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Are all India’s 8 north-eastern states disturbed areas?

May 2, 2008

North East terrorismI wonder if you read this piece of news – quoting from

Jammu and Kashmir is no longer the hot bed of militancy and separatist violence in the country as the conflict-ridden northeastern states have surpassed it in respect of insurgency-related violence and civilian casualties. The northeastern states recorded 1,489 incidents of insurgency-related violence in 2007 while Jammu and Kashmir recorded about 900 incidents, according to the latest report titled, Status Paper on Naxal Activities, prepared by the ministry of home affairs.

Did you find something odd in the above news which appeared in all major newspapers? Well, I did. I wondered why one state was compared to seven…or rather eight?? Sure, Jammu and Kashmir does consist of three different areas (Jammu, the Kashmir valley and Ladakh) but even then why compare it to all the north-eastern states?? (Arunachal Pradesh, Assam, Meghalaya, Manipur, Mizoram, Nagaland, and Tripura plus Sikkim). The area of the North Eastern states is certainly larger than J&K and even the political situation is different…the cause of the terrorism is not as homogenous as it seems. The same news item does in fact acknowledge that amongst the northeastern states, it is Assam which is worst affected. In fact 40 percent of the violence mentioned has taken place in Assam, with 12 insurgent groups operating from there.

I wanted a more comprehensive picture of the situation but not even the The Assam Tribune had the details. Finally I found an older article by Wasbir Hussain (in Manipur Online) which gives a good picture of the problem in the north-east. The main points he makes are:

  • The North-East consists of 40 million people spread over 8 states that cover 2,63,000 square kilometers and none of them would agree to fight for the liberation of the ‘Northeast’ in general
  • The trouble is caused not just by armed separatist groups fighting for independence or autonomy, but also the “battles for territorial supremacy amongst the different ethnic groups themselves.”
  • These movements are often triggered by fears of losing their distinct identity
  • Besides the 30 armed insurgent organizations, there are ethnic groups who want their distinct identity. The region is an “ethnic minefield” as it comprises of around 160 Scheduled Tribes, besides an estimated 400 other tribal or sub-tribal communities and groups
  • Strategic alliances between rebel groups in the region “transcend inter-state and international borders.”

There are two other important points that Hussain makes. One is that the central government for the past few years has been pumping funds into developmental projects in these regions, hoping that development will diffuse the violent activities. This isn’t working as well as it should because:

  • Leakage of funds at various levels of the government machinery. Development funds are making their way into the coffers of the insurgent groups
  • Lack of capacity by the states in the region to absorb the huge quantity of funds in the absence of training and expertise to successfully come up with implementable location-specific projects and the infrastructure to get some of these projects off the drawing board stage

Hussain also talks about how the North-East is in the news for the wrong reasons. No one writes about the successfully developed projects. I agree with him when he says that if the insurgency in the various states has to improve, the rest of India needs to know the good things that are happening in that region. News like the north-east as a whole is big trouble is not just the worst thing to hear, it’s plain wrong.

Some states are peaceful. The official website of the Mizoram government has tried to put this across. It says that large parts of Arunachal Pradesh and Nagaland are peaceful. So is Mizoram and Sikkim. It goes on to say:

It is very unfair to bracket all these North Eastern states as disturbed areas. This only proves lack of understanding of complex problems of the North Eastern region. It must be understood that no two states of North East are similar. In fact, each state has its own set of problems. They have been grouped as North Eastern region on geographical convenience only.

(Picture is from

Related Reading: More articles on the North-East

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21 Comments leave one →
  1. May 2, 2008 10:25 am

    i agree,good things should be mentioned…in my school they took us students on a trip to kaziranga…but my parents didn’t allow me to go fearing my safety…

  2. May 2, 2008 10:39 am

    Sure, this was an informative piece. People hardly distinguish between north-eastern states. It is a shame that we know so little about our eastern states.

  3. May 2, 2008 11:05 am

    The notorious scoundrels in the central government and the so-called “national”,so-called “mainstream” media are responsible for dishing out all the wrong information! 😡

  4. May 2, 2008 12:57 pm

    Yipppiee!! Good news 🙂 The NE is on my must-visit list, and the more good news I have to convince my wary Southie hubby, the better 🙂

    My parents visited Shillong (Meghalay) a couple years back and they had a ball. They LOVED it!!

