- Fourth Annual Internal Security Workshop was conducted on 11 & 12 September 2014, at Manekshaw Centre, Delhi Cantt, Ne w Delhi. The event comprised of a session each on Jammu & Kashmir, North Eastern Region and Left Wing Extremism; the aim being to provide a platform to facilitate interaction on Internal Security matters amongst senior officials from Army & CAPF, Academicians, Research Scholars, Bureaucracy and Media Analysts.
- Objectives of the Workshop were as follows:
- To critically review the security situation across the conflict zones with a view to suggest policy initiatives for conflict resolution.
- To analyse the impact of external regional events on the security dynamics of J&K, changing trends in militancy in the state and options for conflict resolution.
- To look at the totality of the Maoist threat in India and give a prognosis of likely trends.
- To analyse the impact of changed demography vis-à-vis challenges of ethnicity, separatism and insurgency in NER.
- To look into issues of economic growth & development towards conflict resolution.
- To look into our organizational setup vis-à-vis the challenges at hand, with reference to National Security Apparatus.
- To discuss a way-forward, to make media a major stake holder in state’s decision making process by shaping perceptions and attitudes in the society, thereby undermining its abuse by subversive players.
- To allow participants collectively exchange relevant ideas and experiences so as to facilitate the achievement of the above objectives.
The panellists were as follows
- Lt Gen Philip Campose, AVSM**, VSM , VCOAS & Chairman BoG, CLAWS
Session One – J&K
- Lt Gen Sanjiv Chachra, PVSM, AVSM, VSM (retired), Former Army Commander
- Sh. Praveen Swami, Editor, International & Strategic Affairs, The Indian Express
- Maj Gen JS Cheema, VSM, Chief of Staff, 15 Corps
- Dr. SS Bloeria, Former Home Secretary, Government of J&K
Session Two – NER
- Sh. GK Pillai, Former Union Home Secretary
- Prof Sanjoy Hazarika, Director, Centre for North Eastern Studies, Jamia Milia Islamia University
- Dr. Namrata Goswami, Research Fellow, IDSA
- Sh. Shambhu Singh, JS(NE), MHA
- Sh. RC Dhankar, Director, Ministry of DoNER
Session Three – LWE
- Dr. Ajai Sahni, Chairman, Institute of Peace and Conflict Studies
- Sh. Mohan Guruswamy, Chairman, Centre for Policy Alternatives Society
- Sh. Shubhranshu Choudhary, Author & Media Activist
- Sh. Maroof Raza, Defence Analyst & Columnist
- Jammu and Kashmir stands at the threshold of transition to peace and normalcy today with a synergised operational effort by the security forces and the civil administration. The past three years have seen a transition towards peaceful stability. The year 2013 was to be that of consolidation, but did not happen, for the desperate efforts by Pakistan and their proxy in activating all spectrums of conflict like Cease Fire Violations, terror strikes, communal flagrations, infiltration bids etc. Improving stability in the state shall see an upward trend in desperation of Pakistan.
- The present times shall be crucial owing to various developments in Pakistan and J&K. In Pakistan, there has been a change in political and military leadership, internal strife and talibanisation are on the rise, on diplomatic front- relations with China and US are at all time low and democratic faultlines are showing up with Imran Khan and Tahir ul Qadri keeping the Government on ransom. In J&K, assembly elections are round the corner and withdrawal of American troops from Afghanistan by end of the year is likely to have direct manifestations on security matrix.
- Present high indices of stability have brought in a fragile peace. Separatists and Hurriyat have lost ground, but not the ability to vitiate the environment by their time tested nefarious mechanisms. Pakistan sponsored terror infrastructure across the LC remains very much intact. And within J&K, both foreign and local terrorists’ cadre are active, though in reduced strength and abilities.
- Youth in the state that is used as cannon fodder by subversive elements, can be categorised into two; one that was born in 80s and the other in 90s. The former that has been witness to disturbances and a paralysed education infrastructure have shown inclination towards secessionism and seeing futility of the terrorists advocated movement, so far, are frustrated and further motivated to get into the folds of ani India activities. The second category of youth that has grown up seeing the improving situation and phase of relative peace after 2003-04, have aspirations similar to their counterparts in rest of the country. Nevertheless, this category too has inclination to go along the tide of separatism, due to lack of opportunities for employments and economic upliftments.
- Fundamentalism in form of Wahabism in the society is on a rise with numerous madrassas mushrooming up in the valley. Trend of polarisation on religious lines has immense potential, which was evident from the unprecedented protests in Srinagar after the Gaza offensive by Israel.
