A Global War against Terrorism

Terrorism

Millions of innocent lives and thousands of law enforcement officers have been lost in the fight against terrorism, yet the perpetrators and supporters of terror remain unyielding in their thirst for human blood.

Terrorism is a global scourge. Since gaining independence, India has struggled with terrorism in various regions. Terrorism involves armed violence against both government and non-government targets, characterized by premeditated attacks on civilians using weapons, ammunition, and explosives, alongside intimidation tactics like hostage-taking and hijacking, without seeking territorial control. It is an organized form of intimidation and violence, often driven by political frustration, religious and racial fanaticism, and personal interests. Terrorists are often supported by external powers aiming to destabilize nations. They engage in looting, kidnapping, murder, arson, and other unlawful activities to create instability and deter civilians from supporting legal government machinery.

India has faced significant terrorist movements in Punjab and Jammu and Kashmir, bordering Pakistan; in the northeast, bordering Myanmar and Bangladesh; in Bihar, bordering Nepal; and in interior states like Andhra Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, and Orissa, which do not have international borders.

Some terrorist incidents in India have been temporary, arising from religious anger against the government or the majority Hindu community, like the Mumbai explosions in March 1993 that killed about 250 civilians and the Coimbatore explosions in February 1998. Tamil Nadu faced terrorism from the LTTE, including the assassination of former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi in 1991. India also experienced Hindu sectarian terrorism from groups like Ananda Marga, which resembled Japan’s Aum Shinrikyo in motivation and irrationality. Ananda Marga, focused on meditation, special religious practices, and violence against detractors, had followers both in India and abroad but has largely faded since 1995.

Political Causes:

In Assam and Tripura, insurgency and terrorism stem from the government’s failure to control large-scale illegal immigration from Bangladesh.

Economic Causes:

In Andhra Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Orissa, and Bihar, terrorism arises from economic issues like the absence of land reforms, rural unemployment, and exploitation of landless laborers by landlords. These grievances have fueled ideological terrorist groups, including various Marxist/Maoist factions.

Ethnic Causes:

In Nagaland, Mizoram, and Manipur, terrorism is driven by ethnic separatism.

Religious Causes:

In Punjab, Sikh terrorists sought an independent state, Khalistan. In Jammu and Kashmir, Muslim terrorists have various conflicting goals, from independence to merging with Pakistan. Sporadic religious terrorism in other parts of India often stems from anger over perceived government failures or Pakistan’s attempts to cause religious polarization.

Religious terrorism has caused the most deaths and incidents. While non-religious terrorism tends to be less intense, religious terrorism often involves sophisticated explosives, suicide bombers, and attacks on civilians, including hijackings and hostage-taking. All terrorist groups in India, religious or otherwise, have engaged in kidnapping for ransom or other demands. While non-religious groups target only Indians, religious groups also target foreigners.

Non-religious terrorist groups have not acted outside India. However, religious terrorist groups have, such as the Sikh group responsible for the Air India bombing off the Irish coast and the attempted bombing in Tokyo in 1985. Pakistani pan-Islamic jihadi groups aim for a broader goal, seeking to ‘liberate’ Muslims in India and establish an Islamic Caliphate across South Asia.

The Sikh and Kashmiri groups focus on regional objectives, but Pakistani jihadi organizations aim to eradicate Hindu influences and establish Islamic dominance in South Asia. Both religious and non-religious terrorist groups in India have external links with like-minded groups abroad and draw support from diasporas.

External Support:

Terrorism in India, particularly in Kashmir and Punjab, is heavily supported by Pakistan. Groups like ULFA and NSCN in the northeast also engage in terrorism. Pakistan provides arms, ammunition, and training to religious terrorist groups. The ISI, Pakistan’s intelligence agency, supports these groups through training camps in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir and other areas.

US and Global Response:

Under US pressure, Pakistan has taken some action against groups like LET and JEM but continues to support terrorism against India. The US has been reluctant to act decisively against Pakistan, despite acknowledging Pakistan’s inadequate measures against cross-border terrorism.

India’s Stand:

India has made it clear that normalization of relations with Pakistan is impossible until Pakistan ceases its support for cross-border terrorism. India is also concerned about terrorism from Bangladesh, where groups like HUJI operate. Despite good diplomatic relations, Bangladesh has not fully cooperated with India on these issues.

Global War on Terrorism:

The so-called “Global War on Terrorism” is ironic given Pakistan’s role as a major source of global terrorism while being a key US ally in this fight. India has long highlighted the atrocities committed by Pakistan-trained terrorists, but international response has been inadequate. The US only realized the threat of terrorism after the 9/11 attacks, which highlighted its vulnerability. Despite removing Osama bin Laden from Afghanistan, the threat of terrorist attacks on the US remains. The American public continues to live in fear, as evidenced by heightened security measures and frequent passenger detentions.

The US maintains double standards in its foreign policy, using terrorism as a pretext for actions like the invasion of Iraq while ignoring India’s concerns about Pakistan. India must independently combat terrorism with determined efforts, strong political will, and support from all political parties and citizens.

In conclusion, terrorism in India is fueled by political, economic, ethnic, and religious causes, often with external support, particularly from Pakistan. The global response to terrorism is inconsistent, and India must tackle its challenges independently with robust policies and internal unity.

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