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Manipur in north east remained volatile, authorities responded to communal clashes in Haryana state in north with home demolitions, and govt continued talks with China on disputed border.
Ethnic violence in Manipur showed little sign of abating. In Bishnupur district, gunfight between Kuki and Meitei communities 5 Aug killed two Kuki village guards, while assailants same day killed three Meitei men in their sleep; Manipur police, dominated by Meitei, 5 Aug registered case against federal security force Assam Rifles for allegedly helping Kuki militants escape from village where three dead individuals were found. In Ukhrul district, Meitei militants 18 Aug allegedly shot dead three Kuki men guarding village. Border security forces 18 Aug lodged protest with Manipur governor over “blockade on movement of troops” by locals, “mostly women”; amid state-wide insecurity, rule of law has broken down and state machinery seemed to have vanished. Gunmen 29 Aug fired at farmers on Bishnupur-Churachandpur border, killing two. The Wire 11 Aug reported violence erupted in May just as central govt was finalising agreement with Kuki militant groups to create autonomous territorial council within state. United Naga Council 21 August accused Kukis of “distortion of Naga history” and objected to separatist memorandum recently authored by 10 Kuki members of Manipur's legislative assembly sent to PM Modi that included reference to Naga-dominated districts.
Authorities demolished scores of homes following deadly clashes in Haryana. Clashes between Hindus and Muslims 31 July erupted in Nuh town, Haryana state (north), after local Muslims opposed procession by right-wing Hindu groups, killing six and resulting in large-scale property destruction; state authorities in subsequent days demolished more than 300 Muslim homes/businesses and arrested 150 Muslims. In rare criticism of demolition, Punjab and Haryana High Court questioned if “an exercise of ethnic cleansing is being conducted by the state”.
Talks with China on disputed border made little progress. Indian and Chinese commanders 13-14 Aug met in eastern Ladakh for 19th round of talks; joint statement described “positive, constructive and in-depth discussion”, although situation remained unchanged. On BRICS summit sidelines, PM Modi 24 Aug raised concerns with China’s President Xi about border.
Manipur state in far north east remained restive amid mounting evidence of widespread sexual violence, while tensions with China persisted over disputed Himalayan border.
Evidence of widespread sexual violence in Manipur sparked national outrage. Video 19 July went viral showing mob of Meitei men parading and sexually assaulting two naked Kuki women on 4 May – one day after ethnic clashes erupted; families of assaulted women said they had filed case in May but no action had been taken. Internet shutdown had prevented evidence from surfacing but Manipur’s chief minister 20 July said there were “hundreds of such cases” of sexual violence. Responding to shocking video, PM Modi 20 July finally addressed situation in Manipur but veered into vague political rhetoric. Meanwhile, region remained restive: Meitei men 6 July shot dead elderly Kuki woman, while radical Meitei outfit Arambai Tenggol 7 July allegedly killed and mutilated woman from Maring Naga community; following latter’s killing, police arrested nine Meitei men, likely to prevent Naga tribes – which have largely remained on sidelines of unrest – from becoming involved.
Relations with China remained fraught amid high-level meeting. In third meeting since March, FM S. Jaishankar 14 July met Chinese counterpart Wang Yi on sidelines of East Asia Summit in Indonesia’s capital Jakarta; Jaishankar called for troop disengagement along two remaining friction points on Line of Actual Control, while Wang Yi hoped to find solution “acceptable to both sides”; two sides agreed to hold military commander talks soon. Meanwhile, councillor from Ladakh’s Chushul area 10 July alleged Chinese troops had erected four tents in eastern Ladakh’s “buffer zone” and 12 July removed them following Indian army’s objections.
India boosted defence ties with France and U.S. PM Modi 13-14 July visited France and finalised several arms deals, including purchase of 26 Rafale Marine fighter jets. U.S. 20 July said it was working with India on co-producing advanced weaponry to address China’s “coercion and harassment”.
Violence and signs of instability continued in Manipur state after deadly escalation in May, while Maoist violence in centre and tensions with China persisted.
