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INTERNAL CHALLENGES

Nagaland Peace Process Still Fighting Loose Ends?

Experts suggest that a settlement remains elusive, giving rise to skepticism on both sides.

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On February 10, 2020, Nagaland Chief Minister Neiphiu Rio announced that the Government of India (GoI), the National Socialist Council of Nagaland-Isak Muivah (NSCN-IM), and the Working Committee of the Naga National Political Groups (NNPGs) had wound up “the talks and are now working out the competencies to ink a solution to the Naga issue.”

Also Read:
(1) Nagaland Peace Process: The Break Of Dawn Seems Imminent
(2) Government Determined To Conclude Naga Peace Process: Governor R N Ravi
(3) Centre Needs To Note The Naga Separatists’ Unease
(4) ‘Indo-Naga Political Negotiations’ Not Restricted to Nagaland: NNPG

Adding a note of caution, CM Neiphiu Rio clarified that “nowhere has it been mentioned that the peace process has concluded. Only the talks have concluded on a positive note, which signifies that the negotiating parties have arrived at meeting points on the various topics of the negotiations”.


The NNPGs comprise of seven Naga militant groups: the NSCN–Neokpao-Kitovi (NSCN-NK), NSCN-Reformation faction (NSCN-R), Khango Konyak faction of NSCN-Khaplang (NSCN-K) and four factions of the Naga National Council (NNC) – Federal Government of Nagaland (FGN), NNC-Parent Body, Non-Accordist faction of NNC/National People’s Government of Nagaland (NPGN/NNC-NA), and Government Democratic Republic of Nagaland /NNC-NA (GDRN). The NNPGs were included in talks with GoI under an effort to widen the peace talks on September 27, 2017.

Earlier, on January 17, 2020, the interlocutor for Naga peace talks and State’s Governor R. N. Ravi noted, “The negotiations which were going on for the past many years between the Government of India and the Naga political groups have been successfully concluded’’. Like the Chief MInister, Governor R. N. Ravi qualified his utterance, observing, “It gives me great pleasure to share with you that we could be now very close to it (a solution).”

Both Chief Minsiter Rio and Governor Ravi were referring to the ‘breakthrough’ achieved between the GoI and the NSCN-IM on October 31, 2019, at the end of the three-month deadline set by Prime Minister (PM) Narendra Modi. During the deliberations. Among other things, the NSCN-IM “came on board” on the contentious issues of ‘Naga flag’ and ‘Naga constitution.’


However, though the Government is officially maintaining that the Naga talks are on the verge of completion, there is significant skepticism. Notably, an unnamed member of NSCN-IM’s negotiation team following the talks told the media, “The flag and the Constitution will be pursued later.”

Also, on January 16, 2020, the Naga Hoho (apex body of Naga tribes in Nagaland) observed that the October 31, 2019, announcement of the conclusion of formal Naga talks has not brought about any progress and went on to describe the status as “inconclusive talks”. Naga Hoho further said it is unfortunate that the Nagas are not united, as some groups are demanding a separate solution for the present State of Nagaland, whereas some others are trying to settle the issue on behalf of the entire Naga community. Hoho doubted GoI’s intention and alleged that it is trying to divide the Nagas, and also of wanting to resolve the Naga issue by modifying the July 26,1960, 16-Point Agreement within the ambit of the Indian Constitution. Naga Hoho asserted, “The government of India must not backtrack or misinterpret the Framework Agreement which must be the basis of solution or agreement.”

Moreover, reports suggest that, after slipping into Myanmar from India in October 2019, Phungting Shimrang, an NSCN-IM ‘Steering Committee Member’, was trying to talk to the Chinese authorities for “aid in their fight against India”. This is quite contrary to the GoI’s demand, as conceded by an unnamed Union Ministry of Home Affairs (UMHA) official, of return of hundred odd armed cadres of NSCN-IM currently based in Myanmar, before finalizing the accord. Significantly, on January 20, 2020, the National Investigation Agency (NIA), during searches at the premises of close associates and relatives of ‘Cabinet Kilonser (minister)’ Alemla Jamir, recovered INR 8.26 million in cash and documents of different properties worth INR 30 million. Earlier, on December 18, 2019, the NIA had arrested Alemla Jamir with cash worth INR 7.2 million. Alemla Jamir is the wife of Phungting Shimrang and these arrests could be a way to pressurize Shimrang to return.

