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Policing in the North-East

Seventh Report of the National Police Commission, May, 1981

The North-East has been in a state of turmoil for some years now. Some of the recent incidents of violence, in Tripura, where the number of persons killed was one of the highest in any riot in recent years. Manipur, Meghalaya, Assam, Mizoram and on Assam-Nagaland border, show how inflammable the situation is. They are posing a serious threat to the security and stability not only of this region but of the entire country. The police set-up, which has been expanded in most of these States only recently, and that too in an ad hoc manner, has miserably failed to cope up with the situation. The problems of policing in the North-East are far too complex and varied. They require a highly professional, well organised and trained police force, which is at the same time aware and responsive to the needs of the tribals, to deal with them. An ad hoc approach in dealing with this highly complicated and explosive situation will not do. The whole country is already paying very high price for this situation and if not effectively dealt with, many have to pay a much higher price, even endangering the stability and security of the country.

The region comprises of 7 States, popularly known as the 7 sisters: Assam, Meghalaya, Nagaland, Manipur, Tripura, Mizoram and Arunachal Pradesh. It has a population of over 20 million and cover an area of about 2.55 lakhs square kilometres -- almost 8% of the total area of the country. Mostly hilly, it is one of the most picturesque parts of the country. Railways have hardly penetrated the region, and even though many new roads have been constructed, the communications are still very spare and difficult. The remote areas in the interior are still completely isolated; one sometimes wonders whether the march of history has passed them by. The region is situated on the very sensitive borders of our country. The long international borders stretch along China, Tibet, Bhutan, Burma and Bangladesh. It is connected with the rest of the country by a narrow strip of land -- 17 miles broad -- near the 'Doars' in West Bengal. The traumatic experience of the 1962 war with China has left its imprint on the minds of the people. There is a climate of insecurity. The realisation dawned on them of the first time, how tenuous these geographical links were with the rest of the country.

Historical perspective

From the beginning of the British rule, the North-East was treated as a non-regulated area. Any legal enactments made for the rest of the country could not automatically be enforced in these areas, except when they were specifically adopted for them. The administrative system as it developed in this region was quite different from that in the rest of the country. Most of the administration was left by the British to the tribal chiefs. A number of armed outposts were later set up, not with the intention of administering the tribals, but only to keep a watch over them. There was no regular policing. The British had a great deal of difficulty in dealing with the tribals residing in the hilly areas of the North-East and they deliberately kept certain areas as "excluded areas" from the rest of the country with two fold objectives:

  1. to keep the area as a buffer region between India and the neighbouring countries; and

  2. to protect them from exploitation by the plainsmen.

The influence of the missionaries in the late 19th and the early 20th century has given the traditional tribal culture a veneer of Western culture. The tribals, particularly the educated sections, have increasingly taken to the west dress, music and dancing. Moreover, the script of the tribal language is mostly English and a large section of the tribal population is Christian.

The Lushai Hills, now known as Mizoram, Naga Hills, Khasi, Jaintia and Garo Hills were partially administered, while NEFA, now known as Arunachal Pradesh was totally "excluded". NEFA was administered through a political officer on the basis of a single line administration. It was only in 1950 that the whole region was integrated into the State of Assam. After 1950 the tribal district of Assam were entitled to a differential administration in accordance with the provisions of the Article 244(2) read with the Sixth Schedule of the Indian Constitution. Autonomous district councils were set up to administer the tribal areas. Nagaland State was constituted in 1962. The States of Manipur, Tripura, Meghalaya, Mizoram and Arunachal Pradesh were constituted under the North-Eastern Areas Act in 1972, it was hoped that by giving a political identity to the different people in this region it would be easier to tackle the area's problems. However, even the grant of Statehood have not led to easing of tensions in the region. On the other, few tensions in the shape of inter-State border disputes, friction between the tribals and the non-tribals, intra-tribal rivalries, linguistic clashes etc. have emerged and have been creating serious problems of law and order. Because of the prolonged isolation of this area from the rest of the country, a feeling of separation has grown. Living in isolation they have got used to living freely with minimum or no government control. They trend to resent any kind of discipline from any authority. Local grievances and aspirations have further encouraged separatist tendencies. As neglected people the fear of being exploited by the migrants from the plains and absorbed into the neighbouring States haunts them. This fear has led to eruption of violence quite frequently. There are extremist elements among the tribals in these areas, who will not be satisfied with anything short of complete separation from India. These extremist elements, it is suspected, are receiving support from some foreign countries, who are interested for their own reasons in destabilising this strategic region. There are reports that the Mizo National Front has its headquarters in the Chittagong Hill Tracts of Bangladesh and has been receiving arms and ammunition and training facilities from various countries, particularly China. Some of the Naga rebel leaders are living in England; while quite a few are marking time in the neighbouring areas of north Burma for an opportunity to resume terrorist activities. Meiteis in Manipur are known to have developed pro-China links. Meiteis are Vaishnavs and have strong cultural links with Hinduism, but are now openly hostile to India, even to Hinduism. The younger elements are claiming that they are culturally and ethnically closer to China and not to India. The possibility of a linkup between the extremist elements in the North-East can no longer be ruled out. Investigation of some of the incidents by Mizo hostiles in Tripura and the bordering areas of Mizoram have pointed to such a link.

