Internal Security

  • Internal security has remained one of the core focus areas for India. As India now aspires and rises to taking the high seat in the comity of nations, the security challenges become more compounded and complex. A host of ingredients ranging from domestic challenges to external scenarios impact internal security. 
  • From independence, India has tackled home grown insurgencies, externally fuelled rebellions, militancy and terrorism.
  • By using a mix of approaches tuning and combining economic, political and military approaches, it has been able to deal with these provocations threatening the integrity and sovereignty of the country with remarkable success. However, these challenges morph themselves in newer forms and configurations.
  • The pace of change particularly in the past two decades has been accelerated by multiple factors. In dealing with the internal security challenges which remain the most critical, agencies of the state including CAPF have to remain relevant and effective against the new evolving scenario.

Certain challenges that keeping coming and have to be constantly factored in are as follows:

  • First is the accelerated change in international geopolitics. A constantly rising India will face push back from some, in fact, many countries. The turbulent rise and nexus of various state and non-state actors, terrorism and increasing radicalisation, the emergence of psy-war etc. will all have to be taken into account while developing new doctrines, SOPs, strategies for all stakeholders in the security apparatus.
  • The rapidly changing internal dynamics of the country needs to be constantly monitored. An ancient civilisation and a young modern state has to overcome the challenges of unemployment, poverty, socio-economic divides.
  • Internal security issues tend to accentuate and grow out of the fissures the society faces. The legitimate aspirations of our youth, along with factoring in global yet local problems of environmental degradation and ill effects of climate change which manifest in rising frequency of disasters, economic dislocation etc. are all critical in the evolving security scenario.
  • Fast paced advancements in Cyberspace, Artificial Intelligence (AI), biological vectors and autonomous air-land-sea mobile platforms have phenomenally enhanced the internal security vulnerabilities to threats emanating not only from within but also from beyond the national borders.
  • Degrading the cyberspace, economic, commerce, and human capital resources even during ‘peacetime’ is the new normal in geostrategic rivalry enlarging the scope of internal security domain that needs to be secured.


Trans Border Threats Impinging Internal Security Situation

  • Over the past decade the Chinese state has deployed massive resources to establish strong pockets of influence amongst selected targeted countries, with the Chinese state orchestrating their actions to sow discord and slow down decision making process inimical to Chinese interests. Consequently the faceoff with China is also impacting the internal security dimension within India.
  • Convergence of interests between China and Pakistan, further adds to the security concerns of India. It magnifies the terrorist activities being engaged in India by separatist organisations with covert trans-border support. Both China and Pakistan are also known proliferators of sensitive advanced technologies.
  • Extension of deep Chinese influence in Nepal has added to the internal security threat dimensions within India. The border is highly porous and lightly manned, enabling relatively easier cross-border movement of contraband and personnel.
  • Indian Diaspora has attained substantive political influence in several foreign countries. It also has its demerits when influential Indian origin individuals and organisations sympathetic towards groups with separatist ideology, are able to prevail upon foreign leaders to issue statements tantamount to interference in internal affairs of India.
  • MNCs in the new age technology fields have the potential to pose a threat to national security, especially in the data security and cyberspace domains, and also by influencing the policies of their respective Governments.
  • Non-State Organisations with anarchic and fundamentalist ideologies repugnant to the secularist credentials of India are potential threats to the peaceful internal security environment of the nation.
  • India has been facing challenges on the front of internal security since independence from various state and non-state actors.
  • External State actors refer to those entities which have formal backing of a sovereign state for carrying out any intended action.
  • Non state actors on the other hand, have a considerable power of influencing international events but they do not have formal state backing.
  • Examples of state actors are the army, bureaucracy, intelligence agencies etc. whereas non state

actors would be NGOs, civil society organizations, extremist outfits, multinational companies etc.

External State actors are responsible for posing a challenge to internal security in multiple ways:

  • Countries surrounding India have been active in exploiting the volatile situation presented by the turmoil in the northeast. Not only countries such as China, Pakistan, Bangladesh and Myanmar, but also smaller powers such as Bhutan and Nepal have been involved in the region.
  • Through political backing, economic assistance, logistic support, military training or arms supplies these countries have varyingly contributed to the ongoing violence in this region. The state may carry out a limited war against Indian state and this might have ramifications for our internal security too.
  • They might support the various insurgent groups, Naxalites, or separatist groups through funding, training or logistics.
  • There have been instances where state actors have been responsible for carrying out cyber warfare through hacking and other espionage.

