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Separatist movements of India

Secession in India typically refers to state secession, which is the withdrawal of one or more states from the Republic of India. Some have argued for secession as a natural right of revolution.

Many separatist movements exist with thousands of members, however, with moderate local support and high voter participation in the democratic elections. The Khalistan movement in Punjab was active in the 1980s and the 1990s, but is now largely subdued within India. Insurgency has occurred in North-East India, in the states of Tripura, Meghalaya, Mizoram, Manipur, Assam and Nagaland.

India has introduced several Armed Forces Special Powers Acts (AFSPA) to subdue separatist movements in certain parts of the country. The law was first enforced in Manipur and later enforced in other insurgency-ridden north-eastern states like Assam, Nagaland etc. It was extended to most parts of Indian state of Kashmir in 1990 after the outbreak of an armed insurgency in 1989. Each Act gives soldiers immunity in specified regions against prosecution unless the Indian government gives prior sanction for such prosecution. The government maintains that the AFSPA is necessary to restore order in regions like Kashmir, Manipur and Assam.[1]



The State of Jammu Kashmir and Ladakh has a history going back to ancient times , and was historically a part of Hindu India , culture and civilization . The citizens of the Kashmir valley were converted to Islam by 14th Century Islamic rulers , however there remained a Hindu minority of half a million in the valley , the Jammu region continues to remain Hindu majority and Ladakh continues to remain Buddhist majority. At the time of India's independence , undivided India consisted of British India and 563 princely states of which Kashmir was one . The British partitioned British India on religious lines , into India and Pakistan , and the rulers of the princely states were free to choose which country to join .

 Hari Singh, the Ruler of Kashmir at that time, was undecided.  However,  Pakistan in an attempt to assimilate Kashmir as a part of the Pakistani state, sent forces in the guise of tribesmen to occupy Kashmir .The Maharaja of Kashmir asked India for military assistance, for which Nehru, the Prime Minister of India at that time, laid down a condition that Kashmir has to become a part of the Indian state. When the Pakistani ground troops reached deep into Kashmir, the Maharaja agreed to Nehru's condition. Over the course of the conflict, Pakistan gained control over Gilgit and some parts of Kashmir and eventually created a state called Azad Kashmir; India gained control of the rest of Kashmir, creating the state of Jammu and Kashmir. The UN intervened with a cease fire line , and said a plebiscite would be held if Pakistan withdrew its troops from Kashmir which it never did . This would eventually result in the ongoing conflict between Pakistan and India over the Kashmir Valley.  Pakistan has since sponsored terrorism in Kashmir which has been internationally recognized . In 1990 the terrorist groups indulged in ethnic cleansing of Hindus in the valley by killing over 5000 Hindus as a result of which almost the entire Hindu population of half a million left the valley and ended up as refugees in Jammu and other parts of India . A small section of Kashmiri Muslims  , supported by Pakistan wish to join Pakistan , another section wishes independence , which has lead to the insurgency in the valley . Ladakh and Jammu regions of the state remain relatively peaceful since they do not have majority Islamic population .

North East IndiaEdit


The militant organisation United Liberation Front of Assam demands a separate country for the indigenous people of Assam. The Government of India had banned the ULFA in 1990 and has officially labelled it as a terrorist group, whereas the US State Department lists it under "Other groups of concern".[2] Military operations against it by the Indian Army that began in 1990 continues until present. In the past two decades some 10,000 people have died in the clash between the rebels and the government.[3] The Assamese secessionists have protested against the illegal migration from the neighbouring regions. Since the mid-20th century, people from present-day Bangladesh (then known as East Pakistan) have been migrating to Assam. In 1961, the Government of Assam passed a legislation making use of Assamese language compulsory; It had to be withdrawn later under pressure from Bengali speaking people in Cachar. In the 1980s the Brahmaputra valley saw a six-year Assam agitation[4] triggered by the discovery of a sudden rise in registered voters on electoral rolls.

The Muslim United Liberation Tigers of Assam (MULTA), established in 1996, advocates a separate country for the illegal Bengali Muslims immigrants of the region.[5] The United People's Democratic Solidarity (UPDS) demands a sovereign nation for the Karbi people. It was formed in March 1999 with the merger of two militant outfits in Assam's Karbi Anglong district, the Karbi National Volunteers (KNV) and Karbi People’s Front (KPF).[6] The United People's Democratic Solidarity signed a cease-fire agreement for one year with the Union Government on 23 May 2002. However, this led to a split in the UPDS with one faction deciding to continue with its subversive activities while the other commenced negotiations with the Government.[citation needed]


The Nagalim is a proposed independent country for the Naga people. In the 1950s, the Naga National Council led a violent unsuccessful insurgency against the Government of India, demanding a separate country for the Nagas. The secessionist violence decreased considerably after the formation of the Naga-majority Nagaland state, and more militants surrendered after the Shillong Accord of 1975. However, the majority of Nagas, operating under the various factions of National Socialist Council of Nagaland, continue to demand a separate country.

2014 General Elections of India recorded voters turnout of more than 87% in Nagaland which was highest in India.[7]


The National Liberation Front of Tripura (or NLFT) is a Tripuri nationalist organisation which seeks for Tripura to secede from India and establish an independent Tripuri state. It has actively participated in the Tripura Rebellion. The NLFT manifesto says that they want to expand what they describe as the Kingdom of God and Christ in Tripura. The Tripura National Volunteers (also known as the Tribal National Volunteers or Tripura National Volunteer Force) was founded in 1978 with assistance from the Mizo National Front.[8]

However, it is perceived by Indian Government that separatist movement lacked people's support as 2014 General elections in India recorded more than 84% voters turnout in Tripura which was one of highest in India.[7]

Indian PunjabEdit


Flag used by the UNPO to represent from 24th January 1993 to 4th August 1993; the membership was permanently suspended on 22 January 1995.