The fact that the tribals have suddenly emerged from an era of isolation and extreme economic backwardness of the region are two of the major causes of this hostility. The Central Government has been spending huge funds to force the pace of development in this region, but the benefits of the economic activity have unfortunately gone only to a small section of the people. The contractors, the bureaucrats and the politicians have cornered most of the development benefits. The problems of the tribals in the interior areas have not been solved and they continue to suffer, even though the per capita public expenditure in this region is the highest in India. The backlog of neglect of centuries has to be wiped out and this huge task cannot be accomplished in a short time. The spread of education has not been an unmixed blessing. There is a danger that the increase in the educated unemployed will outstrip the economic growth. The educated unemployed are easy prey to the propaganda of the extremist elements. The corruption and inefficiency of the administrative machinery has further created a sense of abhorrance of the outsiders in the minds of the people. The hated foreigner is known as Vai in Mizoram, Mayang in Manipur, Teppremyic in Nagaland and Dakhar in Meghalaya. There is no doubt that the solution to the problem of backwardness of the area lies in its development and not in isolation, but the hatred of the "foreigner" has become an emotional obsession with the people and any influx, even of engineers, administrators etc., who are so very necessary for the development work is looked upon with suspicion. The economic backwardness of the region, poor communications and remoteness of the area are responsible for this isolation which has become emotional as well as physical. Unfortunately, pursuit of unimaginative policies, instead of integrating them with the rest of the country have only succeeded in further alienating them. There is complete separation between the tribals and the non-tribals living in these areas. In there anxiety to integrate these areas with the rest of the country, the policy makers did not quite appreciate the historical background and the tribal social structure, before deciding to introduce the central law and system of administration in this region. The demand of separation has taken the shape of insurgency in Nagaland and Mizoram. The situation in Manipur is also causing anxiety. It is very sensitive region from the international point of view. The Super Powers and major powers like China have a direct interest in this region. It is easy to exploit the anti-Indian sentiments in this region. India is vulnerable here and can be hit at a very low cost.

The fear of infiltration of foreigners has become a very major problem. Because of the tremendous pressure of population in Bangladesh a large number of people have been migrating to the nighbouring tribal areas for the last few years. The situation in Tripura, where the local tribal population have become a minority in their own land has created fears, which are now altogether baseless, in the minds of the tribals that unless something radical is done they will also be overwhelmed by the migrants. The pressure of population from the plain areas to the hills in this region itself has added another dimension to the problem.

The tribals have become aware of their rights and are not prepared to be mute spectators of the exploitation of their resources and their own exploitation by others. Literacy among some tribes, particularly in Mizoram is very high. As mentioned earlier the tremendous increase in the educated unemployed makes their areas a fertile ground for hostile propaganda. The local economy is still very backward and cannot bear the administrative superstructure, which is almost entirely financed by the funds provided by the Central Government. Widespread corruption in the administrative machinery, a problem we have dealt with separately later in this chapter, has eroded the credibility of the Administration. There is still no industry and agriculture is still by and large based on the practice of "jhooming", a system of shifting cultivation. Economic development of this region both in the field of industry and agriculture will have to take place in a big way.