- In days ahead, propaganda addressing the cognitive domain of population is likely to gain ground on controversial matters involving the state and military, e.g. issue of compensations connected to ongoing land cases (Tosha Maidan Field Firing Area case that was in news recently), article 370, alleged Human Rights cases fanned by inclined media and Pakistan promoted front organisations. Social media had played a crucial role during 2008 & 2010 agitations and holds tremendous potential to radicalise and mobilise.
- On political front, there are factors that may kindle unification of Hurriyat, e.g. cancellation of talks with Pakistan, likely emergence of BJP as a major player in Jammu region, in upcoming elections and pressure from United Jihad Council in Pakistan.
- In the aftermath of devastating floods in the state, the issue of rehabilitation too, can be exploited by anti state elements to up the ante, seeing the likely slow pace of the same due to enormity of task at hand and near paralysis of state Government in the initial phase of the disaster.
- The word ‘Azadi’ in the state is a sentiment and does not have a specific form. There is a need for conceptual clarity with respect to the problem in J&K. There is a constituency in the valley, which since as early as 1930s has been hardcore Islamist with deep ideological beliefs of not being be part of India. This section cannot be pacified, irrespective of any resolutions with Pakistan. The best that can be done is to make such elements as ineffective as possible, as was done till the 70s.
- Sh. Praveen Swamy flagged certain aspects pointing towards a peculiar landscape forming up in the state. Salient features of the same are:
- Pakistan is likely to tread the beaten track that it has been following, driven by its military, since the same is an ideologically driven organisation which, besides protecting territorial integrity also strives for glory of Islam.
- Pakistan has been wooing so called ‘good jihadis’ in Waziristan and is trying to gain control over jihadi recruiting base in Punjab and NWFP. This is primarily being undertaken to eventually use these jihadis as strategic state assets in later time frame.
- Drawdown of American troops from Afghanistan by end of this year is unlikely to have any fallout on Kashmir, in immediate future, since the Taliban aims for a much larger prize i.e. to gain power in Pakistan itself.
- Al Qaeda’s call to energise its south Asia chapter could see manifestations in spectacular terror strikes for publicity. Historically, such calls had not had too much of an impact on Indian Muslims.
- Rise of ISIS has been more of an implosion. They have been projected through media as very powerful, defeating Iraqi Army. However, the fact was that Iraqi army has been a loosely knit force that deserted positions and abandoned equipments in face of opposition. However, their achievements on internet shall have an influence on the young minds in valley who find themselves unemployed and not part of the mainstream. Phenomenon of online radicalisation is too serious to be ignored and has to be countered by enhancement of state capabilities in the said domain, rather than the conventional approach of relying on Army.
- Of late, there has been an emergence of a new youth leadership that is hardcore, and grew up under Mr Gilani’s patronage. Much of this leadership is unmapped and exists basically in three urban core sectors: downtown Srinagar, old city Sopore, and old city Baramulla. These are centres that the political systems have bypassed for the last ten years.
- Stability in the state could not have been better, with Indian Army having accomplished remarkable milestones; needs to recede from the scene. It’s time that the local police and paramilitary is empowered to further consolidate and come to grips with the situation.
- The population of NER need to be genuinely mainstreamed with rest of the country. Violence levels have come down; however, recent times have seen an upsurge in demand for statehood / autonomy by various ethnicities in the region. There prevails a sense of insecurity amongst people since they have not been able to fit in the mainstream narrative of India.
- As far as link of NER with external players are concerned, following aspects emerged
- The people of NE have historical links and ethnic overlap with people across the borders in neighbouring nations, especially Myanmar. Also, migrants from Thailand and Myanmar have settled down in the NER, since time immemorial.
- Concept of Look East Policy (LEP), in that sense has not been alien to the people of NE. However, when LEP is thrust upon the communities as a Governmental narrative, it does not have many buyers, since the Government of India has not resolved conflicts with these communities.
- People have been constantly subverted by armed groups, who have conflicting agendas, making consensus a near impossibility, as of now. Their philosophy is based on strategy of protracted conflicts.
- The armed groups are against any kind of development in the region, for sense of loss of power that they wield presently. The young cadres belonging to the insurgent groups of various hues have no inclination for development of the region that could be ushered in by LEP. They are part of these groups mainly for livelihood, in face of failure of Government to provide them with viable alternatives.
- Poor infrastructure in border areas and inadequate official setup, at the outposts to handle traffic has deterred people to people contact and has encouraged illegal movements.
- Rampant intra-group rivalries and conflicting interests of these groups lead to insecurity of communities not represented by any armed group, thus leading to further mushrooming of insurgents groups on ethnic lines.
