India Grappling with Million Mutinies now
Syed Ali Mujtaba
How safe are Indians in India is a pet subject of discussion all over the country. There is a total unanimity that the fear and insecurity looms large on every one's psyche, and each one of us is vulnerable unsavory incident, no mater where we live in the country.
As India remains a theater of million mutinies now these fears are not unfounded. The U.S. National Counter Terrorism Center says that India was the site of more than 12 percent of all terrorists attacks worldwide in 2005. It is home to more terrorism-related fatalities than any other nation except Iraq.
There is little doubt that internal security is a major concern of every Indian. There are basically four flash points that are pushing the internal security to deteriorate every day. These are problems in the northeast, J&K issue, leftist violence and communal riots. Those in the mandarin of power prefer to absorb the shocks of these problems rather than find a lasting solution to them. In the end India continues bleed red each day.
Northeast region in ferment
The seven northeastern states that are separated by the rest of India by a "chicken's neck," have been in ferment for over half a century now. The area is prone to tribal friction and home to number of religious and cultural conflicts. Successive governments have treated this region by utter neglect and has pushed it into an under developed zone. The problem gets further compounded because the region is wedged between Bangladesh, Bhutan, China and Myanmar. The shifting demography too has bearing on the region. The accumulated problem has given rise to rebel groups whose demand range from autonomy to independence.
The "Delhi Durbar" treats the problems in the northeast as a regional bushfire. There is massive deployment of the Indian army, para-military forces besides the state police in each of the seven states. The people living in the region are subjected to constant search and unnecessary trouble by the Indian security forces. The militant groups too harass the common man through extortions and kidnappings. There is a parallel administration in every state and the popular perception is while India reins in the day, the militants rule in the night.
Even though there seem to be no end to the bloodletting in the northeast region, hopes are being built that India's new foreign policy of soft borders with Myanmar and China would connect the northeast region with the Southeast Asia and bring a lasting peace to the region. Since last sixty years the successive governments in Delhi have been selling hopes to the people of its northeast region and the latest one is no exception. It seems they are "Waiting for Goddard."
Jammu and Kashmir on boil
Jammu and Kashmir has been the focal point of a territorial dispute involving India and Pakistan dating back to 1947. Since then New Delhi has been grappling with this problem with little success. It has neither been able to wean away the people of the state to obey its rule nor it has effectively able check Pakistan's extensive support networks in its administered areas that cause trouble.
Since the late 1980s, the state has become home to a number of militant groups that seeks the region's independence from India. Indian government accuses Pakistan of using these insurgent groups to wage a proxy war in its territory.
In this tug of war the people of Jammu and Kashmir are the main suffers. Their life liberty and dignity have been compromised due the pulls pressure from the three sides India, Pakistan and the militants. Off late the rest of the country is also feeling the heat of the Kashmir problem, especially after ultras has started targeting deep inside India. According to an estimate, nearly two-thirds of all terrorists related fatalities that occur in India are related to groups espousing the cause of Kashmir.
Those sitting in the mandarin of power prefers to engage in fire fighting exercise rather than come up with any vision statement for a settlement of the Kashmir issue. Keeping countrymen permanently insecure and let India internally bleed seem to be better option then to solve this vexed problem. It seems little anyone can do about it otherwise.
Peoples War is on
The problem posed by the left ultra or the revolutionary communists in the country is another major issue that is disturbing the internal security arrangements. There are ten states infested by the left ultra violence. In some of the states the leftist have a perceptible influence over large areas where they run "people's courts," prosecute individuals that are deemed as "class enemies" or "caste oppressors."
Human Rights Watch estimates some 10,000-armed militias are members of left ultra organizations. The U.S. State Department report says that left ultra terror activity "is growing in sophistication and lethality and may pose a significant long-term challenge to the Indian government."
The left problem is essentially rooted in the underdevelopment and is linked to land reforms and agrarian issues of the country. The Delhi government has shown total lack of commitment to handle this problem. Some tokenism of land reform and developmental activities has been done along with organizing vigilante groups to help oppose the left ultras, but all this seems to have little impact on the ground realities. As a result the internal security situation continue to be grim each day. The government refuses to go deep into the problem and remains engaged in fire fighting exercise. As a result India continues to be wounded by left violence every now and then.
