NEW DELHI: Manipur has been the most violent state in 2018, accounting for 50 per cent of the total incidents reported across the Northeastern region last year, when the number of insurgency and civilian deaths was recorded as being lowest in the past 14 years, as per a Union Home Ministry report.
A total of 127 violent incidents were reported in Manipur in 2018, while the number of such incidents was 252 in the entire Northeastern region that includes Arunachal Pradesh, Assam, Meghalaya, Mizoram, Nagaland, Sikkim and Tripura.
In 2018, however, the state witnessed a decline in insurgency-related incidents by 24 per cent compared to 167 in 2017, and civilian deaths went down from 23 in 2017 to 8 in 2018.
In 2018, counter insurgency operations led to the neutralization of 10 militants, arrest of 404 militants and recovery of 99 weapons in Manipur.
An insurgency-ridden state, Manipur is affected by activities of the Meitei, Naga, Kuki, Zomi, Hmar and Muslim underground outfits. The Meitei insurgency accounted for about 57 per cent of insurgency incidents in Manipur, killing of 6 security forces personnel and five civilians.
The data comes at a time when the Naga peace agreement with insurgent factions, including the NSCN-IM, could be signed any day with the Centre's ongoing efforts for the "successful conclusion" of the 22-year-old peace talks.
The security situation in the Northeastern states has improved substantially since 2013, said the report, adding that 2018 witnessed the lowest number of insurgency incidents and civilian deaths since 1997.
The insurgency incidents registered a decline of 18 per cent in 2018 (with 252 cases) compared to 308 cases in 2017, said the report, adding that a 25 per cent reduction was also noted in the deaths of civilians and security forces personnel in the same year.
A total of 37 deaths were reported in 2018 compared to 49 in 2017. Of the 37 killings, 23 were civilians and 14 from security forces.
The report also said counter insurgency operations led to the neutralization of 34 militants, the arrest of 804, as well as recovery of 478 weapons in 2018 in a region which covers 8 per cent of the country's geographical area and about 4 per cent of the national population and almost 5,484 km of its borders along Bangladesh (1,880 km), Myanmar (1,643 km), China (1,346 km), Bhutan (516 km) and Nepal (99 km).
Compared to 2013, insurgency incidents in 2018 in the region declined significantly by 66 per cent, civilians casualties by 79 per cent, security forces casualties by 23 per cent and kidnapping or abduction cases by 62 per cent .
In the first three months of this year (upto March 31, 2019), the security situation has further improved in the region with the decline in insurgency incidents, the report said.
While there was almost no insurgency in Tripura and Mizoram in 2018, there has been a marked improvement in the security situation in other states of the region.
In 2018, insurgency related violence declined by 48 per cent in Meghalaya, 40 per cent in Arunachal Pradesh, 16 per cent in Assam and 24 per cent in Manipur, as compared to 2017.
There has been increase in insurgency incidents in Nagaland in 2018.
No active indigenous insurgent group was seen in Arunachal Pradesh in 2018, while the state was affected by spillover militant activities of Naga insurgents from Nagaland-based underground factions of the National Socialist Council of Nagaland (NSCN) - NSCN/Isak-Muviah, NSCN/Khaplang, NSCN/Reformation and NSCN/Neopao Konyak- Kitovi - in Tirap, Changlang and Longding districts, as also activities of the Assam-based United liberation Front of Asom-Independent (ULFA-I) and National Democratic Front of Bodoland- Saoraigwra (NDFB-S), the report said.
Assam's major militant outfits ULFA-I, NDFB-S are still active in the region along with the Karbi Peoples Liberation Tigers (KPLT), who are active in Karbi Anglong district of the state.
ULFA (Pro-Talk), NDFB (Ranjan Diamary), NDFB (Progressive) and Karbi Longri NC Hills Liberation Front (KLNLF) are under Suspension of Operation agreement with the Centre as well as Assam government, it added.
In Meghalaya, which has been witnessing Garo militancy since 2010-11, the major militant outfits presently active are the Garo National Liberation Army (GNLA), a Garo militant group, and Hynniewtrep National Liberation Council (HNLC), a Khasi militant group.
The major insurgent groups operating in Nagaland are the factions of NSCN which came into being in 1980 following the failure of the 1975 Shillong Accord.
The security scenario in Tripura has shown marked improvement in recent years with a steady decline in violence since 2013. No incident of violence has been reported since 2016. The National Liberation Front of Twipra- Biswamohan (NLFT-B) and the All Tripura Tiger Force(ATTF) are still active in the state.
According to the report, Sikkim is free from insurgency related incidents and the security situation in Mizoram, remained peaceful in 2018, by and large, barring a few incidents of violence. Around 114 cadres of the Hmar People's Convention (Democracy) surrendered with 44 weapons in Mizoram in April 2018.