Even though the Naga talks continue to linger and there remain some unresolved impediments to a successful conclusion, insurgency-related violence in the State is on a decline. According to partial data compiled by the South Asia Terrorism Portal (SATP), the State registered a total of three insurgency-linked fatalities, including one civilian, two Security Force (SF) personnel and one militant, in three separate incidents in 2019. There were seven such fatalities, including three SF troopers and four militants, in three incidents in 2018. Not a single fatality has been recorded in the current year, so far (data till February 20, 2020).  At the peak of the insurgency, Nagaland had recorded 360 fatalities (104 civilians, 38 SF personnel, and 218 militants) in 1997. The highest civilian fatalities, 144, were recorded in 1996. The maximum number of SF personnel, 48, were also killed in 1996.

Also, instances of internecine clashes between Naga militant groups outside Nagaland declined from six in 2018 to three in 2019. The resultant fatalities decreased from seven [two civilians (one each in Manipur and Arunachal Pradesh) and five militants (three in Manipur, two in Arunachal Pradesh)] in 2018, to a single fatality of a NSCN-K-Khango Konyak faction overground worker in Arunachal Pradesh in 2019.


However, there was surge in total number of incidents of terrorism from 117 in 2018 to 131 in 2019. Two incidents of explosion resulting in two fatalities (both SF personnel) were reported in 2019, as against one explosion recorded through 2018, resulting in injury to one civilian. Two incidents of internecine clashes were reported, resulting in the death of one militant in 2019. Turf wars between various Naga militant factions were common till 2015. There were no such clashes in the subsequent three years (2018, 2017 and 2016). Fatalities were reordered in three districts – Mon (2), Dimapur (1) and Kohima (1) in 2019, as against two districts – Mon (6) and Paren (1) – in 2018.

Incidents of abduction and extortion also remain unabated. According to reports, in Dimapur alone, the commercial hub of the State, there were 140 cases of extortion cases registered between January to December 28, 2019 [extortion and abduction cases are significantly underreported, as families of victims often accede to demands without involving the Police).

SFs arrested 187 militants in 108 incidents in 2019, in addition to 148 such arrests in 92 incidents through 2018. Those arrested in 2019 included 42 from NSCN-IM; 37 from NSCN-K; 19 from NSCN-KN; 12 from NSCN-R; five each from the Unification faction of NSCN (NSCN-U), the NNC-NA, and People’s Revolutionary Army of Kangleipak (PREPAK); two each from Naga National Council (NNC), NSCN-K-Yung Aung faction, and National Democratic Front of Bodoland-Saoraigwra (NDFB-S); and one militant each from the People’s Liberation Army (PLA),United National Liberation Front of Asom-Independent (ULFA-I), and Dimasa National Liberation Army (DNLA) .

Insurgency within the state was clearly under control through 2019, but developments beyond the State, such as the revocation of Article 370 of the Indian constitution in August 2019 and the issue of Citizenship (Amendment) Act (CAA), 2019, had an impact on Nagalaind.

Following the ‘revocation’ of Article 370 in Jammu and Kashmir, some fears were voiced in certain quarters within the State, including the influential Naga Hoho, about the durability of Article 371(A). Correctly sensing the public sentiments attached to the special constitutional provision, Governor R.N. Ravi on August 6, 2019, sought to address such apprehensions, stating,

Dear brothers, sisters and children of Nagaland. Some people have expressed apprehensions over the implications of developments in Jammu & Kashmir on Nagaland. I would like to categorically assure you all that you do not have to worry at all. Article 371(A) is a solemn commitment to the People of Nagaland. It is a sacred commitment.”

Article 371 (A) confers special provisions on Nagaland by restricting Indian Parliament’s ability to make laws on religious and social practices of the Nagas, and also provides autonomy in the practice of Naga customary law and procedure. The Article also restricts Parliament’s ability to make laws for the ownership and transfer of land and its resources in Nagaland, and both these subjects are to be decided by a resolution of the Legislative Assembly of the State (Nagaland).

Separately, the agitation against CAA 2019 largely seen in Assam, Meghalaya and Tripura, also gained traction in the State. Militant formations tried to use the emotive CAA issue to propagate their agenda of ‘sovereignty’. The Aung Yung faction of NSCN-Khaplang (NSCN-K-Aung Yung) extended support to the mass agitation against CAA 2019. On December 19, 2019, Joseph Lamkang of NSCN-K-Aung Yung thus stated:

As much as we opposed India’s hegemony over the Naga country, we opposed all its policies and laws imposed on our people. Some of our elected Naga politicians have blindly supported the Bill without even consulting the people they represent. They are exposing their political immaturity and short sightedness.”


