Skip to main content

Rise in regional, secessionist forces 'triggering' heightened violence in India: Study

By Rajiv Shah
Is India compulsively moving towards a situation where centripetal tendencies are increasingly challenging centrifugal tendencies? A new research work, which has studied "link" between regional parties and secessionist forces, and resultant violence, goes a long way to imply that India's federal structure, governed from Delhi, is becoming fragile and may come under stress. For, already, no amount of "appeasement" of regional aspirations or "clampdown" on them is helping mitigate the situation.
The study comes amidst the ruling BJP, which acquired absolute majority in Parliament, seeking to appease the Naga aspirations by reportedly agreeing to the National Socialist Council of Nagaland (NSCN-IM) demand for a separate flag and a separate passport. It also comes following the BJP victory at the Centre leading to a resurgence in the long dormant aspiration for a separate Dravidian state.
The study, "Regional Representation and Secessionist Violence in India", by Sacha Kapoor and Arvind Magesan, belonging respectively to the Erasmus University Rotterdam, Netherlands, the University of Calgary, Canada, covers 28 states and 2 union territories (New Delhi and Puducherry), sampling elections where a regional party was the winner or runner-up in 3,925 constituencies.
It relies on the Uppsala Conflict Data Program (UCDP) and the Georeferenced Event Dataset (GED), calling them the "most comprehensive database on political violence in India, compiling information for 1989 onwards from a range of sources", as also "primary sources", army and police, and secondary sources, Associated Press, BBC, local media, and the violence database of the South Asian Terrorism Portal (SATP).
Pointing towards the extent of tension following the rise of regional political aspirations of regional outfits, the study says, "The election of a regional party candidate increases the occurrence of a violent event and death in the home constituency of the elected representative by 7.2 percentage points and the number of violent events and deaths by 9.9 and 13.4 percent."
It further says, "In states with an active secessionist movement, a win by a regional party candidate increases the probability of a violent event occurring in the subsequent inter-election years by 14 percentage points and the number of violent events by 26.3 percent. The number of deaths due to political violence increases by 40 percent."
The study believes, "These increases are explained by heightened secessionist violence between rebel groups and government forces. As regional parties and secessionist rebels have a shared history and overlapping agendas, regional party representatives facilitate or overlook rebel activities in their constituencies in exchange for rebel support at election time."
The study points out, "Regional parties in India are often the children of historical regional movements for autonomy or full independence" and such they "retain complex and lasting ties with violent secessionist organizations." It adds, "In addition to the personal relationships that link the regional parties and secessionist organizations, they tend to make similar regional and ethnic appeals, as well as represent many of the same grievances and demands."
Stating that "violence increases when the regional party representative is an outsider to the governing coalition", the study finds, "The election of a regional party representative who is part of the opposition increases the occurrence of a violent event by almost 24 percent."
According to the study, "A regional party representative increases the occurrence of a violent event occurring by 14.4 percentage points in states with a secessionist movement." But "a regional party representative increases the occurrence of a violent event by 6.5 percentage points in states without a secessionist movement."
Suggesting that clampdown has not helped overcome regional aspirations and the resultant tensions, the study says, the states with a secessionist movements, especially in the North-East and Jammu and Kashmir (J&K), were sought to be curtailed with the Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act (AFSPA), which accords the Indian military "special powers in areas that have been deemed disturbed areas”.
It notes, AFSPA is "extremely controversial, as armed forces are given the ability to shoot to kill under very broad conditions, the ability to arrest on suspicion and without a warrant, and provides officers with immunity from prosecution in the event that the powers are abused."
"Fundamental human rights have been violated in the 'disturbed states' on a fairly large scale, and Indian soldiers have come to be viewed as a symbol of oppression, and have only served to increase the animosity between locals and the central government", it adds.
The study elucidates, "All this is supported by raw statistics on police presence across India. From 2001-2012, there was 5.57 police per 1000 persons in secessionist states, whereas there were only 1.91 police per 1000 persons in non-secessionist states."
The Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act in 'disturbed areas' has served to increase the animosity between locals and the central government
The study further says that having representatives in "the national or state parliaments may not appease these populations because, while local representatives improve opportunities for power sharing with the central executive, these opportunities may not translate into actual power sharing."
Thus, it says, "This argument aligns with events in Nagaland and Manipur, who were granted statehood within the Indian federation in 1963 and 1972, respectively, and where the granting of 'substantial autonomy' caused armed groups’ demands to be more radicalized and violence to intensify."
"It is unsurprising, therefore, that federal structures are met with resistance, that these populations elect one of their own, and that the person they elect facilitates or incites secessionist violence against the center", it adds.
The study says, "The violence in states with secessionist movements in India is almost exclusively of two types, anti-regime violence and Sons of the Soil violence, the latter a consequence of the nativism which often precedes or attends secessionist sentiment."
"Sons of Soil violence occurs when one ethnic group, typically indigenous to the region, deems itself the rightful inheritor of the land and its economic advantages, and takes up arms against perceived invaders and wrongful competitors", it adds.
The study notes, "This is a common theme in India’s North-East, for example, where episodes of large scale immigration from both Bangladesh and other Indian states has stoked violence for several decades", adding, "The electoral support generated by paramilitaries weakens the incentives of central governments to eliminate non-state armed actors..."
Thus, "A number of political parties in the Northeast have formed over the years to represent the interests of 'indigenous' ethnic groups who themselves seek greater autonomy together with greater economic and cultural protection from Bengali speaking immigrants."
Providing reasons how regional political outfits become important, it says, "The combination of the two factors -- concentrated ethnic populations and decentralized power -- is a powerful explanation for the rise of regional parties in India, and likely explains why regional political parties have greater prominence in state legislative assemblies rather than the national parliament."

