Terrorism in India
Terrorism in India, according to the Home Ministry, poses a significant threat to the people of India. Terrorism found in India includes ethno-nationalist terrorism, religious terrorism, left wing terrorism and narco terrorism.
The regions with long term terrorist activities have been Jammu and Kashmir, east-central and south-central India (Naxalism) and the Seven Sister States. In August 2008, National Security Advisor M K Narayanan has said that there are as many as 800 terrorist cells operating in the country. As of 2013, 205 of the country’s 608 districts were affected by terrorist activity. Terror attacks caused 231 civilian deaths in 2012 in India, compared to 11,098 terror-caused deaths worldwide, according to the State Department of the United States; or about 2% of global terror fatalities while it accounts for 17.5% of global population.
Media reports have alleged and implicated terrorism in India to be sponsored by Pakistan, particularly through its Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI).. In July 2016, Government of India released data on a string of terror strikes in India since 2005 that claimed 707 lives and left over 3,200 injured.
The 8th report on terrorism in India published in 2008 defined terrorism as the peacetime equivalent of war crime. An act of terror in India includes any intentional act of violence that causes death, injury or property damage, induces fear, and is targeted against any group of people identified by their political, philosophical, ideological, racial, ethnic, religious or any other nature. This description is similar to one provided by the United Nations' in 2000.
Terrorism is an anxiety-inspiring method of repeated violent action, employed by (semi-) clandestine individual, group or state actors, for idiosyncratic, criminal or political reasons, whereby the direct targets of violence are not the main targets. The immediate human victims of violence are generally chosen randomly (targets of opportunity) or selectively (representative or symbolic targets) from a target population, and serve as message generators. Threat and violence-based communication processes between terrorist organisation, victims, and main targets are used to manipulate the main target (audience(s)), turning it into a target of terror, a target of demands, or a target of attention, depending on whether intimidation, coercion, or propaganda is primarily sought.— Alex Schmid and Albert Jongman
- Ethno-nationalist terrorism – This form of terror focuses either (a) on creating a separate State within India or independent of India or in a neighboring country, or (b) on emphasising the views/response of one ethnic group against another. Violent Tamil Nationalist groups from India to address the condition of Tamils in Sri Lanka, as well as insurgent tribal groups in North East India are examples of ethno-nationalist terrorist activities.
- Religious terrorism – This form of terror focuses on religious imperatives, a presumed duty or in solidarity for a specific religious group, against one or more religious groups. Mumbai 26/11 terror attack in 2008 from an Islamic group in Pakistan is an example of religious terrorism in India.
- Left-wing terrorism – This form of terror focuses on economic ideology, where all the existing socio-political structures are seen to be economically exploitative in character and a revolutionary change through violent means is essential. The ideology of Marx, Engel, Mao, Lenin and others are considered as the only valid economic path. Maoist violence in Jharkhand and Chhattisgarh are examples of left wing terrorism in India.
- Narcoterrorism – This form of terror focuses on creating illegal narcotics traffic zones. Drug violence in northwest India is an example of narco-terrorism in India.
Terror groups in India
SATP (South Asia Terrorism Portal) has listed 180 terrorist groups that have operated within India over the last 20 years, many of them co-listed as transnational terror networks operating in or from neighboring South Asian countries such as Bangladesh, Nepal and Pakistan. Of these, 38 are on the current list of terrorist organisations banned by India under its First Schedule of the UA(P) Act, 1967. As of 2012, many of these were also listed and banned by the United States and European Union.
Chronology of major incidents
Mumbai has been the most preferred target for most terrorist organisations, many operating with a base from Pakistan. Over the past few years there have been a series of attacks, including explosions in Mumbai Suburban trains in July 2006, and the most recent and unprecedented attacks of 26 November 2008, when two of the prime hotels, a landmark train station, and a Jewish Chabad house, in South Mumbai, were attacked and sieged.