  5. May 2, 2008 1:25 pm

    I was born and grew up in Mizoram, and since then, I have lived in Delhi, certain areas in Maharashtra, Chandigarh, and Hyderabad for years, and Mizoram is still the most peaceful place I’ve ever lived in. I completely agree with Raj’s comment above. I get asked all the time when I tell people I’m from Mizoram ‘Oh, how’s the disturbance there? Insurgency? Fighting? Is it safe?’ and the only thing I ever have to say is ‘Uh,..what disturbance? I’ve never felt safer anywhere else. It’s so peaceful it’s boring!’ 😛

  6. May 2, 2008 3:15 pm

    I think its quite unfair to compare J&K with the northeastern states. J&K is a very different kind of a problem. One of my friends have visited a few of eastern regions sometime back and he found it quite peaceful.

  7. May 2, 2008 4:44 pm

    It is not the comparison but the grave situation developing in North Eastern states has to be taken note of. We are surrounded by failed states all around. More details are here at intellibriefs – India and its external security

    Sorry Old Sailor…but for some reason this comment had slipped into spam. Just recovered it! (evening 3rd May) – Nita.

  8. May 2, 2008 5:51 pm

    Vishesh, I hope you do go to Kaziranga some day. Its quite safe for tourists…though not from the animals!

    Poonam, thanks.

    Raj, in this case, almost all media I think.

    Snigdha, yes Shillong is a beautiful place. In fact the whole north-east is. Arunachal is beautiful, wild and green and the streams and the moutains! Sikkim is more commercialised now, particularly Gangtok, but there are many other enexplored areas in the NE.

    Jerusha, a pity that this is all that people can ask about. I hope a day will come when they tell you from what a beautiful place you come from!

    Amit, the average north easterner (if there is such an identity) is a peaceloving person and not aggressive. There is far less crime etc in those states because the people there are by nature peaceful.

  9. May 2, 2008 8:21 pm

    Right on. Mizoram is extremely peaceful compared to the other NE states. In fact it is more peaceful than any other States in India. But being a part of the north-east, one cannot really blame others for generalizing Mizoram… 🙂

    I once exploited this misconception, and when I forgot to bring my entrance exam ID card to a certain college in Delhi, I pleaded with the college administrators, “There were gun fights in Mizoram just before I left, and I lost my ID card amidst the battle. I really hope you understand, sir…” and they excused me 🙂 but now, yeah, I feel ashamed about it.

  10. May 2, 2008 9:54 pm

    Being from Mizoram, it is just different from the rest of the states in Northeast India.

    @kima, a very good excuse! love that…. haha…

  11. May 2, 2008 9:58 pm

    And our girls are more safe in towns and cities across Mizoram unlike big cities in central India. However, tourists are put off by Inner Line Permit and Restricted Area Permit that are in place for foreigners and Indians from other states respectively to enter the state.

  12. begone permalink
    May 3, 2008 8:18 pm

    “people like this mentality has made 95% population of NE as terrorists”

    I am not trying to complain here Nita. I am pasting Mr Vivek Mittals quote from the South vs North thread just to illustrate what is wrong with the view from the mainland, esp North India.

    Begone, every comment reveals the person who makes it. Remember that. – Nita.

  13. May 3, 2008 10:45 pm


    I agree that a comment reflects the character or rather the lack of it,of the person who writes it.

    But why did you allow that comment that Begone quoted?

    Here is your own comment policy:

    // 4) Racist comments will not be published and nor will comments denigrating any community or religion.
    5) In fact, no indecent, inflammatory, slanderous or uncivil comment/trackback will be published. Some people like to goad others, and I feel if you want to pick a fight, then do it somewhere else.
    6) Any comment irrelevant to the post may not be published and nor will repetitive comments or comments which contain false information. If you make a claim it is preferable that you give some reference by way of a link to back up your statement otherwise it may not be taken seriously and if it is thought to be blatantly false, it can be deleted. //

    Now,one particular person has been writing comments like this all along and you have been allowing it.

    I cannot tell you what to do on your own blog,but I wonder if you would allow me if I write a comment that says that 95% of the people from one particular region of the country are of a particular nature???

