Tag Archives: Insurgency

Setting of Assam

India’s northeast, comprising seven states, is home to more than 200 tribes and ethnic groups and is circled by China, Bhutan, Bangladesh and Myanmar.  More than 90% of the Indian tribal population is in the Northeastern states. Assam, bigger among the Northeastern states, is home to more than 30 major traditional tribal communities.

Assam with its capital at Guwahati, is located south of the eastern Himalayas. It comprises the Brahmaputra and the Barak river valleys along with the Karbi Anglong and the North Cachar Hills with an area of 30,285 square miles (78,438 km²). Assam is surrounded by six of the other Seven Sister States: Arunachal Pradesh, Nagaland, Manipur, Mizoram, Tripura and Meghalaya. These states are connected to the rest of India via a narrow strip in West Bengal called the Siliguri Corridor or “Chicken’s Neck”. Assam also shares international borders with Bhutan and Bangladesh;

Assam was known as Pragjyotisha in the Mahabharata; and Kamarupa in the 1st millennium. Shans (who are Tai ethnic group – Tai being a community of China) constolled this from 13th to almost 19th century.  Ha-Sam (the land of the Shams or Shans) became Assam which ultimately took the Sanskritized form Asama, meaning ‘unequalled, peerless or uneven’. British took control of  the region following the First Anglo-Burmese War of 1824-1826.  The British province after 1838 and the Indian state after 1947 came to be known as Assam. On 27 February 2006, the Government of Assam started a process to change the name of the state to Asom or Axom a controversial move that has been opposed by the people and political organizations.

Major religions are Hinduism (64.9%), and Islam (30.9%). Others include Christianity (3.7%), Sikhism (1%),Animism, Buddhism (Khamti, Phake, Aiton etc. communities).

Assam has many ethnic groups and the People of India project has studied 115 of these. Out of which 79 (69%) identify themselves regionally, 22 (19%) locally, and 3 trans-nationally. The earliest settlers were Austroasiatic, followed by Tibeto-Burman, Indo-Aryan speakers, and Kradai speakers. Forty-five languages are spoken by different communities, including three major language families: Austroasiatic (5), Sino-Tibetan (24) and Indo-European (12). Three of the spoken languages do not fall in these families. There is a high degree of bilingualism.

Total population of Assam was 26.66 million with 4.91 million households in 2001. Higher population concentration was recorded in the districts of Kamrup, Nagaon, Sonitpur, Barpeta, Dhubri, Darang and Cachar. Assam’s population was estimated at 28.67 million in 2006 and at 30.57 million by 2011, 34.18 million by 2021 and 35.60 million by 2026.

In 2001, the census recorded literacy in Assam at 63.3% with male literacy at 71.3% and female at 54.6%. Urbanisation rate was recorded at 12.9%. There are 27 districts, 219 blocks, 2489 panchayats and 26312 villages. There are 126 assembly segments and 14 parliamentary constituencies. 

Growth of population in Assam has experienced a very high trajectory since the mid-decades of the 20th century. Population grew steadily from 3.29 million in 1901 to 6.70 million in 1941, while it has increased unprecedentedly to 14.63 million in 1971 and 22.41 million in 1991 to reach the present level of 26million.The growth in the western and southern districts was of extreme high in nature mostly attributable to rapid influx of population from the then East Pakistan or Bangladesh.

In 1978 the member of the Lok Sabha, Hiralal Patwari, died necessitating a by-election in the Mangaldoi Lok Sabha Constituency. During the process of the election it was noticed that the electorate had grown phenomenally. AASU demanded that the elections be postponed till the names of foreign nationals are deleted from the electoral rolls, and the Assam Agitation was born.

The Assam Agitation (or Assam Movement) was directed against illegal immigrants in Assam between 1979 and 1985. It is regarded as one of the most vibrant democratic mass movements of independent India. The movement, led by All Assam Students Union and the ‘All Assam Gana Sangram Parishad’, set an agitational program to compel the government to identify and expel the illegal immigrants. The agitational programs were largely non-violent, but there were incidents of acute violence, like the Nellie massacre. The agitational program ended in 1985 following the Assam Accord that was signed between the agitation leaders and the Government of India. The agitation leaders formed a political party, Asom Gana Parishad, which came to power in the state of Assam in the Assembly elections of 1985 and later in 1996.

The post 1970s experienced the growth of armed separatist groups like United Liberation Front of Asom (ULFA) and National Democratic Front of Bodoland (NDFB). Regional autonomy has been ensured for Bodos in Bodoland Territorial Council Areas (BTCA) and for the Karbis in Karbi Anglong after agitation of the communities. As the situation in Assam has turned very serious as communal clashes continue in two central districts of the state, namely Udalguri and Darrang.

