Thursday, December 13, 2012

Terrorism in India

Terrorism is a political virus. Greed for power, injustice and intolerance breed terrorism. According to sociologists and experts on terrorism the French Revolution provided the first uses of the words ‘terrorist’ and ‘terrorism’. The use of the word terrorism began in 1795 in reference to the Reign of Terror initiated by the Revolutionary government in France during the French Revolution. The agents of the Committee of Public Safety and the National Convention that enforced the policies of “The Terror” were referred to as ‘terrorists’. The French Revolution provided an example for future states in oppressing their populations. It also inspired a reaction by royalists and other opponents of the Revolution who employed terrorist tactics such as assassination and intimidation in resistance to the revolutionary agents. Systematic use of terror as a policy was first recorded in England in 1798. The words ‘terrorism’ and ‘terrorist’ were first used as political terms to describe atrocities of an occupying establishment – say colonial government. Researches done on the history of terrorism reveal that ‘terrorist’ in the modern sense dates to 1947, especially in reference to Jewish tactics against the British in Palestine – while earlier it was used for extremist revolutionaries in Russia (1866). The tendency of one party’s terrorism said to be another’s guerilla war or fight for freedom was noted in reference to the anti-British actions in India (1857), Cyprus (1956) and the war in Rhodesia (1973). The word terrorist was applied, at least retroactively, to the Marquis resistance in occupied France during the World War II. The Britain first used the terms ‘terrorism and terrorist’ to describe anti-establishment forces or those who used hit-and-run practices against British colonialism. It is relatively hard to define terrorism albeit it is not a new phenomenon for the world. Terrorism has been described variously as both a tactic and strategy; a crime and a holy duty; a justified reaction to alleged oppression and an inexcusable abomination.’ As an asymmetric form of conflict, it confers coercive power with many of the advantages of military force at a fraction of the cost.

Terrorism in India can be attributed to many low intensity conflicts within its borders. The regions with long term terrorist activities today are Jammu and Kashmir, Mumbai, Central India (Naxalism) and Seven Sister States (Independence and Autonomy Movements). In the past, the Punjab insurgency led to militant activities in the Indian state of Punjab as well as the national capital Delhi (Delhi serial blasts, anti-Sikh riots). As of 2006, at least 232 of the country’s 608 districts were afflicted, at differing intensities, by various insurgent and terrorist movements. Terrorism in India has often been alleged to be sponsored by Pakistan. After most acts of terrorism in India, many journalists and politicians accuse Pakistan's intelligence agency, the Inter-Services Intelligence of playing a role.KASHMIR INSURGENCY

KASHMIR INSURGENCYViolence in Kashmir has existed in various forms, mainly in Jammu and Kashmir, the Indian side of the disputed territory. Kashmir has been the target of a campaign of militancy by all sides in the conflict. Thousands of lives have been lost since 1989 due to the intensified insurgency. Casualties include civilians, Indian security forces, and Kashmiri and non-Kashmiri militants. The Inter-Services Intelligence of Pakistan has been accused by India of supporting and training mujahideen to fight in Afghanistan and Kashmir.

Though there had been instances of sporadic conflict in many regions for many years, intensified attacks occurred in the late 1980s, when Mujahideen fighters from Afghanistan slowly infiltrated the region, with Pakistan's help, following the end of the Soviet-Afghan War in 1989. Since then, violence has increased significantly in strength. Many separatists have carried out attacks on local Hindus, Indian civilians and Indian army installations in response to what they see as Indian army occupation.

India frequently asserts that most of the separatist militant groups are based in Pakistan and Pakistan-administered Kashmir (also known as Azad Kashmir). Some like the All Parties Hurriyat Conference and the Jammu and Kashmir Liberation Front, openly demand an independent Kashmir. Other militant groups such as Lashkar-e-Toiba and Jaish-e-Mohammed favour a Pakistani-Kashmir. These groups have contacts with Taliban and Bin Laden. Both the organisations no longer operate under these names after they were banned by the Indian and Pakistani government, and by other countries including the US and UK. Of the larger militant groups, the Hizbul Mujahideen, a militant organisation based in Indian administered Kashmir, unlike other groups, has only kept its name. Despite casualties, the militants are still believed to number thousands rather than hundreds. Several new separatist organisations have also emerged. According to US Intelligence, Al-Qaeda also has a main base in Pakistani Kashmir and is helping to foment terrorism in Jammu and Kashmir.

