
We have no comprehensive anti-terror law even though the country has been facing different shades of terrorism for the last nearly fifty years.
Jammu & Kashmir
Jammu and Kashmir became an integral part of the Indian Union when the then ruler of the State, Raja Hari Singh, on October 26, 1947, unconditionally signed the instrument of accession in accordance with the legal framework provided for all the Princely States of British India to accede either to India or to Pakistan. The prescribed legal framework did not envisage ratification of accession by the people of a Princely state.
Pakistan’s refusal to accept the State’s accession to India led it to launch an armed
aggression in 1947 resulting in forcible occupation of a part of the State that still remains under its illegal control. Pakistan’s non-acceptance of the reality and its ambition to wrest Jammu and Kashmir from India by force led to wars in 1965 and 1971 between the two countries and Pakistan had to face ignominious defeat each time.
Kashmir is not an Islamic issue and the two-nation theory propagated by Pakistan before and after 1947 has been shown to be irrelevant.
Pakistan is pursuing a multi-pronged strategy to destabilize India and annex J&K. Militancy is a direct consequence of the unremitting efforts of Pakistan’s covert agencies, particularly its Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI), to exploit the prevailing discontent and destabilize the established authority by creating an anarchic situation.
Militancy has caused enormous human and economic losses in the State and shattered its economy. There is enough evidence that destabilizing India through actively sponsored terrorism is a matter of state policy for Pakistan.
Following steps need to be taken to deal with the internal security situation in J&K:
i) integrate gradually the state of Jammu & Kashmir with the rest of India in all matters;
ii) deal with the separatist elements with a heavy hand and place a blanket ban on their conspiratorial confabulations with the Pak authorities, both in Delhi and in Islamabad. Any contacts with the terrorist outfits active in/ J&K should be dealt with under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act.
iii) ensure comprehensive economic development of the State, ensuring accountability in the utilization of funds;
iv) initiate appropriate measures to bring back and rehabilitate the Kashmiri Pandits who were dislodged from their homes and forced to seek shelter in other parts of the country.
v) Keep the issue of Pakistan Occupied Kashmir (PoK) alive and put pressure on China to withdraw from the areas it has occupied in J&K.
The North East
The region, North East India, comprises States of Arunachal Pradesh, Assam, Manipur, Meghalaya, Mizoram, Nagaland, Tripura and Sikkim.
Broadly, the conflict in the Northeast could be categorised at three levels: Conflict with the Indian state; conflict between different communities considered “indigenous”; and conflict associated with illegal migration. All three are interlinked and intertwined.
North-east has been convulsed with separatist and secessionist movements of different hues. These movements could broadly be attributed to:
- a feeling of neglect by the central government;
- false propaganda by leaders of the area;
- alienation of tribals;
- changes in the demographic pattern caused by the influx of people from across the borders;
- availability of sanctuaries in Myanmar and Bangladesh;
- assistance to rebel groups by countries inimical to India.
Insurgency is in some measure due to the ethnic divide accentuated by migrations from without and exacerbated by foreign intervention. Several insurgent groups in the region are currently demanding independence. Apart from maintaining an unacceptably high level of violence in some of the states in the region, they are engaged in widespread extortion from all sections of society.
Drug smuggling and gun running are rife. Intelligence reports suggest that the ISI is extremely active in fomenting unrest in the area. The paucity of roads, railways, communication facilities, and slow economic growth, have further contributed to the grievances of the local populace.
Assam also witnessed upheaval due to the large scale influx of foreigners into the State. An analysis of the data indicates that the law & order situation in Assam remains vitiated due to violent activities of ULFA, NDFB and United Peoples Democratic Solidarity (UPDS) (anti- talks faction).
In Meghalaya, the law & order situation in Garo hills continues to be under strain.
The security scenario in Tripura also remains a matter of concern. However, NLFT (Nyanbasi Group) has signed a ceasefire agreement.
