George W. Bush in his presidential speech philosophized terrorism by saying “We don’t create terrorism by fighting the terrorist. We invite terrorism ignoring them. His vision has become anachronistic.
In today’s context Terrorism should be redefined to mean as an act where a group of person tries to put pressure on any authority by violent means to achieve their desiderata.
It is a method of clandestine combat in which random or symbolic victims serve as an instrumental target of violence. These instrumental victims share group or class characteristics that form the basis for their selection for victimization.
How handicapped do we feel against perpetrators when we are reminded of such attacks in U.S. on 9/11, Israel 2002, Mumbai 26/11 or Bali 2003. In its wake they left humanity stunned and scared even more than during the period of world war and filled the heart of millions with fear psychosis, revenge and greater social bias.
Causes of terrorism are not far to find. Religion and cultural differences, freedom from despots, need for democracy, economic disparity and deprivation of populace by the States, short sightedness of politicians, over ambition of state to dominate the World, are some of them.
However, today, Islamic countries are generally blamed for growing terrorism in the World. The reason for this state of affairs lies in World’s medieval history.
The Great Ottoman Empire was an Islamic state which practically ruled Europe, Northern Africa, Middle East and South Asia before the European powers regained and started colonizing these countries. This led to the decadence of Islamic empire and created cultural and religious rivalry between Christianity and Islam. However, for this essay we are restricting ourselves to terrorism in India only.
India is facing greater problem of terrorism mostly encouraged and supported by the neighboring countries.
A terrorist group called Taliban was originally created and supported by USA against USSR during the cold war era in Afghanistan. However, while Taliban lost their role against USSR, politicians in Pakistan, as a matter of state policy, are now encouraging and supporting them to inflict thousand cuts to bleed India to death. Terror attacks in J and K and other places by its offshoots like IM etc., are a result of such policies.
Militants supported by Pakistan often sight oppression of Muslims in Kashmir as an example. In the case, complex historical, political and economic factors are quoted to sustain conflict in Jammu and Kashmir.
Further, there are indigenous groups supported by neighboring countries in other Indian states, which encourage terrorism and are allowed to go scoot free for short terms political gains in India. Islamic terror groups are continuously growing with the active assistance of neighboring countries. It may become vicious if they get new instruments of terrorism like biological weapons or dirty bombs.
This menace in India is further accentuated by economic negligence of tribal and marginal farmers by successive Centre and States governments over the years. Maoists have partially challenged the state’ authority in West Bengal, Jharkhand, Bihar, Chhattisgarh etc, forcing even Prime Minister to state that today Maoists were the greatest enemy to Indian democracy.
Nevertheless, the cure of this problem is to be found without loopholes. To fight against terrorism, all countries need to be united and adopt a seamless antiterrorism policy.
To tackle terrorism on Indian soil, plan of action needs to be divided into two parts, first to tackle the international terror groups like Taliban and IM operating in India, specifically with reference to J&K with the overt or covert support of neighboring country where the punishment need to be quick and apolitical and, secondly, to control Maoist menace where a long term strategy is to be developed in unison with state governments.
As India is surrounded by terror funding/sheltering countries like Pakistan, Bangladesh, Myanmar and China there is a need for non porous mechanism to combat terrorism. It is necessary to have strict international system of inspection and control especially in those states which are encouraging terrorism as a state policy.
Civic society with a particular emphasis on involving women beyond the state be developed. There are thousands of under-resourced groups involved in everything from literacy to human rights to micro-credit that should be assisted with or without the consent of local governments to effectively check the menace .We ought to develop better ties with Islamic countries of Middle East, Iran, Saudi Arabia etc.
If we cannot politically negotiate with existing militants or their supporters in India, we can at least stop the next wave of recruits which may put stop to terrorist activities in future. Policy of appeasement should be shunned in favour of national interest for years to come.
There is a need to have a firm discussion on Kashmir issue between India and Pakistan where actual LOC could be considered as demarcation between the two neighboring countries which can coexist and prosper like U.S. and Canada. This is rather important but lot of political will on both sides is required.
To tackle Maoist menace in India, we need to understand the background of Maoists and the reasons why they are responsible for their acts. As a matter of fact in the past the protest against land acquisition, forest rights or exploitation of their mineral wealth for private gains or negligence of their cultural or economic interest, are silenced with state violence.
While their violent struggle has not helped Maoist at all but they are not terrorist. It is a short term approach and negligence of their interest by the states which has resulted into present impasse.
To curb Maoists’ menace, a long term strategy to mitigate their hardships is warranted. They must be brought into the main stream and not be left in isolation. Their environment, land and forest rights are to be preserved and perpetuated by the State and their commercial exploitation by the industry in the name of development and export be stopped forthwith.
In addition to existing fire fighting operations being carried out with or without cooperation of affected states, an immediate survey of the villages of the affected states to ascertain whether they are equipped with all weather roads, electricity, drinking water, irrigation, health facilities, education, agricultural extension, housing and employment opportunities should be carried out.
Another potent step in ameliorating this menace is to give them an identity by widely circulating write ups of tribal school students about their customs, songs, art and rituals in their dialect in these states as it will not only give them an identity but will help them absorb the benefits of development initiative. These facilities must be provided either by the state or by the industrial beneficiaries.
If the prescription is adopted along with short term fire fighting operations already in place in affected areas, they should check the growth of Maoism and bring out tribal into main stream in the long run.
The above steps are definitely intimidating and may not end the threat of terrorism and Maoism in short term, but central to our efforts must remain a simple fact that violent Islamic militancy or Maoism are not inevitable and can be managed in India with greater involvement and coordinated efforts by both Central and State governments without vote bank politics with long term goals in mind.
Governments should never forget that fighting terrorism is like being a goal keeper. You can make a hundred brilliant saves but the only shot that people remember is the one that gets past you.
Class X, D.P.S. Rohini, New Delhi