- 12 March 1993 – 13 bombs killed 257
- 6 December 2002 – Bus bomb in Ghatkopar, killed 2
- 27 January 2003 – Bicycle bomb in Vile Parle, killed 1
- 13 March 2003 – Train bomb in Mulund, killed 10
- 28 July 2003 – Bus bomb in Ghatkopar, killed 4
- 25 August 2003 – Two Bombs near the Gateway of India and Zaveri Bazaar, killed 50
- 11 July 2006 – Seven train bombs killed 209
- 26 November 2008 to 29 November 2008 – Coordinated series of attacks, killed 172.
- 13 July 2011 – Bomb explosions at three locations, killed 26
Northern and Northwestern India
On 27 October 2013, seven crude bombs exploded in Bihar during an election rally. One was in the Patna Junction railway station, and another near a cinema hall. One person died and six were injured in these two blasts.
In July 2013, nine bombs exploded in a terror attack at the Bodh Gaya temple complex, a Buddhist shrine, where the Buddha himself is said to have gained enlightenment. In 2014, members of banned Indian Mujahideen and Students Islamic Movement of India were accused and arrested for the blasts.
In the 1980s, an insurgent movement turned to violence, seeking a separate state called Khalistan, independent of India. They were led by Jarnail Singh Bhindranwale who was neutral on the establishment of a new state.
In 1984, Operation Blue Star was conducted by the Indian government to confront the movement. It involved an assault on the Golden Temple complex, which Sant Bhindranwale had fortified 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. After a 74-hour firefight, the army successfully took control of the temple. In doing so, it damaged some portions of the Akal Takht, the Sikh Reference Library, and the Golden Temple itself. According to Indian government sources, 83 army personnel were killed and 249 were injured. Militant casualties were 493 killed and 86 injured.
During the 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.
The ending of Sikh militancy and the desire for a Khalistan catalysed when the then-Prime Minister of Pakistan, Benazir Bhutto, handed all intelligence material concerning Punjab militancy to the Indian government, as a goodwill gesture. The Indian government used that intelligence to arrest those who were behind attacks in India and militancy.
The ending of overt Sikh militancy in 1993 led to a period of relative calm, punctuated by militant acts (for example, 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.
2011 High court bombing
The 2011 Delhi bombing took place in the Indian capital Delhi on Wednesday, 7 September 2011 at 10:14 local time outside Gate No. 5 of the Delhi High Court, where a suspected briefcase bomb was planted. The blast killed 12 people and injured 76.
2007 Delhi security summit
The Delhi summit on security took place on 14 February 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.
2005 Delhi bombings
Three explosions went off in the Indian capital of New Delhi on 29 October 2005, 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 in 2005. It was followed by 5 bomb blasts on 13 September 2008.
2001 Attack on Indian parliament
Terrorists on 13 December 2001 attacked the Parliament of India, resulting in a 45-minute gun battle in which 9 policemen and parliament staff were killed. All five terrorists were also killed by the security forces and were identified as Pakistani nationals. The attack took place around 11:40 am (IST), minutes after both Houses of Parliament had adjourned for the day. The suspected terrorists dressed in commando fatigues entered Parliament in a car through the VIP gate of the building. Displaying Parliament and Home Ministry security stickers, the vehicle entered the Parliament premises. The terrorists set off massive blasts and used AK-47 rifles, explosives, and grenades for the attack. Senior Ministers and over 200 members of parliament were inside the Central Hall of Parliament when the attack took place. Security personnel sealed the entire premises, which saved many lives.
2010 Varanasi blasts
On 7 December 2010, another blast occurred in Varanasi, that killed immediately a toddler, and set off a stampede in which 20 people, including four foreigners, were injured. The responsibility for the attack was claimed by the Islamist militant group Indian Mujahideen.
2006 Varanasi blasts
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. On 5 April 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.
2005 Ayodhya attacks
The long simmering Ayodhya crisis finally culminated in a terrorist attack on the site of the 16th century Babri Masjid. The ancient Masjid in Ayodhya was demolished on 5 July 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.
Northeastern India consists of seven 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.
