Armed Conflict, Small Arms Proliferation and Women's Responses to Armed Violence in India's Northeast
Northeast India, comprising the seven states of Assam, Arunachal Pradesh, Manipur, Meghalaya, Mizoram, Nagaland, Tripura , and 7.6 percent of land area and 3.6 percent of total population of India has been facing the onslaught of ethnicities based armed conflicts since the late 1940s. The region is home to more than 70 major population groups and sub groups, speaking approximately 400 languages and dialects. No other part of India or South Asia has been subjected to such a prolonged violent struggle, which have held development to ransom, as the Northeast India. Violent and vociferous demands by various ethnic groups for independence and for new states in the Northeast have been occurring over the past five decades. The fire of insurgency has for long engulfed this strategic region for the last half a century or more making it one of the South Asia's most disturbed regions. Bound by four countries namely Bhutan, Bangladesh, China and Myanmar, the region has immense geo-political significance. One finds a large variety of conflictual dynamics in the Northeast ranging from insurgency for secession to insurgency for autonomy, from sponsored terrorism to ethnic clashes, to problems of continuous inflow of migrants and the fight over resources. Northeast India is home to a variety of turmoil. Socio-political instability and economic backwardness, isolation and inaccessibility compound the problem further. The cultural chasm between its people and those of the mainland is also so deep that this region is unlikely to be psychologically integrated with India for some time to come. Perhaps the map too, does not help in developing this mental state. While every other part of India is joined integrally to the mainland, the Northeast hangs on a 14 km "chicken neck" of land between Nepal and Bangladesh. There are about 272 tribes and more in the region, thereby earning the name of a maniature asia". Besides the tribes, non-tribes like Assamese (Assam) and Meiteis (Manipur) exists. No other region of India, South Asia or the world must have seen the existence of the numerous ethnic based insurgent outfits as it is the Northeast India, nor in any known part of the world, the proliferation and mushrooming of militant outfits as it is happening in this region thus forming a complex matrix.
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