Assam Issue (Internal Security)

Assam Issue (Internal Security)

This article deals with the ‘Assam Issue (Internal Security) .’ This is part of our series on ‘Internal Security’, an important pillar of the GS-3 syllabus. For more articles, you can click here.


Assam is the land of Ahoms (also called Shans), who invaded and settled here in the 13th century. The land of the Ahoms thus came to be called Asama. Word Assam is the anglicised form of the word ‘Asama’.

The burnt of invasion was suffered by the original inhabitant tribes. Bodos form the most important group of this race.

Later, Ahoms were defeated by the Burmese, who entered through the eastern borders. Finally, in 1826, Assam became Britain’s protectorate under the Treaty of Yandabu, signed between Burma and Britain after the defeat of Burma in the Anglo-Burma Wars.

In Assam, there are two main issues wrt Assam. These include

  1. Migration of Outsiders in Assam
  2. Bodoland Issue

Issue 1: Migration of Outsiders in Assam

The first issue that we will deal wrt Assam is the issue of the migration of outsiders in Assam. This has led to agitations. The main insurgent organization involved with this issue is ULFA.

Migration of outsiders to Assam

Assam Issue (Internal Security)
  1. Britishers developed the tea industry in Assam. They imported labour from Bihar & other Indian provinces to work in tea gardens. 
  2. Assamese people living mainly in Upper Assam were not interested in expanding the cultivation in hitherto uncultivated land. Therefore, the British encouraged Bengali Muslim peasants from present Bangladesh to move into Lower Assam to put virgin land under cultivation. 
  3. Later during the 1971 crisis, a large number of Bangladeshi Muslims (and Hindus) came and settled in Assam. This pattern is going on even after that. 

As a result, the Assamese people started the Socio-political movement in 1979 to evict illegal Bangladeshis. It ended in the famous Assam Accords in 1985.

Reason for Migration from Bangladesh

  • Increasing pressure on land and mounting unemployment in Bangladesh due to rapid population increase. 
  • Bangladeshi Hindus migrate to Assam or other parts of India due to religious persecution in Bangladesh.
  • Large segments of Bangladesh’s population are uprooted by severe floods and cyclones which migrate to Assam (or other parts of India).
  • Porous India-Bangladesh border also facilitates this trend.
  • Economic conditions of India is relatively better than that of Bangladesh.

ULFA (United Liberation Front of Asom)

  • ULFA was formed in 1979 against the backdrop of the All Assam Student Union’s agitation against foreigners under the leadership of Arbinda Rajkhowa, Pradip Gogoi, Paresh Barua etc.
  • They aimed to create an Independent and Socialist Assam through arms struggle. It seeks to bring back the glorious times of the Ahom kingdom. ULFA claims that Assam was never a part of India as the Treaty of Yandabu was signed between two imperial powers (i.e. Burma and Assam) without the involvement of the Assamese people. 
  • It established a close relationship with organizations such as the NSCN of Nagaland and the Kachin Independence Army (KIA) of Myanmar to acquire arms and train recruits. ULFA has also established links with the ISI of Pakistan
  • It conducted several terrorist activities throughout the 1990s. Hence, it was declared a Terrorist Organisation under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (i.e. UAPA) in 1990.
  • Bangladesh has also helped cracking down on the ULFA rebels.
  • In 2009, India was successful in getting the chairman of ULFA into custody
  • In 2011, Tripartite Agreement was signed between the Union Government, the State of Assam and ULFA for the suspension of operations of ULFA. Currently, ULFA is divided into two factions – ULFA (PTF) and ULFA (ATF), i.e. Pro and Anti Talk Faction. ULFA (PTF) has suspended the operations and is engaged in peace talks. On the other hand, ULFA (ATF) is continuing its previous modus-operandi. 

Security Challenge

  • Agitations in which public property is damaged: Government failure to respond to illegal migration leads to the uproar by Assamese and damage of public property on a large scale. 
  • Illegal Voters: Most illegal Bangladeshis have their names enlisted in the voting list, thereby claiming themselves as state citizens. The immigrant population acts as a vote bank for the political parties in Assam.  
  • Issue of terrorism: Pakistan’s ISI has been active in Bangladesh, supporting militant movements in Assam. Among the illegal migrants, there are also militants.

Way Out

  • Diplomatic Effort: India has to make a diplomatic effort to get Bangladesh to cooperate, as illegal migration cannot be solved unless sending country cooperates.  
  • Better Border Management: Fencing, construction of border roads and proper border management will make a difference
  • Bar from voting rights: Illegal migrants should not be allowed to vote, which will diminish their ability to influence government decisions by being a political force.

Issue 2: Bodoland Issue

  • Bodoland is a state demanded by a tribal community called Bodos in Assam, comprising 5%-6% of the state’s population.
  • National Democratic Front of Bodoland (NDFB), an ethnic insurgent organization, has been leading the charge in demand for a separate state.
  • Reasons for the demand for Bodoland include 
    • Massive Illegal Immigration from Bangladesh and their inclusion in the voter’s list has turned Bodos into a minority in their land
    • Failure of The Bodo Territorial Council (BTC) due to weak administrative institutions and divisive politics


  • National Democratic Front of Bodoland (NDFB) was established as Bodo Security Force in 1986 and was later rechristened as NDFB in 1994.
  • They want a sovereign state of Bodoland in the areas lying North of the Brahmaputra river in Assam.
  • NDFB though claim to represent the Bodo people, in reality represent the Christian minority and not the indigenous Bodos.
  • It has training camps in south Bhutan, and the Indian Security Forces, with the help of Bhutan, has launched operations to destroy these training camps.

Other Insurgent Groups active in Assam

  1. Hmar People’s Convention  (for the creation of the Hmar state consisting of Hmar’s living in Mizoram, Assam and Manipur)
  2. United Liberation Front of Barak Valley
  3. Karbi People’s Front
  4. Kamtapur Liberation Organisation (KLO)
  5. Muslim United Liberation Tigers of Assam (MULTA)
  6. Black Widow

Insurgency in Jammu and Kashmir

Insurgency in Jammu and Kashmir

This article deals with ‘ Insurgency in Jammu and Kashmir .’ This is part of our series on ‘Internal Security’, an important pillar of the GS-3 syllabus. For more articles, you can click here.


The origin of the Jammu and Kashmir insurgency can be traced back to the partition of India when Pakistan attacked Kashmir to capture it. Since then, India and Pakistan have fought three wars on this.

Many terrorist organizations are active in Kashmir.

  • JeM (Jaish-e-Mohammed): Formed by Masood Azhar with the stated objective of uniting Kashmir with Pakistan. JeM was behind various terrorist activities, including the attack on Jammu and Kashmir Legislative Assembly.
  • HM (Hizbul Mujahideen)
  • HuM (Harkat-ul-Mujahideen) 
  • LeT (Lashkar-e-Taiba)

Reasons for Upsurge

The unrest in Kashmir is not a new incident. The Valley has been the victim of such violence for many years. It started in 1947 with the State’s accession to India but worsened at the end of the 1980s (1988)  with the rise in the militant insurgency. Reasons are

  • Geographical: The presence of an envious neighbour in the form of Pakistan, which incites the sentiments of the Kashmiri people.
  • Historical background: The demand for a plebiscite has been there since 1947, which the people feel is their legal right as per the instrument of accession. However, due to the actions of Pakistan and changed conditions since 1950, a plebiscite cannot be performed in the Valley. It has enraged generations of Kashmiri people.  
  • Economic reasons 
    • Unemployment is a significant reason for youth frustration. Tourism has been down due to the disturbed security situation. 
    • Kashmir has limited industries and enterprises. Due to harsh weather conditions, there are limited days of productive work.
  • Mujahideen Infiltration: After the victory over the Soviet Union in Afghanistan, Mujahideen fighters, with the aid of Pakistan, slowly infiltrated Kashmir to spread a radical Islamist ideology. 
  • Political Reasons : 
    • Perceptions of the domination of politics in the State by one or two families (i.e. Abdullahs and Muftis) 
    • The immediate reason was the widely perceived rigging of state elections in 1987. 
    • Laws like AFSPA, regular curfews, presence of armed forces, allegations of human rights violations
    • Use of pellet guns on the protestors, including children. 
  • Weakening of Decentralization: History shows that Pakistan has tried to foster an anti-India jihad in Jammu and Kashmir since 1947 but without much success until the late 1980s. In the 1980s, they succeeded because, till that time, Article 370 of the Constitution had been rendered a dead letter.  
  • Social Cause/Wahhabization of Kashmiris: Increasing radicalization has choked the more tolerant Sufi tradition and introduced a new Wahhabi culture in the Valley.
  • New Generation raised in troubled times: The present generation of Kashmir was raised during troubled times that started in the 1990s. Hence, they feel alienated from the political establishment.
  • Social Media: The new generation having access to the internet has been radicalized by anti-India propaganda spread on the internet. Messaging apps such as Telegram and WhatsApp have helped the militants to mobilize the crowds and indulge them in stone-pelting incidents. 
  • “Doval Doctrine” which posits that under no circumstance should the State be seen as yielding, either tangibly or symbolically

Ways to address the problem

Multi-pronged approach consisting of Security, Development and Engagement (with all stakeholders is required). Although the government is looking after the first two, Engagement with Kashmiris is almost missing. As a result, the people of Kashmir feel alienated.

Methods to control Insurgency in Jammu and Kashmir
  • Dialogue: Provide political healing touch to Kashmir using Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee’s Principles of “Kashmiriyat, Insaniyat, Jamhooriyat” (Kashmir-ness, humanity, democracy). Pursue dialogue with the separatists under the ambit of Insaniyat, which was supposed to be more accommodating than the Indian Constitution.
  • Take comprehensive confidence-building measures.
  • Development, especially economic development of the Valley in the field of Tourism, Timber industry, Saffron development, Fruits etc. 
  • Youth engagement & job creation: Although the government is already running various schemes like Nai Manzil, USTAAD etc., only creating more jobs will help take youth away from radical elements. 
  • Tight security and proper border management to stop infiltration
  • Stop the use of pellet guns: TVSN Prasad Committee report recommended the use of alternatives like PAVA (Pelargonic Acid Vanillyl Amide) Shells for crowd management instead of Pellet guns. PAVA Shell is chilli-based non-lethal ammunition which can temporarily immobilize and paralyze a victim.
Pellet gun issue in Jammu and Kashmir
Insurgency in Jammu and Kashmir
  • Take steps for nation-building: Kashmiri youth feels alienated and, for many reasons, don’t see themself as part of the Indian nation. Some instances like discrimination faced by Kashmiri youth in mainland India alienate them further. Government should take steps towards their integration.
  • Control on Irresponsible Media: The situation has worsened due to the presence of social media, incitement by local media and irresponsible coverage by national media. 

Terror Financing

Terror Financing

This article deals with ‘ Terror Financing .’ This is part of our series on ‘Internal Security’, an important pillar of the GS-3 syllabus. For more articles, you can click here.


Terrorism Finance is termed as the ‘lifeblood of terrorism’, one of the most important factors in sustaining its continuing threat.

How are Terrorists funded?

Terror Financing
  • In the Northeastextortion, drug trafficking and gun running are the fundamental basis for funding terrorism.
  • In Jammu and Kashmir, external funds from Pakistan and Gulf countries, along with counterfeit currency, are the primary sources of finance. 
  • Maoist terror movements rely on extortion, robberies of banks and drug trafficking for their funds. 