Nagaland has been the epicenter of armed insurrection in north-eastern India. The sparks later flew to Mizoram, Manipur and Tripura. In Nagaland, violence between the NSCN (I/M) and NSCN (K) has remained the prominent feature of the current violence profile. NSCM (I/M) has signed a ceasefire agreement with government in August 2015.
The security scenario in Manipur remains a cause of concern. Manipur has about 15 militant groups operating in the Valley and the Hill districts. Apunba Lup, an umbrella organisation of the Meiteis, with the tacit support of Meitei Extremist Organisations, is demanding withdrawal of the disturbed area status of Manipur under Armed Forces (Special) Powers Act, 1958.
A disturbing development in the north-east is China’s renewed interest in the region and culpable involvement with the insurgent outfits.
NORINCO or the China North Industries Corporation, a state owned weapon manufacturing company, has emerged as the largest supplier of arms to the underground of the north-east through Myanmar and Bangladesh. It has office in Bangkok and operates through a network of agents spread over south-east Asia.
The continued unrest in the north-east is to be attributed essentially to the following factors:
- an impression among the tribes that the Government of India could be blackmailed into giving concessions by perpetrating violent incidents;
- widespread corruption among the ruling elite;
- active involvement of foreign intelligence agencies; and
- connivance/helplessness of neighbouring countries in permitting insurgent groups to set up training camps and allowing them to procure arms and supply the same to the insurgent outfits.
The strategy adopted by the Government to improve the situation in the North East includes accelerated infrastructural development, stress on employment and good governance and decentralisation, building friendly relations with neighbouring countries, willingness to meet and discuss legitimate grievances of the people as also a resolve not to tolerate violence.
The Government of India’s internal security doctrine on north-east will need to take care of the following aspects:
i) dialogue is to be preferred to armed confrontation but the period of peace talks should be utilised for meaningful exchange of ideas and the insurgent outfit must not be allowed to use this period to enhance its strength in terms of following and weaponry;
ii) the terms of suspension of operations must be strictly enforced and the insurgent outfit restrained from indulging in extortions, collection of taxes, forcible recruitment and other unlawful activities;
iii) there should be accountability in the utilisation of funds allotted for development;
iv) people from the north-east should be given greater opportunities of cultural interaction with the rest of the country.
The situation in Punjab needs to be kept under close watch. Many pro-Khalistani militants continue to enjoy shelter in Pakistan and there are reports of plans to revive terrorism in Punjab. Subversive propaganda is being aired from Pakistani Punjab.
There are, meanwhile, disturbing indications of Pak Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) putting pressure on militant groups of Punjab like the Babbar Khalsa International (BKI), Khalistan Zindabad Force (KZF), Khalistan Tiger Force (KTF), International Sikh Youth Federation (ISYF) and their collaborators in European and North American countries to revive militancy in the Punjab.
The Maoist problem has been described as the biggest internal security threat to the country.
The salient features of the movement today are as follows:
- Spread over a large geographical area
- Increase in potential for violence
- Expansion in north-east
- Nexus with other extremist groups
Presently, about 173 districts across the country are affected by incidents of Maoist violence; out of these 26 have been identified as highly affected. These are mostly in the seven states of Andhra Pradesh, Bihar, Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand, Maharashtra, Odisha, and West Bengal.
The Naxals’ potential for violence has increased substantially with their acquisition of sophisticated weapons and expertise in the use of improvised explosive devices (IEDs).
The Maoists are spreading their tentacles in the north-east and there are disturbing reports about their trying to forge links with the insurgent outfits active in the region.
The Maoists’ nexus with the other extremist organizations has added to the complexity of the problem. The PW (People’s War) cadres received training in the handling of weapons and IEDs from ex-members of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE). Besides, they have entente cordiale with the NSCN (IM). Some batches of Naxals received arms training from the ULFA. Besides, the Communist Party of India (Maoist) has fraternal relations with the Communist Party of Nepal. Pakistan’s ISI is also trying to reach out to the Maoists.
