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Data: Security Related Incidents & Casualties in Northeast India Decreased Substantially in Last Two Decades Before Manipur Violence


The ongoing violence in Manipur has resulted in tens of deaths and left hundreds injured. Data from the annual reports of the Ministry of Home Affairs indicates that the number of security related incidents, and casualties in Northeast India reduced significantly in the last two decades before the outbreak of the Manipur violence.

Ethnic clashes erupted in the Northeastern state of Manipur, on 03 May 2023, between the Meitei people, who form a majority in the state and other tribal communities, mainly Kuki and Zo tribes. The large-scale violence is estimated to have resulted in more than 90 deaths and 300 injured. Manipur High Court’s order directing the government to take a decision on the long-standing demand of the Meitei people to accord them the status of Scheduled tribe, is believed to be the trigger to this violence. This demand is being opposed by the other tribal communities, that are a minority in the State. 

Northeast India is one of the most ethnically diverse regions. Each of the tribes have their own distinct culture, identity, and differences. Since India’s independence, efforts have been made to integrate the various Northeast tribes into the mainstream political identity of India. Various levels of disagreement exist on this integration as well as coexistence with other tribes. Apart from ethnic identity, underdevelopment, lack of representation, an influx of refugees, etc. have contributed to the insurgency situation in the region. 

Here is an analysis of trends in violence and security situations in the Northeast. The data is taken from Dataful’s Dataset on incidents of violence in the Northeast States, which is compiled from Annual reports of the Ministry of Home Affairs.  

Decline in the number of Security Related Incidents in Northeast India 

The number of security-related incidents reported in Northeast India has reduced over the years. There is a marked difference in the number of incidents in 2021 compared to the incidents reported in 2001. 

In 2001, a total of 1338 such incidents were reported. The number of such incidents increased in the ensuing years and peaked at 1561 incidents in 2008. Since then, there is a largely declining trend in the number of incidents reported. During the period 2013-2020, there is a year-on-year fall in the number of security-related incidents. However, there is an increase in the incidents in 2021, with 209 incidents compared to 163 in 2020.

The decline in the number of incidents can be seen across all 7 Northeast states. Manipur followed by Assam reported the highest number of incidents reported over the years. With the exception of 2012, the number of violent incidents reported in Manipur has witnessed a decline since the latter part of the 2000s. Clashes among the different tribal groups and the impact of Naga nationalism in neighbouring state of Nagaland are the main reasons for the unrest in the state. 

The situation in Assam was varied with periods of periods of increase and decline in the incidents reported. Comparatively, fewer incidents and a declining trend are seen in the most recent years. Separatist movements, Bodo nationalism, clashes with cross-border migrants, etc have affected peace in Assam. Dialogue and action of security forces in arresting key personnel of the various separatist organisations seem to have helped in reducing the number of violent incidents in the state. 

A sustained long period of fewer incidents reported can be seen in Tripura. Even in the case of Meghalaya, lower numbers are reported in recent years after a phase of a comparably higher number of incidents during 2012-15. 

No deaths of Security forces in Assam during 2019-21 

During the period 2001-2021, 1046 security forces personnel lost their lives in various incidents across the 7 Northeast states. 390 of them were killed in Manipur, which also has the highest number of incidents reported in these 21 years. Another 289 personnel were killed during the same period in Assam. These two states account for 65% of the total security personnel deaths during 2001-2021. 

The number of deaths of security forces has reduced in recent years. In fact, there are no deaths recorded in Assam in the last 3 years i.e., from 2019 to 2021. Even in the case of Manipur, there is a decline in the number of security forces killed. The number of deaths during 2017-21 was in single digits. 

In the other 5 states, no security personnel deaths are recorded in recent years with few exceptions. The improvement of the situation in Tripura is more remarkable. 208 deaths were recorded in this state during 2001-2021 out of which 192 were between 2001-2006. 

5.8 thousand extremists killed in Northeast India during 2001-21

During the period 2001 to 2021, a total of 5,899 extremists were killed in Northeast India. 71% of these extremists were killed in the two states of Assam & Manipur, which have the highest number of reported incidents.  A decline in the number of incidents across these two states and the Northeast as a whole, also meant that the number of extremists killed has also reduced over the years.

During the period 2001-2021, the greatest number of extremists killed in Manipur was in 2008, when 364 extremists were killed. In the following year, 336 extremists were killed in the state. 

Data also indicates that around 23.9 thousand extremists were arrested during 2014-2021. As indicated earlier, one of the reasons that have contributed to the fall in security incidents and acts of insurgency by separatist organisations could be the loss of their personnel. 

More than 11 thousand extremists surrendered during 2001-2021 in Northeast India. The highest was in 2020 when nearly 2.7 thousand surrendered in the year. 

Violence in Northeast has resulted in 4.6 thousand civilian deaths during 2001-2021

Civilian deaths are an unfortunate outcome of any form of violence. The situation has largely improved over the years, with fewer civilian deaths in Northeast India. Over the period 2001-2021, violence in the Northeast has directly contributed to the loss of lives of 4,672 civilians. 

Assam has the highest share of civilian deaths with 2,206. Manipur, which has the highest number of reported incidents has reported proportionally fewer civilian deaths compared to Assam. During 2001-2021, a total of 1,062 civilians lost their lives. During 2020, only 2 civilian deaths due to violence were reported in the whole of the Northeast. This increased to 23 in 2021 and may increase many times in 2023 because of the ongoing violence in Manipur. 

Featured Image: Violence in Northeast India


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