India is the only major country of the world facing a fiercest insurgency of such a scale that nearly half of the country has plunged into instability imperiling the security of the remaining half. As a matter of fact, destabilized India poses grave risks to the peace and security of not only the region, the world at large will be exposed to destabilization. The sheer size of the country, its nuclear arsenal and its uncontrolled ambition to reign in the world makes it even a bigger monster than Al Qaeda and other such entities.
Presently, seven states of North East India, known as Seven Sisters, and an equal number of states from North East to South West of the country, known as Red Corridor, are up in arms against the Union of India. In the North Western State of Jammu and Kashmir, the independence movement is in full swing considerably eroding the writ of the government. The independence movements and insurgency in India have created security problems, not only for India itself, but the entire region of South Asia. In order to divert public and the world attention from internal security issues, India has kept itself engaged in reckless arms race and raised the bogey of external threat, most notably from Pakistan and China, both nuclear states.
Encircling Pakistan is a broader and medium-term strategic objective of India’s security establishment. The long-term objective is to disintegrate Pakistan and annex it in the Indian Union in line with India’s another strategic objective to reformulate Akhand Bharat. This is being achieved through efforts for extending its influence to Pakistan’s neighboring countries of Iran and Afghanistan. Opening of needless consulates along Pakistan-Afghanistan border to fund, fan and fuel Taliban and Baloch insurgency in order to destabilize its archrival is a part of the bigger game plan. Similarly, building of Chabahar port west of Pakistan’s deep sea port of Gwadar is an attempt to encircle Pakistan and deny China an energy corridor. Its extension of its sphere of influence to Indian Ocean and realigning itself with the states against China to serve American interests on the issue of South China Sea brings it into a conflict of a bigger proportion. In order to stop India from treading this dangerous trajectory, its internal insurgency needs to be brought under control.
There are serious tensions between Seven Sisters namely; Assam, Meghalaya, Tripura, Arunachal Pradesh, Mizoram, Manipur, and Nagaland and the Indian government. The movements are generally homegrown and are separatist movements in character. Assam has been the hotbed of militancy for a number of years due to its porous borders with Bangladesh and Bhutan. The insurgency status in Assam is classified as very active. Insurgent groups in Manipur may be broadly classified into hill-based and valley based. While the former demand for tribal state to preserve their tribal cultures from outside influence, the latter based their demands for independence from historical perspective claiming that Manipur a princely state with its geographical area extending to as far as the Kabaw valley of modern Myanmar during the British colonialism and was never a part of India and continues to remain so. The situation is no different in other states.
The Red Corridor is a term used to describe an impoverished region in the east of India that experiences considerable Naxalite communist insurgency. These are also areas that suffer from the greatest illiteracy, poverty and overpopulation in modern India, and span parts of Andhra Pradesh, Bihar, Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand, Madhya Pradesh, Orissa, Uttar Pradesh and West Bengal states. Naxalites have been declared as a terrorist organization under theUnlawful Activities (Prevention) Act of India (1967). According toGovt. of India, as of July 2011, 83 districts (figure includes proposed addition of 20 districts) across nine states are affected by Left Wing Extremism down from 180 districts in 2009.
The insurgency in Kashmir has existed in various forms since the controversial accession of State to Indian Union. Thousands of lives have been lost since 1989 due to the intensification of both the insurgency and the state brutalities to curb it. According to official figures released in Jammu and Kashmir assembly (Indian controlled), there were 3,400 disappearance cases and the conflict has left more than 47,000 people dead as of July 2009.A widespread armed insurgency started in Kashmir with the disputed 1987 election with some elements from the State’s assembly forming militant wings which acted as a catalyst for the emergence of armed insurgency in the region. This region has been a source of tension and reason for three wars between India and Pakistan and, after both the states have become nuclear-armed states, it can become a flash point of nuclear showdown.
India’s Northeast consisting of the Seven Sisters is one of South Asia’s hottest trouble spots, not simply because the region has as many as 30 armed insurgent organizations operating and fighting the Indian state, but because trans-border linkages that these groups have, and strategic alliances among them, have acted as force multipliers and have made the conflict dynamics all the more intricate. With demands of these insurgent groups ranging from secession to autonomy and the right to self-determination, and a plethora of ethnic groups clamoring for special rights and the protection of their distinct identity, the region is bound to be a turbulent one.
Moreover, the location of the eight northeastern Indian States itself is part of the reason why it has always been a hotbed of militancy with trans-border ramifications. This region of 263,000 square kilometers shares highly porous and sensitive frontiers with China in the North, Myanmar in the East, Bangladesh in the South West and Bhutan to the North West. The region’s strategic location is underlined by the fact that it shares a 4,500 km-long international border with its four South Asian neighbors, but is connected to the Indian mainland by a tenuous 22 km-long land corridor passing through Siliguri in the eastern State of West Bengal, appropriately described as the ‘Chicken’s Neck.’
The situation in the Red Corridor is no less grave. The first 25 years of the Naxalite insurgency were characterized by the communist principles on which the movement was founded. Fighting for land reform, the rebels gained support from the impoverished rural populations of eastern and central India. The Maoist rebellion quickly adopted violence and terror as the core instruments of its struggle against the Indian authority. Primary targets included railway tracks, post offices, and other state infrastructure, demonstrating the Maoists’ commitment to undermining a central government that they believed exploited low castes and rural populations. As states and the central government employed uncoordinated and underfunded responses to the Naxalites, the threat expanded beyond West Bengal and its neighboring states.
In 2004, the two predominant rebel groups, the Maoist Communist Center (MCC) and the People’s War Group (PWG), merged together. The resulting Communist Party of India (Maoist) emerged as a solidified base of power for the Naxalites, with a stated goal of overthrowing the Indian government. It has developed in its modern form as a rebellion that comprises up to 40,000 permanent armed cadres and 100,000 additional militia members.
The nascent stages of the movement reflected the stark contrast between urbanized areas of India and the primarily rural, underdeveloped regions of Naxalite influence. With the Maoist rebels firmly entrenched in geographically remote areas, Indian government resources remained dedicated to urban security and development concerns. As India looks increasingly to its east for vital resources, the conflict continues to expand beyond the principles of its origin. With a growing population and new development initiatives that require additional coal-powered electricity sources, India’s urban centers have come into direct contact with the states most affected by the Naxalite uprising: West Bengal, Bihar, Andhra Pradesh, Jharkhand, Chhattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh, and Maharashtra. Containing 85 percent of India’s coal reserves, these states have presented insurgents with an opportunity both to strike at the heart of national interests and to seek economic profit of their own.
This brief description of Indian insurgency shows that India has serious problems with all its neighboring states who India wants to bully into submission in order to quell the insurgency. Its problems having potential of triggering regional wars of nuclear proportions are with Pakistan and China.
In the interest of global peace, it is essential to break India into smaller states to thwart the risk of global anarchy and regional wars. The long-standing demand of Jammu and Kashmir for independence, already accepted by the world community should be translated into reality. The states of the Red Corridor may be given autonomy and the Seven Sisters should be accepted as ethnic and cultural entity for statehood. If India gets rid of these warring states, it can progress as a vibrant country, it neighbors will have a measure of safety and security and the world at large will be immune to any disorder which is staring it in the face at the moment.