Funding of International Terrorist Organisation

  • ISIS: They use (1) control of Oil Fields, (2) Selling Antiques in Black markets, (3) Paying Cadres in the form of Sex Slaves (Yazidi & non-Sunni women) etc., to fund their operations. 
  • Taliban: They rely on the drug trade apart from funding from Pakistan’s ISI.
  • Petrodollars of Saudis fund various Islamic terrorist organizations. 
  • Some countries use terrorism as state policy and fund terrorists (like Pakistan and Iran (funding Hezbollah)).
  • Terrorist organizations use the loopholes in digital security and the “anonymity” provided by blockchain technology to access finances.

What world is doing to combat it?

Financial Action Task Force (FATF)

  • Financial Action Task Force (FATF) was established in 1989 by the Group of Seven (G-7) Summit in Paris.
  • FATF is the global money laundering (ML) and terrorist financing watchdog. The inter-governmental body sets international standards that aim to prevent these illegal activities.
  • Membership: FATF comprises 37 member jurisdictions and 2 regional organizations (Gulf Co-operation Council and European Commission). 
  • India joined the FATF in 2010.
  • FATF maintains two lists, i.e. Grey List and Black List, to deal with money laundering.

Sanctions Regime

  • UNSC Resolution 1267 and UNSC Resolution 1373 form the bedrock of the financial sanctions regime for terrorist organizations and individuals.

Steps taken by India

  • Member of FATF: India has been a member of FATF since 2010.  
  • India has passed laws like the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, 1967 (UAPA) and the Prevention of Money-laundering Act, 2002 (PMLA) to combat Terrorist Financing and Money Laundering. The Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act was recently amended with the provision that producing, smuggling or circulating high-quality counterfeit Indian currency is now designated as a terrorist act.
  • Demonetization & improved safety features: The government targeted the fake currency notes in circulation, an important source of terror financing.  
  • Making terrorist finance an offence: Under TADA and POTA, holding property derived or obtained from any terrorist activity or acquiring them through terrorist funds is an offence. 
  • A dedicated Terror Funding and Fake Currency (TFFC) Cell has been established in NIA.
  • Financial Intelligence Unit (FIU)- IND has been established in India to deal with terror financing.

Terrorism in India

Terrorism in India

This article deals with ‘ Terrorism in India.’ This is part of our series on ‘Internal Security’, an important pillar of the GS-3 syllabus. For more articles, you can click here.


  • Terrorism has no globally accepted definition because one man’s terrorist is another’s freedom fighter. Palestinian militants call Israel terrorists, Kurdish militants call Turkey terrorists, and the nation-states call the militants who oppose their regimes “terrorists.”
  • In general terms, terrorism is any violent activity done by a non-state actor against common people or their property for political purposes.
  • The motivation behind terrorist acts can be political, ideological or religious. 
  • What do Terrorists try to achieve through such activities?
    1. Revenge: Eg – Bombay blasts in revenge for Ayodhya Mosque demolition
    2. To invoke a reaction.
    3. To become famous.

Characteristics of Terrorism

  • Terrorism is always associated with violent activities. 
  • It operates on the principle of instilling fear in the minds of people.
  • It is always driven by a certain ideology.
  • Their motivation includes revenge, anger, jihad, self-righteousness and exclusiveness. 
  • They use public statements for propaganda, justification and branding.

Comprehensive Convention on International Terrorism  (CCIT)

  • One of the significant challenges in combating terrorism is there is no internationally accepted definition of Terrorism. 
  • To fill this lacuna, CCIT was drafted by India in 1996.
  • It includes the following major objectives:
    1.  To have a universal definition of terrorism that all 193 members of the UNGA will adopt into their criminal law.
    2. To ban all terror groups and shut down terror camps.
    3. To prosecute all terrorists under special laws.
    4. To make cross-border terrorism an extraditable offence worldwide. 


It is yet to be adopted by the UN General Assembly because of various challenges. These challenges include 

  • Difference in threat perception: E.g., Hezbollah is considered a threat by Israel and Saudis but not by Iran, who considers them Freedom fighters. Similar is the case with many other organizations like East Turkestan Movement, Lashkar etc.
  • Some states (like Pakistan) use terrorism as state policy and will not allow this.
  • Other problems 
    • US: Concerned that its armed interventions without a UN mandate can declare its soldiers terrorist.
    • OIC: Concerned that it will undermine groups fighting for self-determination of Palestine and Kashmir and declare them terrorists.

Different Types of Terrorism

Terrorism in India

Leftist Terrorism

  • Leftist ideology believes that the existing social relations and socio-politico state structures in the capitalist society are exploitative in character, and a revolutionary change through violent means is essential.
  • Examples of Leftist Terrorism include 
    1. Naxalism in India 
    2. Red Brigades of Italy
    3. 17th November Movement of Greece
    4. People’s Revolutionary Army and Motoneros of Argentina

Rightist Terrorism

  • Right-wingers are conservative. These people either want the status quo or to return to a specific time in the past that they feel should be conserved. When Right Wingers resort to terrorist activities to achieve their objectives, this is known as Rightist Terrorism.
  • Examples include 
    1. ISIS: Want to establish Muslim Caliphate
    2. Ku Klux Klan in the USA to establish White Supremacy

State Sponsored Terrorism

  • When nation-states incorporate terrorism as a deliberate tool of foreign policy to achieve certain defined foreign policy goals, it is known as State Sponsored Terrorism.
  • Examples include 
    1. Pakistan is using Lashkar-e-Taiba, Harkat-ul-Mujahidin etc., against India by permitting them to establish safe houses, train on their soil and provide significant financial contributions to them. 
    2. Iran is supporting Hezbollah in Lebanon against Israel.
    3. During the cold war, US and USSR used this strategy on a massive scale. E.g., the US sponsored the Taliban militarily and financially to achieve its goals in Afghanistan.

State Terrorism

  • When the government systematically uses terror mechanisms to control its population, it is known as State Terrorism.
  • Examples include 
    1. Reign of Terror by Jacobins during the French Revolution
    2. Violence by Saddam Hussein against the Kurds.
    3. The recent killing of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi in the Saudi consulate in Istanbul, allegedly by Saudi government agents

Cyber Terrorism

  • Cyber Terrorism is an unlawful attack against computers, networks and the information stored therein to intimidate a state and its people. In simple words, it is the convergence of terrorism and cyberspace.

Ethno-Nationalist Terrorism

  • They either emphasize the establishment of a separate state or the advancement of one ethnic group over others.
  • For example 
    1. LTTE in Sri Lanka.
    2. Insurgent groups in North-East India.
    3. Irish Republican Army in the UK 
    4. Kurdish groups active in Turkey and Iraq


  • The attempt by drug traffickers to coerce government policies through systematic intimidation or the use of violence.
  • For example, Narco-Terrorism is carried out by various Cartels in Mexico and Latin America.


  • It is the deliberate release of viruses, bacteria, or other biological agents used to cause illness or death in people, animals, or plants
  • E.g., During World War I, Germany used Bacillus Anthracis and Burkholderia Mallei against their enemies’ livestock and military personnel.


  • Insurgency is the struggle between a non-ruling group and the ruling group, where the non-ruling group uses political resources and violence. Insurgency aims to gain enough strength to have a regular army strong enough to conquer the ruling group. 
  • Although Insurgency and Terrorism are used interchangeably, there are differences 
    • Insurgents usually target only combatants and not non-combatants. Terrorists deliberately target combatants as well as non-combatants. 
    • Insurgents seek territorial control by establishing “liberated areas”. Terrorists do not seek territorial control. 
    • Insurgents try to create the paraphernalia of a seeming State in the areas controlled while Terrorists don’t. 
    • Insurgent work quite visibly on a regular basis. Terrorist does not let their presence be felt in their area of operation.
  • Examples of Insurgency 
    • Purely insurgent groups. E.g., North-East Insurgent Groups, Irish Republican Army (in the UK) and Euskadi ta Askatasuna (fighting for freedom of Basque in Spain).
    • Purely terrorist groups. E.g., Hizb-ul-Mujahideen and Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT)
    • Mix of the two. E.g., Maoists and LTTE (which fought a war against Sri Lankan armed forces from the 80s till the 2009 war for the formation of Tamil State in Sri Lanka)

Causes of Terrorism

Terrorism is the outcome of various reasons including


  • They are a group of people who desire to break away from the union government and form a terrorist group to achieve this objective.
  • For example Kashmiri Terrorist Groups, Khalistani groups, Naga Insurgents etc. 

Feeling of alienation and discrimination

  • Discrimination of a particular group (ethnic or religious) can lead that group to take up arms and indulge in terrorist activities.
  • For example 
    1. Rohingya National Army in Myanmar due to discrimination of Rohingyas by Buddhists.
    2. LTTE in Sri Lanka where Tamils revolted against the majority Sinhalese.
    3. Muslims in European countries like France and UK, where such social misfits frequently resort to Lone Wolf Attacks


  • Religion is the major cause of terrorism. However, any religion doesn’t preach terrorism per se. But some spiritual leaders do preach this.
  • For example 
    1. Global Salafi and Wahabi ideologies preached by Saudi-backed spiritual leaders  
    2. Myanmar’s Buddhist Monk named Ashin Wirathu started Islamophobic 969 movement, which led to riots against Rohingya Muslims in the Rakhine state
    3. Khalistani movement and organizations like Babar Khalsa aim to create Sikh majority nation-state
    4. Hindu fundamentalist/terrorists carried out incidents like the burning alive of an Australian Christian missionary and his children in 1999, the Samjhauta Express bombings of 2007, the Ajmer Dargah attack of 2007, the Malegaon blasts of 2008 and the Mecca Masjid bombing of 2007.

Unequal distribution of resources

  • Unequal distribution of resources is the main cause behind Left Wing Terrorism. 
  • For this reason, followers of Karl Marx, Lenin and Mao, popularly known as Naxalites in India, frequently take up arms against the state.

Regional disparities

  • Neglect of a particular region and use of its resources for the development of metropole can lead locals to take up arms to attack the state, and its machinery in the region, often creating their own structure of bureaucracy. 
  • E.g., Various terrorist organizations in the North East such as NSCN (Nagaland), Mizo National Front (Mizoram) etc.


  • In the absence of jobs, unemployed youth frequently take up arms. 

Envious and jealous neighbours

  • India has envious neighbours in the form of Pakistan and China, which are ever ready to foment disturbances in India.
  • China funds and supports the Maoists and various insurgent groups active in the North-East. Along with that, it frequently stops India’s attempts to designate individuals involved in planning and orchestrating acts of terror in India, such as Masood Azhar, as a global terrorist under the UNSC Resolution.
  • How Pakistan use terrorism as state policy is dealt with in detail below. 

Pakistan = Sponsor of Terrorism in India

Deep State in Pakistan has nurtured Islamic Radical Groups (Mujahideen) as strategic assets to be used against its adversaries (especially India). This strategy has been increasingly adopted after the success of US-funded Mujahideen in Afghanistan against the USSR in the late 1980s.



After failing in two conventional wars, Pakistan adopted the path of sub-conventional/proxy war with the motto of ‘bleeding India with a thousand cuts‘. Hence, they started to fund various local insurgent groups to strengthen the secessionist demand of different groups in India.

Causes of Terrorism in India


  • Support and Fund Punjab Insurgency: In the 1980s, they started to fund the Khalistan movement to create a sovereign buffer state between India and Jammu & Kashmir.
  • Encourage terrorism in Kashmir: In the late 1980s, Pakistan started to fund and train Kashmiris to indulge in terrorism by tapping into the anti-India sentiment of the Kashmiri population. Terrorists were trained in Pakistani Occupied Kashmir and financed by the ISI and Pakistani military. 