The Maoist problem requires a comprehensive approach with emphasis on the following aspects:
- The development paradigm pursued since independence, the benefits of which have been disproportionately cornered by the dominant sections at the expense of the poor and which has aggravated the prevailing discontent among marginalised sections of society, deserves to be given a second look and reviewed.
- The PLGA will have to be neutralised through sustained counter-insurgency operations. It must, however, be ensured that there is minimum collateral damage.
- Socio-economic development of the areas affected will need to be ensured through sincere implementation of the plans.
- The grievance redressal machinery will need to be activated at different levels. Justice must be seen to be delivered.
- Land alienated from tribals must be restored to them
- Tribals’ rights over forests must be recognized. The provisions of the Forest Rights Act should be enforced.
- There should be genuine attempt to win the hearts and minds of the people.
- The door for peace talks should always be kept open.
One of the biggest problems facing India and having a direct bearing on the country’s economy and security is that of the continuing illegal migration of Bangladeshis into India.
The factors which have been encouraging the influx from Bangladesh side are:
- steep rise in population with increasing pressure on land and mounting unemployment,
- recurrent natural disasters like floods and cyclones, uprooting large segments of humanity,
- better economic opportunities in India,
- religious persecution of Hindus and discrimination of tribals,
Islamic interests encouraging expansion of territory, organized immigration by touts and anti-social elements, and porous and easily negotiable international borders.
The bulk of the Bangladeshi immigrants are in the states of Assam, West Bengal, Bihar, Delhi and the north-eastern states.
The Supreme Court of India, in a landmark judgment (July 2005), while repealing the notorious The Illegal Migrants (Determination by Tribunal ) (IMDT) Act, observed that “there can be no manner of doubt that the State of Assam is facing ‘external aggression and internal disturbance’ on account of large scale illegal migration of Bangladeshi nationals” and directed the Union of India “to take all measures for protection of the State of Assam from such external aggression and internal disturbance as enjoined in Article 355 of the Constitution”.
According to Myron Weiner, the global immigration crisis should not, and cannot, be ignored, specifically because it presents serious challenges to states and the preservation of human rights.
There are three possible options :
- Accommodation Control– It involves expanding the level of legal immigration and accepting a chunk of the illegal immigrants. This option is based on the neo-classical economics, which argues that economic benefits accrue from the free movement of the factors of production.
- Greater Border Control– This would involve increasing the deployment of police and paramilitary forces to effectively check trans-border movements. Besides, physical barriers like border security fencing may also be erected to prevent unauthorized movements of people from either side. Identity cards could be issued to the citizens so that the detection of illegal immigrants becomes easier.
- Intervention– This involves changing the economic, political and social factors in the sending countries which lead to migrations. Such efforts have been made in a number of countries. Somalia, the former Yugoslavia, and Haiti, are three prominent examples. Economic assistance, coercive diplomacy, sanctions, and military interventions are the possible tools.
There are threats to internal security from certain other factors also. These include:
- Regional aspirations
- Inter-state disputes
- River water sharing issues
- Communal problems
- Caste tensions
- Demand for reservations, etc.
These factors also, from time to time, pose a formidable challenge.
A recent phenomenon is the mushrooming of pan-Islamist militant outfits with links to radical organisations in Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Sudan and some other West Asian countries. Funded by Saudi and Gulf sources, many new madrassas have come up all over the country in recent years, especially in large numbers in the coastal areas of the West and in the border areas of West Bengal and the North East. Reports of systematic indoctrination of Muslims in the border areas in fundamentalist ideology is detrimental to the country’s communal harmony.
The challenges can, however, be effectively dealt with and contained if we have a proper internal security doctrine, and the same is implemented in letter and spirit irrespective of the sacrifices the nation may have to make in the process.