Terrorism In India – A Youngistani’s Primer

The history of terrorism in India has made her into one of the few countries in the world that have to deal with terrorist problems on a continuing basis.

One of the most common ways that people refer to terrorism in India is that we talk about the recent incidents, how terrorism in 2010 made the headlines in India, and how difficult a year it has been for dome cities.

What don’t get talked about as much is the declining intensity and the frequency of these attacks. While you can’t put those numbers up on a chart and then adjust them for today’s population, what you will find is that the agenda of the recent terrorism attacks in India has become blurred over the years.

What The Definition of Terrorism Tells Us About Terrorism in India

The vagaries nature of terrorism is such that there is no universally agreed upon definition of terrorism. However, the simplest way to understand terrorism is using the hostage model.

Whenever a group uses non-military targets and civilians to impose violet acts in their want to forward a goal, there is a good chance it is a terrorist act. Traditionally, the goal has been to hold the ideological or the existing political framework hostage in order to forward a political or a religious goal.

For example, a religious group demand that land that they deem to be theirs is declared a new country by the current administration or they will start bombing nearby areas – places of common gathering or symbols of national strength.

The terrorism in Jammu and Kashmir for example is two faceted. To the existing national regime, the demand for an independent nation looks over the ideologues of anarchy while the people might themselves consider the same to be a struggle for their liberation from what they consider to be a political system that has failed to meet their needs.

The subject of Kashmir might be too close to heart to debate through an objective lens, after all, it is the lynchpin of the terrorism problem in India. A better model to study this dichotomy might be the case of the Irish liberation movement.

The Irish ended up forming the IRA which was deemed a terrorist agency by the Crown. The IRA alleged that the Irish deserved to be a free state and used violent acts to make their point. Bam! They were labelled a terrorist organization overnight. And if you study the way in which the announced their coming out party, you’d realize that the Crown legitimized them as the leading Irish freedom movement by labeling them a terrorist organization.

What is terrorism? Was Gandhi a terrorist? Was Bhagat Singh?

The question sounds incredulous. That’s because it is.

However, there is no better way to espouse the distinction between anarchists and terrorists. While all terrorists, whatever their methods,  motives and affiliations are anarchists, not all anarchists are terrorists.

There is a reason why terrorist is  a dirtier word than anarchist. Simply put, the terrorist is willing to take a lives (and often many lives) just to make a point. Whereas, the anarchist is willing to take a peaceful approach.

To examine the definition of terrorism in India we simply need to look at Bhagat Singh. This is a touchy topic for me, but in the interests of objective examination, we’ll discuss it anyway. The contribution that both these individuals made towards the Indian freedom struggle is undeniable.

Imagine being a British officer well before the sentence to hang Bhagat Singh was taken. You have two dissidents, both making ruling India extremely difficult. They’re stirring up support. They’re gaining traction.

While they’re both powerful and known figures, you have to clam down on them. Both have international support but one is a radicalism and has been forwarding a violent agenda. He isn’t blowing up places, but is regularly distributing reams of pamphlets that have directions for making bombs with supplies you could buy out of a grocery store.

Which one would be easier to clamp down on? The Crown labelled Bhagat Singh a terrorist, because he advocated a violent agenda. While debating the effectiveness of their methods is beyond the scope of our discussion today, it does help with relating to what terrorism means in India today and how different it is from demanding a change.

Why All Types Of Terrorism Are A Threat To India

The classification of terrorist acts is straightforward. The media will term them barbaric and the Prime Minister will condemn the act with a side of how the state will expend no resources in apprehending the perpetrators of the act. Sometimes, the different political factions will delve into how the terrorism is left-wing or right-wing sponsored.

Recently though, there is a lot more blaming of the reigning party by the opposition whenever a terrorist act occurs. As if Indian intelligence would function like it was on steroids had the opposition been reigning…

Post 9/11 there has a been  lot of emphasis over the mode of the terrorist act. For example, if a bio-agent was used, it’d be bio-terrorism. The debate has become such that many of us have started to consider cyberterrorism as a kind of terrorism. However, the cyber bit is the mode of terrorism. Technology was a tool. The kind of terrorist ideology that was behind the attack is what will help us truly study the various types of terrorist activities around the world.

