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North East India is the region situated in the eastern-most part of India comprising of the eight states of Arunachal Pradesh, Assam, Manipur, Meghalaya, Mizoram, Nagaland, Tripura, and Sikkim.
The region is connected to mainland India through 21 km. wide Siliguri Corridor, which is commonly known as the chicken neck corridor.
The border area in the region is surrounded by China and Bhutan on its North; Myanmar on its East; and Bangladesh on its South and West.
Factors Contributing to the conflict in the region
Regional issues: The inter-tribal conflicts, the youth unemployment and the inability to compete with non-tribal businesses, illegal migration from neighboring States, and countries leading to the competition of resources and land have led to demands of secession/ autonomy.
Sense of alienation: The broad racial differences between India and its Northeast contributed to a sense of alienation that subsequently gave rise to a political culture of violent separatism.
Ethnic tensions: Northeast India is home to more than 50 ethnic rebel groups – a few demanding complete secession from India, others fighting for ethnic identities and homelands, and some running the insurgency as an industry to spin easy money without any political ideology.
Twist in political motives: Militants in their formative years voiced genuine grievances of the people such as poor governance, alienation, lack of development, and an apathetic attitude from the central government. However, with time and opportunist motives, these have taken the forms of insurgencies across the region.
Role of neighbors: China and Myanmar are accused of promoting insurgency in the region. Pakistan also is accused of helping militant groups in terms of training and financing.
Major militant groups in the region::
United Liberation Front of Assam(ULFA)
National Democratic Front of Bodoland(NDFB)
National Socialist Council of Nagaland- Isak Muivah (NSCN(IM))
National Socialist Council of Nagaland-Khaplang (NSCN(K))
National Liberation Front of Tripura(NLFT)
Dialogue with the Mizo National Front remains the only example of the culmination of a successful peace process that ended militancy in Mizoram in 1986.
Union government has ongoing ceasefire agreements with six militant groups with different actors like NSCN (IM), UPDS, Achik National Volunteer Council.
Other peace deals such as the Shillong Accord in 1975 with the Naga National Council in Nagaland, the 1988 agreement with the Tripura National Volunteers in Tripura, and The Bodoland Autonomous Council agreement of 1993 with the Bodo militants in Assam are also in effect, but with limited success.
Military Operations and AFSPA
Special powers under AFSPA (Armed Forces Special Powers Act) were bestowed on armed forces to deal with emergency conditions. It is there in the whole of Assam, Nagaland, most of Manipur, and some areas of Arunachal Pradesh.
In Assam, at the beginning of the 1990s, two military operations, Operation Rhino and Bajrang, were launched against U.L.F.A. militants. Assam rifle has been given the task to deal with insurgents in Assam.
While there is almost no insurgency left in Tripura and Mizoram, there has been a marked improvement in the security situation in other States of the region as well.
The lifting of the AFSPA from all areas of Meghalaya on 31st March 2018 is an illustration of the vast improving security scenario in the NER. In Arunachal Pradesh also, areas under AFSPA have been reduced.
Ministry of Development of North Eastern Region (DoNER)
It is responsible for the matters relating to the planning, execution, and monitoring of development schemes and projects in the North Eastern Region, to accelerate the pace of socio-economic development of the region.
Inner Line Permit (ILP)
Restrictions are imposed on the entry of outsiders to maintain the original identity of indigenous people of Mizoram, Nagaland and Arunachal Pradesh entry of outsiders are not allowed without ILP.
Special Status and Autonomous Districts
Under Article 371 (A) Nagaland has been accorded special status.various autonomous district has been created to contain the demands of various ethnic groups.
Effects of the violence in the region:
severe fatalities have been reported from the northeast including both civilians and security forces.
Major infrastructure development projects have been stalled.
Industrial and economic development has also been affected consequently affecting the employability of the youths.
Militancy has also stalled the prospect of linking the economy of the northeast with the neighboring Southeast Asian countries.
The tourism and education sectors in the areas have been severely impacted.
The Cultural and Social Connectivity of the region with mainland India has been severely affected.
Due to the extortion of the groups, the prices of essential commodities have been shot up which hurts the out-of-pocket expenditure of the inhabitants.
Enhance communication and connectivity, infrastructure improvement for better integration of the region with the mainland are need of the hour.
Stringent law and fast criminal justice system for quick disposal of insurgents attack cases are indispensable.
Greater coordination between central forces and state forces for better tactical response is necessary.
Govt. must focus on greater cultural interaction with the rest of the country and socio-economic development that includes a holistic inclusive development.
Decentralization with alertness, Improving administrative efficiency, pro-people governance, and coping up with regional aspirations are essential for stability in the region.
The ceasefire agreements have led to less violence in the region. A permanent agreement may be initiated to create a conducive environment for investment which will subsequently be instrumental in socio-economic development in the region.
More national and international media coverage is essential in the region to fill the administrative and socio-economic gap in the region. It will also act as a bridge between the region and mainland India.