July 26, 2010: India currently has three rebellions to deal with; Islamic radicals in Kashmir, communist rebels in the rural east and tribal separatists in the northeast. The northeastern violence is the one you hear the least about, at least outside of India. Tribal separatists in northeast India have long been a major source of terrorist deaths, averaging 500 a year over the last five years. The cause of all this is unwanted migration. That's because the northeastern tribal territories only became part of India when the British colonial government departed in 1947. The tribes resented this, as well as the growing flood of migrants from other parts of India. The terrorism was directed largely at these immigrants. There used to be over 5,000 active and armed separatists, but counter-terror operations, and an amnesty program, have reduced the number to less than a thousand. Many of the separatists have devolved into criminal gangs and bandits.
Most of the tribal violence is in Assam and Manipur. These two areas have a population of 29 million people, 90 percent of it in Assam. But a little over half the deaths are in Manipur. The two states contains dozens of tribes, and about a third of the population are non-tribal Indians from other parts of the country. While the main target of tribal violence, these migrants are the best educated and dominate the local economy.
In the last two years, the government pacification efforts have been increasingly successful. Casualties have been declining, and are currently about a third of what they were two years ago. For most of the last decade, the northeast was almost as deadly as Kashmir in the northwest. But the Kashmir violence was considered more dangerous, because the Pakistan-based Islamic terrorists were seeking to spread their violence throughout India. The tribal terrorists in the northeast were not. India sent twice as many security troops to Kashmir, as they did to the northeast. Partly, this was because it was possible to negotiate with the tribal separatists, while the Islamic terrorists were on a mission from God, and are determined to conquer all of India and forcibly convert everyone to Islam. Moslems have been trying to do this for over a thousand years, and India sees this as a much greater threat than unruly tribes.
Over the last few years, peace deals have been negotiated with the tribal rebels, and the Islamic terrorists have been largely wiped out. Moreover, the civilian supporters in both areas have become tired of the seemingly endless violence, and cut back on their support for the rebels and terrorists. The growing threat is now from the communist (Maoist or Naxalite) rebels of rural eastern India. As a result, this is where most of the Indian police effort is being directed. The communist violence currently accounts for two-thirds of the deaths caused by rebel activity, and that will increase until the communist rebellion is suppressed. Deaths from communist violence are running at an annual rate of 1,500 this year, a fifty percent increase over last year. For 2005-8, annual deaths averaged about 700 a year.