After the Ayodhya incident in 1992, there was a subsequent rise in reactionary activities all over the country, providing a ripe opportunity for the ISI to further its objective of spreading terrorism and communalism in India.

2000 onwards

  • The rise in reactionary right-wing extremist activities in the form of bomb blasts in Malegaon, Ajmer Sharif Dargah, Samjhauta express etc., allowed ISI to exploit the communal fault lines in our society and ensure that the Muslim community remains vulnerable to mobilisation, recruitment and radicalization.

Effects of Terrorism

  1. Terrorist activities damage the life and property at the location of the attack.
  2. Due to terrorist activities, consumers’ confidence dips, and the country’s economy is pushed toward recession.
  3. It negatively impacts the business as commercial activities in such regions go down. 
  4. Governments are forced to increase their spending in the defence sector, and as a result, social welfare spending suffers.
  5. Rise of xenophobia against the community whose members indulge in terrorist activities. E.g., European Muslims face xenophobia due to Islamic terrorist groups. 
  6. Survivors of terrorist attacks are forced to pass through Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).
  7. It gives legitimacy to the government to pass Counter-terrorism legislation (like TADA and UAPA) that infringes on individual freedom and personal privacy.
  8. Due to terrorism, the tourism industry suffers drastically, as seen in Kashmir valley.

Apparatus to Counter Terrorism in India

Intelligence gathering

  • State Police and Central Intelligence Agencies (RAW and IB) are involved in intelligence gathering.
  • NATGRID has been set up after 26/11.

Neutralising Terrorists

  • State Police is the first respondent in case of terrorist operations.
  • In Jammu and Kashmir, and North-East, Army is also involved in counter-terrorism operations. 
  • National Security Guards (NSG) are also used to neutralize highly specialized terrorist attacks like airplane hijacks and hostage rescue operations.


  • National Investigation Agency (NIA) was formed under the NIA Act of 2008 to investigate terrorist activities (after the Mumbai terrorist attacks)


  • In the past, prosecuting terrorists was a prolonged process. However, with the 2019 amendment to the NIA Act, Sessions Courts can now be designated as Special Courts for the purpose of trying Scheduled Offenses under the NIA Act.
Apparatus to Counter Terrorism in India

Steps taken in the recent past to combat Terrorism

1. Strengthened Legislations

NIA (Amendment) Act, 2019

  • Under the amendment, the NIA is empowered to investigate offences related to 
    1. Human Trafficking
    2. Offences related to counterfeit currency  
    3. Manufacture or sale of prohibited arms
    4. Cyber-terrorism
    5. Offences under the Explosive Substances Act, 1908
  • The NIA will have the authority to look into specified offences committed outside of India, subject to international agreements and other nations’ internal laws.
  • Enables the central government to designate session courts as special courts for NIA trials.


Parliament has passed the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Amendment Act, 2019 with provisions like

  • Individuals can now be designated as terrorists on certain grounds (Earlier, only Organizations could be declared Terrorist Organisations).
  • Empowers the National Investigation Agency (NIA) Director General to authorize the seizure or attachment of property while the case is under investigation.

2. Institutional framework strengthened

  • NATGRID has become the one-stop destination for security and intelligence agencies to access databases related to immigration entry and exit, banking and telephone details of a suspect on a “secured platform”.

3. International Steps

  • Christchurch Call To Action: It outlines collective, voluntary commitments from governments and online service providers intended to address the issue of violent extremist content online.

Way forward to end terrorism in India

To tackle the menace of terrorism, a multi-pronged approach is needed, which includes

  • Socio-economic development is a priority so that vulnerable sections of society don’t fall prey to the propaganda of terrorists.
  • The administration needs to be responsive to the legitimate grievances of people so that these are redressed promptly and cannot be exploited by terrorist groups.
  • Good governance to provide clean, corruption-free and accountable administration at all levels
  • Government agencies should respect the rule of law and human rights. If the existing laws cannot deal with an extraordinary situation, new laws may be enacted so that law enforcement agencies do not resort to extra-legal or illegal methods.
  • International Cooperation becomes crucial as terrorism is a global threat and cannot be handled by nations acting in silos. As a first measure, the international community should develop a globally accepted definition of terrorism.

Nagaland Issue

Nagaland Issue

This article deals with the ‘Nagaland Issue.’ This is part of our series on ‘Internal Security’, an important pillar of the GS-3 syllabus. For more articles, you can click here.


Naga people are a conglomeration of several tribes inhabiting the North Eastern part of India (Nagaland, Assam, Manipur and Arunachal Pradesh) and north-western Burma. They belong to Indo-Mongoloid race. As of 2012, the state of Nagaland officially recognizes 17 Naga tribes. 

Prominent Naga tribes include Poumai, Sumi, AngamiAo, Chakhesang, Chang, Khiamniungan, Konyak, Liangmai, Lotha, Pochury, Rongmei, Zee and Mao. The language of the Nagas differs from each tribe and even from one village to another.

Greater Nagalim

Nagalim is the region carved out by integrating all Naga-inhabited contiguous areas under one administrative umbrella. It includes Nagaland along with several districts of Assam, Arunachal, Manipur and a large tract of Myanmar. The map of “Greater Nagalim” has about 1,20,000sq km, while the state of Nagaland consists of 16,527 sq km.

Nagaland Issue

Timeline in Naga Struggle

1826 Britishers annexed Assam.
1881 Naga hill became a part of British India.
1918 The root of the conflict can be traced back to 1918 in the formation of the ‘Naga Club’ by 20 members of the Naga French Labour Corp, who had served in World War I. The wartime knowledge motivated the few who had come in contact with the European battlefield to organize themselves as distinct ethnic political entity.  
1929 The club submitted a memorandum to the Simon Commission in 1929, stating that the people of Naga areas and of mainland India had nothing in common. Therefore, it would benefit both to stay separate and form their own political entity as and when the British left India.    
1946 The club was further reinforced with the formation of the Naga National Council (NNC) under A.Z Phizo, a charismatic leader of the Angami tribe.  
Phizo had been trained by the British, especially Major General Wingate, during World War II on the Burma Front against Japanese forces & he utilized knowledge to impart training in guerrilla warfare to NNC members.    
1947 – Nine-Point Agreement, known as the Akbar Hydari Agreement, was signed between NNC leaders and the Governor of Assam, Sir Akbar Hydari, on June 29 1947. The Agreement gave the Nagas rights over their land and executive and legislative powers but within the ambit of the Indian Constitution. 
Phizo rejected the Agreement. On August 14 1947, the NNC led by Phizo declared independence.   
1952 Naga Federal Government and Naga Federal Army formed, which were involved in violent clashes with the Indian state.   
1950s, 1960s and 1970s The 1950s, 1960s and 1970s were tumultuous in Naga history with the rise of militancy coupled with the state’s military response propelled by acts like the Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act 1958, amended in 1972.   
1963 The Union Government made efforts for peace, resulting in the grant of statehood to Nagaland in 1963 and the establishment of a peace mission in 1964.   
1975 The loss of bases in East Pakistan in 1972, with the emergence of a new nation-Bangladesh, as well as the constant pressure from Indian security forces, motivated the NNC under Z. Huire to sign  Shillong Accord, under which Nagas accepted the Indian Constitution.
The Shillong Accord, however, repeated the tragic story of the 9 Point Agreement as it split the Naga rebel movement. The Shillong Accord was the proximate cause for forming the original unified National Socialist Council of Nagaland (NSCN).   
1980 Some radical leaders rejected the accord and formed the Nationalist Social Council of Nagaland (NSCN).
1988 Due to intense differences with existing leadership, Isak Chisi Swu and Thuingaleng Muivah formed NSCN (Isak Muivah) or NSCN (IM) on January 31 1988.
It was followed by the further spilt of the S. S. Khaplang-led faction and the formation of the NSCN (Khaplang), named after its leader.    
1990s NSCN(IM) becomes the largest insurgent outfit in Nagaland, demanding Greater Nagalim.   
1997 NSCN(IM) signs ceasefire. This ceasefire has been in place till now.  
2001 NSCN (K) (Khaplang) signs ceasefire.  
2012 A new NSCN (Khole-Kitovi) group was formed as the NSCN (K) breakaway faction and is at war against the Indian state.   
2015 NSCN (K) also breaks ceasefire  
Aug 2015 Naga Peace Accord was signed with NSCN (IM). No details are out yet, but NSCN (IM) ‘s demands include
1. Recognition of unique Naga History
2. Creation of Greater Nagalim consisting of all the Naga inhabiting areas in India
3. Recognition of a separate flag for the Naga areas

According to the statement given by the Governor to Parliamentary Committee on Home Affairs, the Peace Accord has accepted the demand for recognition of unique Naga history. But there is no provision regarding touching the boundaries of Indian states. Instead, a special arrangement will be made for Nagas residing outside the state of Nagaland.

Main Insurgent Groups

1. NSCN (Isak-Muivah) or NSCN (IM)

  • It was formed in 1988 by Isak Chisi Swu and Thuingaleng Muivah.
  • It is the most important faction of NSCN. 
  • Aim: To establish a greater Nagaland based on the Maoist ideology of the principle of socialism and equitable economic development for the people.
  • Its major source of funding is drug trafficking and financial support from ISI. Apart from that, they run a parallel government in their area of influence and levy a sort of tax on the businesses. 
  • A ceasefire agreement has been signed between NSCN (IM) and the Government of India since 1997. It was also involved in a peace dialogue with the Indian government, culminating in the Naga Peace Accord of August 2015. 
  • But NSCN (IM), which views itself as the sole representative of the Naga people in peace dialogue, is being increasingly threatened on its home turf by the NSCN (Khole and Kitovi) faction.  
    • While NSCN (Khaplang) is a significant threat to the NSCN (IM) as a rival armed actor, its influence in terms of social legitimacy in Naga-inhabited areas in India has been limited at best since its Chairman Khaplang belongs to Myanmar. 
    • The Khole-Kitovi faction is a real challenge to the NSCN (IM) ‘s sphere of influence, given that both leaders are from Nagaland. 

2. NSCN (Khaplang) or NSCN (K)

  • It is the second most important faction. 
  • It is based in Myanmar and is very active in Indian Naga-inhabited regions.
  • Although a ceasefire was signed between NSCN (K) and the Indian government in 2001, NSCN(K) unilaterally broke the ceasefire in 2015 and carried out an attack on Indian forces, killing 20 soldiers. 
  • They have kept away from talks with the Indian government.

North East Insurgency

North East Insurgency

This article deals with the ‘North East Insurgency .’ This is part of our series on ‘Internal Security’, an important pillar of the GS-3 syllabus. For more articles, you can click here.

Introduction to North East

  • North-East India consists of 8 states, namely Assam, Arunachal Pradesh, Meghalaya, Manipur, Mizoram, Nagaland, Tripura and Sikkim, situated in the North-East of India. Further, the first seven are known as Seven Sisters.
  • An important aspect of the North-West’s geography is that a narrow passage of about 21–40 km, sandwiched between Bhutan and Bangladesh, called Siliguri or Chicken Neck Corridor, connects the Seven Sisters to central India. It makes the region strategically vulnerable. 
North East India - Strategic Map
  • Demographically, people of this region are mostly tribals of Mongoloid origin, and they speak the language of Tibeto-Burmese origin.
  • At the time of independence, this region consisted of the princely states of Tripura and Manipur. Sikkim was an independent country. The rest of the Northeast was part of the larger province of Assam. States like Nagaland (1963), Manipur (1972), Tripura (1972), Meghalaya (1972), Mizoram (made UT in 1972 and state in 1987) and Arunachal Pradesh (made UT in 1972 and state in 1987) were carved out of Assam. Sikkim was merged into India as Associate State in 1975 via the 35th Constitutional Amendment and full state in 1976 via the 36th Constitutional Amendment.

