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Lecturrete topic 351 - Military presence in J&K and NE states


The presence of military forces in Jammu and Kashmir (J&K) and the Northeastern (NE) states of India has been a critical aspect of India's national security strategy for decades. These regions, characterized by their strategic locations and historical complexities, have necessitated significant military attention. This article delves into the intricacies of military deployment in these areas, examining the historical context, current situation, socio-economic impacts, human rights concerns, and the way forward.

Historical Context

Jammu and Kashmir

Jammu and Kashmir's history with military presence dates back to the Partition of India in 1947, when the princely state acceded to India under contentious circumstances, leading to the first Indo-Pak war. The subsequent wars of 1965 and 1971, coupled with the rise of insurgency in the late 1980s, entrenched the military's role in the region. The Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act (AFSPA), enacted in 1990, granted the military sweeping powers to combat insurgency, significantly increasing troop deployment.

Northeast India

The Northeastern states, comprising Arunachal Pradesh, Assam, Manipur, Meghalaya, Mizoram, Nagaland, Sikkim, and Tripura, have also witnessed substantial military presence. Post-independence, the region experienced numerous insurgencies, with demands ranging from autonomy to complete independence. The AFSPA, first implemented in Assam and Manipur in 1958, extended to other states as insurgent activities spread, solidifying the military's role in maintaining order.

Current Military Presence

Jammu and Kashmir

Jammu and Kashmir remains one of the most militarized zones in the world. According to recent estimates, over 500,000 security personnel are stationed in the region, including the Indian Army, paramilitary forces, and local police. This heavy deployment is a response to persistent threats from cross-border terrorism, internal insurgency, and the complex geopolitical dynamics involving Pakistan and China.

Northeast India

In the Northeast, military deployment varies by state, reflecting the intensity of insurgent activities. Assam, Nagaland, and Manipur, with their history of violent insurgency, have the highest concentrations of troops. Reports suggest that approximately 200,000 troops are deployed across the region, including the Army, Assam Rifles, and paramilitary forces. The presence of multiple ethnic groups with distinct demands adds layers of complexity to the military operations here.

Socio-Economic Impact

Economic Development

The heavy military presence in both J&K and the NE states has had mixed economic impacts. On one hand, the military provides employment and supports local economies through the procurement of goods and services. For instance, the Indian Army's procurement from local markets in J&K has injected significant capital into the region. However, frequent disruptions due to security operations and curfews hinder long-term economic development.

Infrastructure and Connectivity

Military infrastructure has improved connectivity in remote areas, with roads, bridges, and airfields constructed primarily for strategic purposes. In the Northeast, projects like the Bogibeel Bridge in Assam, built by the military, have enhanced connectivity. Yet, these infrastructures often remain underutilized for civilian purposes due to security restrictions.

Human Rights and Civil Liberties

Allegations and Accountability

The extensive powers granted under AFSPA have led to numerous allegations of human rights violations, including extrajudicial killings, torture, and arbitrary detentions. In J&K, organizations like Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch have documented cases of abuse, sparking international concern. In the Northeast, similar allegations have emerged, particularly in states like Manipur and Nagaland.

Legal and Institutional Responses

The Indian government has taken steps to address these concerns, including the establishment of human rights cells within the armed forces and inquiries into specific allegations. However, critics argue that accountability measures are insufficient and that AFSPA itself needs revisiting to balance security and human rights.

Geopolitical Dynamics

India-Pakistan Relations

The military presence in J&K is deeply intertwined with India-Pakistan relations. The Line of Control (LoC), a de facto border between the two countries, is heavily militarized. Skirmishes and ceasefire violations are frequent, necessitating a robust military posture. The revocation of J&K's special status in 2019 further strained relations, leading to heightened military readiness.

India-China Relations

In the Northeast, the military presence is influenced by India's complex relationship with China. Arunachal Pradesh, claimed by China as part of South Tibet, sees significant military deployment. The 1962 Sino-Indian War and subsequent border tensions have led to fortified positions and infrastructure development aimed at countering Chinese advances.

Community Relations and Psychological Impact

Perception of Security Forces

The local populations in J&K and the NE states have a complex relationship with the military. While some view the forces as protectors against insurgency and external threats, others see them as oppressors. This dichotomy affects community relations and trust in government institutions.

Psychological Impact

The prolonged military presence has psychological impacts on both civilians and military personnel. In J&K, the constant state of conflict has led to widespread mental health issues, including PTSD and anxiety disorders among civilians. Soldiers, too, face stress and trauma, leading to initiatives like mental health programs within the armed forces.

Way Forward

Policy Recommendations

  1. Balanced Approach: Implementing a balanced approach that addresses security concerns while respecting human rights is crucial. This includes revisiting AFSPA and incorporating more robust oversight mechanisms.

  2. Development Initiatives: Investing in socio-economic development to address the root causes of insurgency. Programs focusing on education, healthcare, and infrastructure can help integrate these regions more fully into the national mainstream.

  3. Dialogue and Reconciliation: Encouraging dialogue between the government, military, and local communities to build trust and find political solutions to longstanding issues.

  4. Regional Cooperation: Enhancing regional cooperation with neighboring countries to address cross-border insurgency and terrorism effectively.

Technological Integration

Leveraging technology for surveillance and intelligence can reduce the need for large troop deployments, minimizing the militarization of civilian areas. Drones, satellite imagery, and advanced communication systems can enhance the efficiency of military operations.


The military presence in Jammu and Kashmir and the Northeastern states of India remains a complex and multifaceted issue. Balancing national security with socio-economic development and human rights is a challenging yet necessary endeavor. As India navigates this intricate landscape, policy decisions must reflect a nuanced understanding of the historical context, current realities, and future aspirations of these regions. Through inclusive and holistic approaches, it is possible to ensure peace, stability, and prosperity for all stakeholders involved.