North-East India – Security and Developmental Issues

North-East India – Security and Developmental Issues

What is Khujli Ghar?


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Article 371A

Mains level : Naga customs and their constitutional protection

Some villages in Nagaland are trying to revive a traditional form of punishment that seeks to check crime with an itch in time.

What is Khujli Ghar?

  • Social offenders or violators of Naga customary laws have over the ages dreaded a cramped, triangular cage made from the logs of an indigenous tree that irritates the skin.
  • The dread is more of humiliation or loss of face within the community or clan than of spending at least a day scratching furiously without any space to move.
  • Such itchy cages are referred to as khujli ghar in Nagamese but each Naga community has its own name.
  • The Aos, one of the major tribes of Nagaland, call it Shi-ki that means flesh-house.

Terminologies associated

  • The cage is usually placed at a central spot in the village, usually in front of the morung or bachelor’s dormitory, for the inmate to be in full public view.
  • The cage is made of the logs of Masang-fung, a local tree that people avoid because of the irritation it causes.
  • It does not affect the palm but people who make the cages have to be careful.

Naga belief in this

  • It is not proper to view the itchy cages from the prism of modern laws.
  • They have served a purpose for ages and have often proved to reform offenders, as identity and family or clan reputation is very important to a Naga.

Do you know?

Article 371(A) of the Constitution guarantees the preservation of the Naga customary laws.

The State also funds the customary courts in villages and towns where cases — mostly dealing with land litigation, money-lending and marital disputes — have a high rate of prompt disposal.

Back2Basics: Article 371A

  • Parliament cannot legislate in matters of Naga religion or social practices, the Naga customary law and procedure, administration of civil and criminal justice involving decisions according to Naga customary law.
  • Parliament also cannot intervene in ownership and transfer of land and its resources, without the concurrence of the Legislative Assembly of the state.
  • This provision was inserted in the Constitution after a 16-point agreement between the Centre and the Naga People’s Convention in 1960, which led to the creation of Nagaland in 1963.
  • Also, there is a provision for a 35-member Regional Council for Tuensang district, which elects the Tuensang members in the Assembly.
  • A member from the Tuensang district is Minister for Tuensang Affairs. The Governor has the final say on all Tuensang-related matters.

North-East India – Security and Developmental Issues

Demand for Greater Tipraland


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Tipraland

Mains level : Demand for separate states

Tripura royal scion Pradyot Kishore Manikya has recently announced his political demand for a new state called ‘Greater Tipraland’.

Try this:

Q.New-age ethnic politics in North East is driving demands for separate statehood movements in India. Discuss.

What is Greater Tipraland?

  • ‘Greater Tipraland’ is essentially an extension of the ruling tribal partner Indigenous Peoples Front of Tripura – IPFT’s demand of Tipraland, which sought a separate state for tribals of Tripura.
  • The new demand seeks to include every tribal person living in an indigenous area or village outside the Tripura Tribal Areas Autonomous District Council (TTAADC) under the proposed model.
  • However, the idea doesn’t restrict to simply the Tripura tribal council areas but seeks to include ‘Tiprasa’ of Tripuris spread across different states of India like Assam, Mizoram etc. as well.
  • It seeks to include even those living in Bandarban, Chittagong, Khagrachari and other bordering areas of neighbouring Bangladesh.

North-East India – Security and Developmental Issues

[pib] Mahabahu-Brahmaputra


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Mahabahu-Brahmaputra

Mains level : Infrastructure in NE

PM will launch the ‘Mahabahu-Brahmaputra’, lay the foundation stone of Dhubri Phulbari Bridge and perform Bhumi Pujan for construction of Majuli Bridge Assam.

Click here too read all North-East related news.


  • The program is aimed at providing seamless connectivity to the Eastern parts of India and includes various development activities for the people living around River Brahmaputra and River Barak.
  • It will consist of the Ro-Pax vessel operations between Neamati-Majuli Island, North Guwahati-South Guwahati and Dhubri-Hatsingimari.
  • The Ro-Pax services will help in reducing the travel time by providing connectivity between banks and thus reducing the distance to be travelled by road.
  • PANI (Portal for Asset and Navigation Information) will act as a one-stop solution for providing information about river navigation and infrastructure.

Dhubri Phulbari Bridge

  • PMwill lay the foundation stone for the four-lane bridge over the Brahmaputra between Dhubri (on North Bank) and Phulbari (on South Bank).
  • The proposed Bridge will be located on NH-127B, originating from Srirampur on NH-27 (East-West Corridor), and terminating at Nongstoin on NH-106 in the State of Meghalaya.
  • It will connect Dhubri in Assam to Phulbari, Tura, Rongram and Rongjeng in Meghalaya.
  • It will reduce the distance of 205 Km to be travelled by Road to 19 Km, which is the total length of the bridge.

Majuli Bridge

  • PM will perform Bhumi Pujan for the two-lane Bridge on the Brahmaputra between Majuli (North Bank) and Jorhat (South Bank).
  • The bridge will be located on NH-715K and will connect Neematighat (on Jorhat side) and Kamalabari (on Majuli side).
  • The Construction of the bridge has been a long demand of the people of Majuli who for generations have been dependent on the ferry services to connect with the mainland of Assam.

North-East India – Security and Developmental Issues

What is Inner-Line Permit?


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Inner Line Permit

Mains level : Special schemes for NE states

Union Home Minister has said that Inner-Line Permit (ILP) had been the Centre’s biggest gift to Manipur since its statehood.

Note the states where ILP is required.

The Inner Line

  • A concept drawn by colonial rulers, the Inner Line separated the tribal-populated hill areas in the Northeast from the plains.
  • To enter and stay for any period in these areas, Indian citizens from other areas need an Inner Line Permit (ILP).
  • Arunachal Pradesh, Nagaland and Mizoram are protected by the Inner Line, and lately, Manipur was added (in December last year).
  • The concept originates from the Bengal Eastern Frontier Regulation Act (BEFR), 1873.

Its’ Inception

  • The policy of exclusion first came about as a response to the reckless expansion of British entrepreneurs into new lands which threatened British political relations with the hill tribes.
  • The BEFR prohibits an outsider’s — “British subject or foreign citizen” — entry into the are beyond the Inner Line without a pass and his purchase of land there.
  • On the other hand, the Inner Line also protects the commercial interests of the British from the tribal communities.
  • After Independence, the Indian government replaced “British subjects” with “Citizen of India”.
  • Today, the main aim of the ILP system is to prevent settlement of other Indian nationals in the States where the ILP regime is prevalent, in order to protect the indigenous/tribal population.

North-East India – Security and Developmental Issues

Brus’ resettlement in Tripura


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Bru Tribals

Mains level : Bru-Reang Repatriation Agreement

People erupted in violent protests against the planned resettlement of thousands of Bru migrants permanently at Kanchanpur sub-division of North Tripura.

Try this PYQ:


Q. With reference to ‘Changpa’ community of India, consider the following statement:

  1. They live mainly in the State of Uttarakhand.
  2. They rear the Pashmina goats that yield fine wool.
  3. They are kept in the category of Scheduled Tribes.

Which of the statements given above is/are correct? (CSP 2014)

(a) 1 only

(b) 2 and 3 only

(c) 3 only

(d) 1, 2 and 3

Who are the Brus?

  • Reangs or Brus are the second largest ethnic group in Mizoram.
  • Their exodus in 1997 was spurred by violent clashes in Mamith subdivision, a Reang-dominated area when they demanded the creation of an autonomous council that was vehemently opposed by Mizo groups.
  • Around 34,000 people were forced to live in sub-human conditions in tents in Tripura. No solution could be reached all these years.
  • These people were housed in temporary camps at Kanchanpur, in North Tripura.

Why have there been violent protests?

  • Twenty-three years after ethnic clashes in Mizoram forced 37,000 people of the Bru (or Reang) community to flee their homes to neighbouring Tripura.
  • The news was not welcomed by the Bengali and Mizo communities in Tripura.
  • They fear a demographic imbalance, which would exert pressure on local resources and potentially lead to law and order problems.

Also read

[Burning Issue] Bru– Reang Repatriation Agreement

North-East India – Security and Developmental Issues

 Assam-Mizoram Boundary Dispute


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Assam-Mizoram Boundary Dispute

Mains level : Interstate boundary disputes in India

The recent violence and tension on the Assam-Mizoram border underline the differences the two States have had since 1972 when Mizoram was carved out of Assam as a Union Territory.

Try answering this:

Q.Assam has had boundary problems with almost all of its north-eastern neighbours. Discuss.

*Also note the states bordering Assam.

What is the Dispute?

  • Mizoram was carved out of Assam as a Union Territory in 1972. In 1987, it became a full-fledged state.
  • The two states have sparred over where the border lies in the past, leading to the occasional violence.
  • The disagreement stems from differing views on which border demarcation to follow.
  • Mizoram’s perception of the border is based on an 1875 notification that flows from the Bengal Eastern Frontier Regulation Act of 1873.
  • The Act demarcated the Lushai Hills from the plains and valleys in the North East, restricting free travel between the two zones. The hills were deemed to be “excluded areas”.
  • Assam, for its part, goes by a 1933 notification by the state government that demarcated the Lushai Hills, as Mizoram was then known, from the province of Manipur.

