Terrorism in India
Terrorism in India
Terrorism in India can be attributed to many low intensity conflict within its borders. If terrorism can be defined as “peacetime equivalent of war crime”, then these sites of low intensity conflicts are prime spots for terrorism in India. The regions with long term terrorist activities today are Jammu and Kashmir, 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. Recently, both the US and Afghanistan have accused Pakistan of carrying out terrorist acts in Afghanistan.
Northern and Northwestern India
Although terrorism is not considered a major issue in the state, existence of certain groups like the CPI-ML, Peoples war, MCC,Ranvir Sena and Balbir militias is a major concern as they frequently attack local policemen and politicians. Poor governance and the law and order system in Bihar have helped increase the menace caused by the militias. The Ranvir Sena is a militia of forward caste land owners which is taking on the might of powerful Naxalites in the area. The State has witnessed many massacres by these caste groups and retaliatory action by other groups. All the militias represent interest of some caste groups. The main victims of the violence by these groups are helpless people (including women, old and children) who are killed in caste massacres. The state police is ill equipped to take on the Ak-47, AK-56 of the militants with their vintage 303 rifles. The militants have used landmines to kill ambush police parties as well. The root cause of the militant activities in the state is huge disparity among different caste groups. After Independence, land reforms were supposed to be implemented, thereby giving the low caste and the poor a share in the lands which was till then held mostly by high caste people. However, due to caste based divisive politics in the state land reforms were never implemented properly. This led to growing sense of alienation among the low caste. Communist groups like CPI-ML, MCC and People’s War took advantage of this and instigated the low caste people to take up arms against establishment which was seen as a tool in the hands of rich. They started taking up lands of rich by force killing the high caste people. The high caste people resorted to use of force by forming their own army Ranvir Sena to take on the naxalites. The State witnessed a bloody period in which the groups tried to prove their supremacy by mass killings. The Police remained a mute witness to these killings as it lacked the means to take any action. However now the Ranvir Sena has significantly weakened with the arrest of its top brass. The other groups are still active. Many a times politicians use these groups for their advantage.
There have been arrests in various parts of the country, particularly those made by the Delhi and Mumbai police in the recent past, indicating that extremist/terrorist outfits have been spreading their networks in this State. There is a strong suspicion that Bihar is also being used as a transit point by the small-arms, fake currency and drug dealers entering from Nepal and terrorists reportedly infiltrating through Nepal and Bangladesh.
During the 1970s, the Indian Green Revolution brought increased economic prosperity for the Sikh community in Punjab. This propensity kindled an age old fear in the Sikh community – that of being absorbed into the Hindu fold and led to the rise of Sikh militants. The insurgency intensified during 1980s when the movement turned violent and the name Khalistan resurfaced and sought independence from the Indian Union. Led by Sant Jarnail Singh Bhindranwale, a young, charismatic, successful preacher, they began using militancy to stress on their demands. Soon things turned bloody with India alleging that neighbouring Pakistan supported these militants, who, by 1983-4, had begun to enjoy widespread support among Sikhs.
In 1984, Operation Blue Star was conducted by the Indian government to stem out the movement. It involved an assault on the Golden Temple complex, which Sant Bhindranwale had fortifed in preparation of an army assault. Indira Gandhi, India‘s then prime minister, ordered the military to storm the temple, who eventually had to use tanks, helicopter gunships, artillery and chemical weapons. After a seventy-four-hour firefight, the army successfully took control of the temple. In doing so, it completely damaged some portions of the Akal Takht, the Sikh Reference Library and some damaged to the Golden Temple itself. According to Indian government sources, eighty-three army personnel were killed and 249 injured. Militant casualties were 493 killed and eighty-six injured.
During same year, the assassination of Indira Gandhi by two Sikh bodyguards, believed to be driven by the Golden Temple affair, resulted in widespread anti-Sikh riots, especially in New Delhi. Following Operation Black Thunder in 1988, Punjab Police, first under Julio Ribeiro and then under KPS Gill, together with the Indian Army eventually succeeded in pushing the movement underground.
In 1985, Sikh terrorists bombed an Air India flight from Canada to India, killing all 329 people on board Air India Flight 182. It is the worst terrorist act in Canada’s history. The Pakistani government is suspected to have played a part in the bombing.
The ending of overt Sikh militancy in 1993 led to a period of relative calm, punctuated by militant acts (i.e. the assassination of Punjab CM, Beant Singh in 1995) attributed to half a dozen or so operating Sikh militant organisations. These organisations include Babbar Khalsa International, Khalistan Commando Force, Khalistan Liberation Force and Khalistan Zindabad Force.
Support for Khalistan is still widespread among Sikh communities in Canada and the United Kingdom.