6 Types Of Terrorism In India – With Examples

1. Nationalist Terrorism

The nationalist terrorist is dissatisfied with the State. That and the state of their own territory. The IRA and Ulfa in North-East India are perfect examples of these. If a blast from the past example is required, then Khalistan comes to mind.

The individuals involved in these activities believe that they have been ignored by the Nation that they are part of and demand a separate nation state with its own government, which they vehemently believe will serve their people better.

2. State–sponsored Terrorism

Pakistan. ISI. Need I say more? There have been enough allegations and reports by both India and independent bodies that there are some factions in the Pakistani administration that have been promoting radical terrorism in India.

The state-sponsored terrorist receives supplies, training and other resources to carry out their agenda from another country. This was traditionally a joint-venture between radical groups inside the host country and the sponsoring country, there has been a trend towards sleeper-cells after the Cold War.

3. Anarchist Terrorism

The most widespread and accepted form of terrorism. Not seen since the mid 1900s. Context? The independence movements of a number of nations under the British Raj.

Anarchist terrorism can also comprise of military coups the like of which have maligned Pakistan for a while. The military takes over the rule of the state by force. Not only does the regime change violate the rules of democracy but it is often accompanied by a confluence of human rights issues.

4. Religious Terrorism

Sharia Law. Hindu extremists. They’re both peas of a pod.

The Hindu extremists would love to curb civil liberties and humanitarian rights of all people, including their own. No more Valentines day for you. No intercaste marriage. No meat. No alcohol.

The Hindu extremists haven’t been as violent as their Muslim brothers in recent times, but the commonality that both the agenda’s share means that a resurgence in menace of Hindu terrorism is very likely.

5. Left-Wing Terrorists

Think the communists in Bengal with AK-47s. These terrorists hate capitalism and globalization by extension. Like other extremist groups, they only see one side of the coin and seek to destroy factories and other means of production.

6. Right-Wing Terrorism

Skinheads. Reminded you too much of the Thatcher era? How about the recent beatings of Indian university students in Australia?

Right-Wing terrorists seek to create a homogenous state and use violence on the small scale to scare ‘outsiders’ away from their local communities.

The Terse Relationship Between Terrorism And India

For a country that is just a shave over half a century old, India has had quite an extensive relationship with terrorism. Not only is India one of the few countries that knows the true face and meaning of terrorism within its borders, but it is also one that has been most resilient to terrorist attacks.

Compared to a Utopian World (or Switzerland) the number of terrorist acts in India are high, once you start seeing how multiculturalism is a big indicator of instability in the West, you truly begin appreciating the way in which the Indian motherland handles the entire gamut of multicultural people that make up its populace.

As if multiculturalism wasn’t a big enough issue to tackle, we’re host to a number of religions, not all of which get together that well.

The Worst Effects of Terrorism In India

At the risk of sounding callous, I’m going to state it flat out – the image of a country’s stability is the biggest casualty of terrorism, especially to a rapidly growing economy like India.

The economic, political and social ramifications that comprise the effects of terrorism on the Indian way of life are well documented. However, the most lethal blow that terrorism activities can deliver is that it can cripple the image of a nation in international eyes.

Before you think I’m just worried about the impact of terrorism on tourism in India, what you should do is examine all the terrorist assaults that India has had to deal with over the last decade. There were hardly any terrorist attacks of consequence at places that would be considered tourist hubs. Of course, I’m leaving Kashmir out of this. The area is considered generally unstable by most of the Indian population south of Srinagar and Dharamshala is where all the tourist activity is at.

However, if you’re looking for data that supports the idea that Indian tourism has declined by a measurable amount due to terrorist attacks, then you might as well stop. The most studied example of terrorist attacks influencing tourism would be the loss of income that Balinese nationals suffered after the Bali bombings where the tourist levels for the coming years fell by 50%.

