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INDIA, Landmine Monitor Report 1999


Mine Ban Policy

India has not signed the 1997 Mine Ban Treaty. While expressing support for the eventual elimination of antipersonnel mines, India has been critical of the Ottawa Process and the Mine Ban Treaty itself.

India attended the preparatory meetings of the Ottawa Process and the Oslo negotiations, but in each instance only in an observer capacity. It did not endorse the pro-ban treaty Brussels Declaration in June 1997. It did not send an observer to the treaty signing conference in December 1997. While India did vote in favor of the UN General Assembly Resolution 51/45S dated 10 December 1996, urging states to vigorously pursue an international agreement banning antipersonnel mines, it was one of the few governments to abstain on both the 1997 UNGA Resolution 52/38A supporting the ban treaty signing, and the 1998 UNGA Resolution welcoming the addition of new States to the Mine Ban Treaty, urging its full realization and inviting all state parties to the First Meeting of State Parties in Mozambique in May 1999.

India’s position on a ban has been well-articulated, and has changed little in recent years, despite the global momentum toward complete elimination of the weapon. India favors a phased approach to a ban, including a prohibition on transfers and on use, except for long-term border defense; India has also proposed a ban on use of antipersonnel mines in internal (as opposed to international) armed conflicts.

During the negotiations on Protocol II (Landmines) of the Convention on Conventional Weapons (CCW), Indian Ambassador Arundhati Ghosh expressed these views:

India has supported the efforts to strengthen Protocol II of the CCW.... [I]n January this year [1995], India had called for a ban on the use of land mines in armed conflicts not of an international character. Mr. President, we would like to restate our position at this Review Conference that the use of mines be totally prohibited in armed conflicts not of an international character. This should be our immediate goal to pave the way for the ultimate elimination of landmines. We have also called for the prohibition of the use of booby traps in armed conflicts not of an international character and would like this prohibition to be extended to other devices including improvised explosive devices.... India firmly believes that the best way to win the battle against land mines is to drastically reduce their easy availability which leads to their indiscriminate use. India therefore strongly supports proposals to ban the transfer of mines as we believe that such transfers not only fan existing tensions but also have an adverse humanitarian impact.[1]

At the conclusion of the CCW negotiations on 3 May 1996, the Director of Disarmament of the Ministry of External Affairs Shri Rakesh Sood stated: "Our delegation remains firmly convinced that the use of mines in armed conflicts not of an international character should be prohibited. In fact, we believe that the use of anti-personnel landmines should only be permitted for long term defense of borders, perimeters and peripheries of states."[2]

In a more recent statement, India's Ambassador to the Conference on Disarmament, Ms. Savitri Kunnadi, on 12 February 1998 emphasized the ban on transfers, and India's insistence on using mines "only for the defense of borders," and only until "appropriate military solutions are found." She said:

India remains committed to the objective of a non-discriminatory and universal ban on anti-personnel landmines. We believe that the objective can be achieved in a meaningful way through a phased approach that would enjoy international consensus, and by addressing humanitarian concerns and legitimate defense requirements of States. We could start with a ban on transfers.... We could follow other steps and gradually narrow the field, as it were, to a situation in which landmines are used only for the defense of borders, a situation which could finally be dealt with as appropriate military solutions are found. The basis of this phased approach would be seen as a confidence-building – enabling States to deal urgently with the humanitarian crisis, while remaining sensitive to their legitimate security needs. The international community should also effectively address the critical issue of mine clearance and dedicate greater efforts and assistance to affected areas.[3]

Subsequently, the Indian Government's position on APM elimination was spelled out in the Ministry of External Affairs 1998 Annual Report to the Parliament:

India remains committed to the goal of the eventual elimination of landmines and supports a phased approach towards attaining the objective of a non-discriminatory and universal ban on anti-personnel landmines. In the meanwhile, the responsible use of mines should be permitted for the long term defense of borders, perimeters and peripheries of states. India has closely watched the developments within the “fast-track” Ottawa Process. India is convinced that a global, effective and lasting solution to the problem of anti-personnel landmines requires sustained international cooperation in all relevant fora and enhanced international assistance for care and rehabilitation of mine victims. India is concerned about the humanitarian tragedy caused by the indiscriminate export and irresponsible use of APM especially in internal conflicts. A consensus that would prohibit such transfers and use of these weapons in internal conflicts, coupled with increasing attention to the humanitarian issues of demining and rehabilitation of mine victims would go a long way in addressing the problem. India remains flexible on the issue of forum for negotiations and believes that availability of non-lethal technologies to perform the legitimate defensive role of landmines will help accelerate their complete elimination.[4]

India has not yet ratified the amended Protocol II of the CCW. Preparations have apparently been completed but it is still waiting clearance by the Cabinet. There are no procedural or other obstacles. It may be that the Government is waiting for Pakistan's ratification. Only after ratification will actions required by the Protocol be undertaken, such as inserting minimum metallic content in each non-detectable antipersonnel mine.[5]