Northeastern regional tension has eased of late with Indian and state governments' concerted effort to raise the living standards of the people in these regions. However, militancy still exists in this region of India supported by external sources.
After the independence of India in 1947, the area remained a part of the province of Assam. Nationalist activities arose amongst a section of the Nagas. Phizo-led Naga National Council and demanded a political union of their ancestral and native groups. The movement led to a series of violent incidents, that damaged government and civil infrastructure, attacked government officials and civilians. The union government sent the Indian Army in 1955, to restore order. In 1957, an agreement was reached between Naga leaders and the Indian government, creating a single separate region of the Naga Hills. The Tuensang frontier were united with this single political region, Naga Hills Tuensang Area (NHTA), and it became a Union territory directly administered by the Central government with a large degree of autonomy. This was not satisfactory to the tribes, however, and agitation with violence increased across the state – including attacks on army and government institutions, banks, as well as non-payment of taxes. In July 1960, following discussion between the then Prime Minister Nehru and the leaders of the Naga People Convention (NPC), a 16-point agreement was arrived at whereby the Government of India recognised the formation of Nagaland as a full-fledged state within the Union of India.
Nagaland became the 16th state of the Indian Union on 1 December 1963. After elections in January 1964, the first democratically elected Nagaland Legislative Assembly was constituted on 11 February 1964. The rebel activity continued, in the form of banditry and attacks, motivated more by inter-factional tribal rivalry and personal vendetta than by political aspiration. In November 1975, the leaders of largest rebellion groups agreed to lay down their arms and accept the Indian constitution, a small group did not agree and continued their insurgent activity.
Over the 5-year period of 2009 to 2013, between 0 and 11 civilians died per year in Nagaland from rebellion related activity (or less than 1 death per year per 100,000 people), and between 3 and 55 militants deaths per year in inter-factional killings (or between 0 and 3 deaths per 100,000 people). The most recent Nagaland Legislative Assembly election took place on 23 February 2013 to elect the Members of the Legislative Assembly (MLA) from each of the 60 Assembly Constituencies in the state. The voter turnout was 83% and Nagaland People's Front was elected to power with 37 seats.
After Nagaland, Assam is the most volatile state in the region. Beginning in 1979, the indigenous people of Assam demanded that the illegal immigrants who had emigrated from Bangladesh to Assam be detected and deported. The movement led 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 led to widespread violence. The movement finally ended after the movement leaders signed an agreement (called the Assam Accord) with the central government on 15 August 1985.
Under the provisions of this accord, anyone who entered the state illegally between January 1966 and March 1971 was allowed to remain but was 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 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 organisations that advocate the independence of Assam. The most prominent of these is the United Liberation Front of Asom (ULFA). Formed in 1979, 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 non-combatants. 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 the 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. On 18 September 2005, a soldier was killed in Jiribam, Manipur, near the Manipur-Assam border, by members of the ULFA. On 14 March 2011, Bodo militants of the Ranjan Daimary-led faction ambushed patrolling troop of BSF when on way from Bangladoba in Chirang district of Assam to Ultapani in Kokrajhar killing 8 jawans.
On 5 August 2016, a terrorist attack was reported in the market area Balajan Tinali of the city of Kokrajhar that resulted in deaths of 14 civilians and injuries to 15 others. Three terrorists, suspected to be Bodo militants, were reported to have attacked using AK-47 and used a grenade. OP Singh. Director General of Police said in a press conference the terrorist from the Hizbul Mujahideen group arrested in the city of Kanpur was Qamar-uz-Zama.he is 37 years old and is a resident of Assam.