The Assamese problem

  • Assam has had boundary problems with all its north-eastern neighbours, except Manipur and Tripura that had existed as separate entities.
  • The primary reason is that the other States, a part of Assam during the British rule, have contested the boundaries since they became States, beginning with Nagaland in 1963.
  • Assam has accepted several recommendations of border commissions set up by the Supreme Court, but other States have been sticking to “historical boundaries” that go back to the period before 1826.
  • However, the border residents have to bear the brunt of the unrest unless an acceptable solution is arrived at.

North-East India – Security and Developmental Issues

Assam-Mizoram Boundary Dispute


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Not Much

Mains level : Special provisions for North-east India

The Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) has asked Assam and Mizoram to maintain peace and display “no aggressive posturing” after violent clashes took place at the border between the two States on Saturday night.

Can you recall the chronology of reorganization of the entire North-East region?

What is the issue?

  • Assam has had a boundary dispute with Mizoram for decades and several rounds of talks have been held since 1994-95 to solve the issue.
  • Till 1972, Mizoram was a part of Assam and acquired full statehood in 1987.
  • The 164.6 km-long border between the States runs along with Cachar, Hailakandi and Karimganj districts in Assam and Kolasib, Mamit and Aizawl districts in Mizoram.
  • There are several border areas where violence have been reported.

How complex is this dispute?

  • In the Northeast’s complex boundary equations, showdowns between Assam and Mizoram residents are less frequent than they are.
  • The boundary between present-day Assam and Mizoram, 165 km long today, dates back to the colonial era when Mizoram was known as Lushai Hills, a district of Assam.
  • The dispute stems from a notification of 1875 that differentiated Lushai Hills from the plains of Cachar, and another of 1933 that demarcates a boundary between Lushai Hills and Manipur.
  • Mizoram believes the boundary should be demarcated on the basis of the 1875 notification, which is derived from the Bengal Eastern Frontier Regulation (BEFR) Act, 1873.
  • Mizo leaders have argued in the past argued against the demarcation notified in 1933 because Mizo society was not consulted.

Other boundary disputes in North-East

During British rule, Assam included present-day Nagaland, Arunachal Pradesh and Meghalaya besides Mizoram, which became separate state one by one. Today, Assam has boundary problems with each of them.

  • Nagaland shares a 500-km boundary with Assam.
  • In two major incidents of violence in 1979 and 1985, at least 100 persons were killed. The boundary dispute is now in the Supreme Court
  • On the Assam-Arunachal Pradesh boundary (over 800 km), clashes were first reported in 1992, according to the same research paper.
  • Since then, there have been several accusations of illegal encroachment from both sides, and intermittent clashes. This boundary issue is being heard by the Supreme Court.
  • The 884-km Assam-Meghalaya boundary, too, witnesses flare-ups frequently. As per Meghalaya government statements, today there are 12 areas of dispute between the two states.

North-East India – Security and Developmental Issues

Naga peace process


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Not much

Mains level : Paper 2- Naga peace process

The article analyses the issue of Naga peace process and the problem of identifying the stakeholders in the process.

Naga Polity and aspirations

  • The  Nagas family comprises over 25 tribes.
  • Each of these is a proud owner and inheritor of a distinct culture, language, tradition and geography, supporting a distinct world view.
  • However, many Nagas aspire to Naga unity, and they view those tribal loyalties as residues of a premodern past and an obstacle to Naga solidarity.
  • Naga nationalism is connected with the idea Naga homeland  that includes contiguous areas in a number of Northeastern states, and even parts of Myanmar.

“Unique history” formulation

  • The source of the phrase can be traced back to a joint communiqué that NSCN-IM General Secretary Thuingaleng Muivah and former Home Secretary K Padmanabhaiah signed in Amsterdam on July 11, 2002.
  • Meaning of the phrase “unique history” is not self-explanatory.
  • Despite the lack of clarity, it is adopted by officials and political leaders intended to accept two things-
  • (a) the characterisations long favoured by security bureaucrats of the Naga political struggle as a separatist insurgency or a terrorist movement that makes false claims to Naga unity, are inaccurate and
  • (b) rejecting those labels [ such as separatist insurgency or terrorist movement] is a necessary condition for negotiations based on mutual respect.
  • Those are significant achievements that should not be allowed to wither away.

Negotiating with NSCN-IM and issues with it

  • NSCN-IM had declared the Shillong Accord of 1975 a sellout, and a betrayal of the Naga cause.
  • But it emerged as a serious political force precisely because it stood for Naga unity.
  • However, it is argued that NSCN-IM’s appeal is limited to the Tangkhul tribes of Manipur only.

Consider the question “The issues of identifying the stakeholders in the Naga peace process is at the root of the solution to the peace problem. Also, examine the other factors which make the resolution elusive. Suggest the measures to resolve the issue.”


That a more nuanced negotiating strategy is now emerging is a positive development. But the fundamental question about who all the stakeholders in the Naga conflict are, still needs a satisfactory answer, one that is based on an in-depth mapping of the conflict. Only then can we expect peaceful dialogue and patient negotiations to end the conflict and bring about a durable peace.

North-East India – Security and Developmental Issues

Sixth Schedule of Indian Constitution


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Sixth Schedule

Mains level : Special provisions for North-east India

The revival of the demand for two autonomous councils has made political parties and community-based groups call for bringing the entire Arunachal Pradesh under the ambit of the Sixth Schedule or Article 371 (A) of the Constitution.

Try this question from CSP 2015:

Q.The provisions in Fifth Schedule and Sixth Schedule in the Constitution of India are made in order to-

(a) protect the interests of Scheduled Tribes

(b) determine the boundaries between States

(c) determine the powers, authority and responsibilities of Panchayats

(d) protect the interests of all the border States

What is the Sixth Schedule?

  • The Sixth Schedule consists of provisions for the administration of tribal areas in Assam, Meghalaya, Tripura and Mizoram, according to Article 244 of the Indian Constitution.
  • Passed by the Constituent Assembly in 1949, it seeks to safeguard the rights of the tribal population through the formation of Autonomous District Councils (ADC).
  • ADCs are bodies representing a district to which the Constitution has given varying degrees of autonomy within the state legislature.
  • The governors of these states are empowered to reorganize boundaries of the tribal areas.
  • In simpler terms, she or he can choose to include or exclude any area, increase or decrease the boundaries and unite two or more autonomous districts into one.
  • They can also alter or change the names of autonomous regions without separate legislation.

Autonomous districts and regional councils

  • The ADCs are empowered with civil and judicial powers can constitute village courts within their jurisdiction to hear the trial of cases involving the tribes.
  • Governors of states that fall under the Sixth Schedule specify the jurisdiction of high courts for each of these cases.
  • Along with ADCs, the Sixth Schedule also provides for separate Regional Councils for each area constituted as an autonomous region.
  • In all, there are 10 areas in the Northeast that are registered as autonomous districts – three in Assam, Meghalaya and Mizoram and one in Tripura.
  • These regions are named as district council of (name of district) and regional council of (name of region).
  • Each autonomous district and regional council consists of not more than 30 members, of which four are nominated by the governor and the rest via elections. All of them remain in power for a term of five years.


Try this question from AWE Initiative:

The Sixth Schedule of the Constitution is often referred to as a charter for autonomy of a wide magnitude, but it has failed to decrease the tension between different stakeholders at the ground level. Elaborate. (150 W/ 10 M)

North-East India – Security and Developmental Issues

Issues over Delimitation in the Northeast


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Delimitation Commission

Mains level : Delimitation of constituencies

The Election Commission has red-flagged the Union government’s order setting up a Delimitation Commission for Arunachal Pradesh, Manipur, Assam and Nagaland, calling it “unconstitutional” and “illegal”. When delimitation last took place in the rest of the country in 2002-08, these states had been left out.

Try this question from CSP 2017:

Q.Consider the following statements:

  1. The Election Commission of India is a five-member body.
  2. Union Ministry of Home Affairs decides the election schedule for the conduct of both general elections and bye-elections.
  3. Election Commission resolves the disputes relating to splits/mergers of recognized political parties.

Which of the statements given above is/are correct?

(a) 1 and 2 only

(b) 2 only

(c) 2 and 3 only

(d) 3 only

What is delimitation and why is it needed?

  • Delimitation is the act of redrawing boundaries of Lok Sabha and Assembly seats to represent changes in population.
  • In this process, the number of seats allocated to a state may also change.
  • The objective is to provide equal representation for equal population segments and a fair division of geographical areas so that no political party has an advantage.
  • The Delimitation Commission’s orders cannot be questioned before any court.

Legal status

  • Delimitation is carried out by an independent Delimitation Commission (DC).
  • The Constitution mandates that its orders are final and cannot be questioned before any court as it would hold up an election indefinitely.

How is delimitation carried out?

  • Under Article 82, the Parliament enacts a Delimitation Act after every Census.
  • Once the Act is in force, the Union government sets up a DC made up of a retired Supreme Court judge, the Chief Election Commissioner and the respective State Election Commissioners.
  • The Commission is supposed to determine the number and boundaries of constituencies in a way that the population of all seats, so far as practicable, is the same.
  • The Commission is also tasked with identifying seats reserved for Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes; these are where their population is relatively large.
  • All this is done on the basis of the latest Census and, in case of difference of opinion among members of the Commission, the opinion of the majority prevails.