Three explosions went off in the Indian capital of New Delhi on October 29, 2005 (on the eve of the Hindu festival of Diwali ) which killed more than 60 people and injured at least 200 others. The high number of casualties made the bombings the deadliest attack in India of 2005.It was followed by 5 bomb blasts on 13th September 2008.
Delhi security summit
The Delhi summit on security took place on February 14, 2007 with the foreign ministers of China, India, and Russia meeting in Hyderabad House, Delhi, India to discuss terrorism, drug trafficking, reform of the United Nations, and the security situations in Afghanistan, Iran, Iraq, and North Korea.
The Indian Foreign Ministry released a statement on behalf of all three governments saying, “We shared our thoughts on the political, economic and security aspects of the global situation, the present world order and recent developments in various areas of mutual concern. We agreed that co-operation rather than confrontation should govern approaches to regional and global affairs. There was coincidence of views against terrorism in all its forms and manifestations and on the need to address financing of terrorism and its linkages with narco-trafficking.”
The long simmering Ayodhya crisis finally culminated in a terrorist attack on the site of the 16th century Babri Masjid –Ram Janmabhoomi Hindu temple in Ayodhya on July 5, 2005. Following the two-hour gunfight between Lashkar-e-Toiba terrorists based in Pakistan and Indian police, in which six terrorists were killed, opposition parties called for a nationwide strike with the country’s leaders condemning the attack, believed to have been masterminded by Dawood Ibrahim.
A series of blasts occurred across the Hindu holy city of Varanasi on 7 March 2006. Fifteen people are reported to have been killed and as many as 101 others were injured. No-one has accepted responsibility for the attacks, but it is speculated that the bombings were carried out in retaliation of the arrest of a Lashkar-e-Toiba agent in Varanasi earlier in February 2006. On April 5, 2006 the Indian police arrested six Islamic militants, including a cleric who helped plan bomb blasts. The cleric is believed to be a commander of a banned Bangladeshi Islamic militant group, Harkatul Jihad-al Islami and is linked to the Inter-Services Intelligence, the Pakistani spy agency.
Northeastern India consists 7 states (also known as the seven sisters): Assam, Meghalaya, Tripura, Arunachal Pradesh, Mizoram, Manipur, and Nagaland. Tensions exists between these states and the central government as well as amongst the tribal people, who are natives of these states, and migrant peoples from other parts of India. The states have accused New Delhi of ignoring the issues concerning them. It is this feeling which has led the natives of these states to seek greater participation in self-governance. There are existing territorial disputes between Manipur and Nagaland. There is a rise of insurgent activities and regional movements in the northeast, especially in the states of Assam, Nagaland, Mizoram and Tripura. Most of these organizations demand independent state status or increased regional autonomy and sovereignty. Manny of these are said to be China sponsered.
The first and perhaps the most significant insurgency was in Nagaland from the early 1950s until it was finally quelled in the early 1980s through a mixture of repression and cooptation. The National Socialist Council of Nagaland-Isak-Muivah (NSCN-IM), demands an independent Nagaland and has carried out several attacks on Indian military installations in the region. According to government officials, 599 civilians, 235 security forces and 862 terrorists have lost their lives between 1992 and 2000.
On June 14, 2001, a cease-fire agreement was signed between the Government of India and the NSCN-IM which had received widespread approval and support in Nagaland. Terrorist outfits such as the Naga National Council-Federal (NNC-F) and the National Council of Nagaland-Khaplang (NSCN-K) also welcomed the development. Certain neighbouring states, especially Manipur, raised serious concerns over the cease-fire. They feared that NSCN would continue insurgent activities in its state and demanded New Delhi scrap the ceasefire deal and renew military action. Despite the cease-fire the NSCN has continued its insurgency
After Nagaland, Assam is the most volatile state in the region. Beginning 1979, the indigenous people of Assam demanded that the illegal immigrants who had emigrated from Bangladesh to Assam be detected and deported. The movement lead by All Assam Students Union began non-violently with satyagraha, boycotts, picketing and courting arrests. Those protesting frequently came under police action. In 1983 an election was conducted which was opposed by the movement leaders. The election lead to widespread violence. The movement finally ended after the movement leaders signed an agreement (called Assam Accord) with the central government in August 15, 1985. Under the provisions of this accord, anyone who entered the state illegally between January 1966 and March 1971 were allowed to remain but were disenfranchised for ten years, while those who entered after 1971 faced expulsion. A November 1985 amendment to the Indian citizenship law allows non citizens who entered Assam between 1961 and 1971 to have all the rights of citizenship except the right to vote for a period of ten years. New Delhi also gave special administration autonomy to the Bodos in the state. However, the Bodos demanded for a separate Bodoland which led to a clash between the Bengalis, the Bodos and the Indian military resulting in hundreds of deaths.