In the Karbi Anglong district, the majority Karbis and Dimasas have been engaged in a bitter turf war for many years. Armed militants of both tribes attacking rival community members. The outlawed United Democratic People’s Solidarity (UPDS), a rebel group fighting for a Karbi tribal homeland, and the Dima Halom Daoga (DHD), a militant group fighting for a Dimasa homeland, are  behind the recent attacks. Maoist organizations are suspected to

Muslim United Liberation Tigers of Assam (MULTA) is a Separatist organization founded around 1996 in the eastern Indian state of Assam. It is a part of the All Muslim United Liberation Forum of Assam (AMULFA), and Muslim United Liberation Front of Assam (MULFA) is a sister organization under the AMULFA umbrella. It is alleged that MULTA is supported by the Pakistani Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) agency.

The Government of India accuses ULFA of maintaining links with the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) of Pakistan and the DGFI of Bangladesh, and waging a proxy war on their behalf against India. The outlawed group was said to be looking to China for shelter following mounting pressure from both Burma and Bangladesh, in turn pressured by India.

Bodoland is an area located in the north bank of Brahmaputra river in the state of Assam, by the foothills of Bhutan and Arunachal Pradesh; inhabited predominantly by Bodo language speaking ethnic group. Currently the hypothetical map of Bodoland includes the Bodoland Territorial Areas District (BTAD) administered by the non-autonomous Bodoland Territorial Council (BTC). The map of Bodoland overlaps with the districts of Kokrajhar, Baksa, Chirang and Udalguri in the state of Assam. The Bodos, a primitive tribe who are mostly either Hindus or Christians, account for about 10 percent of Assam’s 26 million people and live in the western and northern parts of the state.

The National Democratic Front of Bodoland, also known as NDFB or the Bodo Security Force, is a terrorist outfit which seeks to obtain a sovereign Bodoland for the Bodo people in Assam, India. The founder of the organization, Ransaigra Nabla Daimary, alias Ranjan Daimary has been arrested and detained by Indian authorities. Though NDF advocates sovereignty for Bodos, however, majority of its members are Christians, who themselves do not represent majority indigenous Bodos. Bodos use Devanagari script as medium of writing, but NDFB promotes Roman Script to suite their agenda. The NDFB is primarly comprised of Christians who prefer the Roman script. NDFB have committed scores of incidents of violence like murders, bomb explosions, kidnapping for ransom etc. which have had a serious bearing on the law and order situation of the state [Global Security].

Bodo Liberation Tigers Force (BLTF), also called Bodo Liberation Tigers (BLT), was an armed group operating in the Bodo dominated regions of Assam which demanded a separate state for the Bodos to be carved out of Assam. The organization came into being on June 18, 1996 under the leadership of Prem Singh Brahma. The leaders of the BLT, together with the leaders of All Bodo Students’ Union, formed a political party called BPPF.

BW claims to fight for safeguarding the identity of the Dimasa tribe. Its declared objective is to create a separate homeland, within the Constitution of India, for the Dimasa tribe comprising the Dimasa-dominated areas such as the North Cachar Hills (NC Hills), Cachar and Karbi Anglong districts of Assam and parts of the Dimapur district in Nagaland.

All 27 Districts of the State reported militant activity in 2009, with the Karbi Anglong and North Cachar Hills Districts being the worst affected. In terms of activity, the Black Widow(BW) was the most effective outfit in 2009, with ULFA and the National Democratic Front of Bodoland (NDFB) following close behind. The Karbi Longri North Cachar Hills Liberation Front KLNLF and the All Adivasi National Liberation Army (AANLA) remained the principal peripheral militant groups. Further, the ethnic clash between the Zeme Naga (supported by the Nagaland-based NSCN-IM) and Dimasa (backed by the BW) tribes claimed the life of 43 civilians (according to the SATP database) in the North Cachar Hills District in 2009. However, the surrender of a large number of BW militants in the second half of 2009 provided some respite in this troubled District.

