There have been a number of non-international armed conflicts and internal disturbances and tensions in the north-east of India for many years. According to the Ploughshares Project, in January 2007, "the United Liberation Front of Assam (ULFA) began a series of attacks against Hindi-speaking migrant labourers…that continued throughout the year and caused more than 300 casualties. Increased unrest in the state of Assam prompted the government to launch an "all-out offensive" against the group and deploy some 13,000 troops to the area." Reports of threats made by the rebels against illegal migrants from Bangladesh, Nepal and Bhutan have continued to surface.
Crackdowns on ULFA have taken place in neighbouring Bangladesh and Burma, though an illegal arms trade in the region is still reported to benefit the rebels. The situation improved in 2009, when the chief of the military wing of ULFA expressed an interest in peace talks with the government, and in January 2011 the head of ULFA also announced his desire for peace negotiations. By 2012, several ULFA leaders had surrendered, the number of casualties in the region had decreased steadily and hundreds laid down their arms in a ceremony signaling a ceasefire with the government.
Also according to the Ploughshares Project, the 2007 elections in the state of Manipur were carried out amid high levels of violence "as Naga rebels attempted to block participation from mainstream political parties. A ceasefire between the National Socialist Council of Nagaland-Isaac/Muivah (NSCN-I/M) was extended indefinitely, yet hopes of peace talks between the government and the separatist group remain low." It was reported in February 2011 that top leaders of the NSCN-I/M had called for an expedited peace process to result in a concrete solution to the 14-year talks. However, in March 2011, Rajkumar Meghen, leader of the United National Liberation Front (UNLF), said he was "keen to continue" the armed movement to for Manipur's independence. Inter-ethnic tensions persist in Manipur and the 2012 local elections were again marred by violence.
See also: "This is our land: Ethnic violence and internal displacement in North-East India", Internal Displacement Monitoring Centre (IDMC), November 2011, "India: End Manipur Killings", Human Rights Watch, 17 July 2009 and ""These Fellows Must Be Eliminated": Relentless Violence and Impunity in Manipur", Human Rights Watch, 15 October 2008
A Naxalite insurgency has been reported in the state of Andhra Pradesh and other states in the center and east of the country, in what has been called "the red corridor". Clashes between Maoist insurgents and government forces have resulted in the deaths of several hundred people. The Salva Judum (Peace March) is an anti-Maoist movement initiated in the state of Chhattisgarh in 2005 and consisting of armed tribesmen from the region. Both sides are frequently reported to recruit child soldiers and there have been suggestions that the resistance movement has made the local population even more vulnerable to Maoist attacks.
In December 2009, the government launched Operation Green Hunt against the Naxalite rebels in the state of Chhattisgarh. 76 Indian troops were killed in an ambush in the forests of Chhattisgarh in April 2010 in what a Maoist rebel leader described as a direct consequence of this operation. Reports emerged in late 2011 that the Maoists had gained a foothold in the North-east of the country, filling the void left by the dwindling ULFA. Clashes between government security forces and Maoists continue in the region, including in 2012.
See also: "India: Protect Children in Maoist Conflict", Human Rights Watch, 21 May 2010, "India: Protect Civilians in Anti-Maoist Drive", Human Rights Watch, 5 November 2009, "Dangerous Duty: Children and the Chhattisgarh Conflict", Human Rights Watch, 5 September 2008 and ""Being Neutral is Our Biggest Crime". Government, Vigilante, and Naxalite Abuses in India's Chhattisgarh State", Human Rights Watch, 15 July 2008
In the disputed region of Kashmir
, which has provoked the outbreak of armed conflict between India and Pakistan on several occasions over the past five decades, peace talks in 2006
between the governments of India and Pakistan led to the establishment of new transportation routes between the two sides of Kashmir. Hostilities reached a 17-year low in 2007
despite concerns regarding the effects of political instability in Pakistan on peace talks with Delhi and they have continued to decline since.
In 2009, India announced plans to withdraw its Kashmir-stationed troops, while in January 2011, the government said it aimed to pull out one-quarter of its troops from populated areas within the next 12 months as a confidence-building measure. India-Pakistan peace negotiations ceased in 2008 following the Mumbai terror attacks. They were resumed, however, in February 2010, with recent talks held over the Siachen glacier in Kashmir in May 2011.
In August 2011, an amnesty was announced for nearly 2,000 young men who threw stones in anti-government protests in Kashmir during the previous year. However, authorities said no one was spared prosecution and some 20,000 young men were reportedly involved in trials for stone-throwing as of 2012. Also in August 2010, the State Human Rights Commission (SHRC) released a report confirming the presence of more than 2,000 unidentified bodies in unmarked graves in Kashmir, believed to have resulted from the conflict. The report echoes prior ones by international NGOs indicating the presence of such mass graves.
Further reading: "Steps Towards Peace: Putting Kashmiris First", International Crisis Group, Asia Briefing No. 106, 3 june 2010 and other reports on International Crisis Group Kashmir webpage.
There have been no reports of further significant violence in Gujarat, previously a flashpoint, with riots breaking out between the Hindu and Muslim populations.
For further information on the Naxalite insurgency, on the situation in the north-east of the country (Assam) and on the situation in Kashmir, see GlobalSecurity.org and the Ploughshares Project.
Last updated: 13 April 2012