    Well, I admit that on this post I have let quite a few comments like that pass…but I have to be fair at all costs and I think that Begone has made similar comments. Its funny how you don’t notice that Raj. Also there are quite a few comments that you have made which are on the borderline…not naming a person does not mean that you have not named him. Also I have said several times that I have absolutely no intention of checking up on people’s factual information here as I have no time…in fact as far as I am concenred the North South post is dead for me…however if people want to comment they are welcome. I do remove personal insults though and that is all I can do.
    At the same time you welcome to point to any comment that you object to, and if I feel you are right, I shall delete it. I think I have said this several times too Raj. If you feel it is all my job, I am sorry, not interested!
    – Nita.

  14. May 4, 2008 4:29 pm


    I have decided to voluntarily stay away from the North-South post as I do not want to waste any more time there arguing with that particular person.But let his comment be there.Let everyone see what he thinks of his fellow citizens.

    I agree that you have been neutral on that post.It must have been very difficult for you as it has degraded to a slugfest.Unfriendly and rude comments have been exchanged by both sides.I have been guilty of testing the limits of your comment policy as well.As you said,though I never named the people of a particular region,it is quite obvious who I was referring to.I am not going to justify my behaviour but I was only reacting to the false allegations made by the person whose comment was quoted by Begone.

  15. vivek mittal permalink
    May 9, 2008 9:29 am

    It looks as if i am the most popular participator on this blog, people always discuss about me, whether this thread or another 🙂

  16. Co2 permalink
    May 26, 2008 12:07 am

    As far as the most disturbed states go, it’s definitely Assam and Manipur! Manipur just seems ungovernable, and Assam has so many insurgent groups operating, all figthing for different things, you lose count of them, not to mention how corrupt the government there is (don’t protect the interests of its OWN people, just for the sake of their precious vote-bank, otherwise they’d have been out of office already!).

    People forget that Mizoram has been peaceful for 2 decades now. Sikkim is too, and is a really great place for tourism.

    The others are kind of mixed. While Meghalaya and Tripura have had their past troubles, I’m pretty sure the violence has died down quite a lot now.

  17. pooja permalink
    July 15, 2008 3:40 pm

    i born n brought up in Arunachal Pradesh,though i m not from that place.Earlier there was no problem,but gradually it went on increasing still most of the places are safe. Like i lived at many places of arunachal, they r heavenly beautiful n very comfortable to live.well those r not hi-tech places but still if u like calm,peacefull places that is one of the best option to go.And yes,the Awesome beauti, i starve to go there again n spent lot of time there. but being at job its just not possible,n moreover due to ignorance of government also those places r turning towards disturbances. And now at this point when they r caught into disturbances then the government is planning to improve it.but its better to late than never to start.

  18. January 27, 2009 11:14 am

    Nice read. A very thoughtful and informative write-up. It always kicks up a handful of debates but i guess it’s one way for people to actually start talking and sharing ideas. And thanks for sharing this.


    Thanks Sapam. You have a good site going and I have added it to my “useful” links page. – Nita

  19. January 29, 2009 5:24 pm

    Tripura has been a very peaceful & progressive state barring 10-12 years spanning the late 80’s & early 90’s.
    Please visit Agartala, the capital of Tripura, to get a first hand experience.
    The city is booming.
    There is a NIT , 2 Medical Colleges & a Central Varsity. A large number of Temples built by the erstwhile Kings of Tripura is also an added attraction. The hospitality & the infrastucture sectors are really growing fast.
    The national media doesnot highlight these.
    You can take a Jet, Indian, Indigo or Kingfisher flight from Kolkata/Delhi to reach Agartala.
    PLease enjoy the beauty of the place.

  20. June 23, 2013 1:15 am


  21. TITAS DEBNATH permalink
    January 7, 2015 1:16 am

    For the last 10 to 15 years tripura has been the most peaceful state in north-east.the capital city of tripura namely Agartala is the 2nd largest city in north-east after guahati.tripura has so many natural and artificial lakes,many ancient temples,kingly palaces,archeological place,sanctuary etc..the state has also developed eco-tourism.connected with the rest of the country via airways,train,roads….plz visit tripura

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