Executive Intelligence Review
This article appeared in the October 13, 1995 issue of Executive Intelligence Review.

Insurgent groups in
Northeast India

by Madhu Gurung and Ramtanu Maitra

Map 8: Approximate Theater of Actions of Major Terrorist Groups in Northeast India (PDF, 196K)

Map 9: Routes of Major Terrorist Groups Into Their Theater of Action in Northeast India (PDF, 188K)


Bodo Security Force

Name of group: Bodo Security Force (BdSF). BdSF is contemplating changing its name and calling itself the National Democratic Front of Bodoland (NDFB).

Headquarters: The group operates mainly from camps inside neighboring Bhutan. Known camps exist in Daipan and Sardamjhanker along the Indo-Bhutan border. It also has bases along the Assam-Arunachal Pradesh Indian state border. It enjoys support of the local Bhutanese who are hostile to the Nepalis.

Founded: 1986.

Locations of operations, areas active: Assam-Bhutan border; Kokrajhar and Udalguri along Assam-Arunachal Pradesh border.

Major terrorist actions:

  • On July 23, 1994, the Bodo Security Force surrounded Bansbari village in Assam, where a large number of refugees from Bangladesh had settled. The BdSF opened fire on the sleeping villagers, killing 50 and injuring at least 100. The group also looted the armories of central paramilitary forces, including the Central Reserve Police Force and the Border Security Force.

Groups allied to nationally or internationally: Nationally, the BdSF is aligned with the National Socialist Council of Nagaland (NSCN) and the United Liberation Front of Assam (ULFA). Internationally, it is reportedly linked to the Kachin Independent Army (KIA) of northern Myanmar (Burma), bordering Arunachal Pradesh, which, together with other tribal organizations in northern Myanmar, has been in a state of revolt for decades. Any further extension of this linkage is not yet known.

There are indications that the BdSF is in the process of expanding its network and its operational level. It has joined an organization of militant groups in the Northeast region under the leadership of NSCN. The group, Self-Defense United Front of South East Himalayan Region (Sdufsehr), was formed on Nov. 30, 1994 in Manipur, the main drug entry point in India from Myanmar.

Religious/ideological/ethnic motivating ideology: Massacres at Bansberia in 1994 have been cited by the group as the expression of its motivation to liberate "Bodoland" from Assam. Outsiders will not be allowed to settle in the proposed "Bodoland." The next targets are expected to be Nepalis and Santhal tribals.

Known controllers/mentors/theoreticians: Not known. However, it operates along the Assam-Bhutan border and is entrenched, and reportedly trained, in the Manas National Park, a bi-national game reserve which straddles the border area. The game reserve, which is largely impassable due to BdSF activity, is officially administered on the Bhutan side by the World Wide Fund for Nature, which pressured the Indian and Bhutan governments into forming it. The same reserve is also a safe-haven for the allied United Liberation Front of Assam (see below).

A number of non-governmental organizations have moved into this area, including the World Council of Churches, to aid the Nepali immigrants who have been ousted from Bhutan by the Bhutanese government.

Current number of cadres: Approximately 400 (in February 1995), and it reportedly possesses an equal number of reserves who can be called up on short notice.

Training: Bases in Nilphamari and Gaibandha township areas in Bangladesh.

Known arms suppliers/routes: National Socialist Council of Nagaland (M) (see below).

Known political supporters/advocates: None.

Known funding: Bank hold-ups and ransoms from wealthy tea garden owners and senior tea garden officials.

Thumbnail historical profile: BdSF's avowed aim is to establish a sovereign Bodoland outside India. Bodos come from the area of Karbi Anglong, which forms a triangular wedge between the borders of Mizoram and Nagaland. BdSF claims that the Assam Accord of 1985 signed by the Asom Gana Parishad (AGP), a political party, and New Delhi, to pave the way for meeting some of the demands of the local Assamese, including the demand not to allow any further settlement of "outsiders" in Assam, was rigged on behalf of the Assamese. The group claims that the Accord did not cater to the demands of the "indigenous groups" based in Assam. Centuries ago, the Bodo/Kachri community ruled from Cooch Behar in Bengal to the Naga hills, with Dimapur as its capital.

