India has been plagued by multiple insurgencies for many decades. Prominent amongst them are the ethnic insurgencies in the northeast of India, the Sikh insurgency in the Punjab, and the Maoist or the left-wing insurgency in states like Andhra Pradesh, Bihar, Chhattisgarh and Jharkhand, Orissa. While it is argued by existing literature (Verghese 1996) that there are several causes for armed insurgencies in India such as a demand for a separate independent state; greater political representation within the Union of India; assertion of cultural identity; and the lack of governance, this chapter isolates four significant factors that have sustained multiple insurgencies in India across time and space. These are: exclusive homeland narratives; political mobilization; the use of violence; and external connections. Five cases studies of insurgencies will be used to illustrate these ideas: the Dima Halam Daogah (DHD) and the United Liberation Front of Asom (ULFA) in Assam; the National Socialist Council of Nagalim led by Thuingaleng Muivah and Isak Chisi Swu-NSCN (IM) based in Manipur and Nagaland; the United National Liberation Front (UNLF ) based in Manipur; the Sikh insurgency in the Punjab in the 1970s, 1980s and 1990s and the Maoist insurgency (see Figure 16.1)

With an international border stretching up to 4,500 kms, the northeastern region of India has been plagued by multiple insurgencies since India’s independence. The oldest insurgency is the Naga insurgency which can be traced back to 1918 with the formation of the Naga Club. In 1946, the Naga National Council (NNC) was formed and it declared Naga independence on 14 August 1947, a day before India declared its own independence. The Naga movement turned violent in the 1950s and is still active today. Manipur has also been grossly affected by armed violence with the formation of the UNLF on 24 November 1964. Another significant Manipuri separatist armed group known as the Revolutionary People’s Front (RPF ) and its armed wing, the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) have been engaged in armed struggle since 1976. Other insurgent groups in Manipur include the Peoples’ Revolutionary Party of Kangleipak (PREPAK) established in the 1970s and the Kanglei Yawol Kanna Lup (KYKL) formed in 1994. Neighbouring Assam has also been plagued by insurgent violence since 1979 with the formation of the ULFA. The hill districts of Assam, North Cachar Hills and Karbi Anglong are

dominated by the DHD and the United Peoples’ Democratic Solidarity (UPDS) since the 1990s. Significantly, most of the northeast insurgent groups have thrived primarily due to strong external connections. Countries like China in the 1960s and the 1970s as well as Pakistan and later on Bangladesh have supported many of these armed groups by providing arms, training and, most importantly, base areas for underground camps (Bhaumik 2007: 1-16). Matters rather changed however when Banglasdesh closed these camps when Sheikh Hasina came to power in 2008. The Sikh insurgency had a turbulent beginning as the Indian state oscillated in its response between limited and excessive use of force. Due to the lack of a ‘trust and nurture’ doctrine in Indian counterinsurgency strategy (Goswami 2009: 66-86), Punjabis started fearing that the Panth (greater Sikh community) was in danger within India (Latimer 2004: 14-16). This resulted in a plethora of insurgent groups, namely the Khalistan Liberation Force, the All India Sikh Student’s Federation (AISSF ), the Khalistan Commando Force and the Babbar Khalsa (Gill 1997: 48). Insurgent violence peaked during 1983-91 killing nearly 21,000 people.1