Non state actors however have played their nefarious role too in creating problems for India:

  • Insurgency:
    • North-East suffers from violent movements based upon ethnic identities leading to clashes. China is alleged to support such acts for instance. United Liberation Front of Asom (ULFA) members of Assam were given shelter by China.
  • Terrorism:
    • Pakistan has been a major exporter of terrorism to India. Non-state actors like terrorist groups for instance Lashkar-e-Taiba, Jaish-e-Mohammad are a continuous threat.
    • Non state actor -sponsored terrorism, often motivated by fundamentalist ideologies, backed by secretive but efficient financial networks, use of IT, clandestine access to chemical-biological and nuclear materials, and illicit drug trafficking, has emerged as a major threat to international stability.
    • These groups aim to not only create instability in states like J&K, they also have a larger aim of destabilising the country. This is done through sporadic terrorist strikes, which spreads terror and panic. This could also adversely affect the ability of the Indian state to pursue economic modernisation.
  • Naxalism:
    • Left wing extremism affects states like Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand and West Bengal.
  • Drug trafficking:
    • Inter and Intra state trafficking takes place, through golden crescent and golden triangle routes.
    • Drugs from Golden Crescent (Pakistan, Afghanistan and Iran) have affected Punjab and Golden Triangle (Laos, Myanmar and Thailand) has affected North Eastern states.
  • Human-trafficking:
    • Children and women trafficking takes place via Bangladesh and Nepal.
  • Counterfeit currency:
    • It corrodes economy from inside, by facilitating black money and money laundering activities as well as funding terrorism, which itself creates a demand for fake currency, thereby creating a positive feedback loop. This is the issue arising especially from Pakistan.
  • Communalism:
    • Propagandas are run and funded by enemy country and other non-state actors (NGOs and CSOs) to destabilize India by damaging the socio-religious fabric and ensure riots.
  • Cyber Security:
    • Recent cyber-attacks by Legion, ATM skimming are examples. Pakistani hackers often hack government websites.
    • They can also incite people for regionalism thus demanding their separate state which further increases secessionist tendency.


Both state and non-state factors from outside have created problems in our internal security framework. Hence while it is imperative to guard our borders and strengthen our diplomacy, on the other hand, we need to check the various non state actors who come in hidden forms. There is a need for a national internal security doctrine to deal with various challenges.

Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act – Passed in 1967, the law aims at effective prevention of unlawful activities associations in India.

The Act assigns absolute power to the central government, by way of which if the Centre deems an activity as unlawful then it may, by way of an Official Gazette, declare it so.


Key points:

Under UAPA, both Indian and foreign nationals can be charged.

  • It will be applicable to the offenders in the same manner, even if crime is committed on a foreign land, outside India.
  • Under the UAPA, the investigating agency can file a charge sheet in maximum 180 days after the arrests and the duration can be extended further after intimating the court.


As per amendments of 2019:

  • The Act empowers the Director General of National Investigation Agency (NIA) to grant approval of seizure or attachment of property when the case is investigated by the said agency.
  • The Act empowers the officers of the NIA, of the rank of Inspector or above, to investigate cases of terrorism in addition to those conducted by the DSP or ACP or above rank officer in the state.
  • It also included the provision of designating an individual as a terrorist.


Delhi High Court defines the contours of UAPA:

In June 2021, delivering a judgment defining the contours of the otherwise “vague” Section 15 of the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, 1967, (UAPA), the Delhi High Court laid down some important principles upon the imposition of Section 15, 17 & 18 of the Act.


Sections 15, 17 and 18 of UAPA:

  1. S. 15 engrafts the offence of ‘terrorist act’.
  2. S. 17 lays-down the punishment for raising funds for committing a terrorist act.
  3. S. 18 engrafts the offence of ‘punishment for conspiracy etc. to commit a terrorist act or any act preparatory to commit a terrorist act’.


Key observations made by the court:

  1. “Terrorist Act” Should not be used lightly so as to trivialise them.
  2. Terrorist activity is that which travels beyond the capacity of law enforcement agencies to deal with under ordinary penal law (Supreme Court’s decision in the case of Hitendra Vishnu Thakur).