It is a truism that under development often creates the conditions for insurgency and spread of extremist ideologies among the people, who perceive that their needs are not being taken care of by the government.
While it has been the policy of governments around the world today to emphasise on “inclusive development”, there are always groups in every state who feel alienated because they perceive that they are left out of the developmental efforts. Such perceptions coupled with inefficient and corrupt governance create an ideal condition for extremism and militancy.
More than lack of development, it is the perception of injustice, misgovernance and inability of the system to engage the disaffected lot that leads people to violence and extremism.
Extremism can be defined as any ideology considered to be far outside the mainstream attitudes of a society or to violate common moral standards.
It means an ideology deflected from the mainstream of common moral standards which can be perceived as good or bad depending upon the political and philosophical values.
Left Wing Extremism or Naxalism (as it called in India, because of its origin from a village called Naxalbari in West Bengal) is an ideology based on far left radical thoughts. It drives its thoughts from communism and emphasises advancement of people’s social and economic life by establishing classless society through armed revolution.
Charu Mazumdar was an active leader of the area and was mobilizing peasants against the state for an armed conflict. On the other hand, there were repetitive incidences of Class conflicts between peasants and zamindars. One such conflict escalated and Zamindar was expelled from his land. After this police came to his rescue and was surrounded by about thousand peasants armed with bows, arrows, lathis etc. One Police officer was killed. Police force few days after responded with brutal force and 9 women and 2 children were killed.
In response, revolutionary leaders fled the area and declared armed struggle against the state of India. They formed a new party Communist Party of India (Marxist-Leninist) in 1969 and this was motivated and influenced deeply by Communist Party of China.
After independence Nehruvian Panchsheel stressed the need to recognise tribal rights over land and forests and allow them to develop along the lines of their own genius. In reality, however, tribal communities have been systematically alienated from their traditional rights over natural resources like land, forests, water and commons, which has eroded the very basis of their existence.
The major issues faced by tribals in the Eastern India are:
- mining-related displacement of PVTGs,
- trafficking of women and girls,
- oppression by CRPF especially on tribal women,
- village schools being occupied by para-military forces,
- violation of PESA and FRA,
- acute poverty conditions of PVTGs like Mankidia, Khadia and Paudi Bhuiyan and high prevalence of malnutrition and starvation deaths among these communities
Since the Eastern India is rich in natural resources including forests, minerals and mines, tribal face exploitation and harassment from government and corporate bodies targeting to extract those resources for their profit.
There is continuous tussle between naxals and security forces in every tribal village. As a result the tribal are getting sandwiched between these forces.
Tribal livelihood is at stake due to depletion of natural resource base. Forceful displacement from their homeland destroys their traditional governance system.
People in power and government fail to understand their need-based economy and introduce privatisation and globalisation.
The major issues faced by tribals in the the Southern India are:
Issues of the tribal in southern states are different from other central and eastern states. Tribal in southern states – Kerala, Tamil Nadu, Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh face different forms of discrimination.
- There is no schedule area in any southern states except Andhra Pradesh.
- PVTGs like Errula tribes face many forms of exploitation in their day-to-day life. They are deprived of natural resources and livelihood.
- The status and condition of women and girls is more deplorable than tribal men. Some tribal like Irulas, who depend on the sea coast, are increasingly losing their access to the sea and its resources, due to the interference of big trawlers and climate-related challenges like frequent high tides.
- Hunger, dignity and lack of governance are important issues of tribal in these States.
- Availability, accessibility and affordability of food and other essentials are very important but not in place.
- The law and order situation in tribal areas is totally disturbed and out of control.
Extremism in North East
A cursory look at the demographic mosaic of northeastern India would show that this region is home to a curious amalgam of cross-cutting societies. What compounds the problem of this plurality is the fact that the tendency for ethnopolitical assertion is high among almost all the groups.
This is primarily because the political boundaries in most cases do not coincide with the existing social boundaries. The northeastern units of the Indian federation, in spite of several political permutations and combinations, have not been able to cater to the demands of all the ethnic categories clamouring for recognition of their distinctive identity.
The social continuities that stretch across the territorial frontiers have led to demands by the politically fragmented groups to redraw international boundaries and also to reorganise states within the Indian Union.
In many cases due to external manipulations and support, these fragmented ethnopolitical groupings have taken to arms and have adopted a line of confrontation with the state and central administration.
The Islamic extremism in India’s Northeast is generally associated with the Islamic extremist groups of Bangladesh such as Jamaat-ul-Mujahideen Bangladesh (JMB) and Harkat-ul Jihad al-Islami Bangladesh (HuJI-B) who have expanded their area of operations into India particularly in Assam and West Bengal, where a large number of illegal Bangladeshi migrants have settled down over the years.
Association of these militant groups with Pakistani agencies is well-known. As these groups remain on the lookout for local recruits and to expand their bases into Indian territories, the threat to Indian interests persists.
These terrorist groups, as well as Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI), have reportedly colluded with various militant groups of Northeast such as the United Liberation Front of Assam (ULFA), United National Liberation Front (UNLF), etc. to carry out terrorist activities against India.
The Bangladeshi, Pakistani, as well as global terrorist groups who are on the look out to expand their bases and activities into Indian territories, may, therefore, attempt to take advantage of the situation, which may lead to enhanced security challenges in the Northeast region.