- In Nagaland, the society is undergoing turbulence. People are raising their voices against extortion and the movement is picking up. Across Nagaland people have stopped paying tax to underground, saying, ‘one government, one tax’. This unprecedented development is indicative of the churning that is taking place in the Naga society. As state, we ought to allow this change take its own course, since they are different from mainland societies.
- Plethora of ethnic communities raising their voice in almost all the NE states, with following justifications
- Economic & Political marginalisation.
- Strong sense of perceived identity of Tibeto-Burmese origin or Tibeto-Chinese origin, particularly in parts for Manipur, Nagaland and Mizoram.
- Arbitrary division of tribes in different States, in past, which could be a reason to an extent, but cannot be seen as the sole reason.
- Failure of Sixth Schedule Councils and favour to major ethnic groups therein, sidelining smaller tribes. States have always prevailed over the councils thereby making smaller ethnic groups losing faith. Councils have failed because of two reasons, that are
- Partiality to major ethnic groups, vis-à-vis minor ones.
- Lacunae in the system wherein a person can be a member of the district council and also be a member of the legislative assembly. Thus he can, in the assembly gets things done for his community and leads to demands for separate state, like in Meghalaya.
- However, certain facts that are responsible for separatist demands are as under
- Hunger for political power & its perks. In case of Bodoland the apprehensions and claims are by and large genuine, unlike in other cases.
- The movements are no more ideology driven. For example, In Manipur the movement was started driven by communist ideology, but later, the entire agenda was overtaken by Rajkumars who hoped to rise to the level of Maha Rajkumars and rule over other communities.
- There is definitely a communal overtone in several areas inhabited by Nagas & Kukis in Manipur and in entire Mizoram. This is primarily Christians v/s non-Christians. For example, the young Mizo association keeps attacking the Brus who are the aboriginals of the area, and it has often been said that if they converted to Christianity they would be allowed to stay.
- Lack of clarity amongst secessionists, with no correlation between their demand and objective.
- Insurgency has become highly criminalised to make fast buck, thereby developing into an industry, with criminal-insurgent-politician nexus promoting the same. Political resistance movement and insurgency has, over a period of time become an excuse for the underground groups for survival and easy money.
- Xenophobic character of bad elements which drive the movement is one of the prime reasons. This has made various groups, inward looking and unaccommodating.
- There has been an overall improvement in the security situation in Maoists’ affected areas, since 2012-13. The CPI (Maoist) leadership has admitted to their shrinking space in terms of mass support base, arrests / surrender / slaying of leaders etc. Notwithstanding above, the core leadership remains committed with their ability to strike at will is still intact.
- Response of the Government so far, though being in tandem towards security and development, is largely based on sweeping generalisations and not based on ground realities.
- Lack of outreach of the state owing to deficient official setup has been the biggest challenge towards implementing policies. Implementation of existing programmes need to be focused upon, rather than inaugurating new ones till the time wherewithal in terms of capacity is enhanced, to ensure implementation.
- The movement which sees unprecedented Adivasi participation has nothing to do with ideological overtones of LWE. There are two wars being waged in Adivasi heartland, one by Adivasis and the other by Maoists. The Adivasi aspirations have to be nurtured while the Maoists’ intents require to be defeated. Adivasis have preceded the Maoists in the region and have a rebellious past.
- LWE is a challenge of dealing with people who are different from us; rich in traditions & history and proud of their identity. Tribals feel marginalised since their source of livelihood is being usurped.
- State agencies that are in fray, lack cultural orientation and adaptation while dealing with tribals, whereas the Maoists have been living with them and speaking their language. The basic tenet of an Adivasi society is community centric vis-à-vis individualistic character of non tribals. This needs to be understood and interpreted correctly.
- Of late, there is growing change in perception of Adivasis, who feel that unlike the Maoists, it is the state that is going to redress their grievances, in the longer term. They need to be given a voice to air their grievances by democratising media.
- Corporate owned national media merely looks for statistics and figures from the conflicts to build up their news stories whereas, the local media focuses on the socio- economics of conflicts by reporting in a people centric manner. National senior editorial teams do not give importance to the stories by the local journalists due to the perception that all people in these areas are anti-national. The media never prints what the adivasis want, due to their funding from corporate houses. There exists a break in communication, of mainstream India with adivasis. Any manifesto that the Maoists come out with gets state or national coverage. The tribals do not have effective organisation and coordination that can articulate their points of view. The local people are aware of the situation on the ground but not in an articulated marketable format, for appropriate projection.
- Causes for Spread of Maoism as it emerged
- The continued isolation and exploitation of tribal’s and their homelands.
