Internal Security Challenges, Organised Crime and Terrorism – laws and agencies to tackle them

Internal Security Challenges refer to the challenges that originate within the country and pose a threat to the integrity and democratic functioning of the government in any part of the country. Besides the traditional internal security challenges such as Left Wing Extremism, Insurgency and conflicts in Jammu Kashmir and Northeast India, new security challenges such as the issue of cyber security, polarisation and rising extremism in society too are becoming important and demand attention. Here, we will see briefly the Maoist insurgency, Jammu and Kashmir, and Northeast issues, while also putting a light on the salient features of the laws that the government has enacted to deal with these challenges.

Left Wing Extremism and Maoist insurgency

  • Causal issues: The Left Wing Extremism originated in 1960s as a result of ineffective land reforms, violation of indigenous people’s forest rights, and their displacement due to land acquisition in the name of national development.
  • Extent of influence: The area over which the LWE remains active till date is referred to as the Red Corridor. It extends from the Nepal border in Bihar to north of Tamil Nadu, with some region of non-influence in coastal areas of Odisha called the Odisha gap.
  • Associated political outfit: Communist Party of India (Maoist) is associated with the Maoist movement. It is designated as a terrorist organisation under Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, 1967.
  • Government Response:
    • countering force with force.
    • promoting institutions of participative decentralised democracy, implementation of PESA [Panchayats (Extension to Scheduled Areas Act 1996)], enactment and implementation of Forest Rights Act, 2006, development activities.
    • Integrated Action Plan 2010 – aimed for development activities in LWE affected areas. A similar initiative, called Aspirational Districts Programme is being implemented for rapid transformation of 115 districts from ‘backward’ to ‘aspirational’.

North-Eastern conflicts

  • Reasons for conflict
    • Inter-ethnic conflicts due to presence of many competing ethnicities having a history of antagonism towards each other.
    • Tensions between locals and migrants: The local people are anxious about changing racial and religious demographics due to in-migration of people from Bangladesh and West Bengal.
    • Dissatisfaction with the central government over issues like AFSPA (Armed Forces Special Powers Act) being active even during normalcy, and lack of industrial development with growing unemployment.
    • External influences: Some countries have vested interests in destabilising the region and furthering their narrow agendas. These countries fund militant groups, and supply them arms. A classic case which brought this to forefront is the Purulia Arms Drop Case, wherein an unauthorised helicopter dropped loads of firearms in West Bengal.
  • Insurgency and Demands of Self-determination:
    • Historical reasons: During the accession of princely states into India after India’s freedom, many states were acceded by the decision of their rulers rather than by consensus of general population. This contention has historically fuelled many insurgent groups.
    • Situation today: While most regional groups have given up their demands of a separate nation, some regional groups demand greater regional autonomy and larger state boundaries. For example, the Nagas demand a bigger Nagalim state through extension of their state boundaries, and state sovereignty over state’s natural resources among several other demands. Some fringe groups continue with extreme ideologies, but their appeal has faded in the democratic culture.

Jammu and Kashmir issues

  • The history of Jammu and Kashmir is a complicated one. Jammu and Kashmir acceded to India in 1947 with the signing of the Instrument of Accession by Maharaja Hari Singh, the then ruler of Jammu and Kashmir. Since then, India and Pakistan has fought wars over Jammu and Kashmir. The local demography has changed due to in-migration of certain communities and also due to exodus of some Hindu communities as a result of communal violence. Extremist groups perennially keep fuelling violence for political gains.
  • Government Response:
    • Autonomy for Jammu and Kashmir
      • Article 35A – gives the state the power to decide permanent residents of Jammu and Kashmir and to confer upon them special rights and privileges.
      • Article 370 gives special status to the state of Jammu and Kashmir. Except for Defence, Foreign Affairs, Finance and Communications, the Parliament requires the concurrence of the state legislature for applying any law to the state.
    • Armed response to tackle insurgency:
      • Enactment of AFSPA (Armed Forces Special Powers Act)
      • Rashtriya Rifles – a counter insurgency force deployed in the state.

Several laws have been enacted to empower police, intelligence agencies, and armed forces to deal with all forms of internal security challenges.

Laws to fight terrorism and Organised Crime in India

  • Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, 1967 – UAPA
    • The objective of this law is to make powers available for dealing with activities directed against the integrity and sovereignty of India.
    • The law extends to whole of India, and is often applied to ban insurgent organisations and to freeze their financial assets.
  • National Security Act, 1980
    • Preventive detention upto a year is allowed under this act.
  • At state level too various stringent laws exist to deal with terrorism. Various states have their own Goondas Act or Control of Organised Crime Act to deal with goons, for example: the Maharashtra Control of Organised Crime Act (MCOCA) , 1999. The common elements in all these state level Goondas Acts are:
    • Stringent provisions: Most goondas acts legitimise the use of confessions in police custody as evidence in court (including MCOCA). These laws also permit preventive detention without bail for upto a year.
    • Misuse of law: These laws are meant to be invoked against habitual offenders, and the Supreme Court has cautioned against the use of this act for arbitrary detention. Nevertheless, these laws are frequently misused by police officers to achieve personal ends.

Repealed anti-terrorism laws:

  • Terrorist and Disruptive Activities (Prevention) Act, 1987
    • It gave a thorough definition of terrorism. It was enacted to contain Punjab insurgency.
    • REPEALED- due to stringent provisions: no presumption of innocence, arbitrary detention upto a year.
  • Prevention of Terrorism Act, 2002
    • It was enacted in the wake of the terrorist attacks on the Indian Parliament.
    • REPEALED in 2004, on account of misuse of its stringent provisions.

AFSPA (Armed Forces Special Powers Act), 1976 empowers armed forces to tackle insurgency, by providing them with certain immunities in the area in which the it is imposed.

Intelligence agencies in India:

  • Intelligence Bureau (IB)
    • India’s internal intelligence agency.
    • works under Ministry of Home Affairs.
  • Research and Analysis Wing (RAW)
    • Foreign intelligence agency established in 1968.
    • Parent wing – Cabinet Secretariat.

More related information:

Section 144 of Indian Penal Code – Joining Unlawful assembly armed with deadly weapon.

  • It prohibits assembly of five or more people in the area in which it is imposed.
  • It is different from a curfew as in a curfew all public has to stay indoors, while under Section 144, one is free to move out but cannot assemble with people outdoors. The law is imposed to prevent or contain violence in an area.

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