India is a member of the Conference on Disarmament, but has not been especially supportive of efforts in that forum first in 1997 to consider a comprehensive APM ban, then in 1998 and 1999 to consider a transfer ban. India was not among the twenty-two governments that in February 1999 called for negotiations on a transfer ban in the CD.[6]

An Indian official has said, “We would also be supportive of negotiations in the CD on ban on transfers on the basis of a mandate that reflects the interests of all delegations."[7]


India produces two types of antipersonnel landmines. Both are copies of U.S. mines. The Indian AP NM M14 is a copy of the U.S. M14 pressure-initiated, blast antipersonnel mine. These mines are thought to constitute the vast majority of the Indian stockpile. The mine has a plastic body and very low metallic content, limited to the striker and detonator. Because of their undetectable nature, these mines are not permitted under CCW amended Protocol II. When India ratifies amended Protocol II, it will have to add metal to each of the mines, or destroy them.

The second Indian mine is the AP MN M16A1, a copy of the U.S. M16A1. This is a bounding fragmentation mine. The mine can be detonated either by pressure or tripwire. A first blast propels the mine into the air, then the main charge explodes when the mine is approximately one meter in the air, spraying cast-iron fragments in all directions.

Though not officially stated, India is most likely continuing to produce mines today, at least to replace existing mines and for training purposes.[8]

Various armed groups in India have manufactured improvised explosive devices (IED). Some IEDs are developed with great ingenuity using whatever explosives are available, with sophisticated detonators and a variety of timing and setting off mechanisms. Most are victim-actuated and are targeted primarily against people on foot and in vehicles.


India is not thought to have ever exported antipersonnel mines. Until 1987 it was Indian government policy not to export any arms. Since then some arms have been exported, but these have not included antipersonnel mines. India announced a comprehensive moratorium on APM exports on 3 May 1996.[9] It is of indefinite length.

Information is not available on any Indian import of mines. Insurgent groups have obtained mines through the global clandestine arms trade.


India’s antipersonnel mine stockpile may number as many as four to five million, according to some non-Indian governmental sources, although confirmed details are not available.[10] Stocks of mines are well dispersed. Large quantities are held with the field formations ready to be laid at short notice. The great majority of mines in the stockpile are believed to be the Indian AP NM M14 mines.

Use in Past Wars

A brief history of use of mines in past wars appears in the International Committee of the Red Cross’s Antipersonnel Landmines: Friend or Foe?, based on a report by retired Indian Major General Dipankar Banerjee:

India-Pakistan wars 1947-48, 1965 and 1971. The mine warfare carried out by both parties during the India-Pakistan wars was almost unique in the way in which it was conducted. In the 1947-48 war in Jammu and Kashmir, a very small number of mines were laid to protect certain installations . During the protracted build-up to the 1965 war, the main minefields had been laid on the plains by both parties. In the 1971 war, very few mines were laid because the terrain was soft riverine country. In all three cases mine warfare was conducted by well-trained and disciplined soldiers. The wars themselves were limited in their objectives, of short duration and fairly static. Minefields were carefully mapped, and maps were made available to both parties after the conflict, allowing the early removal of the mines and the return of land to food production soon after the end of the hostilities. It was significant that most minefields were on arable land which was of value to both countries and therefore particular care was taken. Because of the disciplined way in which the mines were laid and removed, civilian casualties were reported to be negligible although there were a few casualties among the engineers removing mines. The contribution of these minefields to the ultimate outcome of the conflict was considered to be marginal.

India-China War, 1962. No pre-planned minefields were laid at the start of the war but as conflict progressed some were laid in mountainous areas. This caused problems as AP mines had no effect in snow and worse still, they slid down the slopes, even if they were anchored, because of snow movement and precipitation. Mapping was extremely difficult and was ineffective.[11]

Use Today

The Indian Army does not believe in the doctrine of border minefields in peace. According to the Army, no mines are laid for border protection or to prevent armed infiltration in the hills, such as the one presently in progress in Jammu and Kashmir. The Indian Army claims that it has never laid mines in internal armed conflicts. Some portions of the border both in the Punjab in the west and a limited area in the east against Bangladesh have been fenced to keep out intruders. These fenced areas are not mined.[12]

Mines are to be used only by the Indian Army. The police and paramilitary forces are not authorized to hold mines. In Indian military strategy antitank minefields are an integral element of an obstacle system that is considered essential to dissuade or defeat a surprise conventional attack by Pakistan. Antipersonnel mines are seen as vital to prevent easy lifting of antitank mines. The minefields are laid only when hostilities are imminent and detailed plans are prepared well in advance for doing so. In wartime mines are likely to be laid all along the very extended land border in the plains. In addition antipersonnel mines may be laid to provide additional protection to defended localities both in the plains and in the hills.[13]

Mines do not form an integral part of the defensive system in the mountains against China. The very high mountains there preclude any possibility of laying large numbers of mines. However, small quantities of APMs may still be laid to provide additional security to defended localities.[14]