Reasons for lack of development in North-East

North East Insurgency

1. Centralized Governance 

Indigenous people have little share in political and economic structures at the central level. This centralized approach has deprived the locals of determining the nature and context of the problem, thereby frustrating their aspirations of autonomy.

2. Economy controlled by outsiders

  • Indigenous people have little role to play in the economy of the region. E.g., most of the plantation industry is dominated by the immigrant labour force. 

3. Connectivity issues and lack of infrastructure

  • Due to the partition of India, North East turned into a landlocked region.
  • After the 1962 Indo-China war, Union didn’t build high-grade roads and other infrastructure for fear that it could lead to faster movement of Chinese troops.
  • Due to the hilly terrain, building highways in the North-Eastern region is difficult. Along with that, the entire North-East Region has 2,650 km of railway tracks, and except 180 km, the rest is in Assam. Air connectivity is also low, and 8 states have a total of 9 airports.

4. No Ease of Doing Business

  • North-Eastern States fare poorly on the Ease of Doing Business Index. Starting and doing business in these states is a challenging task. States like Mizoram, Sikkim and Arunachal Pradesh were ranked 29th, 30th and 31st on the list.

5. Ethnic issues

  • North East has many Tribal Ethnicities, usually rising against each other. 
  • Ethnic discord is marked by some communities being branded “outsiders”. These outsiders include
    • Chakmas in Mizoram and Arunachal Pradesh
    • Hill versus valley disturbances in Manipur
    • Bangladeshis and Bengalis in Assam
    • Sikh sanitary workers in Shillong (Meghalaya)
    • Hajongs in Arunachal Pradesh


The imposition of AFSPA in the North-Eastern States and the heavy-handedness of the security forces have led to the feeling of discontentment among the people of the North-East. 

7. Power Deficit

Although there is immense potential for power production in the North East region due to swift-moving rivers, the potential is not tapped. Sikkim is the only state to be a power-surplus state. The rest of the NER states face acute power deficits.

8. Political representation

Many argue that one of the key reasons for not giving the Northeast a high priority is that with only 3.8% of India’s population, it only sends 24 Members of Parliament to the Lok Sabha, out of which Assam alone sends 14. 

Development plays a vital role in ensuring that the security of a state is maintained. However, when development goes haywire, the people go for agitations and, in extreme cases, take up arms against the state.

Recently, the Government of India has placed special emphasis on the development of the Northeast. As a result, North-Eastern states are showing rapid growth rates compared to other states of India. E.g., Meghalaya grew at a rate of 9.7%, and Arunachal Pradesh grew at the rate of 8.9% (even greater than Gujarat’s growth rate of 8.7%).

Reasons for Insurgencies in North East

Pre Independence Reasons

  • Tribes were not brought under strict political control and rigid regulations by the British Indian Administration.
  • British Tribal Policy and Christian education in North-East India are believed to be the genesis of demands for Independence from India. 

Post Independence Reasons

  • Ethnic and cultural specificities were ignored during the delineation of state boundaries in the 1950s, giving rise to discontentment and asserting one’s identity.
  • Underdevelopment, lack of connectivity, and inadequate health care and educational facilities created discontentment against the Union.
  • High unemployment rates in North-Eastern states due to a lack of industries force the youth to take up arms. E.g., Tripura has an unemployment rate of 25.2% in urban areas, followed by Nagaland with 23.8%.
  • Hostile neighbours extend moral and material support owing to porous international borders. Pakistan offers support, shelter, arms, etc., to various insurgent groups through ISI. China also plays a role in supporting and training some insurgent groups which have a communist inclination.
  • Ethnic diversity in the Northeast and government policy of integration: The tribes in the Northeast resisted the government of India’s measure to integrate all these tribes and their cultures into single Indian culture.
  • Deep sense of alienation due to the imposition of AFSPA: It has led to human rights violations and excesses by the security forces. 
  • Difficult terrain and weak infrastructure facilitate insurgents involved in a conflict.
  • The geography and terrain of a particular place are critical for the continuation of insurgent movements. Without supportive terrain, insurgent cadres stand little chance against the army.
  • The backlash against the continuous influx of outsiders from Bangladesh and Indians from other states into the Northeast. North-Eastern People consider this to be a threat to their distinct culture and an unbearable strain on their limited resources. 

Insurgent Groups active in North-East

A large number of insurgent groups are active in the Northeast. Their demands vary, ranging from a separate state to an independent homeland to better conditions for the ethnic groups they claim to represent.

1. Assam

  • ULFA (demanding independent sovereign nation-state of Assam) 
  • NDFB (creation of the separate sovereign state of Bodoland)
  • Kamtapur Liberation Organization (KLO)

2. Nagaland

Several factions of NSCN are active. These include

  1. National Socialist Council of Nagaland (Isak Muivah)
  2. The National Socialist Council of Nagaland (Khaplang)
  3. National Socialist Council of Nagaland (Khole-Kitovi )
  4. National Socialist Council of Nagaland (Reformation)

3. Mizoram

  • Mizo National Front (MNF)
  • Bru National Liberation Front (Protecting the rights of the Reang community against Mizos by the creation of a separate state)

4. Manipur

  • Kangleipak Communist Party (KCP) (create an independent country and protect Meitei culture)
  • People’s Liberation Army of Kangleipak (PREPAK) (expel outsiders from Manipur)
  • People’s United Liberation Front (protect Muslim interests)
  • Kuki National Army (demanding Zalengam consisting of areas of India & Myanmar)
  • Manipur Peoples’ Liberation Front (MPLF)
  • Revolutionary Peoples’ Front (RPF)

5. Tripura

  • All Tripura Tiger Force (ATTF) (to expel outsiders and restore the land to natives)
  • National Liberation Front of Tripura (NLFT) (independence from the Indian Union)

6. Meghalaya

  • Hynniewtrep National Liberation Council (HNLC)
  • Garo National Liberation Army (GNLA)

Impact of Insurgencies on North East

  • Lack of investment in the region due to lack of security and governance deficit.
  • The economy is severely affected due to the extortion of “taxes” by various factions on local people, businesses, officials etc.
  • Narcotic trade has boomed due to its position in the vicinity of the Golden Triangle.
  • High levels of unemployment in the region as no company is ready to invest in an insurgency-prone region.
  • It allows enemy neighbours (read Pakistan and China) to spur unrest in India by using these insurgent groups as their pawns. 

Strategy to contain Insurgency in the North-East

Government has to adopt a strategy consisting of a mix of development, military power, governance, dialogue and ceasefire to contain insurgency in the Northeast.

1. Development

  • Act East Policy: As many South Asian independent countries surround the North-Eastern States, they could act as India’s gateway to the Southeast Asian market. India can economically integrate its northeast into the south Asian market. In this pursuit, India is already building Kaladan Multimodal Project, IMT highway etc.
  • India is building infrastructure in the Northeast, like bridges & tunnels, at a great pace.   Japan is also interested in funding these projects.
  • The government has started North East Special Infrastructure Development Scheme (NESIDS) and Hill Area Development Program to develop infrastructure in the North East. 
  • The government is trying to develop tourism in the North-East.
  • Provide jobs to people in the Northeast, especially in the BPO sector, as North-Easterners are proficient in English. Indian Government is already running North East BPO Promotion Scheme.
  • The government is promoting Organic food in these areas as it could fetch them good prices for their products. 

2. Governance

  • Tribal Areas of the North-East are placed in Schedule 6 of the Indian Constitution.
  • North East Council was established in 1971 for cooperation and sorting the issues between these seven north-eastern states.
  • In many core schemes, the Centre and State share the finances in a ratio of 90:10 (whereas in a normal state ratio is 60:40).
  • Inner Line Permit is required to travel a large part of the area in the North-East.

3. Dialogue

  • The government should dialogue with the insurgents and try to bring them back into the political fold. The aim of the government should be to encourage insurgents to fight through ballots instead of bullets. E.g., the Indian Government is in constant dialogue with NSCN and other Naga groups and is on the verge of signing the accord.

4. Surrender and Rehabilitation

The government is already running a Scheme for Surrender-cum-Rehabilitation of militants in the North-East, intending to wean away the hard-core militants and misguided youth who have taken the path of militancy and later themselves trapped into that net.

The terms of the scheme include

  1. An immediate grant of Rs. 4 lakhs to each surrenderee.
  2. Payment of stipend of Rs. 6000/- per month to each surrenderee for 3 years.
  3. Incentives for weapons/ammunition surrendered by the militants.
  4. Vocational training to the surrenderee for self-employment.

5. Military Power

  • The government should show the state’s might and try to curb the militancy with a heavy hand. In this regard, the government has already imposed AFSPA in the insurgency-hit North-East States.

6. End Racial Discrimination with North-Easterners in the mainland

  • Government should adopt the provisions of the Bezbaruah Committee to achieve this objective.

Side Topic: Bezbaruah Committee Report

  • Bezbaruah Committee was set up in February 2014 in the aftermath of Nido Tania’s death (a North-East student who was murdered in a racial attack in New Delhi). 
  • Mandate: To address the issues raised by people from North East, especially in the metro cities.
  • It suggested the following measures which the government of India could implement to end discrimination faced by the North-Easterners. 
    1. Enact new laws against discrimination and make it a cognizable and non-bailable offence.
    2. Create Fast-track Courts for handling the cases of racially motivated heinous crimes against North East people.
    3. Educate the children about North-East through education.
    4. Sports Ministry should take steps to hold regular national and international events in the North East as such events will create greater harmony and a better understanding of North-East culture.

Inner Line Permit Issue (ILP)

  • The Inner Line Permit regulates the entry of non-domicile citizens into a restricted region for a limited period.
  • British introduced the ILP system via The Bengal Frontier Regulation of 1873 to safeguard their revenue-generating regions in the Northeast against raiding tribal communities from the hills. 
  • The conditions and restrictions vary from state to state. 
  • It can be issued for travel purposes only. Visitors are not allowed to buy property.
  • Today, ILP is seen as a way to protect the demographic, cultural, political and social integrity of the small tribal populations in the hill states and reduce the competition for employment and access to resources between natives and non-natives.
  • Presently, it is applicable in Arunachal Pradesh, Mizoram, Nagaland and Manipur (added in 2022). Meghalaya is also demanding inclusion into the ILP regime.



This article deals with ‘Naxalism.’ This is part of our series on ‘Internal Security’, an important pillar of the GS-3 syllabus. For more articles, you can click here.

What is Naxalism?

  • Naxalists are far-left-wing extremists adhering to the ideology of Mao Tse Tung (bringing revolution through the barrel of the gun) and aiming to overthrow the Indian state.
  • Naxalism derives its name from a village in the Darjeeling district of West Bengal called Naxalbari. 
  • Naxalism is the direct outcome of poverty and inequality in society. Naxalists claim to be fighting for equal division of resources (especially land).
  • During his tenure as PM, PM Manmohan Singh believed that Naxalism was the biggest threat India had ever faced.


Formation of CPI in 1925 In 1925, the Communist Party of India was formed by a group of young patriots drawing their inspiration from the Russian Revolution.
Telengana Movement (1945-51) The first instance of revolutionary communism in India was the agitation of Communists in the Telangana Movement (1946-1951).  
The movement’s objective was to establish its own state and get rid of Zamindars.
Peasants organized and armed themselves to fight against the Razakars (army of Nizam) and the Police.
Eventually, this conflict was ended by the security forces of the newly independent India.
Communist Party of India splits in 1964 – Communist Party of India (Marxist) [which was in favour of democracy] split from the Communist Party of India in 1964, influenced by the Sino-Indian War of 1962 & also by the differences of opinion on revolution 
CPI (M) was led by P. Sundarayya, Jyoti Basu, M.S. Namboodiripad and Harkishan Singh Surjeet.  