The big story emerging from Assam in 2009 is the disarray of among the most important militant groups operating in the State. Augmenting counter-terrorism co-operation between India and Bangladesh has created panic among these outfits, who had long taken their safe havens and state support in Bangladesh for granted. With the latest arrests and handing over to Indian authorities of militant leaders like Shashadhar Choudhury, Chitrabhan Hazarika, Arabinda Rajkhowa and Raju Barua, who have led a lethal terrorist campaign for the last 30 years, the arrest of at least 494 militants and 732 surrenders during 2009, along with some of the leading militant groups such as BW and UPDS seeking to enter a negotiation process, there have certainly been watershed changes in the State. It remains to be seen whether the Government will display the necessary wisdom to consolidate these advantages, or will waste them through ill-conceived initiatives or a lapse into complacence.

Understanding Manipur

A separatist insurgency began in 1964. It turned to  a more violent phase in 1978.  The Separatists demand a sovereign state separate from the Union of India, a claimed lack of development, plundering of local resources, and a general discontent is part of their argument.

There are currently 34 groups, including non-violent ones, that demand independence from India.  In 1999, some of these groups coalesced into an alliance organization called the Manipur People’s Liberation Front. Prominent partners of the coalation are the United National Liberation Front (UNLF), Peoples Revolutionary Party of Kangleipak (PREPAK),  Peoples Liberation Army (PLA),  and  Revolutionary People Front (RPF). The UNLF is estimated to have 2500 active militants, the PREPAK with 1500, and PLA with 3000. UNLF, founded in 1964, aims to establish an independent socialist Manipur.

There are intelligent  reports revealing links between the Maoists and the Manipur militants outfits, they have now decided to extend moral and political support to each other in fighting against the Indian reactionary and oppressive regime. These groups perceive common people of India as under privilaged and downtrodden. Further, they claim that people are suffering under the semi feudal and semi colonial regime of India.

Each of the tribal groups have launched their own militant organization. From very long, periodical conflicts between Nagas and Kukis is observed. Naga outfits are demanding greater Nagaland at the cost of the territorial integrety of Manipur. This has created resentment among the Meiteis.

The extortion drive by multiple insurgent groups is very strong across the State. Allmost all the armed groups extract levies and ransoms from residents, transients, Government offices,  local self Government and educational institutions, health centers, commerecial establishments. Manipur’s insurgent groups have singled out the non-local Hindi and Bengali speaking population. Insurgent groups draw support from elected representatives, government officials and political parties.

In Manipur, there are eight main political parties including INC and BJP. In the 2007 assembly elections, Congress won with a simple majority. In the recent parliamentary elections,  about 63 percent of people cast their ballot in outer Manipur and about 60 percent of the people participated in inner Manipur. Both seats were won by Congress in the midst of opposition by several militant groups. BJP was also opposed by these groups. In 2009, there is a 25% decrease in the number of deaths in Manipur due to militancy. 

The state is bounded by Nagaland in the north, by Mizoram in the south, by Assam in the west, and by the borders of the country Myanmar in the east as well as in the south. The total area covered by the state is 22,347 km²

Manipur has a population of 2,388,634. Of this total, 58.9% live in the valley and the remaining 41.1% in the hilly region. The hills are inhabited mainly by the Nagas, Kukis (Chin-Mizos) and smaller tribal communities and the valley mainly by the Meiteis, Muslims known as Meitei Pangal or Pangal, and Bhamons (who are literally non-Meiteis).

Manipuris worship many gods. Sanamahism is the oldest religion of Manipur. Some of the gods(Lais) Manipuris worship are Lainingthou Sorale, Atiya Sidaba, Pakhangba, Sanamahi, Leimaren, Oknarel, Panganba, Thangjing, Marjing, Wangbaren, Koubru. The religious life of the people has many characteristics inherited from their prehistoric ancestors. The essentials of this religion remain recognizable to the present day. Although many people interpret that Manipuri religions are not related to main stream variants of the rest of India, they are basically part of Hinduism. In the 15th century that a particular form of Vaisnavism was adopted and spread under the reign of King Kyamba through to King Khagemba in the 19th century. Towards the end of the 19th century and at the advent of the 20th century, a great force of Gaudiya Vaishnavism was present in Manipur. Sanamahi populations is about 11%. According to the 2001 census Hinduism is identified with 47% of the population.

Western missionaries, particularly Baptists, introduced Christianity in the 19th century. The vast majority of the hill tribes today are Christian. All groups of Nagas and Kukis of Manipur have adopted Christianity. The Bible is available in Hmar, Vaiphei, Paite, Tangkhul, Thadou, Lushai , Meiteilon and many other dialects. Christianity constitutes 34% of the population.

