After independence, India adopted a democratic approach to the question of diversity. The first separatist voice came from Jammu and Kashmir. Further, several separatist movements arose in the North-east (Nagaland, Mizoram, Manipur and Assam), South (Andhra, Tamil and Karnataka) and Northwest (Punjab and Haryana) India too.
Kashmir is a bone of contention between India and Pakistan since 1948. Pakistan sent tribal infiltrators to capture Kashmir in 1947. Raja Hari Singh had signed the ‘Instrument of Accession’ with the Government of India to save his kingdom. In 1987 Assembly elections, National Conference-Congress alliance registered comprehensive win. Later, the mismanagement of government gave way to militancy. There were different demands in air like merger with Pakistan, greater autonomy in Jammu and Ladakh region and separate Kashmiri nation. But now people started urging for peace and cordial relations.
In 1960s, Haryana and Himachal Pradesh were formed out of Punjab. The Akali Dal led the demand of Sikh state that was completed in 1966. In 1970s, they demanded for political autonomy through Anandpur Sahib resolution. The extremist Akalis indulged in militant activities and violence. The army intervention was done under ‘Operation Blue Star’ to evacuate the Golden Temple premises from the militants. Two Sikh youths assassinated Prime Minister Indira Gandhi and this led to the riots in different parts of India. An agreement known as Rajiv Gandhi – Longowal Accord came into being.
The region of North-east India has seven states referred as ‘seven sisters’. This complex region had witnessed demand of autonomy, secession and opposition of outsiders. The linguistic and cultural differences caused demand for separate states. Therefore, from 1960 to 1986, seven states were created. Even after forming the different states there was demand for autonomy from Bodos, Karbis and Dimasas communities.
In Mizoram, the Mizo National Front under Laldenga took-up violent ways for their Separatist Movements. Laldenga became the CM of Mizoram and made way for peaceful and developed Mizo land. In Nagaland, the Naga National Council launched an armed struggle for sovereignty under Angami Zaphu Phizo. The All Assam Students’ Union (AASU) led the anti-foreigner (Outsiders) movement. The Rajiv Government signed an Accord with the union. Peace has been restored but the problem of ‘outsiders’ still persists. Sikkim was a ‘protectorate’ state of the newly independent India under King Chogyal. There was uprising for democracy and finally elections were held in 1974. In April 1975, Sikkim opted for merger with India. The regional aspirations are an important part of democratic politics. They need democratic solutions like power sharing and highlight the problem of regional imbalance in economic aspects.