- Failure to implement the 5th and 6th Schedules under Article 244 of the Indian Constitution.
- Failure of the development administration regime and good governance, which is centralized, remote and corrupt.
- Social and cultural denigration of tribal people.
- Absence of local self government and any say in managing their affairs.
- Destruction of habitat and no share in the benefits.
- The role of outsiders - Hindu revivalists, Christian missionaries and Maoists. It has been a kind of conflict between the proselytisers, who compete with each other to occupy the vacated space by an Absent State.
- Rising expectations due to increasing awareness, though it is still not at a satisfactory level.
- Reliance of the Government more on force rather than on reforms.
- Another problem with the insurgency and other related problems is the case of the issue not being accorded due priority. The political leadership is concerned about its own political agenda. The police hierarchy is not motivated enough and ever aspires for cushiony appointments interacting with the political leadership, rather than be on ground, amidst crises. There is disconnect between the top hierarchy and the ground forces, and the same is not being addressed. The officers from neither the paramilitary nor the police lead from the front like those in the army. There is a basic problem of training, leadership, orientation and selection of police officers.
Media for Shaping Perceptions in Conflict Scenario
- Media can be used as a strong perception building tool to convey good intentions of the military and more so, since military is inducted as the last alternative, faced with a deteriorated situation. Perceptions need to be shaped in order to win hearts and minds of people and not to project a particular image of the military.
- In India, we share an uneasy relationship with media, unlike in the western nations. There is a tendency to deal with media through the prism of suspicion. In order to ‘play safe’ as perceived by us. Information provided by us to media has lot of gaps, that are filled in by media’s narrative which may not be in synchronicity with military’s or the state’s narrative.
- A relentless, intelligent and synergised plan with a five pronged strategy, comprising:
- Synergy between Army, Police, CRPF, Intelligence agencies and the Civil Administration.
- A potent, dynamic, flexible and effective counter infiltration strategy to ensure zero infiltration.
- A people friendly, surgical and intelligence based clean counter terrorist operation with very restricted rules of engagement to be enforced such that there are no human right violations and no collateral damage.
- A coordinated Counter Terrorism policy to focus on the terrorists’ leadership.
- Build on the people friendly image of the army to reach out to the Awam.
- No decrease in force levels or pullout of Army is recommended at present stage, seeing the fragile nature of peace, dormant capabilities of separatists and most importantly, with Pakistan and its ISI giving no feelers with regards to change in stance. The same to be backed with visible reduction in footprints of the Army.
- A National Policy on J&K, which is endorsed by all political parties across the spectrum. This policy should be vis-à-vis the defence of the state and India’s dealings with Pakistan; internal dynamics will continue to change but the broader aspects have to be spelt out. The policy thus formulated should be that of the ‘Country’, rather than of the ‘Government’.
- Mainstreaming of the Kashmiri population is extremely crucial. Connecting Kashmir by train to the valley has been a tremendous step towards the same. Opportunities for Kashmiris both for business and jobs outside the valley need to be enhanced. Also, Indian corporate sector should be promoted to invest into the state. Good governance backed by the rule of law has to be ensured. There is a requirement to strengthen genuine democratic decentralisation, by empowering local bodies and by forming Autonomous District Development Councils on the pattern of Ladakh Autonomous Hill Development Project.
- Other linkages with Pakistan should always be promoted, irrespective of diplomatic relations, e.g. trade, people to people contact etc.
- Psychological matters, to shape up perceptions of the local populations are crucial. Government need to repeatedly reassure the population so as to not let the sense of further alienation creep in. Aspects like reopening of cases such as the Kunan Poshpora etc should not be shied away from; as it’s time to deal with unhealed wounds.
- The J&K Police and Paramilitary need to be built up in capacity so that they may take control of the security situation. Similarly, the local District Administration should be made accountable for its charter.
- Online radicalisation and abuse of social media for physical and psychological mobilisation is a very potent threat. Government needs to upgrade technological capabilities to monitor traffic on internet. Project NETRA has not been able to make a start, owing to technological constraints. In view of different types of threat in present times, solutions to counter them, need to be non conventional.
- The Constitution of India has the basic framework and its Sixth schedule has all the provisions on how tribes of the North East are to be treated. After its framing, the schedule provisions have not been implemented in all regions, and by and large, it has all been left to the letter of the law and to the state level organizations to fend for themselves. Necessary steps to update implementation of the provisions of the schedule are vital.
- The youth that forms cadre of various insurgents groups, has no ideological drive. They form part of these groups owing to livelihood issues and do not connect with developmental issues. Their minds and thought process requires to be de-constructed and for the same, a focused approach by the Government is warranted.