BdSF's main targets are migrant Muslims from Bangladesh, Nepalis, and Santhals. All these people have settled in land the BdSF claims as part of "Bodoland." BdSF's campaign for ethnic cleansing of Bodo areas has not met opposition from the Bodo community.


National Socialist Council of Nagaland

Name of group: National Socialist Council of Nagaland (NSCN).

Headquarters: Ukhrul, Nagaland. Now extended to hill districts of Manipur, Barak Valley, and the north Cachar hills of Assam.

Founded: The seed of forming the group was planted in 1946, when Angami Zapu Phizo began his secessionist movement for an independent homeland for the Nagas. The bloodbath that followed led to the defeat of the Nagas by the Indian Army, but Naga secessionists, under the Naga National Council, remained intact. Phizo, based in London from 1957 until he died in the early 1990s, directed the movement from there.

In 1975, Isak Swu and T. Muivah broke away from the Naga National Council (NNC), and the NSCN was formed. In 1980, the NSCN became two entities: NSCN(M), under the leadership of T. Muivah and Isaac Swu, and NSCN(K), headed by S.S. Khaplang, a Naga leader of Burmese origin. Both factions of the NSCN are considered to be among the strongest insurgent groups operating in the Northeast.

Locations of operations, areas active: Ukhrul, Senapati, and Tamenglang parts of the state of Manipur, and in and around Dimapur, the capital city of Nagaland.

Major terrorist actions:

  • In March 1993, the NSCN (Khaplang) fell out with Gen. Ne Win's government in Burma and launched an operation called "Da" (named after a traditional Naga weapon shaped in the form of a straight scythe), destroying four outposts of the then-Burmese Army.

  • On April 1, 1993, NSCN ordered people who were not members of the Kuki tribe to clear out of Moreh, the entry point of illegal Myanmar heroin into India located on the Manipur-Myanmar border. This was a prelude to flush out the Kuki National Army from the area. Moreh was cut off for more than four months, during which a number of Kuki villages were burnt down and at least 100 Kukis were killed by the NSCN terrorists.

    The feud between the NSCN and the Kukis is over the control of Myanmar heroin, which is an important source of terrorist finance. The Kukis, who had migrated from Burma centuries ago to settle in Manipur, were encouraged by Manipur government officials to take control of the heroin smuggling. The Kukis, who formed the Kuki National Army (KNA) and demanded that a separate Kuki state be set up within Manipur, seized the opportunity, but were immediately challenged by the NSCN(M). The terrorist activities that followed, saw both sides losing heavily. The NSCN(M) has again taken control over the massive amount of illegal heroin that is flowing into India from Myanmar and finding its way elsewhere.

  • On June 29, 1993, a convoy of the 15th Assam Regiment was ambushed, and 28 Army personnel were killed.

  • In September 1993, M. Hansingh, excise commissioner of the state of Nagaland, was shot in Dimapur, capital of Nagaland.

  • On Oct. 12, 1993, the NSCN kidnapped the district superintendent of police of the Nagaland Armed Police, a paramilitary group.

    By early 1994, the NSCN(M) had burnt down many Kuki villages.

Trademark terror signatures: Ambushing security force convoys. In recent years, the NSCN is avoiding direct confrontation with the Indian security forces. The NSCN is now deeply involved in spreading its network throughout Northeast India, and is battling the Kuki National Army. This could be a temporary phase, before the NSCN launches a much wider campaign engaging many small groups it has set up.

The NSCN(M) is continuing to terrorize civilians, extorting large sums of money from them. The NSCN acts as a private army for some mainstream state politicians, and provides them with large purses prior to the state or national elections. As a corollary, the NSCN issues threats to politicians who oppose the group actively.

Leaders' names and aliases: NSCN has two factions, headed by T. Muivah and Isaac Swu, who head the Indian Nagas, while S.S. Kaplang s NSCN(K) is made up of Burmese Nagas.

Groups allied to nationally or internationally:

NSCN(M) and NSCN(K) together act as "mother" groups to all insurgent groups in the region. The NSCN(M), United Liberation Front of Assam, and the BdSF have agreed recently to set up joint squads to carry out raids.