Northeast’s concerns

  • In the last delimitation exercise, completed in 2008, Arunachal, Manipur, Assam, Nagaland were kept out due to apprehensions overuse of the 2001 Census.
  • The Centre’s move to club the four with J&K comes in the backdrop of unrest in the region over CAA.

Why were these four states left out in 2002-08?

  • In Arunachal Pradesh, Assam, Manipur and Nagaland, various organisations had moved the Gauhati High Court against the 2002-08 exercise, challenging the use of the 2001 Census for reference.
  • From Assam, an all-party delegation met then Home Minister pleading that delimitation is called off because the National Register of Citizens (NRC) was yet to be updated.
  • The Delimitation Act was amended in 2008, and on February 8, 2008, Presidential orders were issued to defer delimitation in these four states.

So, when did the government decide to resume delimitation?

  • In February this year, President Kovind cleared the decks for the resumption of the delimitation exercise in the four states by cancelling the earlier order.
  • It noted that there had been a reduction in insurgency incidents, making the situation conducive for carrying out delimitation.

Will delimitation change the number of seats in these states?

  • Not in the four Northeast states. There is a freeze until 2026 on the number of Lok Sabha and Assembly seats in any state.
  • Delimitation will only redraw the boundaries of seats in each state and can rework the number of reserved seats for SCs and STs.
  • However, because of exceptional past circumstances, Jammu & Kashmir’s Assembly seats will now increase from 107 to 114, which is expected to increase the Jammu region’s representation.

North-East India – Security and Developmental Issues

Article 371A and Nagaland


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Article 370 and 371

Mains level : Naga Peace Accord and its outcomes

In a scathing letter to CM, Nagaland Governor has said the “scenario in the State is grim” and that “law and order has collapsed”.

Practice question for mains:

Q.Discuss the success of Naga Peace Accord in light of the ongoing law and order crisis in the state.

Nagaland (Article 371A, 13th Amendment Act, 1962)

  • Parliament cannot legislate in matters of Naga religion or social practices, the Naga customary law and procedure, administration of civil and criminal justice involving decisions according to Naga customary law.
  • Parliament also cannot intervene in ownership and transfer of land and its resources, without the concurrence of the Legislative Assembly of the state.
  • This provision was inserted in the Constitution after a 16-point agreement between the Centre and the Naga People’s Convention in 1960, which led to the creation of Nagaland in 1963.
  • Also, there is a provision for a 35-member Regional Council for Tuensang district, which elects the Tuensang members in the Assembly.
  • A member from the Tuensang district is Minister for Tuensang Affairs. The Governor has the final say on all Tuensang-related matters.

What is the issue?

  • Challenging the legitimacy of the government without any resistance from the State law and order machinery has created a crisis of confidence in the system.
  • The constitutional establishment is being challenged on a day-to-day basis by armed gangs who question the integrity and sovereignty of the nation.
  • The instruments of law and order have remained totally unresponsive.

Armed militancy is back again

  • Their armed miscreants appoint their own dealers for every commodity from salt to construction material coming into the State and levy illegal taxes on every item.
  • There is over 200% cost escalation in transportation the moment a goods laden truck enters Nagaland due to gunpoint extortions by the armed miscreants.

North-East India – Security and Developmental Issues

Daporijo Bridge and its significance


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Daporijo bridge and its location

Mains level : Border disputes with China

A key bridge over the Subansiri River in Arunachal Pradesh close to the Line of Actual Control (LAC) was constructed by the Border Roads Organisation (BRO) in record 27 days.

North-East has seen the construction of a series of bridges by BRO in recent times post-Doklam standoff. Make a note of all such bridges and the corresponding rivers over which they are built.

 Daporijo Bridge

  • This Bridge is one of the two over River Subansiri which connect Daporji in North Subansiri dist. with rest of state.
  • This and the other bridge at Tamin sustaining more than 600 villages and troops strength of around 3000 personnel manning the LAC which includes disputed Areas of Asaphila and Maza.
  • All supplies, rations, constructional material and medicines pass over this bridge.
  • The new bridge now can withstand 40 tonnes of weight allowing a safe passage for heavier vehicles catering for the requirements of the Indian Army as well as future infrastructure development requirements.


  • India has speeded up the construction of critical infrastructure in its northeast in the past half a dozen years including airports, railways and roads with an eye on China that has motorable roads right up to the border.
  • Arunachal Pradesh was the scene of the 1962 India-China border conflict that ended badly for India. China on its parts claims all of the state as “Southern Tibet.”
  • Of the 3488 km long Line of Actual Control with China 1126 lies with Arunachal Pradesh alone.
  • The two countries are yet to demarcate their border with the two sides patrolling the LAC but reporting incursions by the other side since the frontier is not clearly marked.

North-East India – Security and Developmental Issues

Explained: Behind Meghalaya violence


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Not Much

Mains level : Ethnic turmoil in North East



Last week, ethnic violence left three dead in Meghalaya. The violence underlined the ethnic complexities of Meghalaya, with tensions coming back to the fore following the passage of the Citizenship (Amendment) Act.

Multi-ethnic Meghalaya

  • Meghalaya became a state in 1972 when it was carved out of Assam. Before that, Shillong, now Meghalaya’s capital, used to be the capital of Assam.
  • Sharing a 443-km border with Bangladesh, Meghalaya has seen decades of migration from areas that are now in Bangladesh, as well as from various Indian states via Assam.
  • Besides the indigenous groups, Meghalaya’s residents include Bengalis, Nepalis, Marwaris, Biharis and members of various other communities.
  • Meghalaya is a tribal majority state, and the indigenous Khasis, Jaintias and Garos are entitled to 80% reservation in government jobs.
  • Various groups have continuously expressed concerns that illegal migration from Bangladesh and the growth of “outsiders” from other states would overwhelm the indigenous communities.

Meghalaya violence: The CAA context

  • The CAA relaxes the norms for Hindus from Bangladesh (among six religious groups from three countries) for eligibility to apply for Indian citizenship.
  • Long before that, the legislation was already facing protests in the Northeast, including Meghalaya. Eventually, the Centre decided the CAA will not apply in Sixth Schedule areas.
  • The Sixth Schedule of the Constitution has special provisions for administration of certain areas in the Northeast, including almost the whole of Meghalaya.
  • Despite the large exemption, the concerns have persisted in Meghalaya, and demands for an Inner Line Permit (ILP) regime have gathered fresh momentum.
  • If the ILP system is introduced, every Indian citizen from any other state would require a time-bound permit to visit Meghalaya.

Signals simmering tensions

  • The last four decades have seen numerous incidents of violence in Meghalaya targeted at non-tribals, including from Bengal and Nepal.
  • The latest bout follows a sustained campaign over the implementation of the Inner Line Permit and unrest in the Northeast over the CAA that led to six deaths in Assam two months ago.
  • The violence last week has an immediate context in the anti-CAA campaign and ILP demand.

Shillong, then and now

  • Shillong has seen violence against “outsiders” several times in the last four decades.
  • The targets were Bengalis in 1979, Nepalis in 1987, and Biharis in 1992.
  • In 2018, Shillong saw clashes between Khasis and Punjab-origin Dalit Sikhs whose ancestors had settled there over 100 years ago.
  • All that began collapsing after Independence, Constitutional institutions set up to safeguard the interest of the tribes came to be popularly perceived as opportunities to convert these tribal areas into exclusive zones of tribal hegemony.
  • The issue of ‘foreigners’ illegally residing in the state of Meghalaya was one of the most important issues which dominated state politics in the 1970s and 1980s.
  • In 1979, the state was plunged into a crisis for the first time since it was created.

North-East India – Security and Developmental Issues

Still no finality, the third time round


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Not much.

Mains level : Paper 2- Bodo peace accord, issues involved.


There are indications that the new Bodo accord does not spell closure of the statehood movement by Bodo groups.

Power-sharing experiment under the Sixth Schedule

  • Sixth Schedule expected as a panacea: The experiment of power-sharing and governance under the Sixth Schedule of the Indian Constitution was expected to be the panacea of the ethno-nationalist identity questions in the Northeastern States.
  • Complexities of exclusion: Euphoria, as well as anger over the third Bodo Accord, have, however, held the mirror reflecting the complexities of exclusion of communities in such ethnocentric power-sharing and governance model.

Specifics of the new Accord

  • The new Accord was signed by the All Bodo Students’ Union (ABSU), United Bodo People’s Organisation and all the four factions of the insurgent outfit- National Democratic Front of Bodoland (NDFB) with Delhi and Dispur on January 27.
    • It promises more legislative, executive and administrative autonomy under the Sixth Schedule to Bodoland Territorial Council (BTC) and expansion of the BTC territory in lieu of statehood.
  • The Bodoland Territorial Area District (BTAD), the autonomous region governed by BTC, will be known as Bodoland Territorial Region (BTR) after demarcation of the augmented territory.