They are a proud people and conscious of their own sense of identity. The tribal culture has its own social value system and nothing should be done to upset it. They do not suffer from a sense of personal insecurity because the tribe takes the responsibility for maintaining all its members. It may sound strange but even after many years a tribal, when he comes back to his own village, can walk into any house and expect to be given shelter and food, even if the householders are total strangers to him. They are not servile and the tribal society does not suffer from elitism. The driver of a Chief Minister can still sit in the drawing room on the same sofa with the Chief Minister and have tea with him. They are not greedy and acquisitive and have a very healthy attitude towards life. The figures of the tribal population are given below:

Total population (in lakhs)
Scheduled Tribe population(in lakhs)
Percentage of tribal total population of the State





















Arunachal Pradesh








Source: INDIA, 1980.

The tribals used to consider themselves as free people during the British rule, but short-sighted policies allowed an unfortunate impression to grow, no doubt aided and abetted by mischievous propaganda, that they have been subjugated to after the exploitation and departure of the British. The policy makers in Delhi rightly decided that the solution of the border problem lay in bringing the area into the mainstream of the country's life by properly administering it, and extending to it the benefits of development economy, but unfortunately they did not quite appreciate the historical perspective and the tribal social structure and temper their effort to these vital factors. The tribal was not used to too much government control and it was a mistake to force our administrative system on them. The situation was further aggravated by the fact that the senior and middle level bureaucrats and the police officers who were sent to these areas were total misfits. These being remote and inaccessible areas there was a natural reluctance on the part of good officers to be posted to these areas with the result that the bulk of the officers sent to these areas were rejects and misfits. They were the people who were primarily responsible for the image of the "ugly Indian". We have separately discussed the problems of personnel and given some suggestions.

In Meghalaya, Nagaland and Arunachal Pradesh the tribal village is for all practical purposes an autonomous unit and the authority of the village Council has been recognised and maintained. The Council performs the duties of the police. Inter-tribal rivalries, spread of education, and political pressures have, to some extent eroded the credibility of the village Councils, but they still wield considerable influence. The tribal system is still the most suitable system in the area of policing and for satisfying the tribals' social needs. No effort should be made to interfere with this system on the plea that the modern system of policing as in the rest of the country is necessary. In the interior tribal areas the customary tribals institutions should be allowed and encouraged to continue to administer the area. Police interference should be minimum and should depend on the gravity of the offence. In the urbanised areas, which are connected by roads or railway a more formal police structure will require to be established, so that it can deal with the problems of crime and criminals more effectively. While laying broad principles for policing in this region, it would be convenient to divide the area into three divisions:-

  1. border areas,

  2. urbanised centres which are connected by roads or railways, and

  3. interior tribal areas, where the communications are very difficult and life is still very insulated.

Police presence should be concentrated in the border areas and other important areas from the law and order point of view. In Assam and the plains areas of Tripura the modern pattern of policing as prevailing in the rest of the country can be extended. In the urbanised areas like Aizawl and Kohima and other areas which have been linked with railway or roads should have the infrastructure of modern policing to cope with the increasing number of crimes and criminals, but it should take seriously into account the tribal laws, customs and institutions. Thus policing in these areas will have to be a judicious mixture of the tribal system and the modern system. The interior tribal areas should be left to be policed entirely by the traditional tribal institutions. As regards policing of the border areas we have discussed the subject separately in the later part of this Chapter. The underlying principle for the North-East should be minimum policing; no interference in the tribal laws, customs and institutions; policing on the basis of the gravity of offence and the sensitivity of areas i.e. border areas and areas having mixed population of different tribes and non-tribals.