Armed groups in India have used a wide variety and type of both regular mines as well as improvised explosive devices (IEDs). More than 700 incidents involving use of IEDs in Jammu and Kashmir were recorded from 1992-1996,[15] and such attacks continue to this day. A November 1998 report stated that “Separatist guerrillas in Jammu and Kashmir...have intensified grenade, landmine and bomb attacks since the start of this month.... According to police records, 22 people have been killed and 120 wounded in at least 15 explosions...since November 1.”[16] The People’s War Group in Central India (Andhra Pradesh stae) has also been using mines and IEDs.[17]

Landmine Problem

The Indian Government states that there is no problem with uncleared mines in India. Some reports indicate that there may be uncleared mines along the India/Pakistan border in Kashmir and along the India/China border.[18]

Mine Action Funding

At the International Meeting on Mine Clearance held in Geneva in July 1995, India announced a voluntary contribution of U.S. $50,000 to UN demining operations in the form of a broad range of services to be rendered by Indian experts. [19]

Mine Clearance

The Indian armed forces have very extensive mine clearance capabilities. Its large engineering corps would be able to field hundreds of mine clearance teams. It is this that has enabled the Indian Army to clear mines in the last wars within a very short time. Mine clearance is done by the normal method of probing and blast, with indigenously manufactured equipment.

India’s Ambassador, Arundhati Ghosh, has noted:

India has contributed consistently in many ways to efforts aimed at alleviating this crisis. The Indian Army has been associated with U.N. demining activities since the Congo U.N. Peacekeeping Operation in 1961-63. It has also participated in peacekeeping operations in Cambodia, Mozambique, Somalia and Indian Army engineers are currently deployed in Rwanda as well as Angola. In Cambodia, Indian experts assisted in the training of civilians and worked closely with non-governmental Organisations in developing a data base, undertaking area fencing and sensitizing the local population. In Mozambique, Indian experts undertook humanitarian relief work including reconstruction and restoration of communications. The Indian Army has also suffered casualties in these operations.[20]

Mine Awareness

The Indian Campaign to Ban Landmines believes that there is a need for mine awareness programs in India as rebel groups are using mines and improvised explosive devices, resulting in civilian and police casualties. The Campaign has arranged National Conferences and Regional Seminars and Photo Exhibitions in state capitals and major cities.

Landmine Casualties

There are regular press accounts of landmine incidents and casualties in Jammu and Kashmir and elsewhere due to insurgent activities. Landmine Monitor has a list of twenty reported mine incidents resulting in deaths or injuries in Jammu and Kashmir in the nineteen months between February 1995 and August 1996.[21]


[1] Statement by H.E. Arundhati Ghose to the Review Conference on the Inhumane Weapons Convention, 26 September 1995.

[2] Statement by Mr. Rakesh Sood, Deputy Leader of Delegation of India to the Review Conference on Inhumane Weapons Convention, 3 May 1996.

[3] Statement by Ambassador Savitri Kunadi in the CD Plenary of 12 February 1998.

[4] Ministry of External Affairs, Annual Report 1997-98, p. 92. Similar language is found in Ministry of Defence, Annual Report 1997-98, p. 6.

[5] Interviews with Ministry of External Affairs officials.

[6] Statement by Bulgarian Ambassador Petko Draganov to the Conference on Disarmament, on behalf of 22 governments (undated).

[7] Statement by Sharad Pawar at General Debate of UN First Committee, 14 October 1998.

[8] Major General (retired) Dipankar Banerjee, Co-director Institute of Peace and Conflict Studies, New Delhi, “South Asian Regional Survey,” prepared for Landmine Monitor, p. 20. Based on observations from the South Asian Regional Landmines Workshop, held in Dhaka, Bangladesh, 7-8 December 1998.

[9] From United Nations Demining Database at http://www.un.org/Depts/Landmine/

[10] Estimate provided by government officials involved in discussions with the Indian government during the CCW negotiations.

[11] International Committee of the Red Cross, Antipersonnel Landmines: Friend or Foe? (Geneva: March 1996), p. 29.

[12] Interview with former military officials.

[13] Interview with former military officials.

[14] Interview with former military officials.

[15] Banerjee, “South Asian Regional Survey,” pp. 40-43.

[16] Reuters, “Mine Explodes in Kashmir, Kills Six Policemen,” 24 November 1998.

[17] According to Director General of Police, Ministry of Home Affairs, State Government of Andhra Pradesh, there were 107 mine/IED incidents from 1989-1998.

[18] U.S. Department of State, Hidden Killers: The Global Landmine Crisis, September 1998, p. A-3 states “Contested areas of Jammu/Kashmir are mined.” In “25 Lose Limbs in Kupwara landmines explosions,” Kashmir Times, 9 August 1997, Army Colonel G.I. Reddy estimates that approximately 5,000 mines in 51 minefields have been laid in Kashmir during conflicts in 1948, 1965 and 1971, and after 1990. The article notes that despite the areas being marked and warning signs properly displayed in local language, casualties do occur.

[19] Statement by H.E. Arundhati Ghose to the Review Conference on the Inhumane Weapons Convention, 26 September 1995.

[20] Ibid.

[21] Banerjee, “South Asian Regional Survey,” pp. 34-35.