The emergence of the faultlines in the new Accord

  • What went wrong in the previous Accord? The previous Bodo Accord signed by the erstwhile insurgent outfit, Bodo Liberation Tigers (BLT) with Delhi and Dispur on February 10, 2003, led to the creation of the BTC as a new experiment of territorial autonomy under the Sixth Schedule.
    • No assent by the Governor to any BTC legislation: The constitutionally mandated legislative power of the BTC has been reduced to a farce as the Assam Governor has not given assent to any of the legislation passed by the BTC Legislative Assembly.
  • Intensification of demand for Kamatapur State: Bodo groups have suspended their statehood movement.
    • The new Bodo Accord has triggered the intensification of the movement for Kamatapur State by organisations of the Koch-Rajbongshi community.
    • Overlapping territory: The territory of the demanded Kamatapur State overlaps with the present BTAD, proposed BTR and demanded Bodoland.
  • Demand for ST status: Clamour for Scheduled Tribe (ST) status by the Koch-Rajbongshis, Adivasis and several other non-ST communities has also grown.
  • Faultlines over ST status: Deeper ethnic faultlines in an ethnocentric power-sharing model will become exposed when the Koch-Rajbongshis and the Adivasis are granted ST status, as promised by the government.
    • For, the reservation of seats of BTC is for the STs and not exclusively for the Bodos.
    • The new accord has no clear answer to such critical questions.
    • In BTAD, the ST communities account for 33.50% of the total population and the Bodos account for over 90% of the ST population in the BTAD.
    • The ST populations are an overwhelming majority in territories overseen by nine other autonomous councils under the Sixth Schedule in Assam, Meghalaya, Mizoram and Tripura.
  • Minority governing majority: Such a demographic composition in the BTAD has allowed the space for political mobilisation of other non-Bodo communities.
    • It also allowed the articulation of the campaign that the BTC is a faulty model as it allows the minorities to govern the majorities.
    • Exclusion demand: The organisations of these communities have been demanding exclusion of villages with less than 50% Bodo population from the BTAD.
  • Counter argument by Bodos: Bodo organisations have a counter-argument that non-Bodo is a political identity construction articulated to capture power in the BTAD by certain political forces.
  • The new accord promises to increase the current strength of BTC to 60 from 40 but “without adversely affecting the existing percentage of reservation for tribal[s]”.
  • Constitutional provision for dealing with such situations: Sub-paragraph 2 of the first paragraph of the Sixth Schedule provides that, “If there are different Scheduled Tribes in an autonomous district, the Governor may, by public notification, divide the area or areas inhabited by them into autonomous regions.”
    • However, constitutional amendments were made following the previous Bodo Accord to ensure that this provision shall not apply in respect of the BTAD.
  • What could be the solution to the present situation? The provision of setting up regional autonomous councils under the Sixth Schedule can be explored to create the space for communities aggrieved by exclusion from the power-sharing model of BTC.

Provision of commission

  • The new accord promises to appoint a commission by the Assam government.
    • What the commission will deal with? It will look into the demands for inclusion of villages with ST majority and contiguous to the BTAD, and exclusion of villages which are contiguous to non-Sixth Schedule areas and have majority non-ST population.
    • However, the core area of the BTAD will continue to have many villages with majority non-ST population which were included for contiguity.

Evaporating of euphoria over the accord

  • Failure in uniting the four factions: Euphoria among the Bodos over the accord is also fast evaporating with efforts to unite all the four factions of NDFB having turned futile.
    • The factions are divided into two camps.
    • The new accord will be the pivot of political mobilisation in the BTAD during the forthcoming BTC elections due in April.
  • Revival in homeland demand: A shift in the political equilibrium in the BTC resulting from a likely expansion of the ST list in Assam has the potential to keep the Bodos out of power in the BTC and push Bodo organisations to revive their homeland demand


Peace will continue to be fragile in Assam’s Bodo heartland until an all-inclusive power-sharing and governance model is evolved under the provisions of the Sixth Schedule.





North-East India – Security and Developmental Issues

Explained: Assam-Mizoram Boundary Dispute


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Read the attached story

Mains level : Assam as the centre-stage of disputes


Assam is at the centre of a fresh inter-State border row in the northeastern region. The Mizoram government has sought the revision of the boundary with Assam, based on the Bengal Eastern Frontier Regulation (BEFR) of 1873 and the Inner Line of the Lushai Hills Notification of 1993.


  • Since 1962 most of the state borders of states carved out of Assam were divided following the myopic vision of the Central government.
  • On ground these borders still do not run in sync with the tribal territories and identities, creating repetitive conflicts in the region and disturbing its peace.
  • Assam finds itself at the center of all the conflicts since most of the neighboring states were carved out of its territory since independence.
  • This was done to consolidate the Indian Union at the time by catering to the aspirations of the local tribes and including them in the mainstream by giving them independent statehoods.

What is the dispute?

  • Mizoram shares a 123-km border with southern Assam and has been claiming a 509-square mile stretch “occupied” by the neighbouring State.
  • Mizoram used to be the Lushai Hills district of Assam before being made a Union Territory in 1972 and a State in 1987.
  • Both States have been disputing an extensive stretch of this boundary.

About Bengal Eastern Frontier Regulation

  • The Inner Line Regulations, commonly referred to as the Inner Line Permit system (ILP), first gained legal effect through the Bengal Eastern Frontier Regulation, 1873.
  • At present the BEFR continues to apply, but only in present-day Arunachal Pradesh, Nagaland and Mizoram.
  • It had been lifted in the whole of Assam, as well as the entirety of present-day Meghalaya.
  • The BEFR allows Arunachal Pradesh, Manipur, Mizoram and Nagaland not to let non-resident Indians in without an inner-line permit for a temporary stay.

Present status of ILP

  • The Foreigners (Protected Areas) Order, 1958 is the modern embodiment of the ILP.
  • This Order was passed in furtherance of the Foreigners Act, 1946.
  • The Order defined the ‘inner line’ throughout present-day India starting from Jammu and Kashmir and ending at Mizoram.
  • This inner line is different from the one envisioned in the Bengal Frontier Regulations.
  • This line represents the furthest point up to the international border where a foreigner can visit on the strength of a visa alone.

North-East India – Security and Developmental Issues

[op-ed snap] Optimal delivery or mere optics in Bodo peace deal?


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Not much.

Mains level : Paper 2- 6th Schedule, Demand for separate states in North-East.


It is to be seen if the pact will lead to true autonomy, true peace, and true development.

What the pact involved?

  • Which groups signed the deal?
    • Four factions of the National Democratic Front of Bodoland (NDFB), along with an influential Bodo students’ organization and a Bodo civilian pressure group, signed the peace agreement with the central and Assam governments.
  • What are the major concessions given?
    • The Bodoland Territorial Area Districts, the name given to Kokrajhar, Baksa, Chirang and Udalguri, the four contiguous districts bordering Bhutan and Arunachal Pradesh, will now be known as Bodoland Territorial Region.
    • Acknowledgement of Bodo homeland: The changed nuance from districts to the region is significant as it acknowledges a Bodo homeland within the state of Assam, without separating from Assam.
    • Why this acknowledgement matters: This is dialled down from earlier rebel demands for a breakaway state and later suggestions for Union territory status.
  • What is the significance of the change from district to the region?
    • Satisfying identity aspiration: The renaming is designed to satisfy the identity and aspirations of the Bodo people.
    • Not ceding territory solved tricky matter: Renaming also solved the politically tricky matter of ceding territory for the government of Assam.
    • Ceding territory would also have fuelled similar demands from the other parts of the state like- Karbi Anglong, Dima Hasao and Cachar, which also have homelands of non-Ahom ethnicities.
    • Avoiding similar demand from other states: Indeed, it could have affected the ongoing Naga peace process, leading Naga rebels to demand territorial and administrative autonomy in Naga homelands in Manipur.

Scope of the success of the pact

  • Inherent vulnerability: There is already an inherent vulnerability to the Bodo peace deal even without the overhang of ceding territory.
    • This is rooted in the birth of the Bodo rebellion, which began in the 1980s on account of administrative and development apathy of the state of Assam.
  • Feeling of subsuming in Bodo: A feeling that Bodo, the people, the language, the identity, was subsumed by the Assamese and migrants.
  • The relation between NDFB and the Front: The Bodoland People’s Front, is in majority in the District council. Will the front be comfortable with newly peaceable colleagues of NDFB?


The Government of Assam needs to ensure that the pact signed changes the situation on the ground and leads to a development on the ground. The state also needs to allay the fears in the Bengali-speaking minority. Moreover, true autonomy, true peace, and true development are always worth more than the paper on which they are promised.

North-East India – Security and Developmental Issues

Comprehensive Bodo Settlement Agreement


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Not Much

Mains level : Bodoland statehood issue


  • The MHA, the Assam government and the Bodo groups have signed an agreement to redraw and rename the Bodoland Territorial Area District (BTAD) in Assam, currently spread over four districts of Kokrajhar, Chirang, Baksa and Udalguri.
  • Several Bodo groups led have been demanding a separate land for the ethnic community since 1972, a movement that has claimed nearly 4,000 lives.


  • The first Bodo accord was signed with the ABSU in 1993, leading to the creation of a Bodoland Autonomous Council with limited political powers.
  • The BTC was created in 2003 with some more financial and other powers.
  • The BTAD and other areas mentioned under the Sixth Schedule of the Constitution have been exempted from the Citizenship (Amendment) Act, 2019.

