Incidents of violence have come down drastically in conflict-affected regions of India (Jammu & Kashmir, north-east and Naxal-affected states) in the last decade even as an overwhelming number of local people (above 50%) believe that “lack of development” is the main cause of insurgency and Naxalism in the country, according to the latest report on ‘Status of Policing in India’.
India’s perceived success in handling insurgency and Left Wing Extremism got thumbs up as over 70% of the people surveyed feel their region is “very safe for living”.
Between 2001 and 2019, over 68,500 incidents of violence were reported from Jammu and Kashmir region, north-eastern states and Left Wing Extremism (LWE)-affected regions of the country in which 23,283 civilians and security force personnel lost their lives. About 75 percent incidents were reported in the first decade i.e., between 2001 and 2010 and nearly 45 per cent of them were reported in the first five years of 2000s. Effectively, this means that only 17,125 incidents were reported in last nine years (2011-2019) as against 51,375 between 2001 and 2010.
The state of Jammu and Kashmir, which was bifurcated into two Union Territories in August 2019, has seen the level of violence and tension coming down significantly as compared to 1990s and early 2000s. There was a perceptible decline in the number of incidents and also in the number of civilians, security forces personnel and terrorists being killed, the report states.
Post 2012, insurgency in the north-eastern states has declined rapidly and the violent incidents have dropped from 1025 to 223 in 2019. In 2019, as many as 21 civilians and four security personnel lost lives in the region compared to 97 and 14 respectively in 2012.
Most common people and police are against extremists’ use of violent methods to achieve their goal. An overwhelming number of common people believe that Naxalite/insurgent activities are a direct result of inequality, injustice, exploitation, discrimination, poverty and unemployment.
Less than 25% common people and police believe in ‘encounter’ method to deliver justice to insurgents/Naxals. Besides, more than 50% respondents (59% common people and 50% police personnel) believe that human rights are more important than national security.
Violence by police and paramilitary forces is more prevalent in Naxal-affected regions than insurgency affected regions of Jammu and Kashmir and North-Eastern states. One out of five people from Naxal-affected regions personally know of cases of physical torture by the police.
Police personnel (60%) think Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA) and the National Security Act (NSA) are essential for controlling Naxalite/insurgent activities, though human rights activists often label these acts as draconian. However, 42% of the common people surveyed from the insurgency-affected areas of North-east believe that security laws such as UAPA are very harsh and should be repealed.
About 45% respondents believe that police do not discriminate against dalits, adivasis, poor, Muslims and Christians when dealing with insurgents/Naxals.
The fear of police detention is palpable as one out of three common people are afraid of being beaten up by the police or being arrested or detained for no reason.
Despite complaints against police, over 60% common people trust them (local police department) more than paramilitary force or Army.