Muslims became part of Manipur from early seventh century AD. Bengali and immigrants notably in 15th century and converts to Islam ( referred to as Pangals) joined later. Muslims numbering 190,939 form about 8.32% of the state population as per 2001 census. There are Arab, Turani, Bengali and Mughal or Chaghtai Turk sections among Manipuri Muslims. There are various festivals celebrated in Manipur. Most of these festivals are usually celebrated on the basis of lunar calendar. Almost every festival celebrated in other states is observed here.

SATP

Meghalaya a matriarchal society

Meghalaya a matriarchal society

 

Meghalaya literally means “The Abode of Clouds” in Sanskrit and other Indic languages. Meghalaya is a hilly strip in the eastern part of the country about 300 km long (east-west) and 100 km wide, with a total area of about 8,700 sq mi (22,720 km²). The population numbered 2,175,000 in 2000. The state is bounded on the north by Assam and by Bangladesh on the south. The capital is Shillong, which has a population of 260,000. About one third of the state is forested.

Tribal people make up the majority of Meghalaya’s population. The Khasis are the largest group, followed by the Garos. Other groups include the Jaintias, the Koch and the Hajong, Dimasa, Hmar, Kuki, Lakhar, Mikir, Rabha,Nepali etc.. Tribes historically had their own kingdoms. These tribes traditionally had relatively higher sex ratio in the state was 975 females per thousand males which was much better than the national average of 933. One of the unique features of the State is that a majority of the tribal population in Meghalaya follows a matrilineal system where lineage and inheritance are traced through women.

Meghalaya has two representatives in the Lok Sabha, the lower house of the Parliament of India; one each from Shillong and Tura. It also has one representative in the Rajya Sabha, the upper house of the Parliament.

Meghalaya has a Christian majority with 70.3% of the population.26% of the population follows Hinduism with a sizeable minority of 11.5% living as tribals. Muslims make up 4.3% of the population as well.

Meghalayan tribes were brought under the British administration in the 19th century. Later, the British incorporated Meghalaya into Assam in 1835. Meghalaya was formed by carving out the two districts of the state of Assam: the United Khasi and Jaintia Hills, and the Garo Hills on 21 January 1972. Prior to attaining full statehood, Meghalaya was given a semi-autonomous status in 1970.

Mizoram – Christian majority with Jewish minority

Mizoram – Christian majority with Jewish minority

Mizoram is one of the Seven Sister States in North Eastern India. It shares land borders with the states of Tripura, Assam, Manipur, Bangladesh and the Chin state of Burma. Its population at the 2001 census stood at 888,573. Mizoram ranks second in India with a literacy rate of 88.49%. Mizoram has the most variegated hilly terrain with the highest peak Phawngpui [Blue Mountain] of 2210 metres. Mizos are a close-knit society with no class distinction and no sexual discrimination. 90% of them are cultivators and the village functions as a large family. Birth, marriage, and death in the village are important occasions in which the whole village is involved.

Some 87% of the population (including most ethnic Mizos) is Christian. Other faiths include Hindus who form a small minority in the state, at 3.6% of the population following the religion. Muslims also form a small minority with 1.1% of the population following the faith. People who believe in this faith are from other state but living in Mizoram.

Mizoram has two seats in Parliament, one each in the Lok Sabha and in the Rajya Sabha

The Mizo National Famine Front, which was created to fight famine in the sate, dropped the word ‘famine’ and a new political organization, the Mizo National Front (MNF) was born on 22 October 1961 under the leadership of Laldenga with the specified goal of achieving sovereign independence of Greater Mizoram. Simultaneous large scale disturbances broke out on 28 February 1966 government installations at Aizawl, Lunglei, Chawngte, Chhimluang and other places. The Government of India had to bomb the city of Aizawl with ‘Toofani’ and ‘Hunter’ Jet fighters to quell a separatist movement. In the afternoon of March 4 1966, a flock of jet fighters hovered over Aizawl and dropped bombs leaving a number of houses in flames. The next day, a more excessive bombing took place for several hours which left most houses in Dawrpui and Chhingaveng area in ashes. The search for a political solution to the problems facing the hill regions in Assam continued. The Mizo National Front was outlawed in 1967. The demand for statehood gained fresh momentum. A Mizo District Council delegation, which met prime minister Indira Gandhi in May 1971 demanded full fledged statehood for the Mizos. The union government on its own offered the proposal of turning Mizo Hills into a Union Territory (U.T.) in July 1971. The Mizo leaders were ready to accept the offer on the condition that the status of U.T. would be upgraded to statehood sooner rather than later. The Union Territory of Mizoram came into being on 21 January 1972.