Sensing trouble the Government on December 9, 2019, acceded to the long-standing demand for the extension of the Inner Line Permit (ILP) system to Dimapur. The ILP regime was already in place in the State, excluding Dimapur, the only railhead in, and gateway to, the State.

Amidst a conducive environment for talks, and with insurgency in the state at an all-time low, it was expected that the Union Government would push for an early conclusion to the Naga peace process. Regrettably, a settlement remains elusive, giving rise to skepticism on both sides. The possibility of the entire process getting derailed, and a spillover into escalating violence, remains a disturbing reality, as the Centre’s policies exacerbate popular apprehensions.

Disclaimer: The facts and opinions expressed in this article are strictly the personal opinions of the author. League of India does not assume any responsibility or liability for the accuracy, completeness, suitability, or validity of any information in this article.

Published with permission from South Asia Intelligence Review of the South Asia Terrorism Portal.

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INTERNAL CHALLENGES

Govt Bans 2550 Foreign Tablighi Jamaat Members From Entering India For 10 Years

the foreigners were found to be illegally living in mosques, religious seminaries across India.

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NEW DELHI: The Government today banned 2,550 blacklisted foreign nationals from travelling to India for 10 years. The blacklisted foreign nationals were involved in Tablighi Jamaat activities.

This is perhaps for the first time that the government has blacklisted a large number of people in one stroke and banned their entry into India for such a long duration under the Foreigners Act.

Foreign Tablighi Jamaat attendees had earlier also been charged for the visa rules violation and the MHA cancelled their visa blacklisting 1,750 foreign-based members out of the total 2,083.


The blacklisted Tablighi foreigners include nationals from nearly 40 countries- the US, the UK, France, Australia, Russia, China, Indonesia, Bangladesh, Myanmar, Sri Lanka, Kyrgyzstan, Malaysia, Thailand, Vietnam,  Saudi Arabia, Algeria, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Côte d’Ivoire, Djibouti, Egypt, Ethiopia, Fiji, Gambia, Iran, Jordan, Kazakhstan, Kenya, Madagascar, Mali, the Philippines, Qatar, Senegal,  Sierra Leone, South Africa, Sudan, Sweden, Tanzania, Togo, Trinidad and Tobago, Tunisia and Ukraine.

The action has been taken by the Home Ministry after various State governments provided details of the foreigners who were found to be illegally living in mosques and religious seminaries across the country.

They had entered India on a tourist visa and had attended congregations at the Nizamuddin Markaz between March 13 and 15.


Many Tablighi members later tested positive for coronavirus. The Nizamuddin Markaz emerged as one of the major coronavirus hotspots in the country with around a thousand COVID-19 positive cases and over two dozen deaths traced to them.

In April, the government had blacklisted the foreigners and cancelled their visas after finding their involvement in Tablighi Jamaat activities.

The government has already decided not to issue a tourist visa to any foreigner who wishes to visit India and take part in Tablighi activities.

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INTERNAL CHALLENGES

Maoists Showing Resilience In Jharkhand’s West Singhbhum

The leftist terrorists are desperate to regain their stronghold in West Singhbhum.

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On April 19, 2020, cadres of the Communist Party of India-Maoist (CPI-Maoist) shot dead a civilian, identified as Raj Kishore Gope (35), a resident of Bhalurungi village in the Sarjamburu Forest under Goilkera Police Station limits in West Singhbhum District. The Maoists killed Gope suspecting him to be a ‘police informer’.

Superintendent of Police (SP) Indrajeet Mahatha disclosed that about 20 Maoists intercepted Gope in the forest area while he was returning home late in the evening and shot him dead.

Before fleeing, the rebels planted three Improvised Explosive Device (IED)-fitted arrows near the body to target the Police, who they believed would reach the incident site. The IEDs were, however, detected and subsequently defused by a Bomb Disposal Squad (BDS).


On April 4, 2020, three women cadres belonging to the Suresh Munda squad of the CPI-Maoist were killed in an exchange of fire between the Maoists and Security Forces (SFs) at Chirung village under Gudri Police Station limits in West Singhbhum District. SFs recovered over 500 rounds, arrow bombs, two IEDs, and Maoist literature from the incident site. SP Indrajeet Mahatha said that the rebels were present at the village to motivate the villagers to join their movement.