Naxalbari Phase

Naxalbari  Incident, 1967 Congress formed the United Front government alongside CPI (Marxist) on 3rd March 1967, in West Bengal. The day when new CM Ajoy Mukherjee was sworn in, an incident happened in the Naxalbari village of Darjeeling district in West Bengal. 
In the incident, tribal youth Bimal Kesan obtained a judicial order permitting him to plough his land. The incident began when Kesan went to his land and was attacked by the landlord (named Iswar Tirkey) and his goons. Bimal Kesan approached Krishak Sabha, whose leader was Kanu Sanyal, who offered to help him get his land. With this support, Tribal people attacked the landlord and started the rebellion.  

The state responded by speeding up the land reforms, setting up distribution committees and tackling the violence with police response.
1969 Another defection happened in CPI(M), and a new party named CPI (Marxist-Leninist) was formed aimed at becoming a truly revolutionary party under Charu Mazumdar (as General Secretary).
They indulged in armed violence in West Bengal, Andhra Pradesh, Kerala, Bihar, Odisha, Madhya Pradesh, Punjab and Uttar Pradesh with an agenda to annihilate class enemies.  
1970 – Kanhai Chatterjee formed Maoist Communist Centre (MCC) and launched violent campaigns. 
Naxalites started to spread their ideology in universities and radicalized students. As a result, a group of students stormed the State’s Legislative Assembly. 
In February 1970, the main ideologue, Charu Mazumdar, detailed his plans, later titled as “murder manual“, essentially directions for how the movement could eliminate class enemies (mainly landlords) among the peasantry.  
1970-1972 The government started an operation named “Steeplechase“, in which Military, paramilitary, and state forces participated jointly to end Naxalism. The extremist movement was crushed, and Charu Mazumdar was arrested in 1972. He later died in police custody.
But the movement spread to the southern state of Kerala and the Srikakulam district of Andra Pradesh.

During this phase, the movement struggled to gain the support of the working class, sharecroppers, agricultural labourers, urban middle class, and poor peasants because they did not see it as a fight for their own interests. Additionally, the general populace was not mentally prepared to engage in an “armed conflict.” The movements’ excessive affiliation with China robbed them of a nationalistic image, and this element was mainly responsible for their exclusion from the general populace.

Post Charu Phase: Early 1970s-2000

1975 There is a consensus that the movement ceased most activities when PM Indira Gandhi imposed a state of Emergency on the whole nation in 1975 after her iron hand movement.  
1977 Post Emergency, CPI (ML) was divided into two factions  
1. CPI (Marxist Leninist) Liberation: It was in favour of fighting elections. 
2. People’s War Group (PWG): It favoured armed struggle against the state.  
1982-89 Through a front group named the Indian People’s Front (IPF), CPI (ML) “Liberation” entered electoral politics in 1982.
The first Naxalite MP was elected to the Indian Parliament in 1989 after the IPF gained a seat in the legislative elections.

During this period, counterforces of upper caste landlords also started to come up in places like Bihar. One such organization called ‘Ranvir Sena’ ruthlessly massacred Naxalites and their suspected sympathizers.

The emergence of the CPI (Maoist): 2004-Present

2004 – Communist Party of India (Maoist) came into existence in September 2004 following the merger of the Maoist Communist Centre (MCC), which was strong in the Central Indian States and the People’s War Group (PWG), which was influential in the Andhra region. Presently, it is considered a terrorist organization under the provisions of the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act of 1967. 
Its goal remained the same – agrarian revolution through people’s war for the seizure of power from the state.

Recent Naxal Attacks

The Dantewada-Sukma-Bijapur axis (in Chhattisgarh) has remained the last bastion of Maoists in India.

2010 In a joint operation carried out by 1000 Naxalites, 76 security personnel were killed in Dantewara (Chhattisgarh), which was the worst attack ever.
2013 Naxalites attacked Congress workers in the Dharba Valley of Odisha, killing 30.
2017-18-19 Naxalists frequently killed CRPF personnel in the Sukma district of Bastar Division of Chhattisgarh.
2022 Naxals killed 22 Security personnel in the Bijapur district of Chhattisgarh.

Naxal Ideology and Strategy

  • They don’t believe in Parliamentary democracy and talk about building up an army to inflict a decisive defeat on the enemy’s armies. The immediate dream of the party is to accomplish a new democratic revolution in India by overthrowing imperialism, feudalism and bureaucratic capitalism through protracted people’s war to establish people’s democratic dictatorship. 2009 document released by the CPI (Maoist) Politburo extensively speaks about how the Parliamentary System has been compromised in the hands of the “imperialists”. 
  • Naxalites followed the strategy propounded by Mao Tse Tung in his book Yu Chi Chan (Guerrilla warfare). The Naxalites indulge in guerrilla warfare against the Indian Forces. 

The strategy of Naxalists / Maoists

  • Their strategy of expansion is three-fold as propounded by Mao. 
Naxalite cadres begin their work in remote 
hilly, tribal and rural areas to indoctrinate and 
recruit more fighters . 
Armed guerrilla warfare with aim of lowering 
morale of the Indian forces => high-profile 
individuals like police chiefs, political leaders 
are assassinated in low intensity battles. 
Stage 1 
Stage 2 
Conventional war is fought by establishing Stage 3 
regular army to get territorial control. Class 
enemies are annihilated & new order ruled 
by the working class is established.

Modus Operandi

  • They kill the ‘class enemies’ (landlords) and those who do not subscribe to their ideology in areas under their domination, branding them as ‘police informers.
  • They destroy schools and other infrastructure like roads and telecom networks to cut-off the population in their strongholds from the mainstream milieu.
  • They forcefully recruit the cadre from the local young population and brainwash and indoctrinate them.
  • Maoist/ Naxal Organisations have so-called ‘Front Organizations’, which are the off-shoots of the parent Maoist party and profess a separate existence to escape legal liability. Front organizations (1) carry out propaganda/disinformation for the party, (2) recruit ‘professional revolutionaries’ for the underground movement, (3) raise funds for the insurgency, (4) assist the cadres in legal matters and (5) also provide safe houses and shelters to underground cadres.
  • CPI (Maoist) have close ties with many North-East insurgent groups and have frequently expressed their solidarity with the J&K terrorist groups. Apart from that, CPI (Maoist) also have close links with foreign Maoist organizations in the Philippines, Turkey, Nepal etc.

Urban Naxals

  • Urban Naxals are educated people in academia, media, NGOs and urban civil society in India who are attracted to the violent left ideology and support the violent insurrection against the State.
  • While the Naxalite movement is often associated with remote tribal areas, Urban Naxalism is a phenomenon in cities and urban centres.
  • The term has largely been used as a political tool. The Left Wing Division of the Union Home Ministry, in response to an RTI, has denied the usage of the term for official purposes. 

Incidents of Urban Naxalism

  • In 2004, a CPI (Maoist) document titled ‘Urban Perspective: Our Work in Urban Areas’ elaborated on Urban Naxalism. It emphasized mobilizing industrial workers and urban poor and building ‘tactical united fronts’ of like-minded organizations, including students, middle-class employees, intellectuals etc.
  • Later, in 2013, the arrest of a suspected Naxal militant working as a carpenter in Nagpur shocked police authorities, and authorities came to realize that Naxalite groups were gaining traction in urban areas.
  • In 2017, life Imprisonment was awarded to Delhi University professor G.N. Saibaba (by a local court), arguing that literature seized from the accused proved that he was a member of CPI (Maoist). (But Supreme Court had earlier held in Arup Bhuyan vs State of Assam that ‘A person’s membership with a banned group by itself will not implicate him until he uses violence or incites others to use violence.’)
  • In August 2018, 10 prominent individuals working for the human rights of Adivasis (including Arun Ferreira, Vernon Gonsalves, Gautam Navlakha and Stan Swamy) were arrested for being Urban Naxals and members of CPI (Maoist). (but this action goes against the SC Judgement in the case titled Arup Bhuyan vs the State of Assam).

What do Urban Naxals do?

  • According to the authorities, Urban Naxals, through their active propaganda, try to (1) romanticize Naxal attacks, (2) raise funds, (3)create safe houses for militants, (4) provide legal assistance to arrested cadres and (5) conduct mass agitations against government moves that curb the spread of Naxalism, while their rural comrades keep destabilizing governance in villages.


  • Extortion: According to the Ministry of Home Affairs, they are able to gather at least ₹ 2000 crore annually by extortion. Their main targets include road construction contractors, contractors of forest produce like Tendu leaf etc. 
  • Mining companies also give them protection money. The illegal mining industry in Chhattisgarh and Jharkhand is also the source of finance for the Naxalites.
  • Naxalists also indulge in the poppy and opium cultivation trade. 
  • They also indulge in robbery and dacoity to fund themselves.
  • Agencies of foreign enemy nations like the ISI of Pakistan also fund them overtly or covertly.
  • Their supporters and sympathizers also fund them.

Cadre Recruitment

  • Naxalite cadres begin their work in remote hilly, tribal and rural areas, which governments usually ignore. It is easy to indoctrinate these people and recruit them. Naxal cadres live and work among the locals and socialize with them, gradually gaining their trust. Later, they slowly work their way into recruiting them into the Naxal Movement by appealing to their local problems, which are mostly related to their rights of Jal, Jangal and Jamin, social, caste and class issues. 
  • Coerced Naxal Recruitment, i.e. forceful recruitment from each Adivasi family. Sometimes, it leads to conflict between Naxals and Adivasis. In 1992–93, one such conflict in Chhattisgarh ended with the Naxalites killing 70 Adivasis.
  • Recruitment is also targeted at educated and university students affiliated with student organizations. They seek to attract professionals to defend & propagate their agenda among the educated classes. 
  • By giving incentives to recruits: These incentives needn’t be monetary but food ration to family, the position of authority etc.
  • Genuinely exploited tribals by mining companies and other contractors join the Naxalites on their own to settle their scores.

Naxal recruiters also perform a background check on every potential recruit before initiating the training process. Later, Naxalites are trained on the lines of professional armed forces, due to which they have now evolved into an efficient guerrilla force. Like a conventional army, the Naxal army is divided into squads, platoons, companies and battalions with strict discipline, a unidirectional chain of command, rigid hierarchy and leadership.

How is Naxalism the biggest threat??

  • The Maoist movement highlights India’s internal weakness, and this makes India vulnerable to external threats as well. A nation can’t effectively withstand threats coming from outside if it is unstable from the inside. 
  • Former Pakistani Director General of ISI equated India being busy with internal security problems to having two extra divisions in Pakistan Army for free. 
  • It affects India’s economic development as internal order & stability are necessary for the nation’s economic development. MNCs don’t invest in these regions because of the threat of extortion. 
  • To contain Naxalism, India has to spend a huge sum on the Military, and as a result, the social sector suffers.
  • It also affects democracy & the rule of law in disturbed areas.

Reasons for the growth of Naxalism

1. Slow implementation of land reforms in India

  • Land being the state subject, the Union had little to do with land reforms. On the other hand, the states had made only half-hearted land reforms. The speed of the land reforms was very slow, and Zamindars were able to use loopholes in the laws to dodge the transfer of land. It disillusioned the peasants and forced them to take their lands at gunpoint. 
  • Powerful sections of society have encroached on and occupied the government and community lands (even the water bodies). It has forced the oppressed to rise in the form of Naxalists. 