With Pakistan having lost control of Bangladesh and no support from Pakistan, the Mizo National Front was convinced that disarming, to live as respectable Indian citizens, was the only way of achieving peace and development. Laldenga met the prime minister Rajiv Gandhi on 15 February 1985 and signed a peace accord. Mizoram became the 23rd state of India on 20 February 198

The major Christian denominations are the Presbyterian It is one of the constituted bodies of the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church of India, which has its headquarters at Shillong in Meghalaya (India). In recent decades, a number of people from Mizoram, Assam, and Manipur have claimed to be Jewish. This group is known collectively as the Bnei Menashe, and include Chin, Kuki, and Mizo. Several hundred have formally converted to Orthodox Judaism and many openly practise an Orthodox type of Judaism. The Bnei Menashe do not see themselves as converts, but believe themselves to be ethnically Jewish, descendants of one of the Lost Tribes of Israel The Jewish population of the Bnei Menashe currently is estimated at 9,000 people. The pre-Christian spirituality of the Mizos are Hindu tribes. Presently sometimes, they are being identified as animists. Chakmas and Khans are in this caegory.

The fabric of social life in the Mizo society has undergone tremendous change over the last few years. Before the British arrived in these hills, for all practical purposes, the village and the clan formed units of Mizo society. The Mizo code of ethics or dharma focused on “Tlawmngaihna”, meaning that it was the obligation of all members of society to be hospitable, kind, unselfish, and helpful to others. Tlawmngaihna to a Mizo stands for that compelling moral force which finds expression in self-sacrifice for the service of others. The old belief, Pathian, is still used to mean God. Many Mizos have embraced their new-found faith of Christianity. Their sense of values have also undergone a drastic change for the worse and are largely being guided (directly and indirectly) by the Christian church organisations.

Sikkim North East State of India

Sikkim North East State of India

Sikkim is a landlocked Indian state of the Himalayas with many languages. The thumb-shaped state borders Nepal in the west, Tibet Autonomous Region of China to the north and east, and Bhutan in the southeast. The Indian state of West Bengal borders Sikkim to its south. The official language of the state is English, but there is a sizable population that converses in Nepali and it is the link language of the stae. English and Hindi are also spoken and understood in most of Sikkim. Sikkim is Indias least populous state in India, and the second-smallest in area after Goa. It has only 5.5laksh inhabitants,with 2.8lakh males and 2.5lakh females.with density of 76 persons per square kilometre. It has an area of 2,745 sq mi (7,110 km²). the elevation ranging from 280 metres (920 ft) to 8,585 metres (28,000 ft).

Ethnic Nepalese are in majority. Bhutias and the Lepchas as well as Tibetans reside the state. Immigrant resident communities not native to the state include the Marwaris, who own most of the shops in South Sikkim and Gangtok; the Biharis, most of whom are employed in blue collar jobs; and the Bengalis. Hinduism is the majority religion in the state with 60.9% of the population, Buddhism forms a large minority with 28.1% of the population, Christians form 6.7% of the population and Muslims 1.4% of the population. Christians consisting mostly of people of Lepcha origin are converted to the faith after British missionaries started preaching in the region in the late 19th century. The state has never had inter-religious strife. The sex ratio is 875 females per 1000 males. With 50,000 inhabitants. The urban population in Sikkim is 11.06%. The per capita income stands at Rs. 11,356, which is one of the highest in the country.

Sikkim is allocated one seat in each of both chambers of India’s national bicameral legislature, the Lok Sabha, and the Rajya Sabha. There are a total of 32 state assembly seats including one reserved for the Sangha.

In 1947, a popular vote rejected Sikkim’s joining the Indian Union. Sikkim was given special protectorate with union government controlling its external affairs, defence, diplomacy and communications. A state council was established in 1955 to allow for constitutional government . Meanwhile Sikkim National Congress demanded fresh elections and greater representation for the Nepalese. In 1973, riots in front of the palace led to a formal request for protection from India. The Chogyal was proving to be extremely unpopular with the people. In 1975, the Kazi (Prime Minister) appealed to the Indian Parliament for a change in Sikkim’s status so that it could become a state of India. In April, the Indian Army moved into Sikkim, seizing the city of Gangtok and disarming the Palace Guards. A referendum was held in which 97.5% of the voting people (59% of the people entitled to vote) voted to join the Indian Union. A few weeks later, on May 16, 1975, Sikkim officially became the 22nd state of the Indian Union and the monarchy was abolished.

Chinese disputed Sikkim as part of India and maintained it as an independent state occupied by India. China eventually recognized Sikkim as an Indian state in 2003, on the condition that India accepted Tibet Autonomous Region as a part of China.