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Sunday, July 14, 2024

Terrorism in India

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Bharathi Pradeep
Bharathi Pradeep
Editor at Bharathi covers topics on Competitive exams, How To guides, Current exams, Current Affairs, Study Materials, etc. Follow her on social media using the links below.

Terrorism as an offence does not figure in the Indian Penal Code of 1860 as amended from time to time. In India, the first special law which attempted to define terrorism was the Terrorist and Disruptive Activities (Prevention) Act, of 1987, which was followed by the Prevention of Terrorism Act, of 2002 (POTA). With the repeal of the latter in 2004, the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, of 1967 was amended to include the definition of a ‘terrorist act’. Terrorism in India can be studied under various heads:

Jammu and Kashmir Militancy

The roots of insurgency in Jammu & Kashmir (J&K) can be traced to the later part of the 1940s when Pakistan attacked India with a view to capturing Jammu & Kashmir. Ever since there has been a section of the population which beliefs in secession from India. These groups aided and abetted from across the border have often indulged in insurgent activities. Following the 1971 India-Pakistan war, there was a lull in secessionist activities.

However, the eighties witnessed large-scale infiltration across the border and a sudden increase in the insurgency. Innocent persons were targeted and forced to flee from the State. The decade of the 1990s saw the large-scale deployment of security forces in the State.

The rise of Islamist fundamentalism and emergence of Al-Qaeda has added another dimension to the insurgency in Jammu & Kashmir.

The Pakistan-based terrorist organisation called Laskar-e-Taiba (LeT) is supposed to be inspired from the philosophy and outlook of Al-Qaeda. Other affiliates of Al-Qaeda which continue to pose a serious threat to peace and security in India are the Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM), HUM, HUJI and Al-Badr.

The trends of terrorist violence in J&K during the last few years and current year are shown in the table given below.

YearIncidentsSecurity ForcesCiviliansTerrorists

Steps taken by Government

The ongoing militancy in the State of Jammu and Kashmir is intrinsically linked with the infiltration of terrorists from across the border. There has been a spurt in infiltration attempts during the year 2016 from the Pakistan side. Government endeavour to handle the insurgency includes:

  • Proactively take suitable measures by all the security forces to safeguard the borders from cross-border terrorism and to contain militancy:
  • To ensure that the democratic process is sustained and the primacy of civil administration restored to effectively tackle the socio-economic problems facing the people on account of the effects of prolonged militancy in the State;
  • To ensure a sustained peace process and to provide adequate opportunities to all sections of people in the State who eschew violence to effectively represent their viewpoints and to redress their genuine grievances.
  • Visit of All Party Delegation (APD) to initiate the “Dialogue process”: The members of the APD expressed the opinion that there was no place for violence in a civilized society and there can be no compromise on the issue of National Security. This became necessary because of increasing unrest amongst youth and increasing clashes between youth and security forces which resulted in events of stone pelting.
  • Special Industry Initiative (Sll J&K) ‘UDAAN’: The Scheme is being implemented by the National Skill Development Corporation (NSDC) in Public Private Partnership (PPP) mode. The Programme aims to provide skill training and enhance the employability of unemployed youths of J&K who are graduates, post-graduates or three-year engineering diploma holders.
  • Relief and Rehabilitation of Kashmiri Migrants: Due to the onset of militancy in the State of Jammu and Kashmir (J&K) in the early 1990s, most of the Kashmiri Pandit families along with some Sikh and Muslim families migrated from the Kashmir Valley to Jammu, Delhi and other parts of the country. A variety of measures have been taken over the years by the Government by way of financial assistance/ relief and other initiatives to provide succour and support to the affected families, within a broad policy framework that those who have migrated will eventually return to the Valley.
  • People-to-People contact across LOC (Confidence Building Measures): This includes Travel and trade across LOC between J&K and Pakistan-Occupied Kashmir (PoK).
  • Prime Minister Development Package for J&K – 2015: Hon’ble Prime Minister announced a package of ₹ 80,000 crores towards Special Assistance to J&K for the development of Infrastructure.
  • Burhan Wani and After: From the security establishment to separatists, the government to the police, all have been caught unaware by the scale and tenor of the protests on the streets after the killing of Hizbul Mujahideen commander Burhan Wani. This is arguably the first time that the protesters aren’t protesting against anything specific. The incidences of stone pelting have been sporadic in nature and have led to widespread alienation. Security Forces have been at the receiving end.
  • Biggest Combing Operation in 15 years conducted in South Kashmir: The purpose of the operation is to exert pressure on militants and force them to move out of their comfort zone by conducting house to house searches, searches in apple orchards etc.
  • Indian Reserve Police: The Central Government has decided to raise five Indian Reserve Police (IRP) battalions in Jammu and Kashmir (J&K) with an aim to provide jobs to local youths. These battalions will have 60% reservation to people from border areas of J&K.
  • Saathi: Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) has launched Saathi, a mobile help centre to reach out to people undertaking an annual pilgrimage to Amarnath shrine.