Comments

Anonymous said…
From reading this account, it seems as though the states of Jammu and Kashmir and Nagaland- maybe Manipur, Assam, but we don't know that- are being used to make a sweeping statistical argument about 'secessionist' and 'non-secessionist' states, with the common thread being 'regional political parties.' Can the Naga People's parties or the PDP/National Conference really be compared with, say, the DMK, TRS, Shiv Sena or Trinamool? One could argue that outfits like the Congress and CPI (M) in Kerala, for example, are for all practical purposes regional parties. This sort of data-mongering is harmlessly obtuse generally, but at this point when increasing centralization looms, it's really quite irresponsible.
Uma said…
The national register is a bad idea. People living in India for several decades and without breaking laws except illegal entry should not be thrown out. After all they now have their roots here. And the soldier who served in the army is not a citizen??!

TRENDING

Buddhist shrines were 'massively destroyed' by Brahmanical rulers: Historian DN Jha

Nalanda mahavihara By Our Representative Prominent historian DN Jha, an expert in India's ancient and medieval past, in his new book , "Against the Grain: Notes on Identity, Intolerance and History", in a sharp critique of "Hindutva ideologues", who look at the ancient period of Indian history as "a golden age marked by social harmony, devoid of any religious violence", has said, "Demolition and desecration of rival religious establishments, and the appropriation of their idols, was not uncommon in India before the advent of Islam".

World Bank proved right, Narmada is already a destructive project: Medha Patkar

By Rajiv Shah  Narmada Bachao Andolan leader Medha Patkar has said that the World Bank’s independent review mission, which brought out the Morse Commission report , has been proved right: The Sardar Sarovar dam has not only failed to live up to the loud promises made for irrigating large arid areas of Saurashtra and Kutch in Gujarat, those who were displaced and resettled in Gujarat are getting increasingly restive as many of them are unable to get the promised water for irrigation and some for drinking water too. While 50,000 families have been resettled in three states and 20,000 have received land rights as land or cash, the authorities have not calculated what should be done with 15,000 families, whose houses are acquired for Sardar Sarovar but following changing backwater levels of the Sardar Sarovar dam, they are denied rehabilitation, Patkar tells Counterview in an interview (part1*): *** Q: What is the latest position in your view as far as the Sardar Sarovar dam is concerned?

Upholding labour rights, Nehruvian scientific temper, Rajni Patel opposed Emergency

By Harsh Thakor*  Rajni Patel, who died 40 years ago, whatever his flaws, had one great quality: his human touch to offer selfless service and ability to galvanise or influence human beings from all walks of life. Few people would ever go out of the way to help someone or serve as selflessly without aim of personal gain. Rajni championed Nehruvian secular ideas and scientific temper. As a master in public relations he revealed utmost humility. As a barrister, he never appeared against the trade unions or workers. A Fabien Socialist he opposed liberal capitalism and radical socialism. Unlike most lawyers, he did not succumb to the lure of amassing wealth. Rajni was born in Sirsa, in Gujarat, on the very day Gandhi set foot on Indian soil, on 9th January, 1915. He gained his baptism through one of Gandhi's speeches calling for the boycott of foreign goods, which was the virtual turning point of his life. Rajni toed Gandhi to organise boycott of foreign goods. Rajni was able to cros

Vadodara violence: Fine Arts Faculty alumni raise fingers at Varsity's political appointee

Hasmukh Vaghela with PM Counterview Desk  In a statement, alumni of the Faculty of Fine Arts (FoFA), Maharaja Sayajirao University (MSU), Baroda, Gujarat, referring to the “violence” by right-wing groups for displaying “objectionable” paintings that “hurt religious sentiments” at the one of India’s top fine arts institute May 5, have taken strong exception to “the assault and rustication” of one of the students, and lack of action taken against those who “violated” the institution and committed the act. Floated as an online petition seeking wider support, the FoFA alumni, in their statement, addressed to the vice chancellor, MSU, said, there should be “thorough” investigation in the whole incident and “immediate action” should be taken against syndicate member Hasmukh Vaghela, MSU, who sparked the assault, and “other co-conspirators” for breaching “university code of conduct and unlawful activities committed in broad daylight”. While the alumni statement doesn't say so, Vaghela

Swami Vivekananda's views on caste and sexuality were 'painfully' regressive

By Bhaskar Sur* Swami Vivekananda now belongs more to the modern Hindu mythology than reality. It makes a daunting job to discover the real human being who knew unemployment, humiliation of losing a teaching job for 'incompetence', longed in vain for the bliss of a happy conjugal life only to suffer the consequent frustration.