The tribal criminal justice system of prelitigation settlement is more responsive to social needs and no attempt should be made to change it under the garb of introducing the modern police system. Our criminal justice system in the rest of the country is becoming more and more ritualistic and the poor are finding it increasingly difficult to get any justice from it. The victim has hardly got any place in the scheme of things. Why should such an outdated criminal justice system be extended to the tribal areas, where their own system is much more effective, sophisticated, cheap and speedy? Under Article 13(3) (a) of the Constitution the definition of 'law' includes customs or usage having the force of law. The Regional Councils and the District Council constituted under para 2 of the Sixth Scheduled have been vested with powers to make laws under the provisions of the Sixth Schedule. Various rules have been framed for the administration of criminal justice. The provisions of the Cr. P.C. have not been automatically extended to these areas. The State Government has been empowered to extend any of the provisions of the Cr. P.C. to such areas or parts thereof as may be notified by the State Government. There is no separation between the executive and the judiciary and it is our considered opinion that this arrangement should continue, till socio-economic changes justify any modification. There is need for effectively and speedily dealing with the extremist elements.

The tribal Councils should continue to deal with the types of criminal offences they are dealing with at present. Whilst efforts should be made to remove some of the anomalies in the functioning of the tribal councils, in our opinion it is not necessary to codify the traditional laws. In Nagaland such efforts have only created confusion. We appreciate that the tribal criminal justice system will come under pressure with the increased tempo of the economic and political activities. Moreover, political interference in the impartial functioning of the tribal Councils is already affecting their credibility. No doubt certain modifications of the system will have to be introduced with the passage of time, but it needs to be emphasised that these tribal Councils are discharging a very valuable and important function and any reform made in the law and the police administration should try to strengthen this machinery and not weaken it. We have recommended in our report a system of Gram Nyaya layas. In the urbanised areas penetrated by railway and roads a similar system can be introduced. This model could also be followed in those areas where the traditional tribal and village Councils are finding it difficult to deal effectively with the increasing number of disputes between the tribals and non-tribals. The object is to provide cheap justice to the people with simple procedures on the principles of natural justice without any exploitation by the lawyers.

The problem of crime in the tribal areas is still not very serious. These areas are so far relatively free from crime, though with the increased contacts with the outside world the number of crimes and criminals is bound to go up. In dealing with crime and criminals in the area the main problem of the police is that it is spread thinly over a very large area. The police officers have to travel for days on foot before they can even reach a scene of crime. Even serious cases like murder are hardly investigated. Because of the distance involved the reporting of the cases is delayed and the subsequent response of the police is also poor. Even though there is no sustained investigation crime does not pose a serious problem. In the tribal areas it is not very difficult to identify the accused even without the help of the police. Moreover, once an accused is caught it does not require much pressure or persuasion to made his confess his crime. They are much more truthful and hence readily confess their guilt. The absence of lawyers of course, is one of the most important factors for this state of affairs. In places like Imphal and Kohima the number of lawyers has considerably increased and the situation is undergoing a change, but still in most of the tribal areas ordinary crime is, at present, not posing a very serious problem. In the interior places where it may not be necessary to open new police stations, it would suffice if a police party visits these areas periodically. The police in the headquarters should maintain close touch with the village Councils. Because of very difficult communications the information system is not very efficient and the feedback is relatively poor. This is incidentally one more reason in our opinion, for being very careful before introducing any changes in these areas.

Police Stations

We cannot fix any criteria for the establishment of a new police station. The factors such as population, areas, crime will have to be taken into consideration but the approach will have to be flexible. In areas where mixed population given rise to disputes between tribals and non-tribals and between different tribals, new police stations/ police posts should be opened to inculcate a sense of security. The condition of the buildings of the police stations in this region is uniformly very poor and this needs to be attended to urgently. Proper buildings are also necessary from the security point of view, because of the activities of hostile elements. There should be proper security arrangements for the protection of the police stations. The system of maintenance of records in the police stations should be simplified, taking into consideration the capacity of an average tribal police officer. Only the essential records with simple procedures should be maintained. Similarly, the investigation procedures should be simplified. There is no point in extending the already out of date Assam Police Manual to these areas. A new Police Manual taking into consideration the special requirements of the region should be drafted expeditiously so that the force can start functioning on the right lines.