Insurgency in North-Eastern States

The North Eastern Region comprises eight States viz. Arunachal Pradesh, Assam, Manipur, Meghalaya, Mizoram, Nagaland, Sikkim and Tripura. The region is culturally and ethnically diverse having more than 200 ethnic groups which have distinct languages, dialects and sociocultural identities. Almost all of its borders of about 5,182 km is an international border.

The States in India’s North-East region have a long history of conflict and violence among the tribal groups within the same State, and also of neighbouring States. A major part of the geographical area of this region was initially within the ambit of the State of Assam but the manifestation of ethnonationalism quite often expressed through violence, led to the formation of some of the present States through various stages of evolution during the post-Independence period.

Groups involved in Insurgency in North East

List of Insurgent/Extremist Groups of North Eastern States Declared as “Unlawful Associations” and “Terrorist Organizations” Under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, of 1967

AssamUnited Liberation Front of Assam (ULFA), National Democratic Front of Bodoland (NDFB)
ManipurPeople’s Liberation Army(PLA), United National Liberation Front(UNLF), Manipur Peoples’ Liberation Front (MPLF)
MeghalayaGaro National Liberation Army (GNLA)
TripuraAll Tripura Tiger Force (ATTF)
NagalandThe National Socialist Council of Nagaland (Khaplang) [NSCN(K)]

Reasons for Insurgency in North East

  • Ethno-Nationalism and lack of integration with Nationalistic aspirations. This was primarily because of the British policy of isolation of these states from the mainstream Nationalist movement.
  • Demands for autonomy viz.: Mizo movement, Naga movement etc.
  • Change in Demography due to immigration from neighbouring countries and the resistance from the natives, viz. migration after Bangladesh Liberation War.
  • Existence of militant groups. Example, NSCN-K ULFA etc.
  • Alienation of Tribal people due to intrusion by outsiders.
  • Porous borders pass through the difficult terrain of forests, rivers and mountains.
  • Existence of terrorist camps across the border in Myanmar. The recent instance of “Hot Pursuit” by the Armed Forces is a case in point.

While the States of Sikkim, Mizoram and Tripura had no insurgency-related violence in 2017, there was a considerable decline in incidents in Meghalaya (59%) and Nagaland (67%) compared to 2016.

In 2017, the State of Manipur accounted for about 54% of total violent incidents in the region and the State of Arunachal Pradesh experienced an increase in violent activities by 22%, primarily on account of violence by NSCN(K).