There are several organizations which advocate the independence of Assam. The most prominent of which is the ULFA (United Liberation Front of Asom). Formed in 1971, the ULFA has two main goals, the independence of Assam and the establishment of a socialist government. The ULFA has carried out several terrorist attacks in the region targeting the Indian Military and noncombatants. The group assassinates political opponents, attacks police and other security forces, blasts railroad tracks, and attacks other infrastructure facilities. The ULFA is believed to have strong links with Nationalist Socialist Council of Nagaland (NSCN), Maoists and the Naxalites. It is also believed that they carry out most of their operations from the Kingdom of Bhutan. Because of ULFA’s increased visibility, the Indian government outlawed the group in 1986 and declared Assam a troubled area. Under pressure from New Delhi, Bhutan carried a massive operation to drive out the ULFA militants from its territory. Backed by the Indian Army, Thimphu was successful in killing more than a thousand terrorists and extraditing many more to India while sustaining only 120 casualties. The Indian military undertook several successful operations aimed at countering future ULFA terrorist attacks, but the ULFA continues to be active in the region. In 2004, the ULFA targeted a public school in Assam killing 19 children and 5 adults.
Assam remains the only state in the northeast where terrorism is still a major issue. The Indian Military was successful in dismantling terrorist outfits in other areas, but have been criticized by human rights groups for allegedly using harsh methods when dealing with terrorists.
Tripura witnessed a surge in terrorist activities in the 1990s. New Delhi blamed Bangladesh for providing a safe haven to the insurgents operating from its territory. The area under control of the Tripura Tribal Areas Autonomous District Council was increased after a tripartite agreement between New Delhi, the state government of Tripura, and the Council. The government has since been brought the movement under control though certain rebellious factions still linger.
In Manipur, militants formed an organization known as the People’s Liberation Army. Their main goal was to unite the Meitei tribes of Burma and establish an independent state of Manipur. However, the movement was thought to have been suppressed after a fierce clash with Indian security forces in the mid 1990s.
On September 20, 2005, 14 Indian soldiers were ambushed and killed by 20 rebels from the Kanglei Yawol Kanna Lup (KYKL) terrorist organization, armed with AK-56 rifles, in the village of Nariang, 22 miles southwest of Manipur’s capital Imphal. “Unidentified rebels using automatic weapons ambushed a road patrol of the army’s Gorkha Rifles killing eight on the spot,” said a spokesman for the Indian government.
Trouble started on Saturday after local residents recovered the bodies of five Kuki tribespeople with bullet wounds.
Angry Kukis attacked the local police station, where the bodies were kept, and razed several houses belonging to the rival Meitie ethnic group. Later in the evening, police recovered the bodies of six Meitie fishermen.
Currently there are 19 separate rebel groups operating in Manipur.
Karnataka is considerably less affected by terrorism in spite of having many places of historical importance and the IT hub of India, Bangalore. However, recently Naxal activity has been increasing in the Western Ghats. Also, a few attacks have occured, major ones including an attack on IISc on 28th December 2005 and serial blasts in Bangalore on 26th July 2008.
Andhra Pradesh is one of the few southern states affected by terrorism, although of a far different kind and on a much smaller scale. The terrorism in Andhra Pradesh stems from the People’s War Group or PWG, popularly known as Naxalites. The ‘PWG, has been operating in India for over two decades with most of its operations in the Telangana region in Andhra Pradesh. The group is also active in Orissa and Bihar. Unlike the Kashmiri insurgents and ULFA, PWG is a Maoist terrorist organisation and labor rights is one of its primary goals. These idelogical extremists aim to create equality in the society by attacking the rich and powerful landlords. Having failed to capture popular support in the elections, they resorted to violence as a means to voice their opinions. The group targets Indian Police, multinational companies, landlords and other influential institutions in the name of the rights of landless labor. PWG has also targeted senior government officials, including the attempted assassination of former Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister Chandrababu Naidu. It reportedly has a strength of 800 to 1,000 well armed militiants and is believed to have close links with the Maoists in Nepal and the LTTE of Sri Lanka. According to the Indian government, on an average, more than 60 civilians, 60 naxal rebels and a dozen policemen are killed every year because of PWG led insurgency. Currently the ban on the Naxalites has been lifted in the state which has led to a drastic drop in killings.
Tamil Nadu had LTTE Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam militants operating in state Tamil Nadu up until the assassination of former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi. LTTE had given many speeches in state Tamil Nadu led by TamilSelvan and other Eelam members. LTTE leader Velupillai Prabhakaran has carried out speeches in Tamil Nadu as well. Tamil Tigers have been receiving many donations and support from India. Tamils have been supplying oil, money, hazardous materials etc … to Tamil militants as well.
The following are Listed Terrorist Organizations banned in India
and major listed incidents
Coimbatore bomb blasts, Feb 14 1998 Car bomb in Dindivanam 4 April 2007
Chronology of major incidents
Status of major terror incidents