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India Internal Security Risk List

India faces multiple internal security challenges due to varied factors ranging from progressive process of nation building to integrating diverse ethnic and religious communities, ideological extremism such as Maoism and an impact of internal and global political trends of religious extremism.

Ethno nationalism is prominent in the North East as well as Jammu and Kashmir where preservation of identity and resistance to subsuming the same in the larger Indian national framework has invited resistance.

Governance challenges particularly in remote areas such as the tribal belt in Central India where administration has reached only 75 years after Independence and corruption are other factors of significance.

Broadly speaking the spectrum of Internal Security Risk List in India can be fourfold [1] Hinterland Terrorism, [2] Militancy and Terrorism in Jammu and Kashmir [3] Militancy and Terrorism in North East [4] Left Wing Extremism in Central India.

The ideological basis, organizational and violence contours of the same are briefly explained including the current state and level of threats. These have been extensively covered under various categories in the web site

Hinterland Terrorism

Hinterland terrorism refers to terrorist activities in the central heartland of the country as distinct from the border zones.

The ideological roots of hinterland terrorism are religious extremism. Terrorism in Punjab in the 1980’s and 1990’s was the most serious dimension which has now been replaced by religious extremism spread in pockets. The Indian Mujahideen (IM) a manifestation of the same in the first decade of this century. Thereafter organized groups are not evident so far.

While the present level of violence is low, there is anticipation of expansion of the threat with attempts by global groups as the al Qaeda in South Asia and Islamic State of Khorasan – regional branches of global outfits attempting to influence disenchanted youth and group in the Islamic community to take to terror. Support from regional actors as Pakistan to this form of dissent is apparent.

Increase in communal tensions, majoritarianism and a perception of persecution in the largest minority in the country, the Muslims is a potent demand factor for rise in hinterland terror which must be guarded against.

Jammu and Kashmir

The Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir has seen violent insurgency for three decades now which has passed through various phases with high violence in the early part of the first decade of this century to lows in 2011 and a median that is achieved today.

The insurgency which sparked in 1989 was fomented by a perceived feeling of discrimination by a section of the population in the state who saw several elections being rigged in favour of ruling elite under the influence of the Central government in New Delhi. The insurgency has classic elements of internal dissension and outside support through basing, finance, arms, and other material by Pakistan, though the government there only claims that it is moral support to meet the genuine aspirations of the people of Kashmir.

The main driver for insurgency is ethnic separatism which has received active support from Pakistan thus resulting in cross border terror impact with sanctuaries across the Line of Control (LOC) which divides two parts of J & K.

Organisations to foment terror include internal as well as external arms such as the Hizbul Mujahideen and Lashkar E Taiyyaba [LeT]/Jaish E Mohammad (JeM) respectively. Of late a web group spawned by the LeT calling itself The Resistance Force (TRF) has also claimed a number of terror attacks. There is a constant effort to create new nom de guerre to avoid scrutiny and thus imposition of bans.

Present state is insurgency in Kashmir is low key terrorist acts against soft targets, while political initiatives are underway to mainstream militancy. However, Pakistan’s divergent stand on the repealing of special status of Jammu and Kashmir is expected to be a major hindrance to normalcy.

North East India

North East India has some of the oldest insurgencies spreading over several decades and ranged by varied ethnicities such as the Nagas, Mizo, the Meitei, Assamese, Bodo, Karbi, Tripura tribals and so on.

The North East is administratively divided into seven states Assam, Arunachal Pradesh, Meghalaya, Manipur, Nagaland, Mizoram, and Tripura. All these states have festering militancy over the years less Arunachal Pradesh and to some extent Meghalaya. The causes of the turmoil are deep rooted.

There is evidence of Ethno nationalism and tribal identity preservation being the key ideological factors. Geographic separation of the region over the years along with a perceived feeling of differing identity and economic exploitation is at the root of all problems in India’s North Eastern states.

Over the years though many significant developments have resulted in blunting the edge of militancy which now represents a mix of criminal-terrorist nexus borne out of under employment of youth, lack of economic opportunities, rise of fundamentalism and subtle exploitation by antagonist states on the periphery. Each North Eastern state has a different cause, level, and type of militancy hence these are being discussed separately.

Some of these as the Mizo and Bodo insurgencies have been resolved or partially so, while talks are ongoing with the Naga groups -the NSCN IM and K which have not reached a degree of finality despite over two and a half decades of negotiations.

Presently the Meitei groups, a breakaway faction of a group in Assam, the ULFA (I) and the NSCN Khaplang (Yung Aung) are active with low level violence.

Sanctuaries across the Indo Myanmar border is a major challenge.

Left Wing Extremism

The influence of Left-Wing Extremism (LWE) also referred to as Naxalism or Naxals and Maoism or Maoists is spread violence in the tribal belt of Central India. Equality and equity are the vision of India’s Constitution, a powerful document which has inspired generations. Yet it has failed to bring about change in millions of Indians for lack of adaptation at the subterranean level.

This inability to transform the Constitutional vision to the deep nether world of rural and tribal India was ripe for those with revolutionary ideas and vigour as Charu Majumdar in the 1970’s in West Bengal and K Seetharamaiah of the People’s War who successfully organised a movement of rebellion against what can be said of vacuum and exploitative policies of successive governments providing these the veneer of left wing ideology.

From a high in level of violence and geographic spread in 2006 where it was regarded as a threat of maximum concern, there is considerable containment of the threat to approximately seventy districts of which twenty-five or so have elevated level of Naxal influence.

Strategies for Management

The State has relied on varied strategies for management of internal security including counter radicalization, security operations, development outreach, negotiations, constitutional provisions for preservation of rights and political integration.

These initiatives have been successful but given the deep ideological roots of some of these, resolution is likely to be a protracted process.


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