Steps were taken by Government

  • Policy for talks/negotiation with such groups which categorically abjure violence lay down arms and seek solutions for their problems peacefully within the framework of the Constitution of India.
  • Those who are not in talks are being dealt with by the Central Armed Police Forces, Armed Forces and the State Police through Counter-Insurgency Operations.
  • Law and order is a state subject. Thus, Central Government is supplementing the states’ efforts for curbing the illegal and unlawful activities of militant/ insurgent groups of North East. These include the deployment of Central Armed Police Forces and central assistance to the State Governments for the modernization of State Police Forces.
  • The entire State of Manipur (except Imphal Municipal area), Nagaland and Assam are under Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA).
  • Central Government has deployed Central Armed Police Forces (CAPFs) to aid the State authorities in carrying out counter-insurgency operations.
  • Major Schemes Administered by North East Division:
    • (i) Scheme for Surrender-cum Rehabilitation of militants in North East. The Ministry of Home Affairs has been implementing a scheme for Surrender-cum Rehabilitation of militants in the North East with effect from 01.01.1998 (revised on 01.04.2005) to wean away the misguided youth and hard-core militants.
    • (ii) Civic Action Programme in North East. In order to take the local populace in confidence and boost the image of the armed forces among the common people, the Army and Central Paramilitary Forces conduct Civic Action Programme. Under this Programme, various welfare/ developmental activities are undertaken.
    • (iii) Advertisement and Publicity. Under this scheme, various initiatives are undertaken including the visits of youths of NE States to the rest of India and vice-versa under the aegis of Nehru Yuvak Kendra Sangathan (NYKS), journalist visits to the North-East States, broadcast of radio on North-East themes etc.
    • (iv) Repatriation of Bru Migrants.
  • Government Naga Peace Accord: The Naga Peace Accord, a framework agreement as it has been termed, was signed between the National Socialist Council of Nagalim-Isak-Muivah (NSCN-IM) and the Government of India on August 2015.
  • Significance:
    • (i) It shows the flexibility and realism of the NSCN (IM) in terms of the willingness to alter goals, from complete sovereignty and Greater Nagalim to acceptance of the constitutional framework albeit with a provision for the grant of greater autonomy to Naga-inhabited areas outside of Nagaland through the establishment of autonomous district councils.
    • (ii) The signing of the accord at this moment in time discloses that the platform of social support for the NSCN (IM) comprising of Naga civil society groups is insistent on a peaceful path to conflict resolution.
    • (iii) For the Indian government, it results in recognizing the Naga’s “unique” history and culture within the territorial and sovereign framework of the Constitution.

Left-Wing Extremism (LWE)

Left-wing extremists in India, as elsewhere, are known for resorting to violence in pursuance of their ideology of people’s revolutionary movement. In West Bengal, this movement was started in 1967 by Naxalbari. The movement spread beyond west Bengal and came to be known as the Maoist movement in 2004 after the merger of various splinter groups into CPI (Maoist).

Affected Areas

The Naxalites operate in what is known as the “Red Corridor” spread across 106 districts across 10 states in India, mainly in the states of Odisha, Jharkhand, Bihar, Andhra Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra and West Bengal (as per Ministry of Home Affairs Annual Report 2017-18)

Current Scenario

The decrease in instances of LWE activities started in 2011 and has continued to date. The last two and a half years have seen an unprecedented improvement in the LWE scenario across the country. There has been an overall 20% reduction in violent incidents (1136 to 908) and a 33.8% reduction (397 to 263) in LWE-related deaths in 2017 as compared to 2013. The figures are a reflection of the operations undertaken by security forces and the efforts of the government in the form of developmental activities. Compared to 2013, there has been an increase of 411% (282 to 1442) in surrenders by LWE cadres in 2016. (Annual Report Ministry of Home Affairs 2016-2017.

Government’s Approach and Action Plan

The Government of India has adopted an integrated and holistic approach to deal with the Left Wing Extremist (LWE) insurgency by simultaneously addressing the areas of security, development and promoting good governance. To achieve this, a National Policy and Action Plan has been put in place that adopts a multipronged strategy in the areas of security, development, ensuring rights and entitlements of other Traditional Dwellers/Tribals etc with focused attention on 106 Districts in 10 States and particularly in 35 most affected LWE districts in seven States.

Specific Measures were taken by Central Government

‘Police’ and ‘public order’ are state subjects. The Central Government, however, closely monitors the situation and coordinates and supplements its efforts in several ways to deal with the LWE problem.