These two incidents of killing have been reported in West Singhbhum during the current year (data till May 10, 2020). During the corresponding period in 2019, no fatality was reported in the District.

However, three civilian fatalities were reported in two separate incidents in the remaining period of the year in the District. West Singhbhum recorded two fatalities (both civilians) in 2018.


Since March 6, 2000, when SATP started compiling data on Left Wing Extremism (LWE)-linked violence across India, West Singhbhum recorded 177 fatalities (55 civilians, 75 SF personnel, 43 Left Wing Extremists, Naxalites, and four Not Specified) in such violence.

There are 80 Districts across 10 States which have recorded fatalities in both Maoist and SF categories since March 6, 2000.

Only 24 of these, spread across six States, have recorded a kill ratio that favours the Maoists. West Singhbhum is one such District, where the overall kill ratio stands at 1.74:1 in favour of the Maoists.

This is despite the fact that the District saw its last SF killing on September 3, 2013. In that incident, a Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) trooper was killed in an encounter with the Maoists in the Tebo Valley of West Singhbhum District. SFs suffered 18 fatalities in 2002, 20 fatalities in 2004, 15 fatalities each in 2006 and 2009, five fatalities in 2010, and one fatality in 2011.

It was in 2010 that the Maoists suffered their maximum of 21 fatalities (in the District) in a year, including 10 fatalities each in the month of June and September. Since September 2010, the SFs have suffered only three fatalities.

The successful offensives launched by SFs in the District in 2010 dealt a major blow to the Maoists who, since then, have failed to take on the SFs directly. Sadly, the Maoists have increasingly directed their violence against civilians.


Of 55 civilian fatalities recorded in the District since May 2000, 38 were reported between 2011 and 2020 (data till May 10). Between 2000 (since March 6) and 2010, nearly the same duration, there were just 17 fatalities in this category.

Located at the Southern part of Jharkhand bordering Odisha, West Singhbhum is the largest District in the State, covering 5,351.41 square kilometres, of which 53 per cent (around 2836.24 square kilometres) is under forest cover.

The District borders Khunti in the North; Saraikela-Kharsawan in the East; Simdega (all three in Jharkhand) and Sundargarh (in Odisha) to the West; and Keonjhar and Mayurbhanj districts of Odisha on the South. The steep mountains and deep forests in the District make it a formidable challenge for SFs.

Significantly, all these bordering Districts (barring Keonjhar and Mayurbhanj) as well as West Singhbhum,  are among the 90 Districts in 11 States listed as LWE affected, according to a Government release of February 5, 2019.

Further, Khunti and Simdega, along with West Singhbhum, fall among the ‘30 worst Maoist-affected’ Districts, across seven states in the country, according to the Union Ministry of Home Affairs (UMHA).

West Singhbhum is also listed as one of the Aspirational Districts included in the ‘Aspirational Districts Programme’.

The programme focuses on five main themes – Health & Nutrition, Education, Agriculture & Water Resources, Financial Inclusion & Skill Development, and Basic Infrastructure – which have a direct bearing on the quality of life and economic productivity of citizens.

Not surprisingly, the Maoists always had a strong base in the District. However, after facing reverses in their erstwhile stronghold in the Saranda Forest in the District, the Maoists reportedly shifted to the adjoining Sundargarh District of Odisha. Several Maoist cadres hid themselves in the villages in Saranda in the guise of cultivators.

Worryingly, however, a November 25, 2019, report observed that the Maoists were trying to re-infiltrate the District through the porous Sundargarh border linking up to the Saranda Forest. Working on a changed strategy, the Maoists move in small groups, occasionally using the forests under Bisra Police Station limits and the Bonai sub-division on the Sundargarh side of the border, as hideouts.

Indeed, a February 4, 2020, report observed that, in an attempt to step up activities and violence in eastern India, particularly Bihar and Jharkhand, prominent CPI-Maoist leaders such as Nambala Keshav Rao aka Basavraj, held a meeting in Saranda forests of West Singhbhum District, in which they decided to replace the ageing Prashant Bose aka Kishan da (74) with Ranjit Bose aka Kabir (63). The latter is known for his expertise in mobilising masses against SFs, and carries a bounty of INR 10 million on his head.


