Terrorism consists of a series of acts intended to spread intimidation, panic, and destruction in a population. These acts can be carried out by individuals and groups opposing a State, or acting on its behalf.
Violence perpetrated by the State or by right wing terrorist groups is anonymous. Its goal are to shift sectors of public opinion to support the restoration of law and order and repressive measures, at the same time physically destroying political opponents and intimidating their actual and potential supporters.
2. Tada and Terrorism
The Terrorism and Disruptive Activities (Prevention) Act, which came in 1985 has settled the controversy regarding definition of terrorism. The basic features are first, the intent to overawe the Government or to strive terror in the people or adversely affecting the existing harmony between various sections of the population.
Second, the concerned Act should be purported by use of explosives, bombs, inflammable substances, poisonous/obnoxious gases and including the use of firearm and other lethal weapons.
Third, these offensive instruments would have to be used in a manner so as to cause death or serious injury to any person or persons or damage or destroy property or disrupt supplies or services essential to the community.
Broadly speaking, therefore the Terrorist Act has to have the three ingredients of intent, instrument and its use.
3. Terrorism in Punjab
To infuse separatism in the Sikh community, the Britishers conferred minority privileges on Keshadhari (with unshorn hair and beard) Sikhs only.
In 1973, Akali Dal passed the much controversial Anandpur Sahib Resolution, voicing demand for the creation of separate Sikh nation, in which the Centre’s authority was confined only to the defence, foreign relations, communications, railways and currency. Dr. Jagjit Singh Chauhan, an Akali leader raised the slogan of Khalistan in 1971 and on 12 April, 1980 he announced the formation of National Council of Khalistan.
When Mrs. Indira Gandhi returned as Prime Minister in 1980, she wanted to eliminate pockets of resistance to Centre’s hegemony. With the help of her son Sanjay. Gandhi and people like Zail Singh and Buta Singh, she went for making friendship with Jarnail Singh Bhindrenwale, a fanatic Sikh.
Within a few months of Mrs. Gandhi assuming office as Prime Minister, the Nirankari (the Sikh reformers) Chief Gurubachan Singh was murdered by hitmen of Bhindrenwale in the very capital of our Republic. Criminals under Bhindrenwale grew in strength and numbers.
A number of relatives of dedicated journalist, Vijay Kumar Chopra, son of Jagat Narain Lai, were murdered. The Chairman of Agricultural Costs and Pricing Mr. D.S. Tyagi agricultural produce of Punjab. The Chief Engineer of the Bhakra Control Board was murdered to draw attention to the river water dispute with neighbouring states. Engineer Manchanda, and a humble lady Teacher of Hindi were murdered to protest against precedence to Hindi over Punjabi.
In August 1982, the Akalis declared a holy war (Dharm Yudh) against the Government and appointed Sant Harchand Singh Longowal as the dictator to mastermind the offensive to fill Punjab’s jail.
Bhindrenwale promised his followers the establishment of Khalsa Raj.
What actually took place on the 6th June, 1984 at Amritsar was in fact a forcible entry made with the help of guns and tanks, resulting in a bloodbath the like of which has not been witnessed in the Golden Temple since it was built more than 380 years ago.
On 31st October 1984, Indira Gandhi was shot 18 bullets by her, two Sikh bodyguards, one of whom was Mr. Beant Singh.
4. Terrorism in Jammu and Kashmir
Kashmir, as everyone knows was for centuries a symbol of cultural and religious harmony. Not only did Kashmiri Hindus, Kashmiri Muslims and Buddhists live in complete harmony but out of Shaivanism, Sufism and Mahayana Buddhism that had created a composite cultural identity: Kashmiriyat. Although it faced an onslaught through much of the 1990s, it survived albeit in a latent form.
It must be understood that accession of Jammu and Kashmir per se, was perfectly legal. By October 1947, Pakistan sent its troops in J and K. Sheikh Abdullah who was the unchallenged leader of the valley and held sway over the masses, advised and urged Maharaja Hari Singh to accede to India before it was too late.
With the Indo-Pakistani cease-fire of January, 1949, India’s Kashmir problem moved to a legislative battleground. A third of the state was now in Pakistani hand. In the rest of the region, elections were held in 1951 to choose an assembly that would draw up an Constitution and statutorily clarify the state’s relationship with and entry into the Union of India. The National Conference headed by Sheikh Abdullah, swept the election and within a month put together an Interim Constitution.