  • Ban on CPI(Maoist): This organisation is responsible for most incidents of violence/casualties and was banned under UAPA in 2009.
  • Strengthening the Intelligence Mechanism: This includes intelligence sharing through Multi-Agency Centre (MAC) at the Central level and State Multi Agency Centre (SMAC) at the State level on a 24×7 basis.
  • Better Inter-State coordination: The menace of Maoists is spread across various states. Thus, the Government of India has taken a number of steps to improve Inter State coordination through periodic Inter-State meetings and also facilitating interactions between the bordering districts of LWE-affected States.
  • Tackling the problem of Improvised Explosive Devices (lEDs): The majority of casualties incurred by the Security forces are attributable to lEDs. The Ministry of Home Affairs has formulated a Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) on ‘Issues related to Explosives/IEDs/Landmines in Naxal Affected Areas’ and circulated it to all stakeholders concerned for compliance.
  • Deployment of the Central Armed Police Forces.
  • India reserve (IR)/Specialised India Reserve Battalion (SIRB): The Left Wing Extremism affected states have been sanctioned India Reserve (IR) battalions mainly to strengthen security apparatus at their level and also to enable the States to provide gainful employment to youth, particularly in the LWE affected areas.

Development Related Measures

Monitoring and implementation of Flagship Programmes:

  • Pradhan Mantri Gram Sadak Yojana (PMGSY)
  • National Rural Health Mission (NRHM)
  • Ashram School
  • Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MGNREGA)
  • Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan (SSA)
  • National Rural Drinking Water Programme (NRDWP)
  • Pradhan Mantri Kaushal VikasYojana (PMKVY)
  • Deen Dayal Upadhyay Graham Jyoti Yojana (DDUGJY)
  • Integrated Child Development Services (ICDS)
  • Scheduled Tribes and Other Traditional Forest Dwellers (Recognition of Forest Right) Act, 2006.
  • Health and Wellness Centre
  • Aspirational District Programme

Other Measures

  • Effective Implementation of the Provisions of the Panchayats (Extension to the Scheduled Areas) Act,1996 (PESA) and the Scheduled Tribes and Other Traditional Forest Dwellers (Recognition of Forest Right) Act, 2006.
  • Road Connectivity Project for LWE Affected Areas: The Government approved a Centrally Sponsored Scheme on 28.12.2016 namely “Road Connectivity Project for Left Wing Extremism (LWE) Affected Areas” to improve the rural road connectivity in the worst LWE affected districts from a security angle.
  • LWE Mobile Tower Project: To address connectivity issues in LWE.
  • Civic Action Programme (CAP): Financial grants are allocated to the Central Armed Police Forces (CAPF) to undertake various Civic Action Programmes in the LWE-affected areas.
  • Surrender and Rehabilitation Policy: The rehabilitation package includes an immediate grant of ^ 2.5 lahks for higher ranked LWE cadres and ₹ 1.5 lahks for middle/lower rank LWE cadres to be kept in their names as a Fixed deposit which may be withdrawn after completion of 3 years subject to good behaviour. They have also imparted training in a trade/vocation of their liking and paid a monthly stipend of ^ 4000 for three years.
  • SAMADHAN Strategy: The solution to the LWE problem is not possible with any silver bullet. For this short term, medium term and long term policies need to be formulated at different levels. Thus ‘SAMADHAN’ stands for:
    • S – Smart Leadership
    • A – Aggressive Strategy
    • M – Motivation and Training
    • A – Actionable Intelligence
    • D – Dashboard-Based KPIs (Key Performance
    • Indicators) and KRAs (Key Result Areas)
    • H- Harnessing Technology
    • A – An action plan for each theatre
    • N- No access to Financing


  • It is the belief of the Government of India that through a combination of development and security-related interventions, the LWE problem can be successfully tackled. However, the violence by Maoists is the biggest hurdle in achieving the desired goals. Thus, civil society and the media should build pressure on the Maoists to eschew violence, join the mainstream and recognise the fact that the socio-economic and political dynamics and aspirations of 21st Century India are far removed from the Maoist worldview.