Insurgency is the most serious problem in Mizoram, Nagaland, bordering areas of Tripura and Manipur. In recent years the problem has also spread to plains of Manipur. In Manipur the activities of extremists among the Meiteis have introduced a new dimension of urban terrorism to the problem. The security forces, including the army and the paramilitary forces, are present in large numbers to deal with the activities of the insurgents. The problem in the long run, however, has to be tackled by the police. The main difficulty in dealing with the activities of the insurgents is their identification. The methods sometimes followed, which may be effective temporarily, have led to avoidable bitterness. The practice of surrounding village lining up all the male members, then searching the village has caused a lot of harassment to innocent people. While it is true that no insurgency activity can flourish without the support of the people, it must also be appreciated that any action which further alienates the local population will only help the insurgents. Ultimately the problem will have to be tackled by isolating the extremist elements and winning over the local population. The lesson learnt both in Mizoram and Nagaland tell us that effective police action can be very successful. The capacity of the police to absorb casualties is relatively low but it can play important complementary role to the army and para-military forces in tackling the situation. The army should, however, as far as possible, not be passed for day-to-day policing. Such a role is not the function of the armed forces and by using them for such purposes we can only succeed in belittling these forces, our ultimate forces in the eye of the people. This is not fair to our gallant armed forces. The present situation in Manipur, particularly in the valley where the army has almost taken over fully the subordinate role of the police in dealing with the activities of the Meitei extremists, is largely due to the failure of the police itself. This is due in no small measure because of its own weaknesses, particularly because of the wrong personnel policies, and the political and bureaucratic interference in its day-to-day functioning. The police must be organised on proper lines and it must be allowed to play its legitimate role. In addition we recommend the following measures to deal more effectively with the problem of insurgency :-

  1. The police should concentrate more on the border area and those areas which are known for providing shelter to the extremists. There is no point in spreading the police too thin over a large area. Best use should be made of the available resources.

  2. The police should be given modern arms and ammunition, instead of the antiquated .303 rifles. The insurgents are armed with modern automatic weapons.

  3. Identity cards should be issued to all male members of the population over 16 years of age. The identity cards should carry an attested photograph of the person concerned. These should be renewed at regular intervals.

  4. There should be strict control on the sale and stock of explosive material. The places where explosives are stocked should be provided with adequate security.

  5. There should be very stringent control on the possession of arms and ammunition. There are large number of unlicensed arms in the area and every effort should be made to capture them.

  6. One important aspect which is not given the importance it deserves, is public relations. This is a big mistake. The insurgents depend for their survival on the support they receive from the local population. The extremist elements through false propaganda try to create a feeling of hostility against the security forces. The police and the security forces operating in the area should have a separate public relations department. It should be the responsibility of this department to counter any propaganda bringing the police and the security forces into disrepute by readily and truthfully giving to the media the correct facts of incidents and situation. Positive steps should be taken to win over the confidence of the people.

  7. Murder of any government official or looting of any public property should be severely and promptly dealt with. Misplaced sympathy or any delay in taking firm action can do a lot of damage in lowering the morale of the public, police and the security forces.

Intelligence set up

The success or failure of operations against the insurgents will depend largely on how successfully the extremist elements can be identified. This in turn will depend on how promptly and correctly the intelligence agencies are able to collect information about them. At present this responsibility is being shared by many intelligence agencies. The Intelligence Bureau, the Army Intelligence, the Border Security Force, the RAW, the SSB, in addition to the local intelligence set up have all been operating in this region. It has been brought to our notice that due to lack of coordination, at times these agencies have been functioning at cross purpose, instead of working towards a common objective i.e. identification and capture of the hostile elements. Rivalries among junior functionaries of these agencies, have been hampering the operations against the insurgents. There are reports that at times even the sources of one agency are exposed and threatened by the other. We were informed that in one insurgency torn Union Territory the source of one of the agencies escorted by their intelligence officers was forcibly kidnapped along with the officers by the officers of another agency. This situation is exploited by the hostile elements. There have also been cases where clever sources have taken more than one agency for a ride. It is absolutely essential that the work of all these agencies and its members should be constituted at the level of the Lt. Governor in the Union Territories and at the level of Governor in the States. A coordination committee with the representatives of all the agencies as its members should be constituted by the Governor or Lt. Governor. This Committee should meet as frequently as possible and at least once a month to take stock of the current situation, compare notes and plan new strategy. All information should be conveyed directly to the Lt. Governor or the Governor for appropriate action or instructions instead of routing it through their own headquarters as is the practice at present. Any delay in passing an information renders it sometimes absolutely useless, because by the time the information filters down to the operational level, the extremists have already managed to slip away or move away from that area.