The NSCN is also involved in consolidating its status by helping to set up smaller groups, such as the Achik Liberation Army and the Hyniewtrep Achik Liberation Council (HALC) of the Indian state of Meghalaya, which seek to liberate the Garo-inhabited areas of the Indian states of Meghalaya and Assam, and Bangladesh. One reason for the NSCN's creation of these groups has been to create safehouses in Meghalaya, on the way to Bangladesh, where it has set up new camps.

The Balpakram National Park in Meghalaya is a primary safehouse for the Achik Liberation Army.

For the same reason, the NSCN has established contacts with Dimasa National Security Force and the Hmar People's Council. Both these groups are active in the north Cachar hill area of Assam. All these groups are expected to provide support to the NSCN and take arms and finance from its mother group.

In Bangladesh, the NSCN has camps in many places in the border district of Sylhet and in the Chittagong hill tracts, bordering Tripura and Mizoram.

The British connection to the NSCN existed from the early days of Naga National Council. Phizo, the mentor of both factions of the NSCN, had led the charge against the Indian government, spearheading well-concerted guerrilla warfare. Phizo left Nagaland hiding in a coffin. He then turned up in Britain holding a Peruvian passport.

It is strongly suspected that the British Baptist Church, which is very powerful in Nagaland, is the contact between British intelligence and the NSCN terrorists operating on the ground.

British direct involvement continues. On Jan. 30, 1992, soldiers of the Assam Rifles arrested two British nationals along the Nagaland-Burma border. David Ward and Stephen Hill posed as members of British Broadcasting Corp. TV, and were travelling in jeeps with Naga rebels carrying arms. Subsequent interrogation revealed that both were operatives of Naga Vigil, a U.K.-based group. Both Ward and Hill claimed that they started the organization while in jail, influenced by Phizo's niece. Both have served six-year prison terms for various crimes in Britain. Naga Vigil petitioned their release in the Guwahti High Court. Phizo's niece, Rano Soriza, took up the issue with then-Nagaland Chief Minister Vamuzo.

International connections exist also to the Shan Independent Army of Myanmar, the Karen Independent Army of Myanmar, and the Burmese Communist Party of Myanmar.

Also, NSCN reportedly received $1.7 million from the Pakistani Inter-Service Intelligence (ISI) to buy arms from Thailand and Singapore recently. No further detail on this transaction is available.

Religious/ideological/ethnic motivating ideology: Ethnically motivated secessionist movement, demanding an independent Nagaland, carved out from India and Myanmar.

Known controllers/mentors/theoreticians: The Naga separatist movement has always been controlled by British intelligence, through such organizations as Naga Vigil. Other connections are likely.

Current number of cadres: Unknown.

Training: Salopi and Chacheng in the Chittagong Hill tracts, in Bangladesh.

Known drug connections/involvement in:

  1. Tamu (Myanmar)-Moreh (Manipur)-Imphal (Manipur)

  2. Mandalay (Myanmar)-Tiddin-Singhet (Myanmar)-Churachandpur (Manipur)-Imphal (Manipur)

  3. Mandalay (Manipur)-Tiddin-Singhet (Myanmar)-Champai (Mizoram)-Aizawal (Mizoram)-Imphal (Manipur)

Some 100,000 hectares of Burmese land is reportedly under poppy cultivation, producing 1,000 metric tons of opium. The figure varies from year to year. Recent figures indicate that poppy cultivation is on the rise in Myanmar, and about 168,000 hectares are now under cultivation, producing 1,930 tons of opium.

The Burmese groups responsible for drug smuggling are the Shan Independent Army, the Karen Independent Army, and the Burmese Communist Party, all of whom have relations with the NSCN.

Thumbnail historical profile: The NSCN, led by T. Muivah, a Thangkhul Naga from Manipur, was created in 1980, following its expulsion from the parent body, the Naga National Council (NNC), over forming an insurgent organization. Differences arose when a section of NNC signed the controversial Shillong Accord in 1975 with the central government, agreeing to a settlement within the Constitution of India.

Following its expulsion, the NSCN set up a base in Myanmar's Hukong Valley, which is the home of the Nagas who were fighting for an independent Naga nation under the leadership of S.S. Khaplang. In 1988, a major fight took place between the Muivah and Khaplang group, when 100 Thangkuls were killed, and Muivah was forced to flee for his life.

