Counter Insurgency

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  • Ashish Agrawal asked: What is the linkage between development and spread of extremism?

    Ashok Kumar Behuria replies: It is a truism that underdevelopment often creates the conditions for insurgency and spread of extremist ideologies among the people, who perceive that their needs are not being taken care of by the government. While it has been the policy of governments around the world today to emphasise on "inclusive development", there are always groups in every state who feel alienated because they perceive that they are left out of the developmental efforts. Such perceptions coupled with inefficient and corrupt governance create an ideal condition for extremism and militancy. More than lack of development, it is the perception of injustice, misgovernance and inability of the system to engage the disaffected lot that lead people to violence and extremism.

    Siddhartha Jain asked: What are the short-term and long-term solutions to the Kashmir insurgency?

    Ashok Kumar Behuria replies: Kashmir is a difficult issue woven into the nationalist consciousness in both India and Pakistan over the decades. India considers it its secular crown; Pakistan regards it as its jugular vein and its terra irredenta (un-redeemed territory that rightfully belonged to it). Hence, to expect an early solution is unrealistic. But the two countries must take measures to improve bilateral relationship progressively and create conducive atmosphere for such thorny issues to be discussed in a dispassionate manner.

    Short term measures could be keeping the official and unofficial lines of communications alive even in the face of gravest provocations from the spoilers, and keep discussing the issues isolated under the composite dialogue. The progress made through dialogue begs for better dissemination through media. More regular dialogue between security establishments is another measure which may moderate Pakistani approach towards India. Moreover, peace along the LoC and international border should be ensured by both the countries at all costs.

    Long term measures could be setting up a high level joint body from both the countries at a semi-official level and encourage it to thrash out issues related to Kashmir, and identify shortcomings in various approaches adopted by both the countries so far. There is also a significant body of literature on how to resolve the Kashmir issue based on measures adopted by countries at the international level while dealing with similar cases. Issues like porous borders, shared control, joint sovereignty, neutral terrain, etc., have been discussed in the available literature. Such efforts can tap into the existing literature and suggest alternatives to both the governments.

    Left-Wing Extremism and Counterinsurgency in India: The ‘Andhra Model’

    India has a long history of left-wing extremism. The largest and most powerful left-wing extremist group today is the Communist Party of India (CPI) (Maoist), which is active in many states across the country. Its ultimate goal is to capture power through a combination of armed insurgency and mass mobilisation. In recent times, the southern state of Andhra Pradesh has achieved notable success in counterinsurgency operations against the Maoists. This article outlines the ‘Andhra model’, which involves a mix of security, development and political approaches.

    July 2013

    Abhishek Ratkal asked: How prudent is an idea to formulate a national counter-insurgency policy in view of the LWE and northeast insurgencies?

    Vivek Chadha replies: I completely agree with you on the need for a national counter insurgency policy. It may have been noted by you that some countries undertake this kind of planning process on a regular basis. It not only provides guidance and direction, it also helps in synergising the efforts of various organs of the government.

    In the Indian context, the LWE is in fact an exception wherein there have been broad policy parameters laid down by the government. However, these have not been replicated in other areas like the Northeast. To be fair to the government, this process does have its share of challenges. This includes differences in approach between the centre and the states, large variation in the nature of challenges in different areas and external support to terrorism in case of J&K.

    Amongst the few attempts in this regard, the army did come out with a sub conventional doctrine in December 2006, which lays down broad parameters. However, this does not substitute the need for a national policy which is very much recommended.

    Role of Morals, Ethics and Motivation in a Counter-insurgency Environment

    Morals, ethics and motivation are the bedrock of the Indian Army, since it is considered more than a profession: a way of life. These qualities are put to test under most conditions of soldiering; however, there cannot be a more difficult environment than involvement of an army in protracted counter-insurgency (CI) operations. The conditions faced pose peculiar challenges, which force a soldier to adapt. This adaptation can potentially become a morally corrupting influence unless the ethical standards of a force and its moral bearings continue to guide actions.

