Internal security: India

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Internal security: India

Insurgency, Naxal violence

Enemy within: 60,000 lives lost to subversion in the last 20 years

Subodh Varma TIMES INSIGHT GROUP

The Times of India

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Nearly 60,000 people have lost their lives in bloodshed unleashed by various armed groups trying to subvert and destroy the Indian republic, in the past two decades. This horrific trail of violence has consumed the lives of nearly 22,000 civilians, over 8500 personnel of security forces and about 27,000 terrorists or insurgents. The latest massacre of civilians travelling in a bus in Dantewada district of Chhattisgarh is the latest in this continuing dance of death.

While the epicenter of terrorist violence continues to be Jammu & Kashmir where terrorists from across the border are the propelling force to violence, the North-Eastern states, especially Manipur and Assam are also a seething arena for diverse ethnic separatists. J&K has seen nearly 37,000 deaths in the nearly two decade old insurgency. Nearly a third of the fatalities in J&K are of civilians. The proportion of deaths of security personnel is about 15% of all deaths in the state. These figures based on compilations from press reports by South Asia Terrorism Portal may be slightly on the lower side. In 2008, SS Kapur, Kashmir’s chief secretary had estimated that the death toll in J&K was about 47,000, reports Reuters.

The seven northeastern states (excluding Sikkim, which is not afflicted with such violence) have seen nearly 18,000 deaths since 1994. This includes nearly 9000 civilians and a very high toll of security personnel at 2221, that is, over 12% of all insurgency related deaths in the region.

Left extremist violence, mostly led by the Maoists, has flared up in recent years extracting a heavy toll from the people. After the 2004 merger of the Maoists and the People’s War Group — two of the most dreaded and violent formations active in the eastern forested areas of country — Naxalite initiated violence has taken over 4000 lives, including nearly 1600 hapless civilians and over 1100 security personnel. This violence though directed against the state and aiming for its overthrow, does not have separatist aspirations like in J&K and the northeast.

Recent years have also seen a spike in terrorist violence directed against civilians in several states through overt acts of terror like the 26/11 massacre in Mumbai, and bomb blasts in several cities. Such violence has taken a toll of nearly 1300 lives in the past 16 years, spread over several states like Maharashtra, Delhi, UP, Rajasthan, Karnataka, Punjab, Haryana etc.

Most security analysts believe that religious bigotry, ethnic chauvinism and sheer banditry are driving these violent activities, poverty, unemployment and deprivation are used by insurgent groups to harness support from people in the affected areas. In Kashmir, cross border support is also a prominent factor in the continued bloodshed.

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