By Colonel H R Naidu Gade – Indian Army Veteran
In India terrorism is any act with intent to threaten or likely to threaten the unity, integrity, security, economic security, or sovereignty of India or with intent to strike terror or likely to strike terror in the people or any section of the people in India or in any foreign country. Terrorism is a calculated use of violence to create a general climate of fear in a population and thereby to bring about a particular political objective. Terrorism encompasses also militancy and insurgency and India has been a victim of these violent forms since its independence in 1947. Insurgencies plagued India’s North Eastern States for decades. Militancy and terrorism paralysed the state of Punjab for a long time. The separatist related terrorism has been the bane of the Union Territory (UT) of Jammu and Kashmir since 1990. The Maoist insurgency in the so called ‘Red Corridor’ in Central India severely affected normal life for last twenty years. In addition, there have been major terrorist attacks spread all over India in metropolitan cities, commercial entities, religious places, recreational facilities and also against the security forces. These attacks are carried out by a number of terrorist and militant groups with some sponsored and supported from across the borders. India ranks 13 in the Global Terrorism Index (GTI) a measure of high impact. The GTI score of India was 7.175, compared to 8.822 of Afghanistan, which topped the index. Terrorism in all its manifestations is unacceptable and could never be justified. Terrorism undoubtedly impacted India’s progress and development.
MAJOR TERRORIST EVENTS
Some of the Major terrorist events occurring over last three decades include:- Mumbai 1993 serial bombings at twelve locations by Mumbai’s underworld and orchestrated from across the border, killed 257 and injured 750 people. Coimbatore bombings 1998, an Islamist fundamentalist outfit named Al Ummah carried out 12 bomb blasts at 11 separate locations, 60 people lost their lives and at least 200 were injured. Jammu and Kashmir Legislative Assembly attack October 2001, three suicide bombers and a car bomb were used by Jaish-e-Mohammad terrorists killing 38 people. Akshardham temple attack September 2002, Ahmedabad came under attack by members of terror outfits Jaish-e-Mohammed and Lashkar-e-Taiba, 31 people lost their lives and 380 were injured. Mumbai twin car bombings August 2003 that killed 54, and injured 244 people. Both the bombs were planted in parked taxis and exploded during the lunch hour, Pakistan-based Lashkar-e-Toiba was blamed. Delhi serial bomb blasts October 2005, three bomb blasts rocked the national capital. The Islamic Revolutionary Front, a terrorist organization based out of Pakistan, conducted the blasts killing 63 and 210 injuring people. Mumbai train bombings July 2006, seven pressure cooker bomb blasts carried out on the local trains by Indian Mujahedeen terrorist organisation killed 210 and injured 715 people. Jaipur bombing May 2008, a sequence of nine bombings at six locations, carried out by several Islamic militant outfits. 63 people died and 210 were injured. Assam bombings October 2008, these serial blasts took place in Guwahati, the capital of Assam. There were 18 blasts in different parts of the city leading to death of 81 and injuries to 470 people. Handiwork of the National Democratic Front of Bodoland (NDFB). Mumbai Nov 2008, the deadliest simultaneous terrorist attacks were carried out at multiple locations by Lashkar-e-Taiba a foreign based organisation who entered the city by sea from the neighbouring country resulting in the death of 175 and severe injuries to 300 people. Dantewada bus bombing May 2010, a bus hit a landmine 50 km away from Dantewada in Chhattisgarh State. Fatalities include 44 police personnel. Hyderabad blasts February 2013, two blasts occurred in the city at a crowded shopping area, killing 18 and injuring 119 people. Uri attack September 2016, carried out by four Jaish-e-Mohammed terrorists from Pakistan against an Indian army brigade headquarters near the town of Uri UT Jammu and Kashmir. 19 Indian soldiers were killed and 30 others were injured. Pulwama attack February 2019, a convoy of vehicles carrying Indian security personnel on the national highway was attacked by a vehicle-borne suicide bomber in the Pulwama district of UT of Jammu and Kashmir. The attack killed 46 security personnel and also the perpetrator. Gadchiroli Naxal bombing May 2019, a landmine killed 15 policemen in Gadchiroli in Maharashtra State, attack carried out by the Maoists.
There have also been a large number of minor and medium level bomb blasts in many other parts of the country. India, since its independence has been facing the problem of insurgency and terrorism in different parts of the country and it has been an unending vexed issue. The country was beset with ethnic insurgencies in six states of the North East since 1950s which now seem to have petered down. Naxalite Maoist violence which initially started in Eastern India in 1960s had spread to 10 states in central and eastern India by 2004. Religious militancy which started in 1980 in the state of Punjab went on till year 2000. Separatist militancy and terrorism have been bleeding the UT of Jammu and Kashmir since 1989. The remnants of most of these militancies and insurgencies persisting even to date, have impacted India in a considerable way. Terrorism in India has often been alleged to be sponsored by Pakistan and the insurgencies in the East by China. The terrorist groups both religious and non-religious have been resorting to varied terrorist activities adopting improved and sophisticated devices, having external links with likeminded terrorist groups in other countries. Terrorists are adopting technology. Most recently, terror groups have begun employing drones and Artificial Intelligence (AI) which can be leveraged to respond effectively to multiple security operations. Drones are attractive for terrorists because they are affordable and require minimal training. Terrorists have deployed drones to attack state military assets, diplomatic sites, international trade, energy infrastructure, and civilian centres.