    April 2013

    D. Aravind asked: Why can’t the Tripura model be replicated in other insurgency hit states (especially the states suffering from Left Wing Extremism)?

    Vivek Chadha replies: Every insurgency has its own peculiarities and dynamics, which defines and characterises it. Even two insurgencies in a single state could have a very different character. A look at the Bodo and the ULFA led insurgencies in Assam is an example. Similarly, the dynamics of various insurgencies in Manipur, which includes the Naga insurgency in the hills and Meitei dominated insurgency in the plains, is different, as is the Kuki led insurgency. Therefore, every insurgency should be tackled according to its peculiarities.

    India’s Maoists: The Party shall be over!

    Although there has been little change in the influence of Naxalites across the country over the past couple of years, patience and concerted effort shall no doubt make the Maoists irrelevant.

    September 07, 2012

    Rajesh Singh asked: What is the difference between insurgency and terrorism?

    S. Kalyanaraman replies: Insurgents, by and large, target the security forces and the state apparatus. They work to mobilise the people, acquire popular support and eventually overthrow the government. Insurgents, in Mao Tse-tung’s famous formulation, are the fish and the people are the water in which these fish swim. In contrast, the common people are the targets of terrorist violence today, although this was not the case when terrorism first emerged in the modern era. When terrorism came to be first employed as a strategy in the late 19th century, the targets were symbols of political authority—kings, emperors, viceroys, political leaders, government officials, etc. Further, these attacks were intended to serve as ‘propaganda by deed’, meaning advertisement for the cause. And these attacks were carried out only as the final resort and mainly against autocratic rulers and governments. In contrast, ‘there are no innocents’ is the motto of contemporary terrorists who moreover target democracies in the first resort. And, unlike 19th century terrorists who proudly proclaimed that they are indeed terrorists, terrorists today cloak themselves in the garb of freedom fighters and holy warriors.

    Be that as it may, both insurgents and terrorists engage in violence in order to attain certain political or increasingly politico-religious objectives-national liberation and independence, establishing a communist system of government or an Islamic form of government, restoration of the Caliphate, etc.

    Posted on 4 May 2012

    Sairam asked: Why do states like Bangladesh and Myanmar support insurgency in India?

    Anand Kumar replies: There is considerable change in the policy followed by both Bangladesh and Myanmar in supporting insurgency in northeast India. Bangladesh started supporting insurgency after 1975 when Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, the founding father of the country, was killed in a coup on 15 August 1975. After his killing, right wing forces asserted themselves in Bangladesh. After a series of coups and counter coups, General Zia ur Rahman came to power. He reversed the policies followed by Mujib. He started following a policy that was hostile to India. One of the offshoots of his policy was the revival of support to northeast insurgents that was earlier taking place during the Pakistan rule. However, after coming to power in January 2009, Sheikh Hasina reversed this policy and is taking action against Indian insurgents groups who have been using Bangladeshi territory.

    As far as Myanmar is concerned, some misunderstanding was created in the Indo-Myanmarese relations after 1962. This prompted Myanmar to allow Indian insurgents to use its territory. Moreover, India’s border with Myanmar is densely forested which is used by insurgents sometime without the knowledge of Myanmarese authorities. However, in recent times, Myanmar government has taken several steps against Indian insurgent groups.

    Amit Kushwaha asked: Is employment of UAVs / UCAVs instead of manned aircrafts a better option for combating insurgency and terrorism in India?

    Vivek Chadha replies: India follows the principle of minimum force during combating insurgency and terrorism. With this as the backdrop, the employment of aircraft for offensive roles is ruled out given the possibility of collateral damage and escalation involved. It is only helicopters which are used for logistics (supply) and casualty evacuation in our context, and at times for movement of forces to ensure better mobility and flexibility. Therefore, while UAVs and UCAVs may not have a direct replacement role vis-à-vis aircraft, however, they can certainly be used for surveillance and tracking purposes. This would help conduct clinical and hard intelligence based operations which are in the spirit of India's counter-insurgency doctrine. Their employment for precision and guided strikes is not relevant in the Indian context, as it is against the very ethos of minimum force - a fundamental principle followed scrupulously.