Personnel Policy

Wrong choice of personnel posted to these areas is one single most important cause of the administration into disgrace. The posts in the North-East are considered as punishment posts and officers with bad record, who have to be got rid of are usually sent there.

There officers, from the day they join their place of posting in the North-East, are disgruntled and take little or no interest in their work. Some of them have taken to heavy drinking and other bad habits unbecoming of an officer. How can such officers be expected to instill confidence in the mind of the people? Quite a few of them have no knowledge either of their area or of the people. The fact that more discretion has to be allowed to the officers at the operational level in these areas and because of the importance of the police problems it is imperative that only the best officers of the highest calibre are posted to this region. To attract the best available talent it is no use appealing to their patriotism alone. The posts will have to be made much more attractive so that suitable and talented officers with vision and enthusiasm volunteer for them. The present additional allowances and other facilities provided to them are most inadequate. These will have to be improved. Posting in these areas should be a plus point in an officer's career. In some recent cases the government has not cared to look after the officers on return from a successful tenure in the North-East. Some of them on return found themselves without any job for months together and had to cool their heels till they could be adjusted into some insignificant post. This has proved as a great deterrent to officers posted to these areas and has also denigrated the prestige of the posts in the North-East. Consequently it has become a problem to find suitable willing officers for these posts. Those posted to these areas make all types of excuses and pull every possible string to get out of these postings. Some of the posts remain unfilled for months and years because one after the other the officers posted manage to get their posting orders cancelled. A more imaginative personnel policy is the basis of a sound administrative system. Even in countries like the Soviet Union officers posted to Siberia and other difficult regions are paid much higher allowances and perks as compared to similar posts in the Moscow-Leningrad-Kiev region, which is the most developed area in USSR. We strongly recommend that the following steps should be taken to make these posts attractive:

  1. Generous additional allowances should be sanctioned for all posts in the North-East. This should be at least 50% of the basic pay available to the officer in his own cadre.

  2. One free passage for the officers and their families should be given once a year for travelling to their home State and back.

  3. If in spite of general allowances/perks senior officers in the same grade show unwillingness to go, comparatively junior officers can be sent on rank promotion. To avoid any malpractices the refusal of senior officers must be in writing.

  4. A scale of suitable allowances should be fixed for hostel subsidy up to a maximum of 2 children.

We further recommend that similarly the tribal officers from the region should be encouraged for posting outside the region. The present rules are such that tribal officers when posted outside the tribal area suffer loss in their emoluments and other facilities. They not only have to pay income tax when posted in the plain areas, but also loss some allowances which they are entitled to when posted in the tribal areas. This is an anomaly and a disincentive which should be removed. The tribal officers should, when posted outside the tribal areas, continue to enjoy the same emoluments and facilities as they are entitled to when posted to the tribal region.


In recent years there has been a big increase in the strength of the police, but the recruitment at various levels of the police force has been done in a very haphazard manner. This has not helped in improving the efficiency of the police. There are complaints of nepotism and corruption. Because of the small population the evil of nepotism is much more widespread in these areas. Rules should be framed for recruitment at all levels and there should be no departure from the norms laid down in the rules. To make it a homogenous force, as far as possible, persons from all tribes and sections in the area should be recruited. We have separately dealt with the subject of armed police later in this chapter.

Because of the rapid expansion little or no thought has been given to the promotional policy. While in some cases the promotions have been very rapid, in other cases after the first few years there is complete blockade, with the result that considerable frustration has been caused. Executive and political interference in the internal administration of the police department, which is on a much larger scale in these areas than in the rest of the country, has further affected its moral and efficiency. In Manipur the interference in the police administration has gone to such an extent that the Inspector General cannot promote even an Assistance Sub-Inspector without the consent of the State Government. The State Government is interfering in a big way in the postings and transfers of the officers at the lower and middle ranks. It is, therefore, not surprising that the morale of the police in Manipur is one of the lowest in the whole of the country. The job of policing recently had to be handed over to the army and this has its own chain of undesirable consequences as discussed earlier. Things have come to such a pas that even in Imphal the army had to be called in to deal with the law and order situation.