2. Displacement and forced eviction

  • Alienation of the tribals’ forest land due to the tribals’ inability to show ownership documents
  • Large-scale land acquisition and displacement for ‘public purposes’ without appropriate compensation or rehabilitation. E.g., Samantha Tribe from Odisha was evicted from their lands due to dam construction.

3. Economic situation in Red Corridor

  • There is a lack of employment opportunities even though MNCs are using their land & resources.  
  • The conflict between economic process & aboriginal land rights also fuels Naxalite activities. 
  • There is a deprivation of traditional rights in common property resources.

4. Governance Issues

  • There is a lack of basic amenities like health and education.
  • Unsatisfactory working of local government institutions: Earlier, PESA renewed some hope, but State governments have not devolved powers properly. 
  • Justice System in India is expensive and painfully slow. On the other hand, Naxals deliver quick and cheap justice through Jan Adalats. Hence, people look forward to the Naxals for justice instead of the State.
  • Lack of food security due to factors such as corruption in the Public Distribution System (PDS).

5. Social Situation

  • Stratified societies with caste & feudal divisions and significant inequalities in land holdings are the main reason for the growth of Naxalism in Andhra and Telangana.
  • High indigenous tribal populations, which MNCs exploit, are the main reason for their rise in  Odisha & Chhattisgarh.
  • Social indicators such as literacy, employment, etc., of the Naxal-affected areas are the worst among all the states.

6. Method of warfare

  • The Naxalite movement engages in guerrilla warfare. Hence, it is tough to contain them
  • Regions that have remained the showpiece of the Maoist ideology are the forests of Dandakaranya, which lie between the borders of Madhya Pradesh, Orissa, Chhattisgarh and Maharashtra. Hence, it is difficult for the Police to coordinate their activities.

7. Problem with our forces

  • There is no unity of command. Forces in each state work in silos.
  • Intelligence is also of poor quality. 
  • State Police has not risen to the situation and left it to Central Forces to deal with the problem of Naxalism.


Earlier, the government was using a narrow perspective by crushing the movement but was not addressing structural problems in society, which led to this situation. But now the government has decided to use a combination of

  1. Development in these areas 
  2. Opportunity for Naxalites to come back to mainstream 
  3. Using the might of the state to crush those who challenge the Authority of the state even after that
  4. Fighting them on the ideological level
  5. Provide good governance
  6. Public perception management

The government fully understands that Naxalites are India’s citizens and should be given a chance to return on the right path. Andhra Pradesh Model, the only state to contain the problem of Naxalism in large pockets, also used the above approach. 

Nepal, which was facing the Naxalism problem of a much larger scale, has successfully contained that problem by integrating Naxalists into society and giving them a lucrative offer to fight via ‘Ballot’ instead of ‘Bullet’. India can also learn from Nepali Experience. 

1. Development

  • Government should devote a larger budget allocation to health, education and social welfare.
  • Government must ensure that statutory minimum wages are given in these areas.

Measures already taken

  • 35 most affected LWE districts have been chosen in Aspirational District Scheme. 
  • Additional Central Assistance to LWE-affected districts covering 88 affected districts to build infrastructure has been running since 2016
  • Pradhan Mantri Kaushal Vikas Yojana and Roshni Scheme have been successfully running for skill development.
  • Road building under Road Requirement Plan (RRP) is running in 34 LWE-affected districts. 
  • MNREGA is running in Naxal Affected Areas. 
  • Universal Service Obligation Fund (USOF) will be used to install 175 additional mobile towers in the LWE districts. 

2. Dialogue, Reconciliation and Reintegration 

  • The state should continue to make dialogue with Naxals. 
  • Some reward and opportunity to start new life should be given to those who surrender. The States have brought out surrender policies for those Naxals willing to lay down their arms.
    • The Jharkhand government is providing Rs. 50,000 to surrendered Naxalites along with Rs. 2000 monthly payment, one acre of agricultural land, and free health and education to their children. 
    • Chhattisgarh government offered up to Rs. 3 lakhs for weapon surrender.

3. The union should help the state maintain law and order

Although Police & Public order are state subjects, the problem of Naxalism is of such a huge proportion that State can’t tackle it alone. The central government should help states by 

  • Providing CAPF, Cobra and Reserve Police. 
  • Helping to upgrade and modernize State police.
  • Providing helicopters in anti-Naxal operations.
  • Setting up of a Unified Command in Naxal-affected areas.
  • Reimbursing security-related expenditure under the Security Related Expenditure (SRE) Scheme.
  • Filling up critical infrastructure gaps under the Special Infrastructure Scheme (SIS).

4. Strengthen State Police

  • According to Prakash Singh, State police forces are heavily dependent on the Central government. The mindset seems to be that Maoism is the government of India’s problem and, therefore, the Central forces should bear the brunt. The great lesson we learnt in Punjab was that until the State Police makes a frontal attack on the terrorists/Maoists, the battle will never be won.  
  • Reason: Although Central Forces are well trained and equipped with the latest arms, they don’t know the local terrain, language and society. This is why the role of the State Police becomes crucial in such operations.
  • Earlier, the Greyhounds of Andhra played a vital role in uprooting Naxalism from the erstwhile Andhra Pradesh state.
  • Chhattisgarh has also set up Black Panther Combat Force  (modelled on Greyhounds) to combat Naxalism.
  • Similarly, Jharkhand has constituted ‘Jharkhand Jaguars‘.
  • Union government is running the Construction of Fortified Police Stations Scheme, under which 400 police stations in 10 LWE affected States were to be built. 399 Police Stations have been constructed.
Combating Naxalism

5. Unity in Command

  • Our forces work in silos, and the Naxals exploit this lacuna to dodge the police forces in various states. 
  • Veerappan also used such guerrilla tactics. Finally, the Special Task Force (STF), specially formed with unity of command and consisting of Police from all three states, i.e. Tamil Nadu, Karnataka and Kerala, neutralized Veerappan.
  • Keeping this in mind, a Unified Command has been set up in the States of Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand, Odisha and West Bengal.
Naxalism for UPSC

6. Use modern tech

  • The state should utilize modern technologies such as drones and unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) to contain the LWE.

7. Ideological

  • Government has to accept that Naxal Problem is being fought at two levels. 
    • Physical fight with guns & bullets on the ground 
    • Ideological fight. 
  • Mere defeating them on the ground will not end this problem. The government will have to defeat them ideologically too.

8. Stopping access to finances 

  • The government should cut their funding and freeze the accounts of organizations dealing with them.
  • Demonetization was a step in this direction.

9. Governance

  • States should effectively implement provisions of PESA, 1996 in letter and spirit on a priority basis. It would bridge the trust deficit between locals and the state.
  • Government should implement the Scheduled Tribes and other Traditional Forest Dwellers (Recognition of Forest Rights) Act, 2006, in LWE-affected states. 

Side Topic: SAMADHAN

In 2017, the Home Minister and CMs of Naxal-affected areas met and made a program to tackle Naxalism named SAMADHAN with the following components

  1. S = Smart leadership
  2. A = Aggressive strategy
  3. M = Motivation and training
  4. A = Actionable intelligence
  5. D = dashboard-based key performance indicators and key result areas
  6. H = harnessing technology
  7. A = action plan for each theatre
  8. N = no access to financing. 

Steps taken by the States

1. Andhra Pradesh Model

Andhra Pradesh is the state which has successfully contained Naxalism. Maoist violence started in the 1980s in Andhra and reached its maximum height in the late 1990s. Andhra government took the following steps to uproot Naxalism from the state t

  1. Grey Hound, an elite commando force to deal with Naxals, was raised in 1989. 
  2. The state gave complete freedom to Police and Grey Hounds to kill or arrest all the leaders.
  3. Police Stations were fortified.
  4. Naxals who were willing to surrender were allowed to do so.
  5. Development schemes like Janma Bhoomi and Joint Forest Management were launched. 
  6. The State Government set up the Department of Remote and Interior Area Development to look into the development of remote areas which were heavily hit by the Naxal violence.

2. Chattisgarh

Chhattisgarh, too has taken steps such as

  • Improved road connectivity by building road infrastructure on a massive scale 
  • The ‘Bultoo’ radio initiative enables the rural public to use their ordinary mobile handsets to record their points and songs in their language. These are then converted to Internet-based radio programs.
  • Chhattisgarh government offered up to Rs. 3 lakhs for weapon surrender.

But it must be noted that the Dantewada-Sukma-Bastar axis (in Chhattisgarh) has remained the last bastion of Maoists in India. Maoists in these regions indulge in frequent attacks on security personnel. From 2018 to 2020, 70% of security personnel’s deaths in Naxalist attacks happened in Chhattisgarh. 

Reasons that Chhattisgarh has not been able to control Naxalism in the state are 

  • Excessive reliance on Salwa Judum, which was declared illegal by the Supreme Court.
  • Rugged terrain makes large areas in the forests inaccessible.
  • Maoists, especially those led by local charismatic leader Hidima, enjoy popularity in this area.

3. Jharkhand

  • Constituted a special force named ‘Jharkhand Jaguar‘ modelled after the Greyhounds of Andhra Pradesh.
  • Launched special operations to weed out Maoists.
  • Tribal youth from the insurgency-affected areas were recruited as Special Police Officers (SPOs).
  • The Jharkhand government is providing Rs. 50,000 to surrendered Naxalites along with Rs. 2000 monthly payment, one acre of agricultural land, and free health and education to their children. 

4. Odisha

  • Odisha has fortified its Police Stations.
  • The state has given special training to police personnel.
  • A special force known as the ‘Special Operations Group’ was raised.
  • Infrastructure like roads was developed at a massive scale.

Present Situation

  • Presently, the spread of the Naxalist movement is as follows
Severely Affected Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand, Odisha, and Bihar
Partially Affected West Bengal, Maharashtra, Andhra Pradesh and Telangana
Slightly Affected Uttar Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh
  • The Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) redrew the red corridor in 2019, and the number of districts affected by Naxal violence has been reduced from 106 to 64. MHA has reduced the ‘worst-affected category’ districts from 36 to 30.
  • Due to steps taken by the government, Left Wing Extremism has been in the fall.
Naxal Attacks in India

Side Topic: Salwa Judum

  • Under Salwa Judum, the state government of Chhattisgarh started using the tribal-private militia to fight against Maoist, which led to extra-judicial killings  
  • In 2011, Supreme Court said it to be illegal. 

Side Topic: Right-Wing Terrorism/Rightist Terrorism

  • Right Wing groups are conservative. These people either want the status quo or want to return to a specific time in the past that they feel should be conserved. Some of these groups also resort to violence as a means to achieve their aim and perpetrate what is known as Right Wing Terrorism.
  • Examples include the Ku Klux Klan (KKK) of the USA, Green jackets of Denmark, ISIS of the Middle-East, Nazis of Germany and Fascism of Italy. Some of the Right Wing Terrorists also carry out terrorist activities on their own, like Christchurch Mosque Shooting in New Zealand. 
  • In India, Right Wing Terrorism is perpetrated by various hard-line religious extremist groups. Violence perpetrated against migrant communities citing the concept of “sons of the soil” also comes under this category.
Right-Wing Terrorism

Linkages between the Development and Spread of Extremism

Linkages between the Development and Spread of Extremism

This article deals with ‘Linkages between the Development and Spread of Extremism.’ This is part of our series on ‘Internal Security’, an important pillar of the GS-3 syllabus. For more articles, you can click here.

Linkages between the Development and Spread of Extremism

What is Development?