It is hard to determine the total number of casualties. According to a report by the Government of India in the year 2000, 31,000 Indian civilians had lost their lives due to the insurgency. Human rights groups and local NGOs put the total figure at more than 84,000 (2005 figure). Militancy had reached its peak in 1994 when the region saw more than 6,043 incidents and has since declined. However, Kashmir continues to remain as the most volatile region in the world with an average of 2,500 incidents every year. According to an Indian estimate in 2005 there were about 2,000 militants in the Kashmir valley alone; 1,200 of them belong to the Hizbul Mujahideen. Not all Kashmiri separatists and militant organizations share the same ideology. Some fight in the name of religion, some are openly pro-Pakistan and some favour an independent Kashmir.

Due to the presence of these numerous anti-India insurgent groups India has been compelled to deploy massive number of troops in the Indian administered Jammu and Kashmir for the task of counter insurgency. New Delhi has never made an official count, but military analysts estimate that anywhere from 30,000 to nearly 33,000 security personnel are most likely involved, supported by thousands of Indian paramilitary groups such as the Rashtriya rifles, and the Romeo Force (all a part of Indian army).

Some reports estimate that India deploys approximately 400,000 combined army and paramilitary forces in Kashmir, most of which are stationed in the interior, 80,000 of which are deployed along the LoC. Pakistani forces deployed along the LoC are reported to number in the 40,000-50,000 range

Violent activities in the region declined in 2004. There are two main reasons for this: warming of relations between New Delhi and Pakistan which consequently lead to a ceasefire between the two countries in 2003 and the fencing of the LOC being carried out by the Indian Army. Moreover, coming under intense international pressure, Islamabad was compelled to take actions against the militants' training camps on its territory. In 2004, the two countries also agreed upon decreasing the number of troops present in the region.

Under pressure, Kashmiri militant organisations have made an offer for talks and negotiations with New Delhi, which was accepted by India. India's Border Security Force blamed the Pakistani military for providing cover-fire for the militants whenever they infiltrated into Indian territory from Pakistan. However, ever since the ceasefire has come into action, the militants have received no back-up from Pakistani Military, which has contributed significantly to the decline in cross-border terrorism in the state. Even the recently elected Pakistani President, Asif Ali Zardari admitted that the militants operating in Kashmir were indeed terrorists.

KHALISTANI SIKHS To say the Indians are unaware of the gravity of the issue would be untrue. They have paid a heavy price already at the hands of various existing sub nationalists and continue to do so. In 1984, Indira Gandhi, daughter of Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru and the then Prime Minister was assassinated by Sikh separatists. Such an event shouldn’t have surprised the world, particularly after how Mrs.Gandhi dealt with the Sikh demand of Khalistan- a separate country for India’s Sikhs carved out of the (Indian) Punjab province. In September of 1981 a group of Sikh separatists had taken refuge in the Golden Shrine, one of the most revered shrines of Sikhism. Knowing that the civilian presence in the temple was in great numbers, Gandhi ordered her army to storm into the temple with full force to flush out the militants. There is much uncertainty over the exact number of causalities. Some estimates put it at 3000. Much to the despair of the Indian establishment, the Khalistan movement did not die with Gandhi.