Meanwhile, Raj Kumar, Inspector General (IG), Jharkhand Sector, CRPF, stated on April 7, 2020:

“The recent incidents in the District vis a vis the State demonstrate that they (the Maoists) are active. The tri-junction of Ranchi, Khunti, and West Singhbhum Districts, the Parasnath Hills in Giridih and Budha Pahar in Bokaro, are some of the rebel hotspots in the State.”

Further, according to an April 5, 2020, report, intelligence sources have revealed that the Maoists have restarted influencing the local residents in the District to come into the LWE fold. The report mentioned that the rebels were targeting areas in Sonua, Goelkera and Porahat region of West Singhbhum District to extend their base.

Following intelligence inputs, SFs have now been asked to intensify anti-insurgency operations in the District. On April 6, 2020, Jharkhand Finance Minister Rameshwar Oraon categorically stated, “The Police have been given complete freedom to rein in crime and Naxal incidents.”

On the ground, the administration has increased Police patrolling in the border areas of the District and has also deployed increased numbers of paramilitary personnel in areas of a potential attack.

Further, a May 4, 2020, report noted, the State Police has set up six CRPF camps at Saranda and another six are in the process of being installed.

The Maoists are desperate to regain their stronghold in West Singhbhum, creating a resurgent challenge for the SFs along the poorly governed inter-State border areas.

Disclaimer: The facts and opinions expressed in this article are strictly the personal opinions of the author. League of India does not assume any responsibility or liability for the accuracy, completeness, suitability, or validity of any information in this article.

Published with permission from South Asia Intelligence Review of the South Asia Terrorism Portal.

Dr Indrajit Sharma

Indrajit Sharma is associated with the South Asia Terrorism Portal at the Institute for Conflict Management, a New Delhi based think tank focusing on Conflict and Terrorism in South Asia. He holds an M.Phil. and a PhD in Security Studies from Central University of Gujarat, Gandhinagar, India.

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INTERNAL CHALLENGES

India: Many Battle Points, One Brittle Peace

Negligence at this stage could facilitate the resurgence of forces inimical to India.

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The average terrorism/insurgency-linked fatalities per day in India dropped to 1.38 during the first four months and three days of 2020 (data till May 3, 2020), from 2.13 during the corresponding period of 2019. This is the lowest daily average fatality recorded during this period of the year since 1986. A previous low of 1.95 was recorded in January-May 1, 2015.

Significantly, the daily average fatality through 2019 worked out at 1.44, the lowest at least since 1986. A previous low of 1.99 was recorded in 2015. In 2018, the average stood at 2.57.

2019 recorded the lowest fatalities in a year since 1986. There was a total of 621 fatalities [159 civilians, 132 Security Force (SF) personnel, and 330 terrorists/insurgents] in 2019. Since 1986, a previous low of 729 fatalities was recorded in 2015. 2018 accounted for 940 fatalities. 2020 has so far accounted for 179 fatalities.


It is useful to recall that, at the peak of terrorism/insurgency in 2001, the country had recorded a total of 5,504 fatalities (1,508 civilians, 883 SF personnel, 3,005 terrorists/insurgents, and 108 unspecified), working out to a daily average of 15.07.

Other parameters of violence like incidents of killing, explosions, recovery of arms, also witnessed significant improvements. 2019 saw the lowest number of incidents of killing, 332, since March 6, 2000, when SATP started compiling comprehensive data on conflicts in India. A previous low of 437 incidents was recorded in 2015.

The number of incidents of killing was 476 in 2018. 2019 recorded 1,787 terrorism-linked incidents, the lowest since March 6, 2000, significantly bettering the previous low of 2,119 recorded in 2018.


The geographical spread of violence also diminished. 84 districts reported fatalities in 2018. The number came down to 75 in 2019. 33 districts have recorded fatalities in 2020, thus far. India currently has a total of 733 districts. In 2001, at the peak of violence, 138 of 593 districts then in existence, reported insurgency/terrorism linked fatalities.

According to the Union Ministry of Home Affairs, internal security issues in the country can broadly be categorized as follows:

  • Terrorism in the hinterland of the country
  • Left-Wing Extremism in certain areas.
  • The security situation in Jammu & Kashmir.
  • Insurgency in the North Eastern States.

2019 witnessed significant improvement in the security situation across all these theatres.