Manipur state remained restive. Following ethnic violence that erupted in Manipur state bordering Myanmar in north east in May – which killed at least 98 people, injured over 300 and displaced some 37,000 – insecurity, violence and instability continued across region, albeit at reduced intensity. Notably, improvised explosive device in Bishnupur district 22 June injured three people, while unknown gunmen same day injured two soldiers in Imphal West district. Security forces 23 June intercepted group of militants who fired automatic weapons in Imphal East district. Police 24 June said arsonists torched private property of Manipur minister in Imphal East district and previous day fired tear gas to prevent mob from setting ablaze property in same district belonging to another minister. Army 26 June said women activists accompanying armed rioters were blocking routes used by forces. Shooting 29 June killed two on outskirts of state capital Imphal. Several local organisations called on federal govt to dismiss regional govt, which is run by ruling Bharatiya Janata Party, and impose direct rule. Amid opposition criticism of state and local govt’s handling of crisis, Congress party Rahul Gandhi 29 June commenced two-day visit to region.
Maoist violence persisted. In Chhattisgarh state (centre), security forces 12 June killed Maoist woman in Kanker district; suspected Maoists 20 June killed policeman on leave in Bijapur district, taking Maoist-related police casualties in state to 19 in 2023.
Border crisis continued with China. FM S. Jaishankar 8 June said India and China “are deploying very close to each other, and this proximity can escalate tensions towards violence, as we witnessed in Galwan”.
PM Narendra Modi visited U.S. Modi 21 June commenced three-day state visit to U.S. which notably produced memorandum on joint production of fighter jet engines for Indian aircraft; U.S. and India jointly called on Pakistan “to ensure that no territory under its control is used for launching terrorist attacks”; Pakistan called remarks “unwarranted, one-sided and misleading”. White House 26 June criticised online harassment campaign against U.S. reporter who asked Modi about govt’s human rights record at joint press conference with President Biden.
Ethnic clashes in north east killed scores and displaced tens of thousands, stoking dormant separatist insurgency.
Ethnic violence erupted in Manipur, killing at least 80. In Manipur state bordering Myanmar in India’s north east, thousands of members of Kuki-Zomi tribe 3 May protested in Churachandpur district against possible extension of their state-recognised identity-linked benefits to ethnic majority Hindu Meitei community, which demands tribal status in part to acquire land in hills populated by Kuki-Zomi tribes. Violence broke out between Kuki and Meitei people, which killed at least 80, displaced 35,000 (including hundreds that fled into Myanmar) and destroyed thousands of homes, properties and churches; unrest prompted govt to deploy thousands of troops. Fresh rounds of rioting and arson 21 May erupted, with govt extending internet ban until 26 May. In worrying sign, Kuki insurgent groups – which signed ceasefire agreement with govt in 2008 – demanded separate administrative entity within India, amid uptick in militant violence: suspected militants 24 May shot dead resident in Bishnupur district; clashes late month continued between security forces and militants amid reports of several civilian deaths and claims from Manipur’s chief minister that security forces had killed some 40 Kuki militants.
India-China relations remained tense amid G20 boycott. China 23 May boycotted G20 working group meeting on tourism hosted by govt in Kashmir’s summer capital Srinagar, citing opposition to “holding any kind of G20 meetings in disputed territory” (see India-Pakistan). Indian FM S. Jaishankar 27 May stated India faced “very complicated challenge” from China, particularly in border regions.
Maoist violence persisted. In Chhattisgarh state (centre), Maoists 21 May shot and injured two security forces personnel during security operation in Dantewada district. In capital New Delhi, security forces same day arrested head of People’s Liberation Front of India, Maoist outfit active in Jharkhand state (east). In Telangana state (south), security forces 22 May arrested five Maoist supporters and five Maoist militia members in Kothagudem district.
In other important developments. Ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) 13 May lost election in Karnataka state (south) to opposition Congress party, boosting latter’s confidence ahead of national elections in 2024. Delhi High Court 22 May issued summons to BBC in defamation case for documentary made on PM Modi.
Tensions with China remained elevated over border dispute, while Maoists conducted deadly attack in centre.
Border dispute with China remained prominent as Beijing named disputed areas. China’s civil affairs ministry 2 April issued list of “standardised” names for 11 locations in areas claimed and administered by India as part of Arunachal Pradesh state (north east), marking Beijing’s third attempt since 2017 to rename places under Indian administration and control; govt 4 April rejected move “outright”. Home Minister Amit Shah 10 April visited Arunachal Pradesh to launch $585mn development scheme to bolster security of disputed border, in response to Chinese initiatives to develop villages along Line of Actual Control (LAC). After meeting Indian counterpart in New Delhi, Chinese defence minister 27 April remarked border was “stable overall”, while Indian statement said Beijing had eroded “entire basis” of relations.