Development encompasses the needs and means to provide a better life for the masses. It not only refers to economic growth but also human development. Developmental efforts should address the lack of capabilities, resources and opportunities to step out of poverty and deprivation.

It is a multi-dimensional phenomenon & measured on the following dimensions:-

1. Level of economic growth 2. Level of health services
3. Level of education 4. Degree of modernization
5. Status of woman 6. Level of nutrition
7. Quality of housing 8. Distribution of goods & services

What is Extremism?

  • Extremism is an ideology or political act far outside the perceived political centre of society & that claim to violate common moral standards.
  • Though this is a relative term which invites disagreement regarding benchmarks, it is broadly agreed that extremist views are not necessarily illegal and do not automatically lead to violence or harm. Extremism becomes a concern when those views promote violence, a phenomenon known as violent extremism.
  • Examples of Extremism in India
    1. Terrorism
    2. Naxalism
    3. Insurgency in North-East
    4. Mob Violence etc. 

Common indicators in extremism-affected areas

1. Governance deficit

  • There is no primary sustainable employment.
  • There are no basic healthcare and education facilities.
  • There is a lack of law & order and grievance redressal mechanisms.

2. Geographical Indicators

The geography of such a place is characterized by 

  1. Difficult terrain
  2. High forest cover
  3. Inaccessibility
  4. Tribal areas 

3. Social & Economic Indicators

Society and economy are characterized by

  1. High levels of poverty 
  2. Class & caste divisions
  3. Lack of gainful employment for youth 
  4. Very low levels of industrialization

4. Misc. Indicators

  • Drug Trafficking 
  • Religion & conversion issues 

So, what is the relationship between development and extremism?

There is a ’cause and effect relationship’ between development and extremism. But there is a debate on which one is the cause and which is the effect. 

  1. View 1: Underdevelopment leads to Extremism. E.g., Naxalism in Chhattisgarh, MP, Odisha etc.  
  2. View 2: Extremism leads to Underdevelopment. E.g., Entrepreneurs and FDI remains away from extremism-prone areas. 

Some scholars argue that development automatically generates a peace dividend through de-escalating conflict and political violence. Others argue development itself is the peace dividend that can arise after law and order has been established with the force of arm. These people believe that the spread of extremism makes any meaningful development effort useless. 

Role of Social Networking Sites in Internal Security Challenges

Role of Social Networking Sites in Internal Security Challenges

This article deals with the ‘Role of Media in Internal Security Challenges.’ This is part of our series on ‘Internal Security’, an important pillar of the GS-3 syllabus. For more articles, you can click here.

Social Media / Social Networking


Social media is different from (ordinary) Media. Social Media allows people to raise voices who otherwise couldn’t speak or wouldn’t be heard. Hence

  • Media= Source of information 
  • Social Media = Source of Information + Platform for Expression

Categories of Social Media

Blogs and Microblogs Twitter
Content and Communities Youtube and Dailymotion
Social Networking Sites Facebook, Instagram etc.
Wikis Wikipedia
Blogs There are blogs of many writers, poets, and celebrities where the entries are written in a personal, conversational style.
Virtual World Games World of Warcraft
Virtual Social World Second Life

But there is no clear demarcation between them.

Role of Social Networking Sites in Internal Security Challenges

Characteristics of social media

1. User-generated Content

  • Citizens are participants, authors and content creators.

2. Conversation

  • Allow the users to start a conversation. E.g., Twitter gives 24*7 opportunities for two-way discussion.

3. Building Relationships

  • Social Media helps build new relationships and find friends based on shared interests, along with helping to maintain older ones.

4. Communication

  • Social Media can send mail, text message or voice message. Social Media has reduced communication barriers among people.

5. Information Sharing

  • Social Media is an information-sharing tool and can be assessed and commented on in real-time.

6. Building the Public Narrative

  • Social Media has become the most crucial instrument in today’s world to build the public narrative. E.g., In Indonesia, Instagram influencers were given 1st Corona vaccine, along with doctors, to dispel the religious fears among citizens that the vaccine is not ‘haram’ given that Pig gelatine was used as a stabilizer in the vaccine.

7. Marketing

  • Many organizations use social media strategies to reach out to customers and peers. Even governments have been using social media to broadcast information about schemes and programs.

But there are some negative characteristics

1. Unregulated Nature

  • Its content cannot be controlled, censored or shut down.  
  • It can harm national security and lead to riots. 
  • The servers of most of the social media channels are located outside India.  

2. Algorithmic filtering / Echo Chambers

  • Algorithms of Social Media sites are designed to create filter bubbles/echo chambers in which users only see viewpoints they agree with, which further hardens their prejudices.

3. Unequal Participation

  • On social media, the fringe groups could appear mainstream and vulnerable populations with lower social media footprint could end up ignored.

4. Fake News

  • It has allowed criminal actors to launch misinformation campaigns and incite violence.

5. Foreign interference

  • Foreign countries and their agencies can use Social Media as an information weapon to influence public sentiment in elections. E.g., Alleged interference by Russians in the 2016 US Presidential elections.

6. Provide a wider audience to the extremists

  • Extremists also use social media to live stream violent acts. E.g., White Supremacists livestreamed the killing of people in Christchurch, New Zealand (in 2020), showing how terrorists are using technology for their end. 

Threats posed by Social Media

1. Use of Social Media by Terrorists

1.1 Spread Propaganda

  • Internet & social media are used to spread ideological instructions & induct recruits by terrorist organizations. E.g., ISIS was able to attract Youth from European Nations and the US via their Social Media propaganda. 

1.2 Financing

Terrorists use social media to gather funds to finance their activities. Methods used by them include

  1. Direct Solicitation: through websites, mass mail etc.
  2. E-commerce: Terrorists use online payment tools to collect funds
  3. Exploitation of Online Payment Tools: Younis Tasauli, a terrorist, was the mastermind of UK Credit Card Fraud. Money collected through fraud was used to fund terrorist activities. 

1.3 Training

  • Terrorist groups are using Social Media sites to instruct on making explosives and carrying out terrorist attacks, along with methods to join the terrorist organization.
  • Al Qaeda even had an online magazine called ‘INSPIRE‘.

1.4 Planning & Execution

  • It involves remote communication between several parties, and social media help terrorist organizations in this regard.
  • End-to-end encrypted messages provided by platforms such as WhatsApp also help these terrorist organizations as these can’t be intercepted by intelligence agencies. 

1.5 Cyber Attack

  • It is the deliberate exploitation of computer networks as a means to launch an attack. Terrorist organizations are frequently carrying out cyber attacks. 
Use of Social Media by Terrorists

2. Use of Social Media in Riots

  • In the past few years, several instances have come to focus where communal clashes are being planned or instigated through fake videos circulating on Social Media. 
    1. Police acknowledged that WhatsApp groups were used to incite Muzaffarnagar riots in the run-up to the 2014 elections. Indian Mujahidin and Hindu fundamentalist groups incited these riots by circulating fake videos.
    2. Facebook and WhatsApp were used in the Delhi riots of 2000.
    3. Gau-rakshaks, Jat agitators, and protestors in Kashmir also took advantage of WhatsApp groups to organize themselves. 

The Government has responded by banning the internet in such instances, making India the global leader in imposing internet blackouts. But that is only a tactical solution which prevents immediate violence.

  • PARLER, a social network site similar to Twitter, was very popular among Trump supporters and was used by them to instigate Capitol building violence following the defeat of Donald Trump. The app was later banned from App Store.
Use of Social Media in Riots

3. Fake News

Fake news is news, stories or hoaxes created to misinform or deliberately deceive readers.

Agenda behind spreading Fake News

  • Influence the view of people 
  • Push a political agenda or cause confusion: Governments of countries such as Venezuela, the Philippines and Turkey were found to employ an army of ‘opinion shapers’ to spread the view of the party in power, drive their agendas and distort online discussions. 
  • It can often be a profitable business for online publishers. 

Fake news can be in the form of

  1. Satire
  2. Propaganda 
  3. Out-of-context information
  4. Conspiracy theories 
  5. Clickbait

Some incidents associated with Fake News

2012 It led to a Mass-Exodus of North Easterners from Bangalore.
2013 Muzaffarpur Riots happened due to the spread of fake news (discussed above)
2016 Russia is alleged to have used fake news to manipulate the US Presidential elections, leading to the win of Donald Trump.
2020 Riots happened in Delhi after Anti-CAA protests due to the spread of fake news on social media.
2021 Capitol Hill violence happened in Washington DC due to the circulation of fake news that US elections were rigged and the real winner of the election was Donald Trump.

Reasons for the spread of Fake News

  • The rapid pace of information dissemination: The pace at which false information can spread, especially on Social Media, is unprecedented.
  • Regulation problems: Social Media is difficult to regulate & censor due to its decentralized nature.
  • Algorithmic filtering: Algorithms are designed in such a way that the content suggested conforms with what a person is watching based on his browsing history. It creates filter bubbles and echo chambers which harden a person’s prejudices.
  • The fake news industry has developed as an organized industry, and companies have come up which provide the service of spreading fake news to anyone willing to pay the fees.

Threats posed by the Fake News

1. Political Threats

  • Political parties try to gain political advantages by polarising the voters.

2. Economic Threats

  • It can lead to loss of life and property, as fake news can lead to riots and lynchings. 
  • Fake news and subsequent breakdown of law and order machinery can also result in the shutting down of markets and disruption in the supply chains. 

3. Societal Threats

  • Fake news disturbs the social fabric of society as it can lead to tension and hostility between the communities.

4. International

  • Other countries use it in psychological warfare.
  • New technologies like Deep Fakes are used by the countries to target other countries. 

5. Loss of faith in Media

  • People have lost their faith in the media, and media houses are now seen as commercial entities 

Ways to contain it

  • Steps by various platforms
    • Twitter: They tag those spreading Fake news as ‘Manipulated Media’.
    • WhatsApp has introduced a feature to tell whether the message is forwarded. The veracity of forwarded messages is low.
    • Facebook: Facebook has introduced features like tagging a page repeatedly flagged by their ‘fact checkers’.
  • Various Indian sites like provide fact-checks about various fake news circulating on social as well as mainstream media.
  • Fake news can also be checked using Blockchain technology and Artificial Intelligence. 
  • Using Legal Provisions
    • Sections 153A and 295 of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) can be invoked against someone spreading fake news to create religious animosity. 
    • Defamation Suit: A person may pursue a civil or criminal defamation case if they perceive fake news as defamatory.
    • Contempt of Court law can be evoked against those spreading fake news about Judicial proceedings. 
  • Fundamental Duty to develop scientific temper: Citizens of the country are also required to develop a scientific temper, humanism and spirit of inquiry and reform under Article 51A (b) (Fundamental Duties). It can help to contain the spread of fake news. 
  • International Examples / Case Studies
    • WHO has established the Information Network for Epidemics (EPI-WIN) to track and respond to misinformation, myths and rumours regarding the spread of epidemics (like Covid 19).
    • BBC America has started a new initiative called SLOW NEWS to contain the spread of fake news, as the main reason for the circulation of fake news is the speed at which fake news is circulated in the age of social media. 

4. Negative impact of Social Media on Children 

  • Social Media sites like Facebook are difficult to regulate, and they expose children to inappropriate material for their age. 
  • In 2017, a game called Blue Whale on social media led to Children Suicides. 
  • Trolling on social media can lead to depression among children.

5. Use of Social Media by Organised Criminal Groups

  • Criminal organizations use Social Media as support, communication and coordination tools to conduct their illicit activities.
  • These kinds of illicit activities can be either purely information ones (i.e. spreading child pornography with fee, “virtual” identity thefts, phishing, the spread of viruses, Trojans, worms, etc.), or “traditional” ones (i.e. drug smuggling, human trafficking, money-laundering, transfer of documents from industrial espionage).