Muivah's followers then began to emerge in Manipur and Nagaland, and over the last five years have regrouped. The group established its power base in the Manipur hill areas dominated by Thangkhul Nagas. Meanwhile, the NSCN (Khaplang), under fire from Myanmar's security forces, found refuge among the Konyak tribes.

Both groups allegedly enjoy political support from Nagaland's Chief Minister S.C. Jamir, who has survived at least two assassination attempts from the Muivah faction for his alleged links with the Khaplang group. Though Jamir denies such connection, the Khaplang faction's hold on Mokokchung town, the very constituency of Chief Minister Jamir, raises eyebrows.

Similar contacts between the Manipur chief minister, Reishang Keishing, a Congressman, and the NSCN(M) are a well-known secret.


United Liberation Front of Assam

Name of group: United Liberation Front of Assam (ULFA).

Headquarters: Highly mobile, the ULFA is centered around Dibrugarh, the oil town of Assam.

Founded: April 1979, at the deserted Rang Ghar Pavilion, once the seat of the old Ahom Kingdom.

Locations of operations, areas active: ULFA operates mostly in the Dibrugarh-Tinsukia sector. The corridor covers the largest and wealthiest of all tea-growing and oil-producing areas of Assam. Other areas where the ULFA is active are Sibsagar, Nagaon, Darrang, and Nalbari.

Major terrorist actions:

  • Assassination of Girdharilal Harlalkar, president of the Kamrup chamber of commerce, at his home in 1988. It was the first of many killings which have turned the state into an ULFA stronghold.

  • In 1986, they established contacts with Kachins in Myanmar to receive arms and arms-training. The Kachins in 1988 demanded 1 million India rupees for the services. Along with NSCN, the ULFA subsequently embarked on daring open daylight bank robberies in Guwahati and elsewhere. Such robberies amounted to some 4.2 million Indian rupees.

  • ULFA shot dead the leader of the United Minorities Front (UMF), a grouping of the non-Assamese community, including Muslims and Bengalis, in 1988.

  • By 1990, the ULFA became heavily involved in kidnapping tea garden officials for huge ransoms. Most of the kidnappings fetched the group about 1.5 to 2 million Indian rupees. ULFA also took licensed weapons from tea gardens.

  • On Aug. 1, 1995, ULFA ambushed a police party near Chhaygaon in Kamrup district and killed eight policemen.

  • On Aug. 6, 1995, it mounted a well-planned attack on the Central Reserve Police Force, a paramilitary unit, in Kalaigaon in Mangaldoi district, killing two soldiers.

Leaders' names and aliases: Arabinda Rajkhowa; Paresh Baruah is commander in chief.

Groups allied to nationally or internationally: ULFA's first major contacts with the Kachins came in 1986, when Paresh Baruah travelled to northwest Myanmar. Baruah established contacts with Thuengaling Muivah of the NSCN, and the Manipuri rebels in the Kachin camps. The Kachins agreed to train the ULFA.

In 1989, India's foreign intelligence group, the Research and Analysis Wing, established contacts with the Kachins, threatening that if they continued to back the ULFA and the NSCN, India would push back thousands of Burmese refugees who had taken shelter in India. The Kachins told the ULFA to look elsewhere for arms and training. At that point, the ULFA turned to the NSCN. Subsequently, the ULFA cadre were trained by both factions of the NSCN.

In 1990, the ULFA leadership, having established contacts with Pakistan, flew to Karachi from Dhaka, Bangladesh. They were reportedly taken to Islamabad, and kept in safehouses for two days before being sent for training to Peshawar, a base of the Afghan mujahideen and terrorist network. Reportedly, the ULFA leaders met with Gulbuddin Hekmatyar in Peshawar, along with a number of Arab members of the afghansi. ULFA undertook a month-long intensive training with the mujahideen under the supervision of ISI agents.