However, these were attacks on tourist destinations. The big hit that other destinations have witnessed have come from the country losing its reputation for being safe.

Likewise, it is the reputation that hinders the influx of new forging investment in unstable areas. I’m not suggesting that we just get PR, but it would be a start!

How The Alternative Impact Of Terrorism in India Goes Unnoticed

Terrorists at the Taj! Security lapse across the city! Mumbai under siege! And yet a day after two days have passed, Mumbai returns to normal. We just avoid the road that leads to the Taj.

Mumbai unfazed after terror siege! Mumbaikars have nerves made out of steel! Understandable sentiments. But a side of the situation that is never reported is how truly unnerved people actually are, even in the face of what is considered the worst terrorist attack that the nation has ever seen.

To someone on the outside, understanding whether it is malformed apathy or true grit is pretty much impossible. They both look the same.

Other than the damage the terrorists caused, what truly changed? Did people stop going to the Taj? Did everyone suddenly decide to abandon railway transport? Or skip on Mondi’s? Was the attack able to affect a change policy? Nada. To all of the above.

What it did was affected sentiments in certain areas where factions were already working around rifts. While the terrorists would like you to believe that it would be enough to throw Mumbai into communal chaos, what they seem to not have accounted for is ties that communities have started sharing. From economic to political, only the radicals are affected by these attacks. The rest of us just Keep Calm & Carry On.

Causes Of Terrorism In India

I’m going to refrain from classifying causes of terrorism in our nation under the standard economic, political, ethical and religious banners. While I think that this is a great framework for classifying instances of terrorism, it seems to be myopic when it comes to identifying the root causes of terrorism.

Case in point, the Terrorist attack on the Taj. If we were using the above matrix to classify the causes of terrorism, we’d brand them under state sponsored or eve religious terrorism and be done with it.

However, if you only consider withstanding campaigns of terrorism, not taking any of the sporadic acts of terrorism under your lens then what you’ll find is that all long held campaigns have a common stark of sorts.

They’re people who’re unhappy with the rate of change. They want to initiate change. And, sadly, they are willing to hurt a few people and intimidate a lot more in order to bring those changes into effect.

Differentiating terrorism acts based on the message of the terrorists makes for a much better framework to study he causes of terrorism. For example, if a radical muslim faction insists that Sharia Law be the official legal doctrine of the state, it is going agains the principle of freedom that our nation was founded upon.

If ULFA wants a separate state, then the thought process behind their agenda is that the interests of the demographic that they claim to represent aren’t being met by the current system.

One of these problems is solved more easily than the other.

Classifying the cause of the Kashmir conflict is a lot more convoluted, however. Even a completely passive response to the problem of terrorism in India, which in theory would cede Kashmir to Pakistan has a myriad of strings attached to it. The most common repose to which is what stops Pakistan from asking India to cede Punjab and then Delhi? This problem, however will have to wait for the day until Pakistan has true democratic leadership. After all, it isn’t islamic terrorism but Pakistani terrorism that has affected India the most.

Can We Win The Fight Against Terrorism in India?

In many ways, we already have! Think about it this way; what is the true goal of terrorism in India, beyond the individual agenda that each terrorist group has?

To scare a lot of people. Enough to cause the government to bow down and affect a change in policy.

How do they scare a boatload of people?

By hurting a few of the unsuspecting, innocent ones.

Like I said earlier, how many of Mumbai’s commuters have shifted solely to buses as their sole mode of transport?

Terrorism has already failed at its core. The anti-terrorism laws in India are as good a solution of terrorism as any. However, if the terrorists were individuals guided entirely by reason, then I would never have had to write this article.

While working to manage out the root causes of terrorism in India will take a lot of purposeful dedication and work, counter terrorism operations in India are our best bet at mitigating the effects of terrorism. When there are talks about controlling terrorism in India in today’s day and age, we’re referring to terrorist acts and the collateral damage that comes with them.

What do you think the best way to curb terrorist acts in India? Leave a comment and let me know!