As insurgencies rise in India’s North East, Army to review its decisions on the counter-insurgency duties

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Vaibhav Agrawal
Vaibhav Agrawal
Vaibhav Agrawal is the founder editor of Bhraman (a Digital Travelogue). As an independent journalist, he is passionate for investigating and reporting on complex subjects. He has an extensive background in both print and digital media, with a focus on Travel and Defence reporting. *Views are personal

As situations seem to realign the deployments in the wake of a spate of insurgency-related incidents in the North East, the decision of the Indian Army to reduce the number of troops that have been deployed on the counter-insurgency duties in the north-east is likely to be reviewed by them, according to official sources.

The above mentioned would be particularly the case where some of the active insurgent groups haven’t yet entered into anything closer to a ceasefire agreement with the government while the places include Nagaland, Manipur, Assam and Arunachal Pradesh.

On the other hand, the above-cited groups include NSCN-K (YA) in southern Arunachal Pradesh and Nagaland, ULFA (I) in Assam and other Imphal Valley-based insurgent groups like Kanglei Yawol Kanna Lup (KYKL), People’s Revolutionary Party of Kangleipak (PREPAK), the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) and the United National Liberation Front (UNLF).

Although a former ceasefire agreement has not yet been entered into by some other Kuki insurgent groups, they are under suspension of operation.

In the recent times

A major attack was carried out in Manipur’s Churachandpur district in which the commanding officer of 46 Assam Rifles along with his wife and 6-year-old son was killed and four soldiers of the battalion were also laid down while the attack was done by the People’s Liberation Army and the Manipur Naga People’s Front (MNPF) in the previous week, it was executed by Meitei groups in a Kuki-dominated area.

In a joint operation by the Assam Rifles and Arunachal Pradesh Police, three militants of another insurgent outfit which is known as the National Socialist Council of Nagalim (NSCN K-YA) were killed as the militants had kidnapped two civilians.

Four militants of the Kuki National Liberation Army in Manipur were killed by the security forces in the last month while militants killed four civilians a few days later in what was believed to be a retaliatory attack.

Previous status

Earlier this year the Army had pulled out one of its brigades from the region as a result of the security situation in the Northeast which has been improving significantly as said by the Indian Army Chief.

To facilitate the Indian Army to move away from internal security duties and focus on its primary duty of conventional warfare, Initial plans were also being devised to gradually move out more troops from the Northeast in the months to come.

A further withdrawal of counter-insurgency troops might not prove as an option at the moment even though the number of insurgency-related incidents in the Northeast had seen fluctuations in the last few years, as said by Defence sources.

An expected blowback

According to a defence official, based on the different ground and intelligence inputs, a realignment of troops that had been particularly deployed in the border areas and in places where active insurgents haven’t entered into a ceasefire with the government, could be undertaken. The official also added that counter-insurgency grid changes are periodically undertaken.

Another official said that a blowback like this was expected since a place like Churachandpur has been a conduit for narcotics and other smuggling activities on which the Assam Rifles was cracking down heavily. 

A heated rise

On the other hand, as per a report released by News18, up from 132 violent incidents in the corresponding period last year, insurgents carried out 162 violent incidents in the Northeast from January 1 to October 31 this year of which Assam reported the lowest number of incidents at 18, Arunachal Pradesh at 22 and the highest being with Manipur at 90.

Back in 2019, a total of 223 insurgency-related incidents were reported in the Northeast while the number stood at 163 in 2020. Around 12 insurgents were killed in 2019, followed by 21 in 2020 and 31 till October 31 this year.

In such incidents that took place in the Northeast, around 21 civilians were killed in 2019 and three died the following year. In insurgency-related violence till October 30, eight civilians lost their lives this year while the lives of four security personnel in 2019 and five the following year were claimed by such attacks.


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