Bhutan: From being a terror haven to the most peaceful country in South Asia
Bhutan is ranked as the 16th most peaceful country in the world as per the Global Peace Index (GPI) out of a total of 162 countries.India however, is ranked 143rd as per the GPI.
As per this report, "Bhutan has succeeded in establishing a longstanding internal peace and its transition from monarchy to a full-fledged democracy, although recent, has been remarkable,".
However, a deeper analysis in this regard throws light on a different reality that is often left to be ignored.
It may be noted that between the snow-carpeted stretches adjoining Arunachal Pradesh to the east and Sikkim to the west, Bhutan's southern border runs some 400 km along Assam and West Bengal through dense, sub-Himalayan forests and seemingly inaccessible hillocks. No wonder, Northeastern militant outfits such as ULFA, NDFB and KLO operated over 30 camps deep inside the jungles of southern Bhutan until they were ejected in December 2003.
The Bhutanese army launched a major drive to flush out the Indian insurgent groups, mainly the ULFA, National Democratic Front of Bodoland (NDFB) as well as Kamtapur Liberation Organization (KLO) along the Himalayan Kingdom.
The use of Bhutan as a "safe haven" by groups such as ULFA, NDFB and KLO had been a cause for concern, forcing New Delhi to seek Thimpu's active co-operation in tackling insurgency in Assam and North Bengal at every bilateral interaction. Although Bhutan always assured that it would not allow the use of its territory for anti-Indian activities, it never quite cracked down upon the camps of these insurgents until 2003.
Operation All Clear was a military operation conducted by Royal Bhutan Army forces against Assam separatist insurgent groups in the southern regions of Bhutan between 15 December 2003 and 3 January 2004. It was the first operation ever conducted by the Royal Bhutan Army.
Despite the fact that Indian Army had deployed 12 battalions along the Bhutan Border to prevent rebel infiltration, a large number of rebels managed to flee to India as well as Bangladesh.
The rest of the theory is not hard to decipher. The only South Asian Nation in the top 20 list of the Global Peace Index (GPI), well, this came at a really huge cost for India.