Highlights of the Agreement

  • As per the agreement, villages dominated by Bodos that were presently outside the BTAD would be included and those with non-Bodo population would be excluded.
  • Bodos living in the hills would be conferred a Scheduled Hill Tribe status.
  • The BTAD is to be renamed as the Bodoland Territorial Region (BTR).

Rehabilitation and relief

  • The criminal cases registered against members of the NDFB factions for “non-heinous” crimes shall be withdrawn by the Assam government and in cases of heinous crimes it will be reviewed.
  • A Special Development Package of Rs. 1500 Crore would be given by the Centre to undertake specific projects for the development of Bodo areas.

A separate Commission

  • It proposes to set up a commission under Section 14 of the Sixth Schedule to the Constitution which will recommend the inclusion or exclusion of tribal population residing in villages adjoining BTAD areas.
  • In this commission, besides State government, there will be representatives from ABSU and BTC. It will submit its recommendation within six months.

Changes in Legislature

  • The total number of Assembly seats will go up to 60, from the existing 40.
  • The present settlement has a proposal to give more legislative, executive, administrative and financial powers to BTC.

Bodo as an official language

  • The Assam government will also notify Bodo language as an associate official language in the state and will set up a separate directorate for Bodo medium schools.
  • Bodo with Devnagri script would be the associate official language for the entire Assam.

Significance of the agreement

  • The signing of the agreement would “end the 50-year-old Bodo crisis.”
  • Around 1500 cadres of BODO militant factions will be rehabilitated by Centre and Assam Government.

North-East India – Security and Developmental Issues

[op-ed snap] Naga peace plan lost in haze of optics, obstinacy


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Not much.

Mains level : Paper 2-Federal system.


The government-imposed deadline of October 31 for concluding talks with Naga groups has passed. And nothing concrete has come out of the Framework Agreement signed in 2015.

Events so far

  • Framework Agreement with Naga rebel leader Thuingaleng Muivah was signed in 2015.
    • The agreement expresses an intent to work towards the final agreement.
    • The progress on the said agreement has stalled since then.
  • Problem with the Framework Agreement: It was signed only with Muivah’s leading faction, National Socialist Council of Nagalim (Isak-Muivah), or NSCN (I-M).
    • Exclusion of major players: The agreement excluded half a dozen more groups, besides Naga citizenry in Nagaland and contiguous Naga homelands in the neighbouring states of Manipur, Arunachal Pradesh, and Assam.
    • This weakened the process.

Efforts made by the government

  • Appointment of an interlocutor: The government-appointed R.N. Ravi as the government’s interlocutor. That move signalled the seriousness from the government’s side.
  • Reach out toward the other players: The government reached out to Nagas across the board.
  • The government reached out to other rebel factions, much to the irritation of NSCN (I-M), and began peace talks with them in end-2017.
  • A breakaway faction of I-M’s arch enemies, NSCN’s Khaplang, joined the process in 2019.
  • Government-led outreach attempted to bring on board non-Naga people in Manipur, Arunachal Pradesh, and Assam.

What is offered in the process and related issues

  • Disarmament, rehabilitation, and assimilation: A talks with I-M spelt out disarmament, rehabilitation, and assimilation of cadres and leaders through induction in paramilitary forces and political structures
  • Expanded legislature: An expanded legislature in Nagaland, for inducting the rebels and more legislative representation and relative autonomy in Naga homelands outside Nagaland.
  • Disagreement over flang and the separate state-constitution: Other Naga rebel groups agreed to what was offered by the government.
  • I-M remained intransigent over the dual use of a Naga flag alongside the Indian flag, and its constitution—
  • This I-M-scripted constitution is regressive, offers far less than what Nagas enjoy under Indian constitutional provisions, and effectively proposes Muivah as the overarching figure of Naga politics, development and destiny.
  • Unacceptance by the other groups: This is evidently unacceptable to numerous Nagas—let alone non-Nagas—for whom Muivah, a Tangkhul Naga from Manipur’s Ukhrul region, remains a divisive figure.


There is a need to reconcile the difference between the different groups and reach a proposed agreement as soon as possible for the welfare of the communities and the region as a whole.

North-East India – Security and Developmental Issues

Meghalaya ordinance on non-state residents


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : ILP, NRC, CAA

Mains level : Read the attached story

The Meghalaya Cabinet by an Ordinance approved the amendments to The Meghalaya Residents Safety and Security Act, 2016.

What is the Ordinance about?

  • The existing 2016 Act deals with registration and documentation of non-state residents living in Meghalaya.
  • The Ordinance seeks to extend similar rules to cover all non-state residents visiting or living in the state.
  • This Act is indicative only for those people who are interested in visiting Meghalaya as tourists, labourers or for education and business.
  • With the Act in place, they will need to comply with guidelines to be prepared in the form of rules.

The point of the amendment

  • It came in the backdrop of the NRC process in Assam, which led to concerns among civil society and political leaders that people excluded from the Assam NRC might try to enter Meghalaya.
  • Besides, political parties and activists in Meghalaya had long been demanding replication of the Inner Line Permit (ILP) regime of Arunachal Pradesh, Nagaland and Mizoram, which has now been extended to Manipur.
  • While the ILP-regime states are exempt from the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA), practically the whole of Meghalaya is exempt by virtue of special protections under the Sixth Schedule of the Constitution.
  • The Ordinance itself was not a fallout of the citizenship legislation, but a precautionary measure in view of the Assam NRC.

North-East India – Security and Developmental Issues

Loktak Inland Waterways Project


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Loktak Lake

Mains level : Not Much

The Ministry of Shipping gave approval for the development of Loktak Inland Water ways improvement project in Manipur under the central sector scheme.

About Loktak Lake

  • It is the largest fresh water lake in North east located at Moirang in Manipur.
  • This lake is known for its circular floating swamps (called phumdis in the local language)
  • The term phumdis refers to a collection of heterogeneous mass of vegetation, soil, and organic matter at various stages of decomposition
  • Sangai is the state animal of Manipur. Its hooves are adapted to walk on the phumdis
  • The lake is now endangered, with innumerable threats like pollution, decline in diversity of avifauna and thinning of phumdis
  • The team will enumerate the steps required to be initiated for declaring Loktak Lake as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

North-East India – Security and Developmental Issues

Explained: The Bodoland dispute


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Bodoland

Mains level : About the dispute

The central government has extended the ban on the Assam-based insurgent group National Democratic Front of Bodoland (NDFB) by five more years for its involvement in a series of violent anti-state activities.

The Bodoland

  • Bodos are the single largest tribal community in Assam, making up over 5-6 per cent of the state’s population. They have controlled large parts of Assam in the past.
  • The four districts in Assam — Kokrajhar, Baksa, Udalguri and Chirang — that constitute the Bodo Territorial Area District (BTAD), are home to several ethnic groups.

What is the dispute?

  • The Bodos have had a long history of separatist demands, marked by armed struggle.
  • In 1966-67, the demand for a separate state called Bodoland was raised under the banner of the Plains Tribals Council of Assam (PTCA), a political outfit.
  • In 1987, the All Bodo Students Union (ABSU) renewed the demand. “Divide Assam fifty-fifty”, was a call given by the ABSU’s then leader, Upendra Nath Brahma.
  • The unrest was a fallout of the Assam Movement (1979-85), whose culmination — the Assam Accord — addressed the demands of protection and safeguards for the “Assamese people”, leading the Bodos to launch a movement to protect their own identity.
  • In December 2014, separatists killed more than 30 people in Kokrajhar and Sonitpur. In the 2012 Bodo-Muslim riots, hundreds were killed and almost 5 lakh were displaced.

Who are the NDFB?

  • Alongside political movements, armed groups have also sought to create a separate Bodo state.
  • In October 1986, the prominent group Bodo Security Force (BdSF) was formed by Ranjan Daimary.
  • The BdSF subsequently renamed itself as the National Democratic Front of Bodoland (NDFB), an organisation that is known to be involved in attacks, killings, and extortions.
  • In the 1990s, Indian security forces launched extensive operations against the group, causing the latter to flee to bordering Bhutan.
  • In Bhutan, the group faced stiff counter-insurgency operations by the Indian Army and the Royal Bhutan Army in the early 2000s.

North-East India – Security and Developmental Issues

[op-ed snap] Senseless


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : NRC

Mains level : NRC across India


The proposal for a nationwide National Register of Citizens (NRC) is worrisome on several counts. The government would also re-introduce the Citizenship Amendment Bill (CAB) that envisages the grant of Indian citizenship to all refugees from minority communities in Bangladesh, Pakistan, and Afghanistan.

Drawbacks of the idea

    • Experience – the inability to learn from the experience of carrying out the humongous exercise in Assam. 
    • CAB – religion – the Bill denies a benefit to Muslim minorities from other neighboring countries, including Myanmar where Rohingya Muslims face persecution. 
    • Assam again – Home Minister announced that the NRC process would be conducted in Assam again with the rest of the country. 
    • Assam hanging – There is still no clarity on what the 19 lakh plus people outside the NRC could do. They are potentially stateless and at risk of “deportation”.
    • Bangladesh – Bangladesh refuses to acknowledge them.