Though the threat of an independent Sikh state is not as great as it was in the 80’s, the concept is well alive amongst the Sikh community of India. According to news reports the exiled leader of the International Sikh Youth Federation (ISYF), Dabinderjit Singh has been making attempts to approach Canadian politicians and radical Sikh leaders in the hope of reviving the Khalistan movement. Earlier this year Jet Airways Flight 225, that flies from India to Canada, was delayed for several hours because of a bomb scare. This brought back to life grim memories of the 1985 bombing of Air India Kaniskha, in which all 329 passengers, 280 of whom were Canadian nationals, were killed. In the court rulings that followed the incident, the worst in the history of terrorist attacks on aircrafts prior to the September 11, Inderjit Singh Reyat was convicted of manslaughter. Investigations hinted that the attack had been masterminded by at least two Sikh terrorist groups, to avenge the golden temple massacre. Even though the latest incident was no more than a hoax, the Indian establishment was not amused. India is overwhelmed by the number of secessionist movements, threatening to breakaway from the country. An addition to these will surely have Indians panicking, signs of which are evident already.

THE NAXALITES The Naxal movement of India was inspired by the revolutionary ideology of Mao Zedong. The movement feeds on a similar philosophy to that of Nepal’s. It first originated in the 1960’s in a remote area of West Bengal, Nexalbari. Today it has under its influence eastern Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh, eastern Uttar Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand, West Bengal and Bihar, popularly known as the Red Corridor. Naxalites (also known as Maoists and Marxist-Leninist revolutionaries) pose a serious ideological threat to the state of India. They have been involved in ruthless train hijacking, jailbreaks and murder of local politicians. They have refused to accept anything other than independence, a Naxalite leader has been found saying on record Talks are a part of our tactical line. Naxalism is not a problem, it is a solution.' With a strong army of 15,000 soldiers, the Naxalites control one fifth of India’s total forests. They have grown into 160 off 604 administrative districts of India.

The CPI-Maoist is the largest group of a wider communist insurgent movement, known as Naxalites after the village of Naxalbari in West Bengal, the site of a revolutionary rural uprising in 1967. The CPI-Maoist has a presence in 185 districts in 17 out of India's 28 states, exerting varying degrees of influence in these areas. Chhattisgarh is currently the state worst affected by the insurgency, particularly its southern Bastar region, which was referred to as a "war zone" in July 2007 by state police chief Vishwaranjan. Other states affected by Maoist violence are Bihar, Jharkhand, Orissa, West Bengal and Maharashtra. Andhra Pradesh - where the insurgents are currently on the retreat - has been affected for the longest period of time - since 1964, when radical elements of the political Communist Party of India (Marxist) waged a rebellion called the Srikakulam armed struggle." In short, they're communists. It should be noted that communists come in a variety of flavors, and Maoism is one of them. There are even variations with the global Maoist movement, and the Indian Maoists are particular nasty.

NORTH-EAST REBELS (Seven Sisters) The region is marked by multiplicity of tribes, ethnicities, cultures and religion. it is home to around 400 tribes or sub tribes. The whole of northeast India is marred by conflicts, including infighting amongst various villages, tribes and other warring factions, all for secession for their many districts, villages and tribes. Violence is also pitted against migrants of Bangladesh, Myanmar and Nepal. Nagaland is the oldest of insurgencies of India and is believed to have inspired almost all the ethnic groups in the region. More than 20,000 have been killed before a ceasefire was announced in 1997. They demand a separate homeland comprising of mainly Christian dominated areas of Nagaland along with certain areas in Manipur, Assam and Arunachal Pradesh. The region is endowed with oil reserves worth billions. A state owned company – Oil and Natural Gas Corporation (ONGC) was forced out of the area until 2006, when it was allowed back in. The government has been trying to ease tension in the region by striking deals with the rebel groups but no real breakthrough has been made to ensure a long term peace in the area. Manipur has been fighting for an independent country since 1974. The Indian army took control of the state in 1980. Lack of education and job opportunities has forced many to join separatists groups. Army has been carrying out operations to tackle the insurgency problem but that has only added to the sufferings of the locals. Some 6000 people have been displaced because of the operations and rebel fighting.

Tripura, has been a refuge for many Bengalis after the war of 1971, when Bangladesh got its independence. The influx of refugees and the building of a fence by the government along the border of Bangladesh have prompted attacks by the two major rebel groups, the National Liberation Front of Tripura (NLFT) and the All Tripura Tiger Force (ATTF). With thousands homeless and harsh living conditions, life is miserable for the local population.