In September 1990, the Indian Army's "Operation Rhino" caused havoc in ULFA ranks. At that point, Paresh Baruah and Sunil Nath, then publicity secretary of the ULFA, again went to Pakistan, and ISI agents took them to Darra in the North West Frontier Province. Reportedly, ISI agents pressured the ULFA leaders to handle high-powered explosives for large-scale application within Assam, to counter the Army offensive, and to launch strategic attacks on government officials, politicians, and key installations. Baruah, however, declined the offer, saying that it would alienate the group from the people.

Religious/ideological/ethnic motivating ideology: The ULFA mantra goes like this: The sprawling tea gardens of Assam, whose fertile acres bring in the bounty in the form of tea, were once the fertile farm lands of Motoks, who had links with Ahom rulers. The Ahom rulers came from Burma's Shan province, and ruled Assam for more than 600 years. ULFA began as an expression of opposition to "more than 100 years of oppression and exploitation." People with Ahom identity flocked to the ULFA to assert their dormant identity.

Training: The ULFA, as noted earlier, was trained first by the Kachins and, then, the NSCN. The ULFA camps are located in Mymensingh, Jaintiapur, Joydebpur, Adampur, Bhanugach, Sri Mangal, Maulvi Bazaar—all located in Bangladesh along the border.

During the Indian Army's "Operation Bajrang" to dismantle the group's various safehouses inside the State, the most important ULFA camp attacked was in Lakhipathar, in the heart of a thick bamboo forest. The Army claims it located a mass grave in Lakhipathar, where the ULFA had dumped off bodies of dissenting members and informers. Saraipung, another ULFA camp capable of training 200 recruits, was overrun and dismantled.

The Manas Wild Life sanctuary, under the World Wide Fund for Nature, straddling the Indo-Bhutan borders, is also used by the ULFA for training and safe-haven.

Known drug connections/involvement in: Both the ULFA and the NSCN are involved in drug trafficking. As far back as 1988, one ULFA leader was caught with seven kilograms of Burmese heroin. For drug route, see NSCN.

Known arms suppliers/routes: A news report on Aug. 14, 1995 said that a huge consignment of sophisticated military hardware had been smuggled into Assam, and the origin of the consignment had been traced back to former Khmer Rouge arms depots in Cambodia. The report claims that the ULFA did not obtain the arms directly. The Karen National Union (KNU), an anti-government guerrilla group in Myanmar, purchased the hardware from the clandestine arms bazaar in Cambodia run by former Khmer Rouge rebels.

The arms purchase deal was made between the ULFA and the KNU in mid-1993, at the latter's headquarters in Manerplaw, located on the Thailand-Burma border. The deal was struck between the ULFA's foreign secretary, Sasadhan Choudhury, and the president of the KNO, Gen Bo Mya. The information came to light, when Choudhury was arrested on the Mizoram-Burma border during operation "Golden Bid" conducted by the Indian Army in April-May this year, with the support of Burmese troops.

Choudhury paid $100,000 as advance for the purchase of 100,000 assorted weapons, of which the KNU supplied 10%.

The ULFA also paid large sums of money in unspecified currency to another Burmese outfit, the Arakan Liberation Party (ALP), to transport the weapons from Manerplaw to a safe location on the Myanmar Bangladesh border. After eight days of travelling, the ALP brought the consignment to Tenasserim, once a key British coastal outpost along the border with Thailand. At Tenasserim, the ALP hired a fishing trawler at the cost of 300,000 Indian rupees, and loaded the weapons.

After four days and nights at sea, the consignment was taken to Miangdaw, Myanmar. Here, a group of 200 ULFA, People's Liberation Army of Manipur (see below), and the All Tripura Tribal Force (ATTP) (see below) received weapons. These were later rounded up by the Indian and Burmese forces when the militants tried to enter their territories.


People's Liberation Army

Name of group: People's Liberation Army (PLA).

Headquarters: Imphal Valley, Manipur.

Founded: 1978.

Locations of operations, areas active: Imphal Valley, Manipur.

Major terrorist actions:

  • The killings of May 3 and 4, 1993: PLA Meiteis killed Muslims in the Imphal Valley, in an action which is still considered a mini-holocaust. The Meiteis are an ethnic group residing almost exclusively in the Imphal Valley of Manipur. The PLA is made up of Meiteis.