NRC for the whole country

    • If there is a lesson from Assam, it is that there is no right way of going through a process such as the NRC.
    • Fear for minorities – there are genuine fears that a nationwide NRC will target Muslims. 
    • Administrative details – of how such an exercise will be carried out are not yet known.
    • Cutoff date – In the case of Assam, there was a cut-off date after which all foreigners as per the Assam Accord were to be expelled. The Centre may come out with a cut-off for the nationwide NRC.


Given the dangers that lurk within such exercises, the government could abandon the nationwide NRC-CAB combination. Indians can certainly be spared this pain.


[Burning Issue] Assam NRC

North-East India – Security and Developmental Issues

[op-ed snap] Changing the status quo


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Nothing much

Mains level : Merger of Assam Rifles and ITBP


The Ministry of Home Affairs has proposed that Assam Rifles should be merged with ITBP and serve under the operational control of the MHA. The Army is opposed to this proposal.

Assam Rifles

  • It is a central paramilitary force.
  • It is under the administrative control of the MHA and operational control of the Army, i.e. the Ministry of Defence. 

History of Assam Rifles


  • It is formed as Cachar Levy in 1835 to assist the British rulers in maintaining peace in the Northeast.
  • It had just about 750 men but proved its capability and efficiency.


  • The unit was converted into the Assam Military Police Battalion with two additional battalions in 1870. They were known as the Lushai Hills Battalion, Lakhimpur Battalion, and Naga Hills Battalion. 
  • Just before World War I, another battalion, the Darrang Battalion, was added. 
  • They all rendered great service by assisting the British in Europe and West Asia during the war. 
  • These battalions were then renamed Assam Rifles. 
  • They were regular armed police battalions, with the ‘Rifles’ tag. It was a matter of honor for their competence.

Post 1962 war

  • After the Chinese aggression in 1962 in Arunachal Pradesh, Assam Rifles battalions were placed under the operational control of the Army. 
  • Assam Rifles personnel who were acclimatised to the region were better suited for operations then. 
  • One of the major causes of India’s defeat was that the regular Army units were not used to extreme weather. 

Situation changed now

  • All Central Armed Police Forces (CAPF) are acclimatised to almost every region of the country due to country-wide deployment of all CAPF battalions. 
  • The operational role performed by the ITBP at 18,700 feet in Ladakh is a testimony to its capability to guard the border in any part of the country. 
  • Back in 2001, the Group of Ministers had stated that the principle of ‘One Border, One Force’ should be strictly adhered to. 
  • If ITBP can guard the India-China border in Ladakh, it can also guard the India-China border in Arunachal Pradesh and beyond.
  • Having two masters for an organisation — one for administrative control and another for operational control — is absurd and leads to problems of coordination.
  • Home Ministry’s move to merge all its 55,000-strong Assam Rifles with the ITBP is a step in the right direction.

Opposed to the move

  • The Army argues that the Assam Rifles should be merged with it, to ensure national security. 
  • The army would lose its promotional avenues once this paramilitary force is merged with the ITBP, as it would be directly under the control of the Home Ministry. 
  • At present, nearly 80% of officers’ ranks from Major upwards are held by Army officers on deputation. A Lieutenant-General of the Army holds the post of Director General of Assam Rifles. 
  • For the time being, the Chief may be appointed from among IPS officers. CAPF was brought under the fold of Organised Group ‘A’ Service this year. The direct officers of Assam Rifles will eventually take up the top posts.


The merger issue needs to be taken up on priority by the CCS so that doubts are cleared. The mode of absorbing the officers should be worked out to avoid a vacuum being created once the deputationists are repatriated to the Army.


India Internal Security | Various Security forces and agencies and their mandate

North-East India – Security and Developmental Issues

[op-ed snap] Dimapur deadlock


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Nothing much

Mains level : Naga peace process


The ceasefire in Nagaland continues to hold. Centre had set October 31 as the deadline to conclude a peace deal with the NSCN-IM. It has passed and there is no clarity yet on an accord. 

The talks

  • The talks between the Centre and Naga rebels, primarily the NSCN-IM, have been held for 22 years.
  • The Naga civil society has participated in the peace process and prepared the ground for a negotiated settlement to the insurgency.

Reasons for the deadlock

  • Reports suggest that the deadlock is over the rebels’ demand for a separate flag and constitution for Nagaland. 
  • They hint at the concept of “shared sovereignty”. NSCN-IM leadership has talked about it soon after it signed the Indo-Naga Framework Agreement in 2015.
  • The details of that agreement have not been revealed, but the leeway for such innovations may have reduced after the Centre’s actions in J&K. 
  • The government has ended the special status and has its own flag, accorded to J&K.
  • Naga rebels have climbed down from their demand for full independence. But they persisted with the demand for Nagalim.
  • Nagalim is a territorial entity much larger than the present state of Nagaland and includes Naga inhabited areas that fall in Manipur, Assam and Arunachal Pradesh. This can trigger unrest in Nagaland’s neighbourhood. 
  • Non-Naga populations in the region have warned of action if any attempt is made to redraw the existing state boundaries.

Way ahead

  • The rebels need to respect the sentiment for peace.
  • The Centre must provide the negotiating space for the civil society to satisfy its constituency.
  • The rebels will have to re-imagine the idea of a Naga nation and de-link it from the territory. 
  • The Centre should respect the sentiments of political groups founded on notions of ethnic exclusivity and desist from imposing unitarian notions of nationhood.

North-East India – Security and Developmental Issues

Registration mandatory for non-resident visitors to Meghalaya


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Meghalaya Residents Safety and Security Act (MRSSA)

Mains level : Citizenship issues in NE India

  • In a bid to protect the interest of tribal citizens, the Meghalaya cabinet approved the amendment to an act that seeks mandatory registration of outsiders for entering the State.

Meghalaya Residents Safety and Security Act (MRSSA)

  • The State cabinet approved the amended Meghalaya Residents, Safety and Security Act, 2016.
  • Any person who is not a resident of Meghalaya and intend to stay more than 24 hours in the State will have to furnish document to the government.
  • Employees of the Centre, State and District Councils are exempted from the purview of the Act.
  • Any person, who willfully fails to furnish the information or provide false document will be liable to be punished under various sections of the IPC.
  • The original act was passed as part of comprehensive mechanisms to check illegal immigration, instead of the Inner Line Permit (ILP).

Why such a move?

  • There was an increasing demand to enhance vigil against influx of non-indigenous people in the hill state, following the implementation of the NRC in Assam.
  • The updated final NRC, which validates bonafide Indian citizens of Assam, was released in August this year.

North-East India – Security and Developmental Issues

History of Naga flag and its relevance now


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Naga flag

Mains level : Naga peace process


  • The deadline for a final Naga peace accord passed on amid assertions from both sides that peace talks would continue.
  • Among the issues that have been contentious is the demand for a separate Naga constitution and use of the Naga flag, for decades a symbol of Naga nationalism.

The Nagas & the Indian Union

  • In a memorandum to the Simon Commission in 1929, representatives of Naga tribes demanded that Nagas be left free after Independence and not be included in the Indian Union.
  • Ahead of Independence, a nine-point agreement was signed between the Government of India and the Naga National Council.
  • This included an experimental coexistence with India for a period of 10 years to be reviewed at the end of that period.
  • While the Nagas saw this provision as temporary, with a right to self-determination after 10 years, Naga historians say the Indian government has interpreted the “trial period’’ as accession to the Indian Union.

Independence celebration

  • The tallest leader of the Naga struggle, Dr A Z Phizo, met M K Gandhi in Delhi on July 19, 1947.
  • According to Naga historians, Gandhi agreed that the Nagas would celebrate their independence a day ahead of India, on August 14, 1947.
  • To this day, Nagas across Nagaland, Manipur, Assam and Arunachal Pradesh celebrate August 14 as Independence Day.

The Naga flag

  • In the Naga narrative, passed down generations by word of mouth, the Naga flag was not designed by a mortal but is of divine origin.
  • As Naga groups battled the Indian armed forces, the legend goes, Phizo and his closest colleagues had a vision — a rainbow, in a startlingly blue sky that had appeared after a storm.
  • A woman of the Rengma tribe, one of the tribes under the Naga umbrella, was commissioned to weave the flag.
  • It was hoisted for the first time in Parashen in Rengma on March 22, 1956.
  • The flag has a blue background, representing the sky. A red, yellow and green rainbow arches across the centre.
  • The Star of Bethlehem adorns the top left corner of the flag; Nagas are predominantly Christian.

Where it stands today?

  • The flag remains a symbol of the Nagas’ struggle for over 60 years, of their religious faith, of the aspirations of the Naga people, and of their identity.
  • It helps bind all the different Naga tribes together.
  • Outside Nagaland state, in particular, the flag continues to elucidate strong emotions of identity from Nagas.
  • Inside the state, common citizens are today divided on it. Certain sections believe that with secession from the Indian Union no longer possible, the Naga flag has lost some of its relevance.

What are the secessionist tendencies today?

  • The moderates have supported a complete inclusion in the Indian state, for access to the latter’s development project, infrastructure, and its education and health facilities.
  • But a large section of the Nagas still holds dear the idea of the Naga identity and of their tribal roots.