Jammu and Kashmir came to be granted special status under Article 370 of the Constitution, including Part XXI under the rubric “Temporary and Transitional Provisions.”
Sheikh Abdullah was appointed as the Prime Minister and vows friendship with India. In return Nehru promised plebiscite, Article 370 (a special status to Jammu and Kashmir).
In legal terms the following provisions of Article 370 are noteworthy:
1. The power of Parliament to make….laws shall be limited to—
(i) Those matters….which, in consultation with the government of the state, are declared by the President to correspond to matters specified in the Instrument of Accession
(ii) Such matters….as with the concurrence of the government of the state, the President may by order specify.
Provided further that no order which relates matters other than those referred to in the last preceding provison shall be issued except with the concurrence of the Government.”
From 1953 onwards when Sheikh Mohammad Abdullah was arrested on charges of treason and the state was handed over to rank opportunist like Bakshi Ghulam Mohammad, things had gone from bad to worse, simply because in 1953 Sheikh Abdullah demanded perpetual status of Article 370. It has been a sad tale of political mismanagement, corruption and economic neglect. It was in 1953 after the arrest of Sheikh that Mirza Afgal Beg, a trusted lieutenant of Sheikh Abdullah-formed the ‘Plebiscite Front.’ At the same time several secessionist organizations also came into being.
Sheikh, who became Chief Minister with Congress support in 1975, was shocked to see when Congress withdrew its support in 1977. This led to anti-Indian wave among Kashmiris.
But still National Conference won the election in 1977. The toppling game started again and finally in the bargain this created a political vacuum which was filled by the extremists.
In 1983, Sheikh died and his son Farooq Abdullah became the Chief Minister. But he lost his job in Congress backed palace coup.
In 1987, the National Conference fought elections in alliance with Congress (I) to keep Muslim United Front (MUF) out of power. Large scale rigging took place during the election. The defeat of MUF turned the youths violent and they joined hands with secessionists and raised the banner of revolt against what was termed as ‘Indian Imperialism’. The secessionist talked of an Independent State but the militants wanted merger with Pakistan.
In the 1989, militancy became prominent in Jammu and Kashmir. Mufti Mohammed Syed’s daughter Rubaiyya was released in exchange for terrorists.
Hizbul Mujahideen, one of the main groups fighting India’s rule in its only Muslim-majority state i.e. Jammu and Kashmir had on July 24th 2000 called a ceasefire and it said it would like to talk to the Indian Government. Later, it imposed an ultimatum: the talks would have to include Pakistan, which controls a third of Kashmir and regards India’s portion as its rightful inheritance, or the ceasefire would be called off.
India rejected that for two reasons. First, it regards Pakistan as the author of violence in Kashmir. Whether it was 1999’s hell bent attempt to grab territory on India’s side of the Line of Control (Kargil War) or August 1-2, 2000’s horrible series of massacres in which over 100 people died, mainly pilgrims of the Amarnath Yatra and poor migrant labourers from Bihar.
India’s ignorance of ultimatum led to the pulling back of ceasefire by Hizbul Mujahideen on August 8th 2000.
Hijacking of IC 814 Indian Airlines Plane
Flight IC-814 took off from Tribhuvan International Airport in Kathmandu at 4 : 25 p.m. two hours behind schedule. The Air-bus A-300 is hijacked at 4:55 p.m. while it was flying over Lucknow. The hijackers killed Rupin Katyal (on December 25, 1999), after he reportedly refuse to follow their dictates. On December 25, 1999 it left Dubai air base for Afgan city, Kandahar and landed in Kandahar at 8:33 a.m. The release of 3 imprisoned Pakistani militants by the Indian Government including Azhar Mahmood, at the dawn of 2000 is being seen as a victory by those supporting the ISI’s proxy war in Kashmir and its operation in other parts of the country.
On February 24, 2000 the Subramanyan Committee Report on Kargil intrusions was presented in Parliament. Attempting a reconstruction of Pakistani intrusion from diaries recovered from Pakistani personnel as well as intercepts, the Committee said it appeared the reconnaissance parties started crossing the LoC in late January/early February, 1999, which resulted in a conflict in May-August 1999 which killed almost 500 Indian soldiers.