Maoist violence continued in centre. In Chhattisgarh state (centre), Maoists 18 April attacked Legislative Assembly member in Bijapur district, who escaped unhurt; earlier same day, security forces killed Maoist and captured two during operation in Bijapur forests. Maoist IED 26 April killed ten security forces personnel and one civilian in Chhattisgarh’s Dantewada district. In Jharkhand state (east), Maoists declared 14-15 April shutdown after security forces killed five Maoists in Chatra district 3 April. Police 18 April arrested member of pro-Maoist organisation People’s Liberation Front of India from Jharkhand.
In other important developments. At 17 April India-Russia business dialogue in capital New Delhi and amid bilateral free trade agreement talks, FM S. Jaishankar said relations with Russia remained steady and suggested ties could expand further, reiterating that “we share a commitment to a multi-polar world” and “multi-polar Asia”.
Govt discussed disputed Line of Actual Control (LAC) with China, authorities arrested over 100 Sikhs in search for separatist leader, and Maoist violence continued.
Govt discussed LAC dispute with China on sidelines of G20. FM S. Jaishankar 2 March held bilateral talks with Chinese counterpart Qin Gang at G20 gathering in capital New Delhi; following meeting, S. Jaishankar said talks “focused on addressing current challenges […] especially peace and tranquillity in the border areas”, while China said both sides should “work for the regular management of border areas at an early date.” S. Jaishankar 18 March said situation at disputed border remains “very fragile”. Indian army chief Gen. Manoj Pande 27 March said Chinese transgressions along LAC remain “potential trigger” for escalation.
Govt launched major security operations against Sikh separatist leader. Security forces 18 March deployed thousands of paramilitary personnel to Punjab state (north) as part of search operation to arrest leader of outlawed separatist Khalistan movement, Amritpal Singh, who since 2022 has revived calls to establish independent state for Sikhs; police accuse Singh of attempted murder and creating discord in Punjab. Authorities 18-22 March blocked internet access state-wide and arrested around 154 alleged Singh supporters.
Maoist violence persisted in centre and east. In Odisha state (east), Maoists 17 March killed man in Nabarangpur district. In Chhattisgarh state (centre), Maoists 19 March set ablaze around 14 construction vehicles in Kanker district; security forces 21 March killed one Maoist in clashes in Bijapur district; explosive device 27 March killed army officer in Bijapur district; Maoists 28 March killed two villagers in Narayanpur and Sukma districts.
In other important developments. Manipur state (north east) govt 10 March withdrew from 2008 ceasefire agreement with two militant outfits – Kuki National Army and Zoumi Revolutionary Front – citing recent protests and violence. Govt hosted top leaders from Germany, Italy, Australia, Japan and U.S. during month. Court in Gujarat state 23 March sentenced opposition Congress party’s leader Rahul Gandhi to two years in prison for alleged defamation; hundreds of Congress party supporters 27 March took to streets in capital New Delhi to protest ruling.
Govt bolstered border presence as it held talks with China on disputed Line of Actual Control (LAC), while Maoist violence continued.
Govt shored up presence along border and continued talks with China. Amid border dispute with China, govt 15 Feb mandated seven new battalions of paramilitary Indo-Tibetan Border Police to guard full length of 3,488km India-China border. Govt same day approved construction of Shinku La tunnel to boost connectivity between Ladakh region (location of LAC) and neighbouring Himachal Pradesh state, and allocated $580mn to boost development and tourism in villages along disputed border. Govt and Chinese officials 22 Feb held bilateral consultation mechanism meeting in Chinese capital Beijing, discussing disengagement on remaining friction points along LAC and pledging to “continue discussions through diplomatic and military channels”.
Maoist violence continued in centre and south east. In Chhattisgarh state (centre), suspected Maoists 5 Feb killed tribal leader and member of ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in Bijapur district; 20 Feb killed police constable in Bijapur district and two policemen in Rajnandgaon district; 25 Feb killed three security personnel in clashes in Sukma district. In Andhra Pradesh state (south east), security forces 20 Feb arrested two Maoists in Alluri Sitaramaraju district and 22 Feb arrested local Maoist leader during clashes near border with Odisha state.