Terrorism in India 
Faces of Terrorism in India
World’s popular online encyclopedia - Wikipedia, notes, ‘The word “terrorism” is politically and emotionally charged, and this greatly compounds the difficulty of providing a precise definition. A 2003 study by Jeffrey Record for the US Army quoted a source (Schmid and Jongman 1988) that counted 109 definitions of terrorism that covered a total of 22 different definitional elements. Record continues “Terrorism expert Walter Laqueur also has counted over 100 definitions and concludes that the ‘only general characteristic generally agreed upon is that terrorism involves violence and the threat of violence.’ Yet terrorism is hardly the only enterprise involving violence and the threat of violence. So does war, coercive diplomacy, and barroom brawls.” The lack of agreement on a definition of terrorism has been a major obstacle to meaningful international countermeasures. Obviously, a lot depends on whose point of view is being represented. Terrorism has often been an effective tactic for the weaker side in a conflict. As an asymmetric form of conflict, it confers coercive power with many of the advantages of military force at a fraction of the cost.  The media and law enforcement agencies’ onslaught with assumptions and deliberate repetitions of Muslim names after each terror attack in India made a penetration into common hearts and it ultimately implies that terrorism is a Muslim specialty in the country.

In India, the militants in Kashmir are Muslims. But they are one of several terrorist groups operating in the country. The Punjab terrorists are Sikhs. The United Liberation Front of Assam (ULFA) is a Hindu terrorist group. Tripura has a history of rise and fall of several terrorist groups, and so have Bodo terrorists groups, mostly Christians which killed hundreds of Muslims in 1993 for autonomy, some of them are now in Assam’s Tarun Gogoi’s cabinet as ministers. Christian Mizos mounted an insurrection for decades, and Christian Nagas and Manipuris are still heading militant groups. They have bombed trains, assassinated hundreds of innocent men, women and children. This year they called a boycott in at least five states out of seven north-eastern states of India to disrupt Independence Day celebrations of India.

But most important of all are the Maoist terrorist groups that now exist in no less than 150 out of India’s 600 districts, according to a report in a national English daily. They are attacking police stations, and killing and razing innocent villagers who oppose them, and there is nothing Muslim about these groups.

In September 2, 2006 another national English daily published from Mumbai reports elaborately about few dozen ‘Hindu Mujahideen’ working with Hizbul Mujahideen of Kashmir for years in Jammu and Kashmir. The newspaper published statistical information with real Hindu names, age and year of attachment with HM along with their native locations in Jammu region. Similarly in some other non-Muslim outfits such as ULFA in Assam, Muslim members are not barred from joining their resistance.

Terrorism in IndiaOn February 24, 2008, bomb blasts occurred in the RSS office and the Bus Stand in Tenkasi, Tamil Nadu, one of India’s southern states. The media carried big stories about the blasts. The Sangh Parivar organised demonstrations in various parts of the state, demanding the arrest of Muslim ‘terrorists’, who according to them had committed the crime. However the Tamil Nadu police acted sensibly. A special team led by Mr. Kannappan, DIG, Tirunelveli range made a thorough investigation and arrested three persons S Ravi Pandian (42), a cable TV operator, S Kumar (28), an auto driver, both from Tenkasi, and V Narayana Sharma (26) of Sencottai, all Sangh Parivar activists. The last accused had assembled 14 pipe bombs in the office of Ravi Pandian, as revealed by press reports.

A Mumbai based Urdu daily Urdu Times (April 18, 2008) reported Malegaon police raid in a patho-laboratory which is situated in the basement of a private hospital and recovered revolver, RDX and fake currency note of one thousand rupees. The Police arrested three terrorists, Nitish Ashire (20) Sahab Rao Sukhdev Dhevre (22) and Jitendar Kherna (25). The last one is the owner of Smith Pathology Laboratory which is situated at the basement of More Accident Hospital of Camp Area. One pistol, 5 live RDX bombs, 3 used RDX cases, four fake notes of one thousand rupee, laptop, scanner, 5 thousand cash rupees and 2 mobiles were recovered during the raid, detailed the newspaper report.

