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What are the steps taken by independent India in checking the secessionist activities of marginal groups?

At present at least five cores of Indians live under army rule. This is partly due to the violent activities of the non-state actors.

The post-colonial state inherited several colonial legacies. The chief among them is the insurgencies in the periphery. The fundamentalist clergy, arms running and foreign aid sustained the Guerilla war of the tribesmen of the Indus frontier.

And foreign aid sustained the Guerilla war of the tribesmen of Royal Indian marine (predecessor of Royal Indian Navy) used the conduct maritime patrolling of the Gulf region in order to deter and if possible capture the smugglers. After 1947, several arms producing factories emerged in the North-West Frontier Province (hereafter NWFP) of Pakistan.

Arms sustained through Iran and central Asia aided by the Pakistan Arms, also sustained the guerrillas. Just after independence, the Pakistan Army armed and directed the tribesmen of the NWFP to invade India. They were designated as Azad Kashmir forces. They were led by many Pakistan army officers who were supposed to be on leave.

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Once armed and trained, the tribesmen were encouraged by the religious zealots to fight for liberating the land of the Muslims. From the 1980s, General Zia-ul-Haq, the military ruler of Pakistan, encouraged the growth of madras as in NWFP.

The People’s Liberation Army, a militant organization of Manipur receives training and equipment from the Chinese military bases in Lhasa. In the late 1960s, about six separatist movements sponsored by China and Pakistan tied down five Indian infantry divisions.

Paramilitary forces are deployed when the police fail to curb the insurgents’ activities. The Naga insurgency is the oldest separatist movement in the northeast. The Naga leaders argued that they are not Indians but brought to India due to the British conquest. In 1946, the Naga National Council demanded an independent state.

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Both British-India and independent India have used air power to bring the insurgents under control. The Royal Air Force (henceforth RAF) regularly bombed the tribes along the Indus. On 28 August of I960, the Indian Air Force (hereafter IAF) strafed the insurgents who laid siege to the Assam Rifles’ post at Purr.

Moreover the IAF also dropped supplies for the defenders. The Assam Rifles was used to guard the rail installations. In 1966, when the police fled against the violent activities of the Mizo National Front, both BSF and Assam Rifles units were deployed. Between 9 and 13 March, the IAF strafed the Mizo insurgents.

The IAF was used in 1999 at Kargil for evicting the intruders supported by Pakistan’s Northern Light Infantry. But the IAF like its predecessor RAF found out that amidst snow blizzards and rocky terrain, hitting the small bands of elusive guerrillas was next to impossible.

The Kashmiri militants were strengthened with a leavening of Afghan mujahideens. The latter had downed several Russian helicopter gunships when the Red Air Force tried to bomb them in the bleak Afghan plateau in the 1980s.

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These mujahedeen’s with the Pakistan supplied stinger missiles severely damaged several flying machines of the IAF. In a way, airpower has been impotent in checking insurgencies.

In addition to violent response, successive Indian governments have also attempted to restore normalcy in the disturbed areas by devolution of power through autonomous councils and panchayats and creation of jobs. This brings the rebel leaders within the democratic political process.

Besides coercion, absorption of the terrorists in the main stream remains an important plank of India government’s counter-insurgency policy. One of the causative factors behind the rise of terrorism among the young generation is lack of employment. So, the government always tried to create jobs wooing the militants back to the mainstream.

Ethnic affinities often draw India into the vortex of insurgencies occurring in the neighboring countries. In Sri Lanka about one million Tamils are considered to be alienated from the thirteen million Sinhalese.

The former in the 1980s organized a militant wing named as the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (hereafter LTTE) for conducting guerrilla struggle against the security forces of Lanka. Due to public pressure from the people of Tamil Nadu, Delhi could not turn a blind eye to the sufferings of the Tamil minority in Lanka.

And when Sri Lanka threatened to turn to USA for support, Delhi was afraid that Colombo might become a client state of Washington. So, in 1987, India sent the Indian Peace Keeping Force for combating the LTTE.

The LTTE eliminated the moderate Eelam People’s Revolutionary Liberation Front and demands Eelam (a separate homeland) for the Tamils. The LTTE has been innovative in conducting maritime guerrilla warfare. The speedboats of the LTTE have been harassing the Sinhalese fishing boats.

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