Communal bloodletting continues
Hindu Muslim communal riots are a regular feature in independent India. The communal riots are the result of deep-rooted indoctrination of mind nurtured by the political and religious leadership to manipulate the ballet box democracy. The entire society has been fed upon the staple diet of animosity where communities are forced see themselves in terms of imagined identities of "we" and "they". The feudal nature of Indian society coupled with cutthroat competition in every sphere of activity also adds fuel to the fire.
The government of the day remains immune to look deep into this issue. Even sixty years after independence the government is unable to plug the sources that foment religious trouble. There is hardly any effort being made to strengthen the citizenship rights and less to deal with those indulging in communal violence. Practically there is no secular platform in India on which communities could interact freely and address each other's concerns. Since the communalists are sure of being untouched, they continue to preach hate and organize communal orgy in the country. The government is making little effort to contain the communal divide and its repeated outburst is one of the major reasons of the internal security concerns in the country.
Triggers of Terrorism
The failure of the government to address these four major issues is prime cause of the internal security concerns in India. There are scores of rebel groups operating in the country centered on these four issues.
There are not less than 30 odd rebel groups espousing their separatist agenda in the northeast region. They in an attempt bend the government to accept their demands are targeting the civilians and damaging the infrastructure of the region. So far more than 50,000 lives have been lost in this carnival of rebellion that is on since 1947.
The story of Jammu and Kashmir is no different where several militant organizations are up in arms to separate the state from the rest of India. The Indian security agencies are equally determined not to lower its guard. In this cross fire it's the common man who is shedding blood each day in Kashmir. The direct fall out of the Kashmir problem is that the terrorists menace has now come to affect the lives of common people in other parts of the country as well. In the common wisdom that no one knows when this problem will ever come to an end.
The left ultra violence is the handiwork of the Communist Party of India that was formed in 2004 after the merger of the Maoist Communist Centre, Communist Party of India (Marxist-Leninist) and Peoples War Group. So far it has claimed uncounted lives in the rural areas of the country. There is total local of imagination on the part of the government how to handle this armed rebellion. As a result of this problem people living in the rural areas are totally unsafe. There seems to be little hope of redemption to them from the growing left ultra violence.
As far as Hindu Muslim problem is concerned, the hydra headed organization called "Sangh Privar" that strives to establish the supremacy of Hindu religion and subservience of other religious groups in a multi cultural and religious society like India is the linchpin of creating the Hindu Muslim divide in the country. The government is unable to muster the courage to pass hate laws and check the activities of such right wing Hindu organizations. On the other hand Muslims hit by the communal politics particularly after 1990, are forced to choose between counting their dead or to organize a revenge squad to silence this trend. AL Umma in Tamil Nadu and Students Islamic Movement of India (SIMI), are organizations of misguided Muslim youth that have sprung up advocating violence in the country. It's time that the government to take corrective measures; else the internal security of the country would continue to take the beating.
In the ongoing debate over the handling of the internal security the general consensus is that Indians have a higher level of tolerance than any country in the world.
The security agencies in their limited role are performing their duties well but their old institutions are incapable to cope up with the new pressures as the magnitude of the problem is far beyond their realm to be tackled in its totality.
The ills of internal insecurity are to be blamed on the politicians who due to fear of angering their constituencies or to placate them, turn a blind eye to the deteriorating internal security situation.
There is also accusation that the "Delhi Durbar" has been using the agencies and arms of the state to run rival gangs that would be tasked with killing other insurgents, but would also kill innocent people in the process. Such tactics have been effective in the past and continue to be practiced till this date, without any impunity.
On the academic level there is discussion that the democracy allows the right to dissent but is unable to find a way out to accommodate them in the broader framework of one country. It's opinioned that the Indian state has to get soft on its rigid nationalistic mindset and look at the problem from below rather than as custodians of the state power.
Even as "Delhi Durbar" continues to remain engaged in perpetual shadow boxing, tackling these four major issues, many more seems to be seething below the surface. The tale of million mutinies now, thus remains unending in India.
Syed Ali Mujtaba is a journalist based in Chennai, India. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org