Leader's name and aliases: PLA chief Biseswar Singh was captured by the Indian Army in early 1980. Biseswar, a legendary figure in Imphal, later joined mainstream politics. Since his departure from the scene, the PLA continues to function without a chief. The group is considered much less potent now by intelligence officials.

Groups allied to nationally or internationally: NSCN(M). The PLA is also linked to other Meitei groups, the most notable of which is the People's Revolutionary Party of Kangleipak (Prepak).

Both the PLA and Prepak received weapons and training in exchange for hard cash from the Kachin Independent Army (KIA) of Myanmar.

Religious/ideological/ethnic motivating ideology: The PLA began as a movement against the Hinduvaishnavite sect that has a large following in the Imphal Valley populated by the Meitei community. The PLA urged the Young Meiteis to reassert their Meitei identity. They also urged the Meiteis to reject Bengali script, which the group claimed had suppressed their language and culture.

The PLA ordered the ouster of the "Mayangs" (outsiders), who are mostly comprised of Bengalis and Assamese. It was Biseswar Singh who had led the charge against the outsiders. A decade later, the PLA has returned to the forefront with a new image and identity, cloaking its separatist demand in Hindu religious garb.

No known leader at this point.

No known controller.

Current number of cadres: Not known.

Training: In Myanmar and in NSCN camps.

Known drug connections/involvement in: See NSCN for drug routes.

Following the intensification of the NSCN-Kuki clashes, Mizoram has become the more frequented drug route. Two new routes have recently been identified:

1. Tahan (Myanmar)-Churachandpur (Manipur)-Ratu and Ngoa villages (Mizoram)-Aizawal (Mizoram).

2. Tahan-Falam (Myanmar), entering Mizoram at Thangsai-Serchhip via North Vanlaiphai.

In 1992-93, the state excise department seized 161,642 kilograms of ganja (marijuana), 7,163 kg of opium, and 4,014 kg of 95% pure heroin, worth millions of dollars in the international market.


Potential threat in Tripura

Bengali, which was the accepted language of Tripura, has now become a bone of contention between the tribals (who are mostly Christians) and the non-tribals.

After partition in 1947, there was a massive exodus of Hindus from East Pakistan. With the Indo-Pak war of 1971, both Hindus and Muslims poured into Tripura (which is surrounded on three sides by Bangladesh). The tribals were soon outnumbered. This was the beginning of various militant movements in Tripura.

The major militant groups operating in Tripura are:

  • Tripura Upajati Juba Samati (TUJS)
  • Tripura National Volunteers (TNV)
  • All Tripura Tribal Force (ATTF)
  • National Liberation Front of Tripura (NLFT)

Bijoy Kumar Hrangkhal, a former language officer of the Baptist church, formed the Tripura Upajati Juba Samati (TUJS) in 1967, with the help of the then Mizo National Front (MNF of Mizoram). Hrangkhal formed the Tripura National Volunteers (TNV), on Dec. 21, 1978 at Kasku, in the Amarpur subdivision, with 72 hard-core militants of the Tripura Sena, the armed wing of TUJS. In October 1980, TNV was disbanded, but was revived again in 1982.

Tripura witnessed its worst racial and ethnic riots in 1980, when the death toll hit 1,300 and 20,000 houses were burned down. The violence was perpetrated by Hrangkhal's tribals against the non-tribals. At that time, the TUJS made three demands:

  • Restoration of alienated land to the tribals.
  • The formation of autonomous district councils.
  • Recognition of the Kokborok as the second state language, and the mother tongue of 90% of the 900,000 tribal people of Tripura.

The TUJS's latter demand includes the exclusion of the Bengalis from Tripura. The non-fulfillment of these demands led to the intensification of insurgency.


All Tripura Tiger Force

The insurgent group most dreaded now is the All Tripura Tiger Force (ATTF). The ATTF is alleged to be the underground outfit of the Communist Party of India (Marxist) and the ruling government of Tripura, and was set up with the aim of removing all tribal political outfits from the area.

The ATTF carries out ambushes against the Tripura State Rifles. The ATTF's ire is directed against the Congress Party's ally, the Tripura Upajati Juba Samati. The ATTF is most active in Chawmanu Gobindabri area, the home constituency of CPI(M) leader Purna Mohan Tripura.