In other important developments. Tax authorities 14 Feb raided news channel BBC’s offices in New Delhi and Mumbai, in apparent retaliation for broadcasting in Jan documentary examining PM Modi’s rise and role during 2002 Gujarat anti-Muslim riot. Bajrang Dal – Hindu nationalist militant group with ties to BJP – 15 Feb allegedly kidnapped two Muslims suspected of cow smuggling in Rajasthan state’s (north west) Bharatpur district; police next day found victims’ burned bodies in neighbouring Haryana state. Meanwhile, hundreds of residents from Ladakh region – which govt split from Jammu and Kashmir state and turned into separate union territory in 2019 – 15 Feb held protest in capital New Delhi, demanding statehood and constitutional safeguards.
China’s activities along disputed Line of Actual Control (LAC) continued to raise concerns in Delhi, while Maoist violence persisted in east.
Disputed border continued to fuel tensions with China. Indian army chief Gen. Manoj Pande 12 Jan said that situation along LAC is “stable yet unpredictable” and noted that China “slightly” increased its presence along border, but Indian troops are prepared to deal with any “contingency”. Chinese President Xi Jinping 18 Jan reportedly held rare video conversation with Chinese soldiers stationed along LAC in which he reportedly ordered them to “remain alert and be ready for combat”, which fuelled concerns in India. Satellite images posted 19 Jan showing China constructing dam on Mabja Zangbo/Brahmaputra River near LAC raised fears in India over China’s future control of water. Meanwhile, U.S. Assistant Sec State Donald Lu visiting India 14 Jan said China has not taken “good faith steps” to resolve LAC issue and “U.S. will continue to stand with India”; China next day criticised remarks.
Maoist violence continued in east. In Andhra Pradesh state (east), Maoists 4 Jan killed tribal man suspected of working with police in Alluri Sitarama Raju district. In Jharkhand state (east), security forces 23 Jan killed local commander of Maoists’ splinter group People’s Liberation Front of India during clashes in Ranchi district; improvised explosive device 24 Jan injured boy in West Singbhum district; security forces 28 Jan killed one Maoist during clashes in Chatra district.
In other important developments. News channel BBC 17 Jan broadcast documentary in UK examining role of PM Modi, then-Gujarat’s chief minister, during 2002 Gujarat anti-Muslim riots; govt 19 Jan slammed documentary as “propaganda” betraying “colonial mindset” and banned YouTube and Twitter from airing documentary’s clips in India.
Indian and Chinese soldiers fought hand-to-hand along disputed Line of Actual Control (LAC) in first clash in two-and-a-half years, injuring dozens.
Scuffle broke out between Indian and Chinese troops along LAC. In first violent incident since deadly Galwan Valley clash in June 2020, Indian and Chinese soldiers 9 Dec violently confronted each other along LAC in Tawang sector of Arunachal Pradesh state (north east), leaving around 30 Indian and unknown number of Chinese soldiers with minor injuries; both sides reportedly disengaged immediately and local commanders 11 Dec met to discuss incident. Govt 13 Dec said that Indian soldiers prevented Chinese troops from crossing into Indian territory to “unilaterally change the status quo”, while China claimed that Indian soldiers “illegally” crossed LAC and “blocked” Chinese routine patrol. Clash prompted uproar in parliament: opposition parties 14 Dec walked out of both houses after chairpersons refused to discuss situation on LAC and 20 Dec accused govt of “legitimising Chinese aggression” – marking first major public criticism of PM Modi’s handling of border crisis since June 2020. National Congress party 21 Dec staged opposition protest to demand discussion on LAC dispute. FM S. Jaishankar 30 Dec said relations with China are “not normal” and “[India] will never agree to any attempt to change the [LAC] unilaterally”.
Maoist violence continued in east and centre. In Jharkhand state (east), Maoists 1 Dec injured five security personnel in clashes in West Singhbhum district; 12 Dec set two construction vehicles on fire in Chatra district. In Odisha state (east), security forces 6 Dec killed two Maoist cadres in Kandhamal district. In Chhattisgarh state (centre), security forces 20 Dec killed one Maoist in Bijapur district.