Despite sustained efforts, the intelligence and enforcement apparatus in India successfully thwarted all attempts by Islamist terror formations – global, transnational and Pakistan based – to carry out any attack in India’s hinterland through 2019.

Significant improvement was evident in 2019 in areas afflicted by Left Wing Extremism (LWE). Indeed, on February 4, 2020, the Minister of State in the Union Ministry of Home Affairs (UMHA), G. Kishan Reddy, confirmed in the Lok Sabha (Lower House of Parliament), “Left Wing Extremism (LWE) related violence and geographical spread have declined over the years”.


Jammu & Kashmir, though it went through an upheaval forced by the ruling political establishment for petty political gains, nevertheless saw significant improvement in the situation relating to terrorism in 2019. The trend of increasing fatalities, on year on year basis, established since 2016, had been reversed in 2019. Fatalities which had touched a 10 year high of 452 in 2018. There were 538 fatalities in 2008, with continuous declines thereafter till 2012, and then a steady inching upwards came down to 283 in 2019.

Insurgency in the Northeast was at its lowest ebb in 2019. On March 4, 2020, MoS Kishan Reddy stated in the Rajya Sabha (the Upper House of Indian Parliament),

The security situation in the North-Eastern States has improved substantially since 2014. Compared to 2013, there has been a 70% reduction in insurgency incidents, 80% in civilian deaths and 78% in security forces casualties in the year 2019.

Punjab also remained terror-free through 2019 despite the relentless efforts of Pakistan backed Khalistani terror groups. Buoyed by the improved security situation, Dinkar Gupta, Director General of Police (DGP), Punjab, in an interview on January 1, 2020, observed, “We have been fortunate that 2019 has gone without any terror crime.”

Indeed, India was safer in 2019 than any other year since 1986, purely in terms of terrorism-related incidents, even as the broader security situation improved considerably.

However, worries persist. There are over 40 banned terror outfits in the country. MoS Reddy on March 3, 2020, informed Parliament, “As on date, the First Schedule to the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, 1967 contains names of 42 Terrorist Organisations”.

Islamist terrorist and extremist organisations, including global terrorist formations such as Islamic State (IS, Daesh) and al Qaeda, as well as the Pakistan sponsored groupings such as Lashkar-e-Toiba (LeT), Jaish-e-Mohammad (JeM) and Hizb-ul-Mujahedeen (HM), continue to target India  in their campaigns for jihad. Though they found mobilization among the Indian Muslim population extraordinarily difficult, the patterns of politically engineered communal polarization, particularly by majoritarian political formations, have enormously escalated over the past years, driving up the risks, though not the current manifestation, of Islamist terrorist and extremist mobilization.

Left-Wing Extremists continued to make renewed efforts to halt their downward slide. According to an April 16, 2020, report, the Maoists were using the nationwide lockdown amid the Coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak to regain strength, as a large group of the rebels entered the South Bastar region of Chhattisgarh from Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, Maharashtra, Jharkhand, Odisha, West Bengal, and even Nepal. The report citing intelligence inputs noted,

“…[Maoists were] continuously conducting meetings in the core areas in Chhattisgarh’s Sukma district and in the Darbha Division in Jagdalpur District of the State and part of Dantewada District there under the supervision of top Maoist leaders. They are also organising villagers for confronting the Government on the issue of fixing a minimum price for plucking up of tendu leaves and compensation for death or injury of villagers involved in the plucking off the leaves.”


Pakistan has also stepped up efforts to create more trouble in Kashmir.

On March 4, 2020, the Government informed the Parliament:

?There have been 1,586 incidents of ceasefire violations in 2019 and 646 incidents of Ceasefire Violations during the first two months of 2020 [January/February (up to 23rd February)], on Indo-Pak International border as well as Line of Control after August 5, 2019.”

According to official data, there was a total of 3,168 ceasefire violations in 2019 as against 2,140 such incidents through 2018, and a much lower 881 in 2017 and 449 in 2016.

According to media reports, the first four months of 2020 has already recorded 1,231 ceasefire violations as against 919 recorded during the same period in 2019.  The continuing political misadventures of the ruling dispensation at New Delhi are likely to provide more ammunition to Pakistan’s disruptive designs.

Though there are no such worries in the case of insurgency in the Northeast, since the region has recorded continuous improvements in the security situation, periodic ethnic clashes (four such clashes recorded in 2019) remain a worry. Moreover, the long delay in concluding the talks between the Government of India (GoI) and the National Socialist Council of Nagaland-Isak-Muivah (NSCN-IM) may have a cascading effect.

