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India: Assam and the Northeast
Country Study > Chapter 10 > National Security > Public Order and Internal Security > Insurgent Movements and External Subversion > Assam and the Northeast

ASSAM AND THE NORTHEAST


The origins of the insurgency in Assam are quite different from those in Kashmir and Punjab. The principal grievance of the radical student movement, the United Liberation Front of Assam, is nativist. Front members are violently opposed to the presence of Bengalis from the neighboring state of West Bengal and waves of illegal immigrants from Bangladesh. Various rounds of negotiations between the United Liberation Front of Assam and two successive central governments resulted in the Assam Accord of August 15, 1985. Under the provisions of this accord, persons who entered the state illegally between January 1966 and March 1971 were allowed to remain but were disenfranchised for ten years, while those who entered after 1971 faced expulsion. A November 1985 amendment to the Indian citizenship law allows noncitizens who entered Assam between 1961 and 1971 to have all the rights of citizenship except the right to vote for a period of ten years.

In 1993 an accord was reached between the Bodo tribe and the central and state governments. The accord established the Bodoland Autonomous Council, which gave the Bodos limited political and administrative autonomy. Nevertheless, violence broke out in 1994: members of the Bodo Security Force, in the wake of demands for a "liberated Bodoland" burned several villages and killed around 100 immigrant villagers. Both local counterinsurgency forces and army units were sent in to engage the Bodo militants.

A number of other insurgencies in the northeast have required extensive use of army and paramilitary forces. Four states in particular have witnessed various insurgent and guerrilla movements. The first and perhaps the most significant insurgency originated in Nagaland in the early 1950s; it was eventually quelled in the early 1980s through a mixture of repression and cooptation. In 1993 Nagaland experienced recrudescent violence as two ethnic groups, the Nagas and the Kukis, engaged in brutal conflict with each other. Adding to India's internal unrest in this region were the links established between the Bodo insurgents in Assam and the National Socialist Council of Nagaland, which, in turn, had links to other active insurgent groups and, reportedly, operatives in Thailand.

In neighboring Manipur, militants organized under the aegis of the People's Liberation Army long fought to unite the Meitei tribes of Burma and Manipur into an independent state. This insurgent movement had been largely suppressed by the mid-1990s.

In Mizoram the Mizo National Front fought a running battle with the Indian security forces throughout the 1960s. As in Nagaland, this insurgency was suppressed in the early 1980s through a mixture of political concessions and harsh military tactics.

In the state of Tripura, tribal peoples organized under the leadership of the Tripura National Front were also responsible for terrorist activity. This movement has, for the most part, also been brought under control by the government.

The central government's success in quelling these insurgencies was not without human and material costs. Although no assessments of these costs exist in the public domain, it is widely believed that the paramilitary forces and the army were given a free hand in suppressing the uprisings. A prominent Indian human rights activist and attorney, Nandita Haksar, has alleged that harsh methods were routinely used, including collective punishment of villagers accused of harboring terrorists in remote areas. Because of the continued level of insurgency by Assamese and other groups, which had bases in neighboring Burma, India and Burma started joint counterinsurgency operations against the rebels in May 1995, the first such operations since the 1980s.




Last Updated: September 1995


Editor's Note: Country Studies included here were published between 1988 and 1998. The Country study for India was first published in 1995. Where available, the data has been updated through 2008. The date at the bottom of each section will indicate the time period of the data. Information on some countries may no longer be up to date. See the "Research Completed" date at the beginning of each study on the Title Page or the "Data as of" date at the end of each section of text. This information is included due to its comprehensiveness and for historical purposes.

Note that current information from the CIA World Factbook, U.S. Department of State Background Notes, Australia's Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade Country Briefs, the UK's Foreign and Commonwealth Office's Country Profiles, and the World Bank can be found on Factba.se.

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