Saturday, July 20, 2019

The Rohingya Infiltration in the North East: Current Situation

Tripura

Major demographic changes in the State due to unhindered migration from East Pakistan/ Bangladesh is the root cause of discontentment amongst the ethnic locals of Tripura. Consequently, the Tribals were pushed to the hills while the Bengali speaking people took over the plains. Gradually, the political and administrative space was also dominated by the Bengalis. Years of deprivation, lack of opportunities for the ethnic people and government inaction to prevent immigration are the main causes of insurgency in the State. Insurgency commenced with the formation of National Liberation Front of Tripura (NLFT), the first armed insurgent group in Tripura founded in 1989 by Dhananjoy Reang. All Tripura Tiger Force (ATTF) was formed in 1990 by Ranjit Debbarman due to difference of ideologies with the NLTF though both groups perpetuated the objectives of an ‘independent’ Tripura State and expulsion of Bengali speaking people. Borok National Council of Tripura (BNCT) was formed in 1997 as a result of split in NLTF.

Protracted operations by security forces, stable governments and reforms in social system have brought the situation in Tripura under control. Most of the insurgent leaders had taken shelter in Bangladesh to evade apprehension. Since 2009, insurgent activities in the State have considerably reduced. This has manifested into development and improvement in the living and economic standards of the locals. The MHA report of 2009 placed Tripura as third lowest in insurgent activities in NE after Mizoram and Meghalaya. Recently, the government of Tripura has revoked AFSPA in the state, which is indicative of sustained peace and resolution of issues that had haunted the state in past.

Mizoram

Signed on 30 June 1986 between the Mizo National Front (MNF) and the Government of India, the Mizo Accord so far remains the only successful Peace Accord of its kind in independent India’s history. The genesis of insurgency in the State dates back to the infamous Mautam Famine in the 1960. Inadequate action by the central/ state governments was the cause of discontent among the locals, which thereafter graduated to other issues concerning employment opportunities, economy and social reforms.

The Mizo National Front (MNF) led the insurgency in Mizoram till the Mizo Peace Accord was signed in 1986. This also resulted in the territory attaining Statehood in 1987. Mizoram is administered by three Autonomous District Councils. Insurgency in Mizoram, at present, is peripheral in nature, and comprises agitations by the Brus or Reangs and the Hmars.

Brus were forced out of Mizoram in 1997 following atrocities on them. Approximately, 35,000 Bru refugees are presently lodged in temporary camps in Kanchanpur sub-division of North Tripura. Due to delay in settlement of their issues by the Mizoram government, militant outfits like the Bru Liberation Front of Mizoram (BLFM) and Bru National Liberation Front (BNLF) emerged. Repatriation of the refugees is presently in progress in a phased manner. Efforts are underway to make the insurgents surrender for a peaceful resolution of the issue. The insurgent movement of Hmars was aimed to defend the rights of their community, having bases in the borders areas of Mizoram, Manipur and Assam. Two insurgent outfits were formed in 2007, namely the Hmar People’s Convention – Democratic [HPC (D)] and the Singlung People’s Liberation Army (SPLA). In 2009, most of the cadres of the SPLA surrendered and the group thereafter became dormant.

Arunachal Pradesh

The South Western districts of Tirap and Changlang, sharing a boundary with Nagaland have been subjected to Naga insurgency since the early nineties. Tribal similarities have favored the sustenance of insurgency by both the factions of NSCN in these two districts. Post abrogation of ceasefire by NSCN (K) in Nagaland, and the formation of the UNLFW to jointly fight the Indian state has led to a spurt in insurgent violence in the region. ULFA has been traditionally using these areas for transit to its Saigang Division in Myanmar. Alliances between the NSCN (K) and ULFA (I) have also come to light in this area in the recent past.

