- On February 13, Suicide bomber targets security convoy in Kabul. At least 12 killed, six wounded in a Taliban ambush that hit a convoy of security personnel in Kabul.
- On February 14, 40 CRPF personnel were killed in Pulwama in Jammu and Kashmir when a convoy in which they were travelling was attacked by a Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM) suicide bomber, who rammed his explosives-laden vehicle into one of the convoy’s buses on the Srinagar-Jammu highway.
- On March 15, as many as 49 people were killed and many injured in shooting in two mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand. Gunmen live-streamed the shooting in social media.
Terrorism in India: Terrorism in India can be classified into 4 categories:
Jammu and Kashmir militancy: After losing the initial battle in 1947 and later the wars of 1965 and 1971, Pakistan resorted to the tactics of low intensity warfare as it realised that it could not win over India in a full scale direct war. It is actively supporting separatists and militant insurgency in Kashmir Valley since late eighties.
Insurgency in North-East: There are more than 100 tribal groups in the entire north-east region. The policies of Britishers resulted in their isolation from the rest of India. Currently there are a number of militant outfits having diverse demands- checking illegal immigration from Bangladesh, separate statehood, secession.
Left Wing extremism (Naxalism): Originated from Naxalbari village in Darjeeling district of West Bengal. It has spread to Bihar, Odisha, Andhra Pradesh and Chhattisgarh. It aims to capture political power through armed struggle to install the so called people’s government.
Hinterland terrorism: The terrorist activities that have been taking place all across India. Examples: Militancy in Punjab in eighties, 1993 Bombay serial blasts, Parliament attack (New Delhi) in 2001, Akshardham Temple (Gujarat) attack in 2002, Mumbai Attacks in 2008, Pathankot attack (Punjab) in 2016.
Reasons for spread of terrorism:
- Indoctrination: The religious belief has become a key means of indoctrinating and training would-be terrorists. Extremists use websites and social media to recruit and radicalise individuals through videos and propaganda. Suicide terrorism, self-sacrifice, or martyrdom has been organized and perpetrated by groups with religious motivations.
- Technology: Sophisticated means of communication- electronic media, print media, social media, and internet helps in faster promotion of terrorist ideology and hate campaign across international borders. Websites and social media messages are used to provide advice and instructions on how to plan and prepare for attacks, acting as a "virtual training camp" or ideas forum. Other technologies available to conduct acts of terror are mobile phones, satellite phones and GPS systems.
- Feeling of alienation and deprivation among the local people, violation of human rights, abuse of dignity of life, disconnect with mainstream communities, discontent against government.
- Porosity of border with neighbouring countries- Bangladesh, Myanmar, Bhutan, Nepal. Some of it is due to difficult terrain and some are due to bilateral arrangements between the governments.
- Evasion of land ceiling laws, non-regularization of traditional land rights, land acquisition without appropriate compensation and rehabilitation, disruption of age old tribal-forest relationship.
- Links between terrorism and organised crime to earn easy money. Easy availability of arms and ammunition.
- Developmental deficit: Unemployed and poor youths with high aspiration become the victim of trap set by the terrorist groups who lure them with short term gains of money, food, clothes, shelter and in return ask them to execute terrorist acts like- suicide car bombing.
Institutional framework to tackle terrorism:
- National Investigation Agency (NIA) is a central agency established by Government to combat terror in India. It acts as the Central Counter Terrorism Law Enforcement Agency. The agency is empowered to deal with terror related crimes across states without special permission from the states. It came into existence with the enactment of the National Investigation Agency Act 2008 by the Parliament of India on 31 December 2008. NIA was created after the 2008 Mumbai terror attacks as need for a central agency to combat terrorism was realised.
- NATGRID (National Intelligence Grid) is an intelligence sharing network that collates data from the standalone databases of the various agencies and ministries of the government. It is a counter terrorism measure that collects and collates a host of information from government databases including tax and bank account details, credit card transactions, visa and immigration records and itineraries of rail and air travel.
- National Security Guard (NSG) is a Special Forces unit under the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA). It was raised in 1984, following Operation Blue Star and the assassination of Indira Gandhi for combating terrorist activities with a view to protect states against internal disturbances.
- Anti-Terrorism Squad (ATS) is a special police force raised to combat terror. It is set up in several states - Maharashtra, Gujarat, Kerala, Uttar Pradesh, Rajasthan and Bihar.
Legal framework to tackle terrorism:
- Terrorist and Disruptive Activities (Prevention) Act: Commonly known as TADA, was anti-terrorism law which was in force between 1985 and 1995 under the background of the Punjab insurgency and was applied to whole of India. It came into effect on 23 May 1985. It was renewed in 1989, 1991 and 1993 before being allowed to lapse in 1995 due to increasing unpopularity after widespread allegations of abuse.
- Prevention of Terrorism Act, 2002 (POTA): It was an Act passed by the Parliament in 2002, with the objective of strengthening anti-terrorism operations. The Act was enacted due to several terrorist attacks that were being carried out in India and especially in response to the attack on the Parliament. The Act replaced the Prevention of Terrorism Ordinance (POTO) of 2001 and the Terrorist and Disruptive Activities (Prevention) Act. The Act was repealed in 2004 by government.
At present, the legislations in force to check terrorism in India are the National Security Act, 1980 and the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, 1967.
- National Security Act, 1980: The National Security Act is a stringent law that allows preventive detention for months, if authorities are satisfied that a person is a threat to national security or law and order.
The grounds for preventive detention of a person include:
- Acting in any manner prejudicial to the defence of India, the relations of India with foreign powers, or the security of India.
- Regulating the continued presence of any foreigner in India or with a view to making arrangements for his expulsion from India.
- Preventing them from acting in any manner prejudicial to the security of the State or from acting in any manner prejudicial to the maintenance of public order or from acting in any manner prejudicial to the maintenance of supplies and services essential to the community it is necessary so to do.
- Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, 1967: Aimed at effective prevention of unlawful activities associations in India. Its main objective is to make powers available for dealing with activities directed against the integrity and sovereignty of India.
A comprehensive approach is needed to tackle the terrorism. It requires effort from all stakeholders- government, security agencies, civil society and media.
- Political: National interest should be supreme. It should be up and above the vote bank politics. All political parties should come forward together to take a call to combat terrorism in all its forms.
- Legal: we need to have very stringent laws against terrorism and fast track courts which can deliver judgement within 3-4 months.
- Police: Strengthening the state police by enhancing their training capabilities and providing them with modern equipment for surveillance, investigation and operation.
- Media: the media often indulges in needless debates on such issues which are of importance from point of view of national security. In a democracy, debate is always welcome but on some issues, the media should take a more dispassionate view.
- Public: the general public needs to be educated about the evil designs of our neighbouring countries. Both the majority and minority communities should promote interreligious harmony and work together for peace.
In the light of recent terrorist attack in a mosque in Christchurch, New Zealand, discuss the causes and impacts of such incidents. What are the existing provisions in India to deal with such situations and what more needs to be done?