Terrorism in Hinterland

  • The terrorism taking place in any city or town deep inside the country is called hinterland terrorism. This was primarily started by Pakistan after its defeat in the 1971 war. It started waging a proxy war against India by targeting major cities. This strategy was also used by Khalistan terrorists following the insurgency in Punjab. Some instances of this kind of terrorism include the 1993 Bombay blasts, the 2001 Parliament attack, 2016 Pathankot attack.

Current Scenario

  • In the wake of India’s surgical strikes in PoK, following the Uri terror attack, Pakistan-backed terror outfits may target the interiors of the country as part of its counterstrike strategy, the intelligence agencies have warned. This suggests a change in strategy by Pakistan, which may encourage Jihadi groups to carry out attacks in the hinterland of India. It will not carry out attacks at LoC or border areas but in the hinterland so that it is not directly blamed or identified.

Effects of Terrorism


  • Disruption of Economic Activities: A primary impact of terrorism is that it leads to disruption of economic activities in short term as well as the long term. Terrorism, conflict and instability in Jammu and Kashmir have been major obstructions to its development and progress levels. The industrial sector is way behind compared to other states. Moody suggests that terrorist incidents can have long-lasting negative impacts on India’s economy.
  • Damages to Property: The 9/11 attacks are a perfect example of the loss of lives and property due to terrorism. The twin towers were reduced to rubble. Blasts in populated cities like Delhi and Mumbai have led to serious losses of lives and property.
  • Higher Expenditure on Defence and Police: Incidences of terrorism lead to a huge burden on the exchequer as it results in heavy expenditure on the defence budget. According to World Economic Forum, India’s defence budget is the 5th largest in the world. India was the world’s largest importer of major arms between 2012-16, accounting for 13 per cent of the global total sales, according to the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI). This shows that terrorism leads to the diversion of funds which can be utilised for developmental activities and social welfare.
  • Increased Uncertainty in the Markets: Shares in Mumbai opened 1.5% lower and threatened to fall
    rapidly on the first day of trading after the 26/11 attacks in India’s commercial capital. This shows that markets rally downward when terrorist incidences occur.
  • The decline in Investments: Businesses generally avoid investing in countries affected by terrorism. However, Investments depend on several other factors as well. For example, Pakistan is receiving huge sums of investment from China as a result of the CPEC (China-Pakistan Economic Corridor) even when it is suffering from terrorism.


  • Terrorist attacks have a long-lasting impact on the people affected. Many experience transient reactions, such as Acute Stress Disorder (ASD) and bereavement. In some cases, more serious conditions such as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) or depression develop.


  • Non-engagement of Youth in Politics: For Example, – youth in Kashmir are misled by propaganda from terror organisations like LeT etc. The youth are attracted towards militant organisations and become sceptical of the political process. The killing of young Burhan Wani is a testimony to this fact.
  • The credibility of Elected Representatives is Questioned: Srinagar Lok Sabha by-polls of 2017 witnessed the lowest-ever turnout of 7.14%. In such a scenario the winner cannot claim to be the true representative of the population of his constituency.


  • Erosion of Faith in Government: In Kashmir, the belief of people in the government has decreased considerably. This is testified by the incidences of stone pelting across the valley.
  • Deterioration of Law and Order: The law and order situation also deteriorates as a result of terrorism. This is further exaggerated when the terrorists have support from the local populace. In Kashmir valley, attacks on police and security forces have increased considerably. The same is the situation in left-wing extremism-affected areas viz. Sukma attack on CRPF personnel.


  • The disintegration of Society: For example, the Tribal way of life is deeply disturbed as a result of left-wing extremism. Tribals are often harassed by Maoists and at times by police. The exodus of Kashmiri Pandits due to insurgency in the 1990s is another example.
  • The atmosphere of fear, suspicion and panic.
  • The uncertainty damages the social fabric.