The ATTF has established links with the NSCN and the ULFA. Recent reports alleged that the ULFA has provided arms to the National Liberation Front of Tripura and the ATTF.


Potential threat in Manipur and
Nagaland, the Kuki National Army

The Kukis have settled in Myanmar, Manipur, and Nagaland. In Myanmar, they are known as the Kuki Chin, and became famous during World War II. The Kukis in Manipur and Nagaland migrated hundreds of years ago from their homeland, and have always been regarded with suspicion by the ethnic Nagas, who see them as outsiders and land-grabbers.

Fifty years ago, Naga leaders Jadugang and his follower Rani Guidaleu, asked the Nagas to attack the Kukis. The British quelled the attack, but the suspicion and enmity between the two ethnic groups remained.

In 1987, the Kuki National Organization (KNO) demanded an autonomous state within Myanmar. These were the Kukis from Myanmar. A similar group, the Kuki National Front (KNF), demanded a "Kukiland," comprising parts of Myanmar and Manipur, India. The NSCN (Muivah faction) demanded Greater Nagaland, a cross-border entity which would comprise parts of Myanmar, Nagaland, and Manipur.

The Kuki National Army (the striking arm of the KNF) is alleged to be backed by the Manipur bureaucracy and Congress Party leaders. There are reports which indicate that it was trained by the Indian Army in a bid to undermine the NSCN.

The NSCN and Kukis locked horns over the supremacy of the border trade, particularly the drug trade. The battle was to control Moreh, the border town on the India Myanmar border. The road through Moreh leads on to Tamu, through Myanmar, to the Bangkok Istanbul Asian Highway. This last outpost is an open haven for a complex network of cartels of many illegal substances.

During April and May 1993, the Nagas and Kukis clashed, which left hundreds dead and villages razed to the ground. In this bloody war of ruthless violence, the NSCN emerged victorious, though the Kukis are far from being fully subdued.

Leader's name and aliases: The president of the Kuki National Organization is Henglen.

Known drug connections/involvement in: Drug route: Moreh (Manipur)-Tamu (Myanmar).

Known arms suppliers/routes: Allegedly armed by the Indian Army and the Kachin Independent Army.


Potential threats in Bihar,
the Jharkhand Mukti Morcha

The Jharkhand Mukti Morcha (JMM), a political movement, demands a separate state for the tribals residing in the junction of Bihar, Orissa, West Bengal, and a small corner of Madhya Pradesh.

The Jharkhand movement, which has gone through many phases, began in the 1950s, and posed a series of threats to integration of the state of Bihar, where it is most concentrated. Throughout the 1970s and early 1980s, the Jharkhand movement remained peaceful.

However, in the mid-1980s, the JMM under Suraj Mandal took a militant position, threatening armed struggle to achieve its aim. There are indications that Mandal was influenced by Sikh militant leader Jaranil Singh Bhiandranwale, the muscle behind the Khalistan movement inside India.

In 1986, the formation of the All Jharkhand Students Union (JSU), enjoying the tacit support of all Jharkhand parties, at a three-day conference at Jamshedpur, Bihar, indicated the takeover of the JMM by the militant wing of the party. JSU promptly announced that it was preparing to unleash an Assam-model agitation.

The Jharkhand movement has progressed from tribalism to ethnicity to regionalism. Although the JMM talks about carving out a state which would include the tribal areas of four Indian states, each with a different language, its strength lies only in Bihar. JMM also has a number of duly elected state legislative members representing the group in the Bihar State Assembly. These members have become well integrated into state legislative activities, and often play a role as mediator between major contending parties.

A large section of the tribals belonging to the Jharkhand movement are Christians. Some Baptist ministers in the area are known to encourage the Jharkhand movement. A large amount of money from abroad comes regularly into the area for the maintenance of the church and various welfare activities among the tribals, including education and primary health care.

The Jharkhand movement remains a threat because of its past militant actions. It is also evident that the movement has targetted an area which accounts for over 60% of the iron ore extracted in India. The tribal region is extremely underdeveloped, and less than 5% of the villages in south Bihar's tribal area have electricity. Moreover, it has become widely known that both the Bihar government and New Delhi pay attention to violence. This itself has made violence a bargaining chip for the tribals.

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