  • The Naga struggle claimed thousands of lives over decades and devastated countless homes, all over the idea of a sovereign Naga nation.
  • If the NSCN (I-M) accedes to economic and political packages alone, without a separate flag and constitution, it remains to be seen whether it will be seen as a solution, or as a defeat.

North-East India – Security and Developmental Issues

[op-ed snap] After Assam NRC, troubles may visit ‘sister’ Tripura


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Nothing much

Mains level : Impact of NRC on Tripura


The National Register of Citizens (NRC) can negatively impact the politics and ethnic unrest alike in North-east India.

Problems with the exercise

  • Assam released a list which could make 1.9 million people stateless. A large number are Hindus. This is proving to be tricky for the government.

  • Both BJP and RSS stands on the proposal to amend the Citizenship Act, 1955, would allow non-Muslim immigrants from Bangladesh, Pakistan and Afghanistan the opportunity for naturalization by reducing residency requirements.

Tripura – a background

  • In Tripura, the matter has received focus in an unexpected manner. The largely Bengali population of Tripura, more Hindu than Muslim, are essentially not from Tripura.

  • While many are settlers for a generation or more, some are more recent arrivals.

  • Tripura was not long ago a kingdom. The Manikya kings ruled in a nearly unbroken line from the 15th century.

  • The current titular king, Pradyot, identifies himself as Tiprasa, as the province’s indigenous collective of peoples call themselves.

  • Tiprasa as an identity is more inclusive than Borok because it includes people beyond the Tripuri tribes who have immigrated over the past several centuries.

  • It’s an important nuance because this identity is distinct from Tripura’s overwhelming Bengali identity.

  • In 1949, the queen regent, Kanchan Prava Devi, Pradyot’s grandmother, signed a treaty of accession to India.

  • It stopped being Twipra, the land by the water, jettisoned the British-colonial Hill Tipperah, and emerged fully as the Sanskritized Tripura.

  • Tripura went from being majority indigenous Borok people – Tripuri, Reang, Noatia, Halam and some Meitei (Manipuri) to being majority Bengali.

  • Between 1941 and 1951 the percentage of tribal folk in Tripura dropped from a little over 53% to a little over 37%. By 1981, it had dropped below 30%. The census of 2011 showed the tribal population hovering above 30%.

The arrival of Bengalis

  • Bengalis arrived as refugees from East Pakistan as a result of communal violence years after 1946 and 1947, and wars with India, in waves of hundreds, thousands, tens of thousands and sometimes, hundreds of thousands.

  • In 1952, close to a quarter of a million refugees poured in.

  • Pakistan’s conflict with India over 1964–1965 drew more than a hundred thousand. Pakistan’s actions in Bangladesh in 1971 opened the floodgates. Tripura’s population of about 1.5 million at the time—already majority Bengali—swelled by a third.

  • Dainik Sangbad, a daily newspaper in Agartala, in mid-1971, estimated refugees at nearly 1.3 million. Nearly all were Bengalis.

  • Tripura took them all in, during what is called the Regency Period, when Kanchan Prava Devi ran affairs on behalf of her minor son from 1947 to Tripura’s formal accession to India in 1949.


The ethnic churn of Tripura’s past and present is evident now. The BJP’s ally in Tripura, the Indigenous People’s Front of Tripura (IPFT), has also demanded NRC. Pandora’s box is wide open.

North-East India – Security and Developmental Issues

[op-ed snap] Assam: from the state of influx to a state of flux


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Nothing much

Mains level : NRC ; a case study from Cachar area


It’s been less than a week after the final list was released on 31 August. Uncertainty prevails over the process that could take nearly two million people stateless.


  • Though people can appeal within 120 days, a majority aren’t well-off and many live in areas away from NRC tribunals. 
  • Vast numbers of non-Muslim people out of the NRC net. Govt tried to give non-Muslim immigrants the opportunity for naturalization by amending the Citizenship Act, 1955 by reducing the residency requirements for persons belonging to minority communities from Afghanistan, Bangladesh, and Pakistan from 11 years to 6 years.
  • NRC and the Citizenship Bill proved a contradictory and volatile mix. NRC sought to address long-time local feelings against ‘outsiders’ and ‘illegal immigrants’ while the Citizenship Bill seemed to be a way to legitimize such migration.
  • The complexity of the issue can be understood from the Cachar area where matters of religion, language and ethnicity are incendiary.

Cachar area

  • This area wasn’t even part of Assam not too long ago. 
  • The East India Company extended its conquest of Assam in 1826 with that of Cachar six years later and merged them with the Bengal Presidency. 
  • After the administrative reorganization in the wake of the 1857 mutiny, the largely Bengali-speaking districts of Sylhet, Cachar, and Goalpara (or) Lower Assam—were merged into the new Chief Commissioner’s Province of Assam. 
  • It administratively cut off Bengali speakers from Bengal, besides isolating the Sylheti people.
  • With partition in 1947, much of Muslim-majority Sylhet went over to newly born Pakistan after a referendum except for the eastern extremity of Sylhet. 
  • The anti-Bengali violence in Assam in the 1960s following the pro-Bengali language movement in Cachar, sharpened divides. 
  • Bursts of migration from East Pakistan and later heightened pressures as well as expectations.
  • Many non-Muslim Bengalis out of the final NRC register in the Cachar area do not have the Citizenship Bill sought to provide.

North-East India – Security and Developmental Issues

Explained: Sikkim, from Chogyal rule to Indian state


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Read the attached story

Mains level : Sikkims's accession to India


  • Last week in Sikkim, 10 MLAs from the Opposition SDF defected to the BJP, adding to the political uncertainty that has loomed over since Assembly elections this year delivered a fractured mandate.
  • The current instability follows a unique event: the voting out of a government in power for the first time in Sikkim’s history.
  • Since joining India in 1975, Sikkim has seen its government changed only twice — in both cases, the government had fallen before the new one was voted in.

Departure from Monarchy

  • Before 1975, Sikkim was ruled by the Chogyal rulers, and democratic rights were limited.
  • Analysts have described the current events as a departure from what has been called a “monarchic psychology”.
  • The overall trajectory has been seen as being geared towards strengthening democracy.

Sikkim under the Chogyal rulers

  • For 333 years before 1975, Sikkim was ruled by the Chogyals (or kings) of the Namgyal dynasty of Tibetan descent.
  • According to one account, the first ruler, Penchu Namgyal, was installed as king by Tibetan lamas in 1642.
  • At its zenith, the Sikkim kingdom included the Chumbi valley and Darjeeling. The former is part of China now.
  • After 1706, there were a series of conflicts between the powers of the region, which included Sikkim, Nepal, Bhutan, and Tibet, resulting in a shrinking of Sikkim’s territorial boundaries.

Contact with British India

  • In 1814, Sikkim allied with the East India Company in the latter’s campaign against Nepal.
  • After the Company won, it restored to Sikkim some of the territories that Nepal had wrested from it in 1780.
  • In 1841, the Company purchased Darjeeling from the Namgyal rulers.
  • A treaty in 1861 made Sikkim a de facto protectorate of British India.
  • Subsequently, the Calcutta Convention of 1890 demarcated the border between Sikkim and Tibet, and was signed by Viceroy Lord Lansdowne and Qing China’s Imperial Associate Resident in Tibet.
  • The Lhasa Convention of 1904 affirmed the Calcutta Convention.

Sikkim becomes a Protectorate

  • After India became independent in 1947, the relationship between New Delhi and Gangtok had to be redefined.
  • In 1950, a treaty was signed between Maharaja Tashi Namgyal and India’s then Political Officer in Sikkim Harishwar Dayal.
  • The relationship between India and Sikkim was encapsulated in the clause: “Sikkim shall continue to be a Protectorate of India and, subject to the provisions of this Treaty, shall enjoy autonomy in regard to its internal affairs.”

Continued struggle in Sikkim

  • In the following decades, gaping income inequality and feudal control over key resources led to popular discontent against the Chogyal rulers.
  • In December 1947, diverse political groupings came together to form the Sikkim State Congress.
  • In 1949, the Chogyal agreed to appoint a five-member Council of Ministers, with three Congress nominees, and two of his own.
  • In 1953, the Chogyal introduced a new Constitution, and four general elections were held based on separate electorates in 1957, 1960, 1967, and 1970.
  • Plagued by distrust between the Chogyal and the Congress, none of these elections helped further democracy.

India comes in

  • Matters came to a head in 1973, when the royal palace was besieged by thousands of protesters.
  • The Chogyal was left with no choice but to ask India to send troops for his assistance.
  • Finally, a tripartite agreement was signed in the same year between the Chogyal, the Indian government, and three major political parties, so that major political reforms could be introduced.

From protectorate to full state

  • In 1974, elections were held, in which the Congress led by Kazi Lhendup Dorji emerged victorious over pro-independence parties.
  • In the same year, a new constitution was adopted, which restricted the role of the Chogyal to a titular post.
  • The Chogyal resented this, and refused to deliver the customary address to the elected Assembly.
  • In the same year, India upgraded Sikkim’s status from protectorate to “associated state”, allotting to it one seat each in the Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha.
  • The Chogyal was unhappy with this move, and sought to internationalize the issue. This did not go down well with Sikkim’s elected leaders, and a referendum was held in 1975.
  • A total 59,637 voted in favour of abolishing the monarchy and joining India, with only 1,496 voting against.
  • Subsequently, India’s Parliament approved an amendment to make Sikkim a full state.