The South Western districts of Tirap and Changlang, sharing a boundary with Nagaland have been subjected to Naga insurgency since the early nineties. Tribal similarities have favored the sustenance of insurgency by both the factions of NSCN in these two districts. Post abrogation of ceasefire by NSCN (K) in Nagaland, and the formation of the UNLFW to jointly fight the Indian state has led to a spurt in insurgent violence in the region. ULFA has been traditionally using these areas for transit to its Saigang Division in Myanmar. Alliances between the NSCN (K) and ULFA (I) have also come to light in this area in the recent past.

THE CURRENT SITUATION: INCLUDES ROHINGYA INFILTRATION

Spatial Spread of Insurgency

Protracted efforts by the Security Forces, involvement of interlocutors, participation of social groups and reconciliation by various insurgent groups has ensured the emergence of near normalcy in most parts of the region, in the past two decades. With most groups under Ceasefire or Suspension of Operations and being engaged in negotiations with GoI, the spatial spread of insurgency in the North East is now reduced to a few districts or areas. The spectrum of insurgency also varies from intense in certain areas to mild/dormant in most areas of the NE. The state-wise spread of insurgency is given in the following paras.

Assam

  • Dimasa Groups. Dimasa groups have been decimated. However, minor cases of extortion and kidnapping continue. The ex-cadres resort to such activities to sustain themselves in the absence of any rehabilitation programme.
  • Transient Presence of NSCN (IM) and  (K).  Cadres from both groups frequent the districts of Dima Hasao and Cachar to carry out extortion, then rest and recoup or escape action by Security Forces in Manipur. However, with reducing support of locals, regular apprehensions are made.
  • Islamic Groups.  The radical Islamist groups are demanding security for the Muslims in Assam. Influence of these groups is yet to fructify in districts of Karimganj, Hailakandi and  Cachar, however, initial traces of the same are visible. Infiltration of Rohingyas is a matter of great concern.

Manipur

  • VBIGs.  PLA is believed to have formed a ‘government-in-exile’ in Bangladesh. The group is active and has been involved in acts of violence and extortion. The group enjoys popular support and has established linkages with the NSCN(K) in Myanmar. The group has been named in the ghastly attack on 6 Dogra on 03 Jun 2015.
  • PREPAK is also active in the Manipur Valley with strategic links with UNLF/PLA. The group is presently maintaining a few Camps in Bangladesh. KYKL operates in the valley districts of Manipur and shares a close nexus with NSCN (IM). The group, apart from insurgent activities, is involved in moral policing for weeding out social evils. Other groups like the UPPK, UNPC and KCP are generally dormant and have been involved in sporadic incidents of extortion and violence. Most of the VBIGs are not under SoO/ negotiations with the State Government/ GoI and have stuck to their unconstitutional demands, thus continuing unrest in the region. These groups possess immense potential to spread wide-scale violence..
  • PULF 

The only Muslim group of Pangal Muslims is active in the Manipur Valley and Thoubal district. The group is active and shares solidarity with Islamic Radical groups in Assam. Linkages with the ISI are also suspected. The group possesses the potential to whip up communal clashes with the support from other Islamic groups in the NE.

  • Kuki Insurgent Groups

All 18 Kuki insurgent groups in Manipur are under SoO with the Government  and are in negotiations for a separate state encompassing areas inhabited by their tribe. The groups have their influence in parts of Senapati, Tamenglong, Chandel and Churachandpur districts. The dialogue process of these groups is under the banners of United People’s Front (UPF) and Kuki National Org (KNO).

  • Hill Districts

The hill districts are under the influence of the Naga insurgent groups. Successful State elections are indicative of the yearning of locals for normalcy and peace. The region has witnessed sporadic violence in the recent past. With signing of the ‘Framework Agreement’ by NSCN (IM) with Government of India, the region has witnessed an increase in the influence of the group in the Hill districts. Several defections from other groups to NSCN (IM) have come to light. The same may be in hope for a brighter future and better chances of a resolution. After abrogation of ceasefire by NSCN (K), a reduction in presence of their cadres in the hill districts has been observed. Most of the cadres are believed to have shifted base to Myanmar.

To be continued

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