Like its sister states in Northeast, Manipur has experienced years of insurgency and inter-ethnic violence while it was part of Assam and sought more rights. The state joined India on 21 September 1949, when Maharaja Budhachandra signed a Treaty of Accession merging the kingdom into India; this merger was disputed by various groups in Manipur as having been completed without consensus and under duress. Manipur was part of Assam after 1949, became a Union Territory in 1956. The first armed opposition group in Manipur, the United National Liberation Front (UNLF), was founded in 1964, which declared that it wanted to gain more rights or outright independence from India. After several rounds of negotiations, Manipur became a full state in 1972 along with several other sister states of the Northeast. Post statehood, more groups continued to form in Manipur, each with different goals, and deriving support from diverse ethnic groups in Manipur. For example, in 1977 the People’s Revolutionary Party of Kangleipak (PREPAK) was formed, the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) was formed in 1978. In 1980, the Kangleipak Communist Party (KCP) was formed. These groups began a spree of bank robberies and attacks on police officers and government buildings. The state government appealed to the central government in New Delhi for support in combating this violence. In 1980, the central government brought the entire state of Manipur under the Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act (AFSPA) because its state government claimed that the use of the Armed Forces in aid of the state and local police is necessary to prevent violent deaths and to maintain law and order.
The violence in Manipur includes significant inter-ethnic tribal rivalry. There is violence between the Meiteis, Nagas, Kukis and other tribal groups. They have formed splinter groups who disagree with each other. Other than UNLF, PLA and PREPAK mentioned above, other Manipuri insurgent groups include Revolutionary Peoples Front (RPF), Manipur Liberation Front Army (MLFA), Kanglei Yawol Khnna Lup (KYKL), Revolutionary Joint Committee (RJC), Peoples United Liberation Front (PULF), Kuki National Front (KNF), Kuki National Army (KNA), Kuki Defence Force (KDF), Kuki Democratic Movement (KDM), Kuki National Organisation (KNO), Kuki Security Force (KSF), Chin Kuki Revolutionary Front (CKRF), Kom Rem Peoples Convention (KRPC), Zomi Revolutionary Volunteers (ZRV), Zomi Revolutionary Army (ZRA), Zomi Reunification Organisation (ZRO), and Hmar Peoples Convention (HPC).
According to SATP (the South Asia Terrorism Portal), there has been a large decline in fatalities in Manipur in recent decades. Since 2010, about 25 civilians have died in militants-related violence (about 1 per 100,000 people), dropping further to 21 civilian deaths in 2013 (or 0.8 per 100,000 people). Most of these deaths have been from inter-factional violence. Elections have been held regularly over recent decades. The last state assembly elections were held in 2012, with 79.2% voter turnout and the incumbent re-elected to power.
In 1947, Mizoram was part of Assam, and its districts were controlled by hereditary tribal chiefs. The educated elites among the Mizos campaigned against the tribal chiefdom under the banner of Mizo Union. As a result of their campaign, the hereditary rights of the 259 chiefs were abolished under the Assam-Lushai District (Acquisition of Chief's Rights) Act, 1954. Village courts, which used to exist prior to British colonial re-structuring of Assam, were re-implemented in Mizo region. All of these regions were frustrated by these arrangements and centralized Assam governance. The Mizos were particularly dissatisfied with the government's inadequate response to the 1959–60 mautam famine. The Mizo National Famine Front, a body formed for famine relief in 1959, later developed into a new political organisation, the Mizo National Front (MNF) in 1961. A period of protests and armed insurgency followed in the 1960s, with MNF seeking independence from India.
In 1971, the government agreed to convert the Mizo Hills into a Union Territory, which came into being as Mizoram in 1972. Following the Mizoram Peace Accord (1986) between the Government and the MNF, Mizoram was declared a full-fledged state of India in 1987. Mizoram got two seats in the Parliament, one each in the Lok Sabha and in the Rajya Sabha. Per the accord, insurgents surrendered their arms. The first election of Mizoram Legislative Assembly was held on 16 February 1987. Elections have been held at 5 year intervals since then. The most recent Mizoram elections were held for 40 seats of legislative assembly on 25 November 2013. The voter turnout was 81%. The Indian National Congress led by Lal Thanhawla was re-elected to power. The region has been peaceful in recent decades. Between 2006 and 2013, between 0 and 2 civilians have died each year from any protest-related violence (or less than 0.2 people per 100,000).