North-East India – Security and Developmental Issues

[pib] ‘Shillong Declaration’ on e-Governance


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Shillong Declaration

Mains level : Key highlights of the declaration

About the Shillong Declaration

  • The ‘Shillong Declaration’ on e-Governance was recently adopted.
  • The declaration has outlined the future trajectory that would be taken in terms of e-governance with a focus on improving connectivity in Northeast.

The Conference resolved that Government of India and State Governments shall collaborate to:

  1. The central government and state governments would collaborate to improve the citizens’ experience with government services.
  2. In order to do so, they would promote the timely implementation of India Enterprise Architecture (IndEA).
  3. They would also implement a single sign-on for interoperability and integration among e-Government applications throughout the country.
  4. It also resolved to consolidate the plethora of successful state-level e-Governance projects and domain-based projects with a focus to replicate them as common application software with configurable features.
  5. The declaration also stressed the need to ensure improvement in ease of living and ease of doing business by making a big shift in the role of government from Service Provider to Service Enabler.
  6. It also stressed on the need to take steps to further improve connectivity in the Northeast.
  7. Issues and challenges of telecommunication connectivity at the grassroots and formulate and implement a comprehensive telecom development plan were also addressed in the declaration.
  8. It was also resolved to improve the quality of delivery of e-Services in the Northeast to fulfil the vision of improved citizen experience.
  9. It was also resolved to develop India as a global cloud hub and facilitate the development of Government applications and databases on Cloud by default.
  10. To adopt emerging technologies for finding e-Governance solutions and to promote the Digital India Projects with focus on Smart Cities and Smart Villages through Startups and Smart Entrepreneurship were also resolved in the declaration.

North-East India – Security and Developmental Issues

Government introduces Bill on northeast


Mains Paper 2: Governance | Mechanisms, laws, institutions and Bodies constituted for the protection and betterment of the vulnerable sections.

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Fifth and Sixth Schedules

Mains level: Development of Tribal Areas


  • The government has introduced a Constitution Amendment Bill in Rajya Sabha to increase the financial and executive powers of the 10 Autonomous Councils in the Sixth Schedule areas of the NE region.
  • The Bill is introduced in the wake of protests in the region following the passage of the Citizenship Amendment Bill, 2019, in the Lok Sabha.

The Constitution (125th Amendment) Bill, 2019: Key Proposals

  1. The Finance Commission will be mandated to recommend devolution of financial resources to them.
  2. The Autonomous Councils now depend on grants from Central ministries and the State government for specific projects.
  3. The proposed amendments provide for elected village municipal councils, ensuring democracy at the grassroot level.
  4. The village councils will be empowered to prepare plans for economic development and social justice including those related to agriculture, land improvement, implementation of land reforms, minor irrigation, water management, animal husbandry, rural electrification, small scale industries and social forestry.
  5. At least one-third of the seats will be reserved for women in the village and municipal councils in the Sixth Schedule areas of Assam, Mizoram and Tripura after the amendment is approved.
  6. The amendment will impact one crore tribal people in Assam, Meghalaya, Tripura and Mizoram.

Why in Raja Sabha?

  1. A call was taken to introduce in the Rajya Sabha so that the legislation remains alive even after the House has adjourned sine die.
  2. Introducing it in the Lok Sabha would have meant that the Bill’s life is co-terminus with that of the term of the Lok Sabha.
  3. The fate of the Citizenship Amendment Bill, 2019 is uncertain as it was passed by the Lok Sabha but has to be passed by the Rajya Sabha in the current session to become a law.


Sixth Schedule of the Indian Constitution

North-East India – Security and Developmental Issues

Sela Pass Tunnel Project


Mains Paper 3: Economy | Infrastructure: Energy, Ports, Roads, Airports, Railways etc.

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims Level: About the project

Mains Level: Infrastructure project in the north-east


  • In a key move aimed at improving all weather connectivity and enabling the swift movement of Indian troops to Arunachal Pradesh bordering China, PM laid the foundation stone for the Sela Tunnel Project.

Sela Pass Tunnel Project

  1. The tunnel covers a total distance of 12.04 kms which consist of two tunnels of 1790 metres and 475 meters.
  2. It is being built at an estimated cost of ₹687 crores by the Border Roads Organisation.
  3. It aims to provide all weather connectivity to Tawang in Arunachal Pradesh — an area claimed entirely by China — and other forward areas.
  4. Once built it will cut travel time to Tawang by at least an hour for Indian troops stationed in adjoining Assam’s Tezpur town — the headquarters of the Indian army’s IV Corps.

Strategic Importance

  1. The lack of motorable roads and rail connections in India’s northeast and Arunachal Pradesh in particular were seen as distinct disadvantages for India vis a vis China in the region.
  2. Analysts had been warning of China building infrastructure including access roads right up to the Indian border that would give it a strategic advantage in any conflict with India.
  3. Once completed this would result in all weather connectivity to Tawang and forward areas and reduction in more than one hour of travelling time from Tezpur to Tawang.

North-East India – Security and Developmental Issues

Cabinet decides to strengthen Northeast autonomous councils

Image Source


Mains Paper 2: Governance | Mechanisms, laws, institutions and Bodies constituted for the protection and betterment of the vulnerable sections.

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Fifth and Sixth Schedules

Mains level: Development of Tribal Areas


  • The Union Cabinet has approved a Constitutional amendment to increase the financial and executive powers of the 10 autonomous councils in the Sixth Schedule areas of the northeast.

Highlights of the Amendments

Easing Finances

  • The Finance Commission would be mandated to recommend devolution of financial resources to the councils.
  • Till now, the autonomous councils have depended on grants from Central Ministries and the State governments for specific projects.

Transfer of Subjects

  • The amendment also provides for transfer of additional 30 subjects including departments of Public Works, Forests, Public Health Engineering, Health and Family Welfare, Urban Development and Food and Civil Supply to Karbi Anglong Autonomous Territorial Council and Dima Hasao Autonomous Territorial Council in Assam.

Amendments in Schedule VI

  • The cabinet approves landmark amendment to Article 280 and Sixth Schedule of the Constitution.
  • As per the amendment, at least one third of the seats would be reserved for women in the village and municipal councils in the Sixth Schedule areas of Assam, Mizoram and Tripura.

More powers to Village Councils

  • The village councils would be empowered to prepare plans for economic development and social justice including those related to agriculture, land improvement, implementation of land reforms, minor irrigation, water management, animal husbandry, rural electrification, small scale industries and social forestry.
  • The State Election Commissions would hold elections to the autonomous councils, village and municipal councils in the areas of Assam, Mizoram and Tripura. There would be a provision for anti-defection too.
  • Meghalaya has for the time being opted out of the provision for elected village and municipal councils and one-third reservation for women.

Way Forward

  • This will be a game changer, as it will substantially enhance the funds available to these local government institutions for undertaking development works in these tribal areas.
  • The proposed amendments provide for elected village municipal councils, ensuring democracy at the grass-roots level.

North-East India – Security and Developmental Issues

Sikkim to roll out Universal Basic Income


Mains Paper 3: Economy | Inclusive growth & issues arising from it.

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level:  Universal Basic Income

Mains level: Debate surrounding Universal Basic Income


  • Sikkim will be the first state to roll out Universal Basic Income (UBI) by 2022 and has started the process to introduce the unconditional direct cash transfer scheme.


  1. The 2017 Economic Survey had flagged the UBI scheme as a conceptually appealing idea and a possible alternative to social welfare programmes targeted at reducing poverty.
  2. It has been tested even in India, debated within the Finance Ministry as early as 2017.
  3. It has been tried in Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh and tribal belts with fairly large samples and it has shown it works.

What is UBI?

  1. A UBI would mean every single individual, regardless of their identity or economic status, is guaranteed a monthly income, transferred directly into their bank account by the government every month.
  2. It has three key components: universality, unconditionality and agency – the last condition as a way to give people a choice in how to spend the transferred money.

How will it be financed?

  1. The successful implementation of the hydropower projects by Sikkim has made it a surplus power generating state.
  2. The state produces 2200 MW and it will go up to 3000 MW in the next few years.
  3. The state’s requirement is only 200-300 MW and the rest goes to power trading firms.
  4. This money will be utilized by UTI and it will be for everyone and every household.
  5. The idea is to subsume other subsidies and allowances in order to provide a particular amount every month to people.

Feasibility Check

  1. Sikkim has a literacy rate of 98 per cent and its monthly per capita expenditure in rural areas is Rs 1,444.06 and it is Rs Rs 2,538.11 for urban areas.
  2. The BPL percentage has come down from 41.43% in 1994 to 8.19% in 2011-12.
  3. The state will also restructure some social schemes and the “skewed” tax structure to find more resources.
  4. With tourism being another source of revenue for the state – the state gets around 2.5 million tourists a year –there could be some cess in future to generate additional resource to implement the scheme.

Also refer:

Should India adopt Universal Basic income Model


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