Lack of supervision at various levels is another cause for inefficiency and indiscipline in the police force of this region. Poor means of communications no doubt make touring of the interior areas somewhat difficult but it should be possible for officers to do much more touring than they have been doing with the available means of communication. At present helicopters are being used exclusively for the VIPs and by the army. There should be closer cooperation between the police administration and the army and the air force, so that full use is made of the available helicopters which frequently go empty. The police should be allowed to share this facility without adversely affecting the needs of the army. The present instructions restricting the use of the empty seats only to the army officers should be revised to include the police officers as well.


Another important cause of the police failures is poor training of its personnel. The training facilities are most inadequate. In most of the States and the Union Territories after the initial training, which is mostly done outside the region, hardly any other training is given. Recently, the North-East Council has started a police training school at Barapani near Shilling. In our view it would be desirable to increase the training facilities at Barapani and it should be possible for this centre to cater to the needs of all the Union Territories and the States in this region except Assam, which can have its own training institution. In addition, all the State and the Union Territories should have their own training institutions to run pre-promotional and refresher courses. Anti-insurgency measures should form an important part of the training syllabus.

Armed Police

In addition to the local armed police, the army and the paramilitary forces are deployed in large numbers in these areas. The para-military forces, though under the operational control of the local police chiefs are not under their disciplinary control, with the result that they have no commitment to the task and are not result oriented. On the other hand the local police tries to pass the buck on to the para-military force and they, specially the Central Reserve Police Force, have become very unpopular in this region. Unless these forces can be motivated to show initiative and drive in dealing with the hostile elements it would not be possible to deal with the insurgents and other complicated problems of law and order. The Border Security Force, the Central Reserve Police Force and the Assam Rifles have tremendous potential. There was a time when the Assam Rifles were the backbone of the law and order machinery in this area. This momentum due to lack of coordination and commitment has been lost over the years. Most of the para-military battalions, it is complained only prepare for the visits of their own senior officers, who live hundreds and sometimes thousands of miles away and come to visit their battalions once a year and that too during fair weather. They have absolutely no interest in the performance and the results achieved by these battalions. Most of the para-military forces outposts have literally become static outposts; they are not running patrols or collecting intelligence to capture the insurgents, arms and ammunition. The local police chief, in our opinion, must have operational and disciplinary control over these forces. There should be close coordination between them, the local police, the army and the intelligence agencies.

To ensure that local pressures do not adversely affect the efficiency, moral and discipline of these forces, we recommend that Article 371A(i)(b) which enables the Governor of Nagaland to have special responsibility for the maintenance of law and order should be extended to any other State when the problem of insurgency raises its head. It should be possible for the Governor or the Lt. Gevernor to use this personal judgement in discharging this responsibility. He should no doubt, consult the Council of Ministers before making his decision, but the Council of Ministers should not be able to question his judgement.

At present quite a few battalions of para-military forces have been deployed in this region more or less on a permanent basis for the last many years. For obvious reasons this is not a very satisfactory arrangement. This task will have to be taken over in due course as the situation improves by the regional armed police. We recommend that instead of recruiting the armed battalions for each State or Union Territory a North-Eastern Rifles or Armed Police should be constituted for the entire region on the Central Reserve Police Force pattern. Recruitment to these armed battalions should be done from all the 7 States and Union Territories. This should be a composite force for the entire region they should be rotated under orders of the Governor of the North-East, or the Ministry of Home Affairs if it is later decided to have more than one Governor in the North-East, every three years. These battalions when posted in a State should be completely under the operational and disciplinary control of the local Inspector General. The present battalions of the Assam Rifles and the State Armed Police will have to be reorganised to convert them into the North-Eastern Rifles or the Armed Police, whichever nomenclature is preferred. Border areas and infiltration Policing the local stretch of borders along the international boundary is a major problem in this region. There are reports that some of the neighbouring countries, not very friendly to us, are supporting the extremists. The explosion of population in Bangladesh is spilling over into the neighbouring States of Assam, Tripura, Meghalaya and Mizoram. In Tripura the tribals have become a minority in their own land. This fear is haunting the Assamese and people of other States in the region. Mischievous elements, with direct or indirect support of some foreign powers are exploiting this fear to create conditions of destabilisation by fanning separatist demands.