2008 Bangalore serial blasts occurred on 25 July 2008 in Bangalore, India. A series of nine bombs exploded in which two people were killed and 20 injured. According to the Bangalore City Police, the blasts were caused by low-intensity crude bombs triggered by timers.
2010 Bangalore stadium bombing occurred on 17 April 2010 in M. Chinnaswamy Stadium, Bangalore, India. Two bombs exploded in a heavily packed Cricket stadium in which fifteen people were injured. A third bomb was found and defused outside the stadium.
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 (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 Odisha and Bihar. Unlike the Kashmiri insurgents and ULFA, PWG is a Maoist terrorist organisation and communism is one of its primary goals.
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, and other influential institutions in the name of the communism. 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 militants 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.
25 August 2007 Hyderabad bombings, two bombs exploded almost simultaneously on 25 August 2007 in Hyderabad, capital of the Indian state of Andhra Pradesh. The first bomb exploded in Lumbini Amusement Park at 19:45 hrs IST. The second bomb exploded five minutes later at 19:50 in Gokul Chat Bhandar.
The Mecca Masjid bombing occurred on 18 May 2007 inside the Mecca Masjid, (or "Makkah Masjid") a mosque the old city area in Hyderabad, capital of the Indian state of Telangana (then undivided Andhra Pradesh) located very close to Charminar. The blast was caused by a cellphone-triggered pipe bomb. Fourteen people were reported dead in the immediate aftermath, of whom five(official record:disputed) were killed by the police firing after the incident while trying to quell the mob.
The most recent 2013 Hyderabad blasts occurred around 19:00 IST. The two blasts occurred in the Indian city of Hyderabad's Dilsukhnagar. The simultaneous blasts occurred near a bus stop and a cinema.
Tamil Nadu had LTTE (Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam) militants operating in the Tamil Nadu state up until the assassination of former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi. LTTE had given many speeches in Tamil Nadu led by Velupillai Prabhakaran, Tamilselvan, and other Eelam members. The Tamil Tigers, now a banned organisation, had been receiving many donations and support from India in the past. The Tamil Nadu Liberation Army is a militant Tamil movement in India that has ties to LTTE.
Meenambakkam bomb blast
Meenambakkam bomb blast was an explosion that occurred on 2 August 1984 at Meenambakkam International Airport at Chennai, Tamil Nadu. 33 persons were killed and 27 others were injured. The Tamil Eelam Army was suspected. Several members were convicted in 1998.
1998 Coimbatore bombings
Tamil Nadu also faced terrorist attacks orchestrated by Muslim fundamentalists. For more information, see 1998 Coimbatore bombings.
In popular culture
Terrorism has also been depicted in various Indian films, prominent among them being Mani Ratnam's Roja (1992) and Dil Se.. (1998), Govind Nihlani's Drohkaal (1994), Santosh Sivan's The Terrorist (1999), Anurag Kashyap's Black Friday (2004) on the 1993 Bombay bombings, Fanaa (2006), and recently Sikandar (2009) on Terrorism in Kashmir. Raj Kumar Gupta's Aamir (2008) and Amal Neerad's Anwar (2010) are other examples.
- Bombay Blasts
- Communalism (South Asia)
- Saffron Terror
- India and state-sponsored terrorism
- List of films about terrorism in India
- List of terrorist organisations in India
- List of massacres in India
- Operation Blue Star
- Pakistan and state-sponsored terrorism
- Insurgency in Jammu and Kashmir
- Sikh Extremism
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- Islam, Women, and the Violence in Kashmir between India and Pakistan
- Scholars respond to the attacks in Mumbai
- Inside a jihadi training camp in Azad Kashmir, Radio France Internatioinale in English
- Dossier on the Mumbai attacks by Radio France Internationale's English-language service[permanent dead link]
- South Asia Terrorism Portal
- Why has “ISIS” so far Failed in India?, OxPol - The Oxford University Politics Blog, University of Oxford