Govt resisted calls to cease imports of Russian oil. During German FM Annalena Baerbock’s visit 5 Dec, S. Jaishankar, when asked about India’s imports of Russian oil, stressed that European countries prioritised energy needs and continued importing Russian oil in first months of Ukraine war, thus cannot “ask India to do something else”. PM Modi 16 Dec reportedly urged “dialogue and diplomacy” in phone call with President Putin.
Govt and China made no progress on resolving remaining friction points along disputed Line of Actual Control (LAC), while Maoists continued violent attacks in centre and east.
LAC remained point of contention with China. Indian Army Chief Gen. Manoj Pande 12 Nov said situation in eastern Ladakh along LAC was “stable but unpredictable” as two out of seven friction points are yet to be resolved, and noted that China had not significantly reduced its troops and continued “unabated” infrastructure development; local media mid-month cited Indian defence sources who said India had increased “constructions in forward areas along LAC”. In first public exchange since deadly Galwan Valley clash in June 2020, India’s PM Narendra Modi and China’s President Xi Jinping 15 Nov greeted each other on sidelines of G20 summit.
Maoist violence continued in centre and east. In Telangana state (centre), Maoists 9 Nov killed tribal man suspected of working with police in Mulugu district. In Odisha state (east), Maoists 10 Nov killed youth suspected of being police informer in Kandhama district; security forces 11 Nov killed two Maoists in Koraput district. In Jharkhand state (east), security forces 21 Nov killed three Maoists in Latehar district, where Maoists 22 Nov set ablaze dozens vehicles at railway construction site. In Chhattisgarh state (centre), security forces 26 Nov killed four Maoists during clashes in Bijapur district. In statement ahead of its 22nd anniversary on 2 Dec, People’s Liberation Guerrilla Army – military wing of outlawed Communist Party of India (Maoist) – mid-month said 132 members were killed in security operations countrywide since Dec 2021 and claimed it had staged 1,300 attacks that killed 429 security personnel.
Improvised bomb exploded in south west. Low-intensity pressure-cooker bomb blast 19 Nov critically injured two, including perpetrator, in Mangaluru city, Karnataka state (south west); police said attacker was inspired by Islamic State ideology.
Govt and China continued talks on disputed Line of Actual Control (LAC), while security forces targeted militant outfits in north east amid ongoing Maoist violence.
China and India pledged further talks on disputed LAC. In first meeting of bilateral mechanism on border affairs since May, Chinese and Indian delegations 14 Oct failed to reach agreement on remaining friction points along LAC but pledged to “continue discussions through diplomatic and military channels”. Meanwhile, one day after abstaining from draft resolution on China’s Xinjiang province in UN Human Rights Council, Indian foreign ministry 7 Oct made first public comments on human rights situation in China’s Xinjiang region, saying “the human rights of the people of Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region should be respected and guaranteed”. China 18-19 Oct blocked fourth joint U.S.-India bid to designate individuals accused of procuring funds and recruiting for Pakistan-based anti-India jihadist groups on UN Security Council’s 1267 terror list.
Police targeted militant leaders in north east. In Assam state, police 5 Oct arrested seven cadres of militant organisation Dimasa National Liberation Tigers, claiming it had “neutralised” group, which reportedly formed last month after splintering from other militant outfits in Dima Hasao and Karbi Anglong districts.
Maoist violence continued in centre and east. In Chhattisgarh state (centre), Maoists 17 Oct killed two people in Bijapur district and set four vehicles on fire at mine in Kanker district; 26 Oct killed farmer in Mohla-Manpur-Ambagarh Chowki district. Security forces 31 Oct killed two Maoists in Chhattisgarh’s Kanker district. In Jharkhand state (east), Maoists 21 Oct shot three people working at railway construction site in Latehar district. In Orissa state (east), Maoists 24 Oct killed youth suspected of working with police in Kandhamal district.
In other important developments. Govt continued to walk diplomatic tightrope on Ukraine: speaking with Ukrainian President, Indian PM Narendra Modi 4 Oct said “there can be no military solution to the conflict”, while India’s FM S. Jaishankar 10 Oct underscored New Delhi’s long-standing relationship with Russia had “certainly served [its] interests well”.
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