At present the borders are being policed by the Border Security Force, the Army and the Assam Rifles. In the interest of more effective policing and better coordination, we recommend that the entire border should be policed by the Border Security Force. The army will, of course, have to continue its supportive role. The distance between the existing border outposts is far too long and needs to be reduced to improve their effectiveness. Many more border outposts will have to be set up within reasonable distance of each other depending on the terrain and other factors, such as road links etc. The difficult terrain makes it very difficult to check the movement of the insurgents. The border police has to play an important role in fighting insurgency. All the forces deployed at the border should be trained in the anti-insurgency measures. Policing in the North-East cannot be done in water tight compartments. We would emphasise once again the need for very close coordination between all the agencies operating in the area. In the task of dealing with the infiltrators coordination between the Border Security Force, the police and the civil administration assumes special importance. The problem of infiltration has to be dealt with firmly and with all the resources at our command. The problem of Chakma infiltrators from Chittagong Hill Tracts in Bangladesh into Mizoram needs to be dealt with immediately before it gets out of hand. This problem is further complicated by the fact that the Chakmas are fighting their own battle as "Shanti Bahini": against the Bangladesh Government.

Smuggling is another problem which has already assumed serious proportions in Manipur. There are complaints of connivance by the police and at the political level. A vested interest has developed among the police, the politician and the extremist elements. In some border areas the insurgents are reported to be organising smuggling to finance their underground activities. The border police has an important role to play in tackling the evil which is adversely affecting the morale and functioning of the police and the civil administration. But it will not be possible to tackle this problem without close cooperation between all concerned including the border police.


One of the main reasons for the widespread corruption is that the administration intra-structure is too weak to control effectively the huge expenditure being incurred on the developmental activities and in running the security operations. In the absence of social sanction against corrupt methods, which are helping the hostile elements, there is no other alternative except to strengthen the anti-corruption machinery. There is need for reorganising and strengthening both the State anti-corruption branches and the zonal office of the Central Bureau of Investigation. The anti-corruption branch should not be used for dumping the unwanted, corrupt and the inefficient police officers. Only experienced investigating officers with unimpeachable reputation of integrity should be posted to the anti-corruption branch. Special judges to try these cases expeditiously should be appointed within the State, instead of sending them for trial outside the State, as is the practice in some of the States. The audit machinery should also be strengthened. Accountant General's office is located at Guwahati. This arrangement has not been functioning very effectively. Without proper supervision their teams of officials which go on tours to these States and Union Territories from Guwahati are very perfunctory in work and there is hardly any follow up of the defects found during the audit. In the absence of the audit reports investigation of the anti-corruption cases are sometimes held up for years.


The conditions of the jails in the North-East are uniformaly deplorable. They are mostly housed in makeshift temporary buildings without proper security arrangements. There have been a number of attempts, quite a few of them successful, at jail breaking. All the hard work that goes into the arrest of an extremist comes to naught, when the insurgents are so crowded that all types of prisoners are put together in these temporary structures. The dangerous criminals are getting mixed up with the ordinary criminals. The security arrangements need to be tightened. Some of the jails are being used to propagate the extremist philosophy and have become sources of recruitment for the insurgents. Proper jail buildings should be constructed without any further delay.

The problem of policing in the North-East is very complex. The police which is still a young force in this region should be organised on the right lines. It need not blindly imitate the police set up as it exists in the rest of the country. The social, cutlural, economic and political structure in which the police has to function is so very different in this region. While tackling the many sensitive law and order problems, the administration should not interfere unduly with the traditional tribal customs, laws and institutions. The tribal sense of identity should not be threatened under the garb of introducing a modern system of policing. On the other hand efforts should be made to strengthen some of the tribal institutions like : Gaon Burras: and village Councils, so that they can play a more useful role even in the future.

At the same time such an infrastructure should be built in the police which would be able to cope with the problems of crime and criminals in the area as they increase more and more with the increased tempo of the economic and political activities. A comprehensive new police manual taking into consideration the special features of those areas should be drafted for the North-East. There is no point in extended an already out of date Police system here.





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