- Media has to be sensitised to cover the region in more constructive manner. Their reports generally project NER as a troubled zone, which deters investments that are necessary for development.
- Infrastructures along border areas, in general, needs to be improved; especially at the outposts dealing with immigrant traffic. A case in point is the state of existing infrastructure at the immigration gate from India to Myanmar in Morey which is in a pathetic condition.
- Towards regional developments, capabilities and charter of Ministry of DoNER have not been exploited to the optimum and same needs to be co-opted in a synergistic fashion, as part of security policies. Also, the issue is more of equitable distribution, than allocation.
- As far as our official setup is concerned, in contrast to a single window in form of JS (NE) earlier, we have several players in the fray – Ministry of DoNER, North Eastern Council, Secretary Border Management etc. It is imperative for these agencies to function in a synchronised manner, for a desirable end result.
- In order to resolve various demands with regards to statehood / autonomy, the communities at grassroots levels need to be interacted with and geneses of animosities warrant a deeper look.
- The instances of people raising their voices against armed groups, especially in Nagaland are on the rise. The Government should watch the developments closely, without any attempt to interfere or intervene, more for the reason that they are a different society. The natural course in Naga society due to the said churning shall have favourable fallouts for the state.
- Implement the provisions of the Indian Constitution with regard to the tribals. The Fifth and Sixth Schedules under Article 244 of the Indian Constitution in 1950 provided for self-governance in specified tribal majority areas. In 1999 the Government of India even issued a draft National Policy on Tribals to address the developmental needs of tribal people. The draft policy is still a draft, which means there is no policy, underscoring the relative neglect of the tribal cause.
- The state Governments are yet to enact PESA provisions, as per the spirit of the Act. The same requires to be expedited, since even after lapse of more than a decade, PESA remains an unfinished agenda. Creation of self governing districts in tribal majority areas on line of PESA provisions shall have an all encompassing effect by giving tribal people ownership rights over community lands and designated forest areas.
- A new Civil Service cadre for tribal areas is recommended. Lack of outreach of the state owing to deficient official setup has been the biggest challenge towards implementing Government policies.
- All royalties and income flowing from mineral and forest wealth should directly flow back to tribal areas. The same should not be implemented on case to case basis, but as a legal obligation. Also, the outflow of wealth so far should be computed to create a specific fund for tribal areas to build social and economic infrastructure.
- ‘Truth and Reconciliation’ is an idea whose time has come. It should look into the grievances of the people of the affected areas. However, determining what has gone wrong will be only of historical value in the reconciliatory process. It should be done to the extent to which it helps in reconciliation and conflict resolution. The primary aim should ne not to determine blame but to achieve reconciliation in most effective manner. The state, eventually, has to admit its mistake committed towards tribals.
- The state has always misinterpreted the issue at hand. There is a tremendous possibility of transformation through state policies, provided they are formulated, keeping the ground realities in mind, as against in the present form when they appear to be ‘sweeping generalisations’. Implementation of existing programmes need to be focused upon, rather than inaugurating new ones till the time, wherewithal in terms of capacity is enhanced, to ensure implementation.
- Deployment of the Army in the LWE affected zone is not warranted. The answer lies in capacity building of local police and paramilitary. Besides, merely equipping these forces, standards of training, leadership and motivation needs to be boosted; modalities for same should be worked out and implemented on priority, by the executive and political class.
- The communication gap with adivasi population has to be bridged so as to empower them to get heard by the outside world, which shall also wean them away from Maoists. There is a need to create better communication platforms for the voices to come out. Initiatives like CG-Net Swara are endeavouring the same by providing communication link through cell phones-radio- internet; these should be encouraged by the Government.
- We have to make media understand our perceptions by briefing them before they embark on their coverage mission. This brief should include background and intended follow-up actions as applicable. Any narrative which is not in line with our narrative should not be treated as anti national.
- Corporate owned media can be made to focus on genuine grass-root stories of local population in a conflict zone, by persuading the ownership to shelve out part of their profits towards the same. This could be taken up as part of Corporate Social Responsibility by the corporate houses.
- Our security agencies borrowed US concept of measuring success in low intensity conflicts, in the 1960s, which was ‘kill-ratio’ & ‘area under control’. We still continue to follow the same and as a result, ‘producing dead bodies’ has come to be the hallmark of success in Low Intensity Conflicts. This thought process has grave ramifications and needs to be addressed accordingly. We need to redefine and revisit our parameters for success. Number of militants killed or surrendered cannot be permanent yardstick for achievement. Tactical short term gains should not lead to strategic losses in present volatile setup.