Punjab despite an extended period of peace, always has a looming threat. On January 1, 2020, DGP Dinkar Gupta cautioned,

It is difficult to say what the future holds for us, but when you are dealing with a neighbour like Pakistan, there will be attempts to foment trouble in Punjab. So, we have to be always vigilant.

In the meantime, the Government has taken several measures to deal with these threats across several theatres. Referring to one such measure, MoS Kishan Reddy stated in the Lok Sabha, February 11, 2020,

The Union Government has created an all India digital network – Crime & Criminal Tracking Networking System (CCTNS) in 15152 out of 15985 police stations of the country which has digitised police processes like registering complaints, FIRs, Investigation details, etc. 100% FIRs are being recorded in 14,992 police stations.

In addition, the Government has launched the Interoperable Criminal Justice System (ICJS) which integrates the process of speedy justice by facilitating data exchange between the courts, police, prosecution, jails and the forensic laboratories.

The National Investigation Agency (NIA) has also been fully operationalized. On March 3, 2020, the Parliament was informed that out of 319 cases entrusted to the NIA for investigation, charge-sheets had been filed in 237 cases. Judgement had been pronounced in 62 of these 237 cases, of which 56 cases resulted in conviction, a conviction rate of 90.32 per cent.

However, several other mega institutions announced to be created under “A New Architecture of India’s Security”, way back on December 23, 2009, remain on paper.

While one of them, the National Counter Terrorism Centre (NCTC), targeted to be established by the end of 2010, subsequently lost favor, the establishment of the National Intelligence Grid (NATGRID) remains far from reality. Updating the status of NATGRID, MoS, Reddy disclosed on February 5, 2020,

NATGRID has been created as an IT platform to assist the Security and law enforcement agencies to counter-terror for national security. Physical infrastructure for NATGRID will be completed by 31.03.2020 and IT Solution will go live by 31.12.2020. NATGRID will link several databases including Railways, Police, Stolen Vehicles, Immigration, Airline, Passports, Vehicles ownership, Driving Licenses, PAN data etc.

Meanwhile, deficiencies continue to afflict the Police Force, the first line of defence terrorism. According to the Bureau of Police Research & Development (BPR&D), as on January 1, 2019, deficits in the Police Force as against sanctioned strength were 20.34 per cent. The Police-population ratio ((policemen per hundred thousand population) in the country, as on January 1, 2019, was 158.22, much lower than the projected minimum of 222 for peacetime policing. 958 vacancies existed in the apex Indian Police Service (IPS), with 4,024 officers in position, as against a sanctioned strength of 4,982, a 19.22 per cent deficit, considerably weakening executive direction of the Force.

Worryingly, funds under the ‘Assistance to States for Modernization of Police’ scheme were reduced by the Central Government. As against 7.08 billion released in Financial Year (FY) 208-19, the Government released only 4.02 billion in FY 2019-20, a reduction that can only have an adverse impact on the quality of Police Forces across the country.

Moreover, the Intelligence Bureau (IB), described as the ‘brain’ of the national security apparatus by the Union Home Minister Amit Shah on December 23, 2019, faces acute shortages of manpower.

According to the BPR&D, as on January 1, 2019, as against a sanctioned strength of 40,650 personnel, the IB had only 29,784 personnel in position. A deficiency of 26.73 per cent in the ‘brain’ of the security establishment is indeed worrisome.

It is imperative for the Union Government to take all necessary measures to overcome these deficiencies within the fighting forces and intelligence apparatus to help SFs maintain the hard-earned peace. Any negligence at this stage could facilitate the resurgence of forces inimical to India.

Disclaimer: The facts and opinions expressed in this article are strictly the personal opinions of the author. League of India does not assume any responsibility or liability for the accuracy, completeness, suitability, or validity of any information in this article.

Published with permission from South Asia Intelligence Review of the South Asia Terrorism Portal.

Ajit Kumar Singh

Dr Ajit Kumar Singh is a Research Fellow at the Institute for Conflict Management and is involved in research on conflicts in South Asia. After completing his M.Phil. on "Emergence of Afghanistan as Buffer between Tsarist Russia and British Indian Empire (19th Century)", from JNU, New Delhi, he was awarded Ph.D. on "The Ethnic Conflict and State Structure in Afghanistan: 1989-2001".

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