The Hidden War In North-East India

Posted on February 21, 2012 in Specials

By H. Bhavan Meitei:

North Eastern States of India, which are home to more than 260 different tribes and speak a number of language and dialects are now witnessing a lot of conflicts and problems. Women are being raped by army personnel, mothers keep waiting for their disappeared sons, children wait for their parents – who don’t return, and much more. These are some of the common problems in the North Eastern states. But it is kept hidden, people from mainland India do not know of this and the media does not want to show.

Members of an armed group in Manipur

The Northeast region of India comprising of eight states with a population of about 40 million inhabitants, is a region poorly connected to the Indian mainland and surrounded by many countries such as Bhutan, Myanmar, Bangladesh and China, setting for a huge number of conflicts that undermine the idea of India as a prosperous and functioning democracy.

The Naga insurgence, which started in the 1950s, is one of the oldest unresolved armed conflicts in the world. Currently, most of the states in the region are affected by some form of conflict and rapid rising of insurgents in some states. The insurgents in this region often target the civilians. They have no common agendas, fight for individual causes and are set up for their personal benefits only. Some of the reasons for the respective conflicts are wide ranging from separatist movements, to inter-community, communal and inter-ethnic conflicts like Boro conflict, naga-kuki-meitei conflict etc.

Unfortunately, the data and information on the region is not sufficiently analysed and conversed between the region and the Central Government, contributing to further misinformation, mismanagement and alienation. At another level, conflict in the region has been an all pervasive phenomena, and in its violent form, it has not only affected the territorial and political sovereignty of the Indian state, but also the life of the common man in the region, in impenetrable and unfathomable terms. In a radical and dreaded sense, there is a “culture” of conflict, and unfortunately, people have submitted to such continuation. However, amidst the widespread sense of helplessness, there is also an overwhelming desire and force to be free from such a situation of conflict which cripples the people from all sides.

Due to this conflict, over 50,000 people have been killed since independence and a large number have also been displaced. The archaic draconian and black law, which was used by British to suppress the Indian freedom movement, Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA) adds more woes to the people of this region. In the name of suppressing insurgents, army officials have often been observed misusing their powers. One is bound to question that if this act is supposed to suppress the insurgents, then why does the Central Government not impose this same law in the Maoist affected areas and not leave it only to the North Eastern states and some parts of Kashmir. As a North Eastern myself, I ask, are sons of lesser god and are we not included in the Preamble of Indian Constitution? I really hope our Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh has the answer to this question.

Hundreds and thousands of illegal Bangladeshi migrants are entering North Eastern states, the intrusion of Chinese in Arunachal Pradesh and even the economic blockade that is often organized in this region are problems which have no solution, either from the State Government or the Central Government. They come and stand with the common when elections arrive, to prove that our country is a democratic one, but when it comes to solving real problems, they ignore us. To conclude, this torn condition of the states will only be resolved when people are actually given their fundamental and constitutional rights and efforts are made to bring the North East India to the mainstream.


The writer is a student of IIMC, Dhenkanal.