The word ‘terrorism’ is defined as a state, which impresses terror. In other words, we can say that term ‘terrorism’ is attributed to the violent extremism, which is full of fear and which causes terror.
Disruptive forces are at large in the world and the very existence of mankind is being threatened. On the one hand, the star wars programme of President Reagan has cast a shadow of gloom on the world; on the other, the monster of terrorism has spread its ugly tentacles to take many countries in its grip. There has been a spurt in the terrorist activity recently in the Middle East, in Sri Lanka, in India, and in a number of European countries including England.
In England, there was a dastardly attempt on the life of the Prime Minister, Mrs. Margaret Thatcher. Racial riots in London towards the end of 1985 reached ‘a new depth of terrorism’. In October 1985, four Palestinians high jacked an Italian Cruiser off Alexandria and held the crew and the passengers’ hostages for two days before they finally surrendered.
In India, Mrs. Indira Gandhi, Sant Harchand Singh Longowat, Mr. Lalit Maken and General A. S. Viridya were brutally gunned down. In July 1986, fifteen innocent passengers were shot dead inside a bus. This ghastly act reminded one of barbaric ages. In fact, it painfully pointed out the ugly fact that we are still living in barbaric age. The Kanishka tragedy, one of the worst disasters in air, clearly smacked of terrorism. When Shri Rajiv Gandhi visited England, there was a threat to his life and the Government had to adopt unprecedented security measures to protect his life. Terrorist groups sprang up in Germany and Italy about a decade ago.
Terrorism basically springs from political frustration. Political parties, which are defeated at the polls, take to terrorist activity in order to undermine the faith of the people in the duly elected Government. Religious and racial fanatics also turn terrorists. These people are convinced of the righteousness of their causes and are eager to defend terrorism as a legitimate weapon to force a government into agreement. Unemployed and economically weak youth easily fall into the trap of these terrorists. Foreign governments offer them assistance in the form of money and sophisticated weapons.
Terrorism is not confined only to individuals and groups. Sometimes, the State itself is guilty of terrorist activity. The Israeli Government, with the purpose of liquidating Mr. Yasser Arafat, Chairman of the Palestinian Liberation Organization, bombed Tunisian territory at the end of September 1985, taking a tall of about seventy lives. This was undoubtedly an example of State terrorism. Mr. Arafat fortunately escaped unhurt. Sri Lanka and South Africa also indulge in State Terrorism. But State terrorism is a self-defeating activity. Instead of eliminating or curbing terrorism ironically, it encourages it.
Terrorism shows its ugly head in the shape of high jacking, kidnapping, assassinating eminent personalities and even indiscriminate shooting down of innocent people. Transistor bombs which the terrorists-used in India a few months back mostly killed innocent people. Banks, post-offices, petrol pumps and shops are also looted. Terrorists keep changing their hideouts and operate in a clandestine manner. Hence, it is very difficult to arrest them.
Terrorists are extremists. They do not believe that problems can be solved through negotiations across the table. They try to force governments to concede their demands, which in many cases are quite unreasonable. Thus, terrorism strikes at the very roots of democracy. It also creates insecurity in the minds of the people and discourages economic progress. It is anti-people and anti-progress. Considered from any angle, terrorism is an activity, which calls for severe condemnation.
Terrorism in Punjab sprang with the rise of Sant Jarnail Singh Bhindranwala, militant groups of Sikhs, under the guidance of some self-styled defenders of the Sikh-faith, raised the demand of an independent Khalistan and unleashed a reign of blood and terror in the State. Pakistan that wanted to fish in troubled waters gave them all kinds of help. It even set up camps to train terrorists. A number or well-trained Muslims sneaked into the Indian Territory in the guise of Sikhs and tried to create chaos. When the situation became rather bad, Mrs. Gandhi ordered operation ‘Blue Star’, which amounted to state terrorism to curb terrorism and hence proved quite ineffective. Shri Rajiv Gandhi also tried to solve the Punjab issue quite boldly and promptly by ‘Operation Black Thunder’. Although the State is under Central Government administration, and the terrorists have been isolated to a certain extent, they continue to be active.
The Central Government is making all out efforts to end terrorism. The terrorists in Punjab have been dealt with iron hands and with the Elections in Punjab, they have been separated with the peaceful political activities.
The terrorism must go from this country at all cost. We should make all out efforts to combat the terrorists. The foreign powers, which are helping terrorists in India, should be persuaded to refrain from such activities. The gesture shown by Great Britain in this context is to be welcomed and it is hoped that other countries will come forward with a positive response to the efforts made by India in this direction.