The Khalistan movement aimed to create a separate Sikh country. The territorial definition of the proposed country ranges from the Punjab state of India to the greater Punjab region, including the Indian Punjab, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh and Northern Districts of Rajasthan such as Sri Ganganagar and Hanumangarh.[9][10][11] The movement was mainly active in the Punjab state of India from the 1970s to the early 1990s.

After the partition of India, the majority of the Sikhs migrated from the Pakistani part to the Indian province of Punjab, which then included the parts of the present-day Haryana and Himachal Pradesh. Following India's independence in 1947, The Punjabi Suba Movement led by the Sikh political party Akali Dal led to the trifurcation of the Punjab state. The remnant Punjab state became Sikh-majority and Punjabi-majority. Subsequently, a section of the Sikh leaders started demanding more autonomy for the states, alleging that the Central government was discriminating against Punjab. Although the Akali Dal explicitly opposed the demand for an independent Sikh country, the issues raised by it were used as a premise for the creation of a separate country by the proponents of Khalistan.

In June 1984, the Indian Government ordered a military operation, Operation Blue Star to clear Harmandir Sahib, Amritsar and thirty other Gurdwaras (Sikh Place of Worship) of armed terrorists who were desecrating Gurudwaras by using those as sanctuary. The Indian Army used 3,000 armed troops of the 9th Division of the National Security Guards, 175 Parachute Regiment and artillery units, and 700 CRPF Jawans. During this operation, Indian army had around 83+ casualties with 220 injuries, and 200- 250 Sikh militants were killed. The CBI is considered responsible for seizing historical artifacts from Sikh Reference Library, and burning the empty library afterwards. The handling of the operation, damage to the Holy shrine and loss of life on both sides, led to widespread criticism of the Indian Government. The Indian government did this under complete media blockage. However, the eyewitness accounts of survivors revealed the real picture to public. This lead of widespread distrust and anger against Indian government and primarily the Indian Prime minister. The Indian Prime Minister Indira Gandhi was assassinated by her two Sikh bodyguards in retaliation. Following her death, thousands of Sikhs were massacred in the 1984 anti-Sikh riots, termed as a genocide by the Sikh groups.[12] The subsequent Punjab insurgency saw several secessionist militant groups becoming active in Punjab, supported by a section of the Sikh diaspora. Indian security forces suppressed the insurgency in the early 1990s, but Sikh political groups such as the Khalsa Raj Party and SAD (A) continued to pursue an independent Khalistan through non-violent means.[13][14][15] Pro-Khalistan organisations such as Dal Khalsa (International) are also active outside India, supported by a section of the Sikh diaspora.

See alsoEdit

Further readingEdit

  • Racine, Jean-Luc (2013). Secessionism in independent India: Failed attempts, irredentism, and accommodations. Secessionism and Separatism in Europe and Asia: To have a state of one’s own. Routledge. pp. 147–163. 


  1. ^ "India campaign over 'draconian' anti-insurgent law". BBC News. 17 October 2011. 
  2. ^ Country Reports on Terrorism, 2006
  3. ^ Five killed in Assam bomb blasts - Dawn
  4. ^ Hazarika 2003
  5. ^ "Muslim United Liberation Tigers of Assam (MULTA)". South Asia Terrorism Portal. Retrieved 2009-08-14. 
  6. ^ SATP - UPDS
  7. ^ a b "State-Wise Voter Turnout in General Election 2014". Election Commission of India. Government of India. Press Information Bureau. 21 May 2014. Retrieved 7 April 2015. 
  8. ^ "Assessment for Tripuras in India", Minorities at Risk Project, UNHCR Refworld, 2003-12-31, retrieved 2009-03-15 
  9. ^ Crenshaw, Martha (1995). Terrorism in Context. Pennsylvania State University. p. 364. ISBN 978-0-271-01015-1. 
  10. ^ The foreign policy of Pakistan: ethnic impacts on diplomacy, 1971-1994 ISBN 1-86064-169-5 - Mehtab Ali Shah "Such is the political, psychological and religious attachment of the Sikhs to that city that a Khalistan without Lahore would be like a Germany without Berlin."
  11. ^ Amritsar to Lahore: a journey across the India-Pakistan border - Stephen Alter ISBN 0-8122-1743-8 "Ever since the separatist movement gathered force in the 1980s, Pakistan has sided with the Sikhs, even though the territorial ambitions of Khalistan include Lahore and sections of the Punjab on both sides of the border."
  12. ^ Deol, Harnik (2000). Religion and nationalism in India: the case of the Punjab. Psychology Press. p. 109. ISBN 978-0-415-20108-7. Retrieved 22 July 2011. 
  13. ^ "Amnesty International report on Punjab". Amnesty International. 20 January 2003. Archived from the original on 3 December 2006. Retrieved 2010-01-11. 
  14. ^ "Fresh case against Chohan; Khalsa Raj Party office sealed". The Tribune, Chandigarh, India. Retrieved 2010-01-22. 
  15. ^ "SAD (A) to contest the coming SGPC elections on Khalistan issue: Mann". 14 January 2010. Retrieved 2010-01-22.