After the Jaipur serial blasts on May 13, the police were reportedly on the hunt for a woman who allegedly promised Rs.100,000 to a rickshaw puller to carry out the terror attacks. “We are looking for a woman, identified as Meena, who tried to lure a rickshaw puller, Vijay, to carry out the attacks,” a police officer said on the condition of anonymity, according to a report in the press.

Vijay, allegedly a resident of Mumbai, said before Ajtak TV channel camera, “Stop the lady (Meena) or she would explode bombs at Katwali”. By that time a bomb was already exploded at Katwali area. Vijay was detained just hours after the Jaipur blasts. He also told the police that Meena lives near one of the blast sites.
What happened to Meena and Vijay, and what the police later got from Vijay is still unreported – the Jaipur case is still unsolved.
The Maharashtra Police on June 16 arrested two people from Navi Mumbai in connection with a series of bomb blasts in the area in which seven people were injured. The Anti-Terrorist Squad (ATS) reportedly swooped down on the Sanatan Ashram and nabbed two men, identified as Hanumant Gadkari (50) and Mahesh D. Nikam (35).
Mumbai ATS chief Hemant Karkare said the duo belonged to the Hindu Jan Jagriti Manch (HJJM) and between February and June were responsible for three bomb blasts in the Navi Mumbai area.

Terrorism in IndiaTwo bombs exploded outside a theatre on the eve of T20 Indian Premiere League finals on June 4. Two others were exploded in Navi Mumbai on May 31 and in Panvel on February 20. The ATS also seized a motorcycle registered in Ashram’s name and the vehicle’s logbook entries enabled the investigators to zero in on the prime accused. The motorcycle had been extensively used in January-February for reconnaissance trips in Navi Mumbai and other areas for identifying sites to set off the explosions.
The HJJM, led by Jayant Athavale, had also protested in 2002 against celebrated artist M.F. Husain’s paintings of Hindu deities.
In July 2008 Mumbai High Court freed the accused in Nanded blast for insufficient evidence where two Bajrang Dal activists were killed in April 2006 while preparing bombs. Later, one of the survivors of the Nanded episode during narco-analysis asserted, “We Hindus should also do the acts of terror.” The same statement was publicly reconfirmed by Shiv Sena supremo Bal Thackeray and his shivsainiks through his mouth-piece Samna and posters in Mumbai appeared in June after the arrest of Hindu Jan Jagriti Manch activists for Navi Mumbai blasts.

In late July 2008, Bangalore, Ahmedabad and Surat were struck with exploded and unexploded serial bombs. The police investigating the case, which killed at least 42 and injured more than 200 people, traced an email claiming responsibility to a Mumbai apartment. But at the address, rather than seizing terrorists from the ‘Islamist’ group which said it carried out the attack, they found an American – 48-year-old Kenneth Haywood – a Christian missionary in Mumbai high profile society. The IP address for the email claiming responsibility for an obscure group called the ‘Indian Mujahideen’ was traced by police to Haywood’s laptop. “He has never been detained, but we have called on him and questioned him as part of the investigation,” said Parambir Singh, a senior officer in the anti-terrorism squad. Now Haywood has already flown from India even after a ‘No-go’ warning from Mumbai’s ATS!

If the same laptop had been in possession of a Muslim, would the ATS officers demonstrate the same caution, a genuine question every conscious person should ask?
The hunt for those behind the blasts in Ahmedabad and Surat should be centred on Mumbai. Since some of Mumbai’s politicians have given a green signal to terrorism a month ago in June this year. And more so the police also believe the plot was hatched in the suburb of Navi Mumbai, from where four cars used in the attack were stolen.
Terrorism is a political virus. Greed for power, injustice and intolerance breed terrorism. No one in the world is immune from the direct or indirect effect of terrorism now. Terrorists have a common goal – attack and create fear – in whichever way that easily leads to their nefarious ends. Their religion is terrorism and nothing else. This one formula can at least lead Indians to a solid counter terrorism measure.

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