UK leader cites Indian farmers' struggle one of top global fights against neoliberal order

Counterview Desk  Jeremy Corbyn, member of the UK Parliament, former leader of the UK Labour Party and founder of the  Peace and Justice Project , in his  inaugural speech to the  Progressive International’s  Summit at the End of the World on May 12, 2022, has said, what is happening across globe suggests that "image of apocalypse -- bombs and raids, oil spills and wildfires, disease and contagion -- is a reality for people across the planet." In an adaptation of his speech, distributed by  Globetrotter , Corbyn, however, said, there are fresh examples action, too -- by Indian farmers forcing Prime Minister Narendra Modi to withdraw three neo-liberal laws;  by workers, communities and activists against the top giant multinational Amazon's "greed and exploitation"; and by Latin American people's struggle to say "no more to the domination by imperialism, the destruction of their communities and the abuse of their environments." Stating that this is n

Why is NIOH-ICMR 'official' making false claims on silicosis?: Health rights NGO

Counterview Desk In a letter to the Director General, Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR), New Delhi, Dr Jagdish Parikh, trustee, health rights NGO People’s Training and Research Centre (PTRC), Vadodara, and Jagdish Patel, director, PTRC, have said that the claim being made for the use of biomarker for detection of silicosis raises concern about scientific tenacity of the diagnosis of the deadly occupational disease. The letter also objects to the reported claim by a top health official that it is possible to detect silicosis at the sub-radiological stage. It asks, “What is this subradiological stage of silicosis? We have not heard any such scientific term being used. Again, the report is using a term which is not found in any scientific literature so far. Is this term acceptable by ICMR? Is ICMR thinking of any explanation?” Text : This is with reference to our letter dated November 28, 2021. In our communication we had raised our concern about the scientific tena

Welfare? Govt of India spends just 19% of manual scavengers' rehabilitation budget

By Bharat Dogra*  While the Dalit community has been always known for higher levels of poverty as well as social discrimination, even within the Dalits there is a sub-section known for even worse levels of poverty as well as social discrimination. This is the section which was traditionally involved in manual scavenging. The shocking injustice they have suffered from over the years has been widely recognized leading to a ban on manual scavenging. At the same time there is urgent need for the rehabilitation of those engaged in manual scavenging. Hence a self-employment scheme for the rehabilitation of those engaged in manual scavenging was drawn up. The allocations and the expenditure for this scheme for the last eight years are shown in the Table below: Union Budget for Self-Employment Scheme for Rehabilitation of  Manual Scavengers (in Rs crore) By Budget Estimate we mean the original allocation made when the budget is presented. It is clear from this table that the actual expenditure

Custodial death of Muslim youth: Govt of India told to ratify UN convention on torture

Counterview Desk  Kirity Roy, secretary, Banglar Manabadhikar Suraksha Mancha (MASUM), and national convenor, Programme Against Custodial Torture & Impunity (PACTI), Hooghly, West Bengal, in a representation to the chairman, National Human Rights Commission (NHRC), has drawn to the custodial death of a Muslim youth following his torture in police custody after registering a "false case" based on manufactured records. Seeking "proper investigation" the whole incident, Roy in his plea insists, the incident legitimizes his organisations' long-standing demand "for immediate ratification of the United Nations Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment and Punishment." Text : Here I want to draw your kind attention to one incident of custodial torture by the Deganga police personnel and the subsequent custodial death of one Muslim man from the Other Backward Class community in Dum Dum Central Correctional Home. The name o

This Maoist justified US, western Europe's anti-Soviet stance, even Bhindranwale

By Harsh Thakor*  A glaring example of the extent to which those seeking to identify themselves as revolutionaries can go in making odd compromises with those normally considered as “class enemies” in Marxist jargon is late Kondapalli Seetharamiah. Few know that this Maoist organiser two decades ago was so enamoured by the Chinese three worlds theory that he called for a united front with the United States and other western countries against what he considered Soviet social imperialism! This wasn’t the only “compromise” Seetharamiah made during his career as a revolutionary. On Punjab he took a most eclectical stand of supporting Jarnail Singh Bhindranwale, thus soft-pedalling the terrorist Khalistani movement. Among his other opportunist alliances, about which few are aware of, include support to the Akalis in Punjab, on one hand, and the NTR Telugu Desam regime in Andhra Pradesh, on the other – all part of his anti-Congress thrust. Also known as KS, this Maoist started his career as