Preparedness Against Terrorism

  • Intelligence Gathering
    • It is the foremost step in terror preparedness. This includes gathering crucial information from ground level and at the same time collating that information in a manner such that it is easily accessible to the agencies involved. The role of intelligence agencies here is of utmost importance. Thus, NATGRID established post 26/11 is key to the analysis of intelligence inputs.
  • Training
    • Training of the security forces involved in counter-terrorism activities is also of grave importance. Thus, Counter Insurgency and Anti-terrorist Schools (ClATs) have been established to achieve this goal.
  • Mock Security Drills
    • Mock drills should be conducted in areas vulnerable to terror attacks so that loss of lives in such attacks can be minimised.
  • Securing Key Installations
    • Securing key installations like army bases, buildings of National importance, and police stations should be ensured. Recently, terrorists have been targeting army bases viz. Pathankot attack, Uri attack etc.
  • Counter Terrorism Operations
    • Such operations are undertaken when a terrorist attack takes place. NSG has played a key role in counter-terror operations. However, questions have been raised on the procedure of operations as followed in the Pathankot attack. Thus, standard operating procedures should be established for such incidences.
  • Investigations
    • The national investigation agency (NIA) is the key organisation for the investigation of all such cases. Thus, this body needs to be further strengthened to improve prosecution and conviction.
  • Prosecution
    • The prosecution should be speedy and accurate. However, at times false cases are registered against innocents due to pressure on investigating agencies. This should be effectively checked.
  • Convictions
    • Only through a speedy and high conviction rate deterrence can be created.

Strategy to Counter Terrorism

A multi-pronged approach is needed to handle the menace of terrorism. It needs to be clearly understood that socioeconomic development and providing a secure environment have to go hand-in-hand as one cannot survive without the other. In this context, socioeconomic development is a priority so that vulnerable sections of society do not fall prey to the propaganda of terrorists promising them wealth and equity, and the administration, particularly the service delivery mechanisms needs to be responsive to the legitimate and long-standing grievances of people so that these are redressed promptly and cannot be exploited by terrorist groups. Strong measures are required to deal with criminal elements but with respect for human rights.

Political Consensus

  • Political parties must arrive at a national consensus on the need for the broad contours of such a planned strategy. Based on this national strategy, each of the States and Union Territories should draw up its respective regional strategies, along with the required tactical components for the implementation of the strategy.

Good Governance and Socio-Economic Development

  • This would necessitate high priority being given to development work and its actual implementation on the ground for which a clean, corruption-free and accountable administration at all levels is an imperative necessity.

Respect for the Rule of Law

  • Governmental agencies must not be allowed to transgress the law even in dealing with critical situations caused by insurgency or terrorism. If an extraordinary situation cannot be dealt with by the existing laws, new laws may be enacted so that law enforcement agencies are not provoked or tempted to resort to extra-legal or illegal methods. Police and all other governmental forces must adhere to some basic codes of conduct. This will help in checking the alienation of people.

Countering Subversive Activities of Terrorists

  • Government must give priority to defeating political subversions/propaganda (e.g. by terrorists and Maoists). Psychological ‘warfare’ or management of information services and the media, in conjunction with the intelligence wing of the police, can play an important role in achieving this objective.

Providing Appropriate Legal Framework

  • Terrorism is an extraordinary crime. The ordinary laws of the land may not be adequate to book a terrorist. This may require special laws and effective enforcement mechanisms, but with sufficient safeguards to prevent its misuse.

Capacity Building

  • The capacity-building exercise should extend to the intelligence-gathering machinery, security agencies, civil administration and society at large. As was highlighted in the Report on Crisis Management (Third Report of Second ARC, 2006), the strategy should encompass preventive, mitigation, relief and rehabilitative measures.

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Bharathi Pradeep
Bharathi Pradeep
Editor at Bharathi covers topics on Competitive exams, How To guides, Current exams, Current Affairs, Study Materials, etc. Follow her on social media using the links below.

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