6. Others

  1. Honey Trapping
  2. Cyberbullying: People can misuse social media platforms to spread rumours and share videos that destroy reputations.
  3. Trolling: Women, leaders from non-ruling parties and people from disadvantaged communities face a disproportionately high number of trolls. 
  4. Jurisdictional challenge: There are complications in the jurisdiction as servers of social media sites like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram etc. are situated outside India.

Social Media and Police

The Police departments, globally and in India, are using social media in the following ways.  

  1. To gather information.
  2. To create awareness by disseminating information and forewarning citizens.
  3. To maintain a public interface and reduce the communication gap.
  4. To increase citizen participation to identify crime. 
  5. To get feedback from citizens and understand their grievances.
  6. Social Media provide anonymity. Hence, it helps citizens overcome their fear of complaining about law and order issues.

In India, the potential to use social media provides vast potential for policing in India, as millions of Indians are active users of Facebook, Twitter, WhatsApp and other platforms.

Police and other law agencies use it in many ways. Some examples are

  • All the state police forces have their official Twitter, Facebook, Instagram etc., accounts for disseminating information and communicating directly with people. 
  • Social Media Labs Project by Maharashtra Police tracks activity on social media to anticipate and handle sudden flares up.
  • Delhi Traffic Police is using platforms like Facebook and Twitter to ease the handling of traffic-related issues.
  • Intelligence Bureau’s OPERATION CHAKRAVYUH uses Big Data Analysis of Social Media posts and other things to find trails of youth that are getting radicalized. 

Social Media and Politics

Social Media has changed the ways of doing politics in India. Some of the examples to corroborate this fact includes

Social Media and Politics

Benefits of Social Media in Politics

  1. Help the parties to disseminate their campaign, messages and ideas more effectively to the public.
  2. Facilitate two-way communication between the public and political parties.
  3. Cost-effective compared to print and digital media.
  4. Facilitate targeted delivery of the message.
  5. Levels the playing field


  1. Post-truth politics: “Post-truth” describes situations in which appeals to emotion and personal belief have a greater influence on public opinion than objective facts.
  2. Proliferation of fake news: Through social media, unverified information can circulate freely on the internet, increasing instances of fake news. 
  3. Troll the dissenting opinion: Online abuse in the form of trolling, verbal threats etc., of people with dissenting opinions.
  4. Misuse of data: For example, 2018 Cambridge Analytica case where personal data of millions of Facebook profiles was harvested without their consent and reportedly used for targeted messaging. 
  5. Propensity to fuel social instability: Allowing hate speech and extreme speech to thrive in unregulated online spaces, particularly in regional languages, has widened societal fault lines.

Role of Media in Internal Security Challenges

Role of Media in Internal Security Challenges

This article deals with the ‘Role of Media in Internal Security Challenges.’ This is part of our series on ‘Internal Security’, an important pillar of the GS-3 syllabus. For more articles, you can click here.

Introduction to Media

  • Media is derived from the word medium (meaning carrier or mode).
  • It denotes an item through which any kind of information, news, entertainment, education, data, promotional messages etc., can be disseminated.

Different types of Media

Media itself can be divided into several categories like

Print media Newspapers, magazines and books
Electronic Media Television, radio, websites etc.
Social Media Facebook, Instagram, Youtube etc.
Role of Media in Internal Security Challenges

Role of Media

The role of media in a country is crucial, and it is said to be the ‘Fourth Pillar of Democracy‘.

  1. It helps citizens to make responsible and objective choices
  2. It promotes government accountability by providing information about its functioning to the common public.
  3. Media is used to educate people through the news and social commentary.
  4. Media plays an instrumental role in bringing change in the attitudes and habits of the masses. For example, Swachh Bharat Abhiyan.
  5. Media also helps in the project of national integration by providing information about different parts of India. 
  6. Media plays the most critical role in shaping public perception. 

Constitutional and Legal provisions regarding Media

  • Article 19 of the Indian Constitution deals with freedom of speech and expression.
  • Articles 105(2) and 194(2) allow the Indian Press to publish or report the proceedings of the parliament and the state legislatures.
  • The Press Council of India is the regulatory body of the Indian press. Its main functions include
    • Preserve the freedom of the press
    • Maintain & improve the standard of newspapers and news agencies in India. 
    • It can receive complaints of violation of journalistic ethics or professional misconduct by an editor or journalist.
  • News Broadcasting Standards Authority (NBSA): NBSA is an independent watchdog set up by the Indian News Broadcasters Association on its own to consider and adjudicate complaints about broadcasts.
  • Broadcasting Code:  Originally, the code was set up to govern All India Radio (AIR). But all the major media organizations also follow this code voluntarily. The principles include:
    1. Addressing controversial issues impartially and dispassionately
    2. Ensuring the objective reporting of news and unbiased commentary in order to improve culture and education
    3. Raising and maintaining high standards of decency and decorum in all programs
    4. Encouraging religious tolerance, communal harmony, and international understanding
    5. Respecting human rights and dignity

But there are some restrictions on the media as well. These include 

  • Union & State legislatures can put ‘reasonable restrictions’ on free speech under Article 19(2) on 8 grounds i.e.
    • Sovereignty & integrity of the nation 
    • Security of state 
    • Friendly relations with foreign states 
    • Public order 
    • Decency and Morality 
    • Contempt of court
    • Defamation 
    • Incitement to an Offence
  • Defence of India Act, 1962: It was passed in the wake of the Sino-India war of 1962. It empowers the Central Government to issue rules with regard to prohibiting publication which would undermine or threaten the civil defence. 
  • Civil Defence Act, 1968: It enables the government to establish rules prohibiting the production and dissemination of any book, newspaper, or another item that compromises the nation’s and its citizens’ civil defence.

Principles of self-regulation for Media

Media has the power to influence the decisions of others and play an essential role in informing others. Hence, it becomes necessary that media follows certain principles of self-regulation.

  1. Accuracy and Objectivity in reporting: Accuracy is at the heart of reporting & errors must be corrected promptly.
  2. Ensuring Neutrality and Impartiality: Media platforms should give equality to all affected parties. They should ensure that allegations are not portrayed as facts and that charges are not portrayed as an act of guilt.
  3. Media should take care that they do not indulge in sensationalizing news to gain more TRP.
  4. There should be a wall between managerial/ownership activities and editorial jurisdiction.
  5. The media shouldn’t glorify crime and violence. Media platforms should not glamorize it, whatever their intention may be, as it influences the young generation negatively. 
  6. The media shouldn’t depict a woman or juvenile victim or witness of rape, aggression or trauma without concealing their identity. Media shouldn’t show nudity or porn in any form and shouldn’t intrude on private life unless a larger public interest is involved.
  7. Don’t endanger national security: Media platforms should use maps and terminology mandated by the law. Media shouldn’t broadcast content that encourages secessionist groups and furthers their interests.
  8. Media platforms should refrain from advocating or encouraging superstition or occultism.
  9. Media must not intrude on individuals’ private lives or personal affairs unless there is an established larger and identifiable public interest. 
  10. Sting operation should be the LAST RESORT: Media platforms cannot use sex or narcotics to carry a sting. Along with that, the sting should be in the larger public interest. Additionally, footage should be shown in full without alteration in the footage. 

Self-regulation is the best form of regulation, especially in the case of media. Hence media should try to stick to the above principles so that its freedom remains ensured.

How does media threaten national threat?

  • Breaking News Phenomenon: In India, far too many channels compete for viewership. With the phenomenon of ‘Breaking News’, news channels start to run any news without checking the veracity of facts. It frequently culminates into social tensions, communal riots and regional tensions between various ethnic groups. E.g., Mass exodus of North-Easterners from Bangalore.
  • Sensationalization of national security-related issues: During the hijacking of flight IC 814 to Kandahar, Indian media accurately reported the movement of army personnel and influenced the decision of political leadership, which led to poor negotiations and the eventual release of terrorists. 
  • Reporting on the sub-judice matter: Matters pending in the court are freely reported and discussed in the media. A parallel trial by the media can potentially vitiate the atmosphere around which a citizen is supposed to get justice. In certain high-profile cases, the media almost declares someone guilty or innocent, thereby putting the judiciary under tremendous pressure. For example, the media trial on the Sushant Rajput suicide case (2020), Jessica Lal case(2010) and Priyadarshini Mattoo case (2006)
  • By telecasting live coverage of Anti-terror operations, media can provide information on the deployment of security forces to the terrorists. For example: during the 26/11 Mumbai attack, the media telecasted live the operations carried out by the security forces. Terrorists also got access to the information resulting in significant casualties. Later, the government added a new clause to the 1994 Cable Television Network Rules’ Program Code. This provision limits media coverage of counterterrorism operations to periodic briefings by an authorized officer and forbids live coverage of such operations.
  • Media can flare communal riots by irresponsibly reporting on sensitive issues such as caste and communal conflict. E.g., The Muzaffarpur riots of 2013 or the Delhi riots of 2020. 
  • Fundamentalists can also use media to spread hate speech and radicalize the population. For example,
    • Zakir Naik’s Peace TV was spreading hate speeches against different religions and sects other than the Sunni sect of Islam. It has played an important role in radicalizing youth in Bangladesh.  Zakir Naik and his TV is already banned in the UK, Canada and Malaysia. India, too banned his NGO & TV in 2016.
    • Channels like Sudarshan news spread hate against the Muslim community. SC had to intervene to impose a pre-telecast ban on its “UPSC Jihad” program.
  • Indian media’s analysis of national security issues by groups of former diplomats, generals and self-proclaimed patriots (like Shifuju) distorts national security perspectives.

To prevent terrorists from using the media to achieve their goals, the media must exercise caution. Years ago, terrorism specialist Brian Jenkins said, “Terrorism is theatre.” Media also likes theatre. How many videos produced by the Islamic State may then be aired on TV without furthering their cause? There is no conclusive response. Their videos accomplish a dual aim by horrifying and motivating different groups of people.

Case Study: Media (Radio) during the Tutsi Genocide (Rwanda)

  • In early 1990, anti-Tutsi articles and cartoons started to appear in the Kangura newspaper. 
  • In June 1993, the RTLMC (Radio Station) started broadcasting in Rwanda. The radio station used rowdy language spoken by street thugs. It was specially designed to appeal to the unemployed.
  • “Slavery” was a term repeated throughout the transcripts, with guests on the radio station recalling the state of Hutu slavery during colonization. Drawing on such a vocabulary, the radio broadcasts characterized the Rwandan genocide as a slave rebellion.  
  • During the Riot, RTLMC was broadcasting such sentences again and again. 
    • “The graves are not yet full.” – This means killing more Tutsis.
    •  “go to work” – Meaning get your machete and kill Tutsis.

If the radio was a powerful medium then, where you only needed a transistor & few batteries, we have smartphones & WhatsApp today. The plethora of hate messages we get on WhatsApp mirror the phenomenon of the RTLMC, a concerted attempt to fabricate a newer version of history.

Side Note: Background to the Tutsi Genocide

Anti Tutsi Genocide (Rwanda)
Tutsi Genocide

Way Forward

  • Press Council of India should be empowered to penalize newspapers, news agencies, editors, etc., for the violation of its guidelines.
  • News Broadcasters Association (NBA) which represents private television news broadcasters, should be given statutory status on the lines of the Press Council of India.
  • Media should not indulge in ‘Media Trials’ as it meddles with a trial in accordance with the law.