TERRORIST, AND INSURGENCY GROUPS
There are seventy-nine recorded active terrorist and insurgent groups operating in India. These groups could be classified under:- Religious, operating in the UT of Jammu and Kashmir and Punjab fighting for independence, and also many other states with sizable minority populations feeling deprived of equal opportunities; Ethnic, operating in almost all the seven states of North East India fighting for the cause for greater autonomy and independence; Ideological, like the Maoists operating in the Red Corridor of Central and Eastern India fighting for left wing ideology and social justice; Sub-National, like the Tamil Eelam groups with sympathisers in the state of Tamil Nadu and active in North Eastern Sri Lanka fighting for a separate Tamil homeland; Foreign based, operating from and backed by India’s hostile neighbours to the Noth, West and the East, aimed at destabilising India and its unity, and hampering its progress and development.
IMPACT ON INDIA
Terrorism in all its forms over the last seven decades has considerably impacted India’s growth, development, socio-economic and cultural life. Frequent terrorist attacks in the Mumbai Metropolis, the financial capital of India have slowed down economic activities for some time following the attacks, even though Mumbai has shown great resilience and quickly sprung back to routine life and business. But the vast and buzzing city remains vulnerable to future terrorist attacks of all kinds. The attacks on the Indian Parliament in Delhi, the political capital of India and the Jammu and Kashmir Assembly in Srinagar in 2001, have been an awakening call over the threats to India’s vibrant and inclusive democracy and its institutions. The religious fundamentalists and radicalised and ethnic groups in the states of Punjab, Jammu and Kashmir, Karnataka, Maharashtra, Assam, Manipur, Tamil Nadu and Kerala over the years through their militant and terrorist activities, have put a great strain on the secular edifice of the Indian nation which thrives on unity in diversity. The social fabric of the nation has marginally been torn and damaged. The once most progressive and developed state of Punjab has been pushed back by decades due this religious militancy.
The lingering insurgencies in the North East have been impacting the speedy economic and infrastructural development in these remote regions and delayed bringing these regions in to the nation’s main stream. The separatist militancy in the Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir, which is presently dwindling, has affected for some time, the booming tourism and handicraft industry, the backbone of its economic sustenance. All the developmental activities and grass-root democratic institutions were forced in to limbo for the last three decades which are now being rapidly revived by the present administration. Notwithstanding the various measures being undertaken to bring the people in to the main stream, the Union Territory needs uninterrupted peace and freedom from militancy.
The Central and State governments have been forced to allocate huge resources in terms of security forces, arms and material to fight these terrorists and militants and secure a stable and peaceful India. These resources could otherwise be spent towards development. Like all criminal activities, counterfeiting can be a way of financing
terrorism. Subject to fewer crackdowns than other forms of trafficking, it provides an immediate source of cash that is untraceable. Counterfeiting is a crime that pays. Terrorists, militants and the like soon realised that counterfeiting was a useful way of financing their crimes. Parallel black economy through counterfeiting currencies and money laundering immensely affected the economic growth of India.
India is the fifth largest economy in the world, and has seen unprecedented growth in all sectors to include the services, manufacturing, information technology, infrastructure, science & technology, education, health, trade, commerce and human capital. Its annual growth rate of Gross Domestic Product is the highest in the world. Terrorism and militancy would severely impact its rapid growth trajectory. India should evolve improved strategies to combat and counter terrorism, in particular adopting global counter terrorism strategy. ■
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Colonel H R Naidu Gade – Indian Army Veteran [B E (Civil), M Sc (Defence Studies), M B A (HR)]
Commissioned in to the Corps of Combat Engineers. A Civil Engineer, and Security Professional, with 47 years of rich experience in the field of Combat Engineering, Chemical, Biological, Radiological, Nuclear and Explosives (CBRNe) Defence, Security and Disaster Management and Counter-IED Operations. Is a qualified CBRN and Counter-IED Professional.
Is a former Member of the International Civil Service while working as Chief CW Inspector 1997-2004 with the ‘Organisation for Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW)’, The Netherlands, winner of the Nobel Peace Prize 2013. Led teams of international professionals on many verification missions to various member countries, to verify the inventory of Chemical Weapons and monitor their destruction.
Presently, Chief Consultant with ‘CBRNe Secure India’ a ‘forum and a knowledge centre’ for bringing awareness in the general public, government and security entities on the threats arising from the use of CBRNe material and their disastrous consequences A prolific writer and speaker, participated in various international and domestic conferences on CBRN Security, Disaster Management and Counter Explosive Issues and writes articles for professional journals worldwide on these subjects.
Counter-IED Report – Autumn 2023