History of terrorism in India
The hand of Pakistan in fuelling the jihad in Kashmir to create an environment of either Azadi (freedom) or joining Pakistan is evident.
During the Afghan jihad in the 1980s against the Soviet Union, Pakistan trained 80, 000 Mujahideen in training camps established in Pakistan.
Once the Afghan jihad was over with the end of the cold war and Soviet withdrawal, Pakistan turned its attention on India. At that time, Kashmir was going through a tumultuous phase in the 1980s. There were accusations that the 1987 state elections which witnessed the victory of the Congress-National Conference were rigged. Losing candidates were declared winners. Protests against these elections grew violent in 1988. These rigged elections provided the fuel to the losing parties like the Jamaat-e-Islami, the People’s Conference and the Ittihad-ul-Muslimeen to become part of the main separatist alliance, the All Party Hurriyat Conference.
Kashmiri leaders like Yasin Malik of the Jammu and Kashmir Liberation Front (JKLF) also took to violence during that period (he renounced violent means in 1994)
Terrorism in Kashmir exists due to the ability of outfits like LeT and HuM to operate from Pakistan. The hand of Pakistan in fuelling home grown terror groups like Indian Mujahideen (IM) is also suspected especially through the LeT proxy. It was the IM that claimed responsibility for most of the terror attacks on Indian cities in 2008. The year 2008 also witnessed multiple bomb blasts in Assam in October of that year and the 26/11 terror attacks.
The terror bombings were also meant to indicate the inability of the security agencies to thwart such terrorist activities. RDX and ammonium nitrate were used during the blasts. This aspect indicated that the terror outfit’s objective was to engineer heavy civilian casualty.
Earlier terror attacks had involved simultaneous bomb blasts in crowded market places and official complexes. In Mumbai, the seizure of its five star hotels and Nariman house and attacks on its main railway station by the terrorists involved a direct engagement by the terrorists with the security forces.
The terror cell mostly used the GPS to reach Mumbai through the sea on November 26. (They can use it again in future- Pathankot airbase attack is an example)
The terror bombings in India were either for “territorial change” or “social control”. The LeT’s involvement in the Mumbai blasts was motivated by its goal of territorial change in Kashmir by incorporating it with Pakistan. SIMI and the Indian Mujahideen were more geared towards social control as they wanted to strengthen their own status amongst their present recruits as well as the target population.
It can be predicted based on the patterns of the earlier attacks that the terrorists will target urban centres like New Delhi, Ahmedabad, Lucknow or Raipur in the near future, given the wide coverage it receives and the state reaction it effectuates.
Industrial and upcoming areas like Bangalore, Jamshedpur and Chennai also face terror threat.
Changing face of Terrorism
India has been a victim of terrorism and insurgency since Independence.
In the late 1980s, Kashmir, one of the most strategic states in India and sharing land borders with Pakistan, witnessed the rise of terrorism with visible support from Pakistan. Without the external hand, which includes base areas to terror groups, arms supply, financial help and training terror recruits in Pakistan, the Kashmiri terrorist groups could not have sustained themselves for so long.
Since 1993, a new trend of terrorism emerged which was not territorially bound as those in the Northeast or Kashmir. This distinctive wave of terrorism targeted Indian cities with the political goal of discrediting India’s economic growth by creating disorder.
This urban terrorism is a growing threat and needs special emphasis since India’s urban population will grow over the years with massive migration from rural to urban areas in search of better livelihood. This will make it the target of terror groups whose aim is to promote disorder in Indian cities to project the image of instability and lawlessness to the outside world utilizing instant media and the internet.
A recent phenomenon is the mushrooming of pan-Islamist militant outfits with links to radical organisations in Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Sudan and some other West Asian countries.
Fired with religious zeal, a large number of the so-called “jihadis” have already entered into the bordering States and are in the process of penetrating deeper inside the country.
These bands of religious fanatics are indulging in subversive activities and have expansionist designs. They will work relentlessly for the breakup of the Indian Union.
While there could be several antecedent causes of terrorism, some of the most significant ones are a perceived sense of injustice by the aggrieved group, and a belief by that group that the use of violence will bring about a change. Thereby, most terrorist groups use their political ends for justifying violent means.
Weak actors like terrorists therefore establish their “terrible” credibility by public display of violence.