5. Terrorism in North-East
Terrorism in Assam emerged from 1980 onwards. Assamese already had raised the issue of removing ‘foreigners’ and deleting their names from the electoral rolls. When the Government failed to take action, there were agitations in February 1983 elections in which 5,000 persons lost their lives.
After the AASU movement when the Assam Gana Parishad (AGP) came to power in 1985, it was felt that the state would develop. But the factions soon led to the split of the AGP. The United Minorities Front (UMF) and the United Liberation Front of Assam (ULFA) emerged as two militant organizations. The All Bodo Students’ Union (ABSU) also demanded a separate state resulting in considerable violence.
The army action-named Operation Bajrang-against the secessionist militant organization subdued it to the extent that the militant activities did not interfere even with the elections in June 1991. But even after the Congress wining parliamentary election in 1991, the abductions and killings of people by ULFA continued. The eight year Bodoland movement was expected to end in 1994 when the Bodo Peoples’.
Action Committee (BPAC) and the All Bodo Student’s Union (ABSU) agreed to accept a Bodoland Autonomous Council within the state of Assam. On December 5, 2000, 134 militants 117 of them belonging to ULFA and rest to Bodo Liberation Tiger (BLT), the military wing of NDFB surrendered in Kamrup district. The ceremony was organized by SULFA (Surrendered United liberation Front of Assam).
Though Nagaland is the older theatre of insurgent violence and terrorism, it is comparatively quieter these days. The NSCN (National Socialist Council of Nagaland), the main insurgent terrorist group of the state, not only assists the terrorist of the other states of the North-Eastern region, especially in Mizoram and Tripura, in the field of training, funds and shelter, but also has stepped up in its terrorist activities in Manipur.
It made an attempt on the life of Keishing, the former CM of Manipur on 8 December 1984 in which four security men were killed. It shot and killed Shaiza, former CM of state on 30 January, 1985. On 8 August, 1985 a former Finance Minister was killed by them.
On November 29, 1999 an attempt was made on the life of Nagaland Chief Minister S.C. Jamir by militants. The NSCN (Isaac-Muivah) is suspected to be behind it. N.G. Hangshi “Information and Publicity Secretary” of the “People’s Republic of Nagaland” the NSCN (I-M)’s “parallel government” alleged that it was carried out by Khaplang group of NSCN and not NSCN (I-M).
The NSCN (I-M) is the main interlocutor in the peace dialogue, which was initiated by former P.M. P.V. Narasimha Rao aVid carried forward by his successors the former P.M. H.D. Deve Gowda and now by A.B. Vajpayee. The talks resulted in the declaration of a ceasefire on July 25, 1997.
Despite violations, the ceasefire remains in place. The Khaplang faction, which had stayed out of talks, has now shown the willingness to enter into dialogue with the centre, with the help of Indo Burma Revolutionary Front (IBRF).
The NSCN (I-M), however, appears to be in no mood to end its underground activities. A large number of extremists of Bodo National Liberation Front (BNLF) are working in the state. The BNLF, the ULFA, have had an agreement with NSCN (I-M) in the matter of training for cadres.
North-East in General
Assam, Manipur, Nagaland and Tripura have been in the grip of insurgency for the last few decades. There are at least 18 underground organizations operating in the region. While ULFA has launched an “armed revolution for an independent Assam”, the United National Liberation Front (UNLF) of Manipur and the Revolutionary People’s Front (RPF), the political wing of the People’s Liberation Army (PLA), are fighting for an “Independent Manipur”.
The NSCN, fighting for a “sovereign and independent Nagaland”, split in 1988. While the NSCN (Isaac-Muivah) has been active in Nagaland, Manipur and parts of Assam, the NSCN (Khaplang), is based in upper Myanmar. It has formed the IBRF (Indo-Burma Revolutionary Front) together with the Manipur-based UNLF. The IBRF’s avowed aim is to liberate what it calls the Indo-Burma region (the North-Eastern region of Indian and North Western part of Myanmar).
6. Development Package for North-East
Taking a leaf out of former Prime Minister I.K. Gujral’s book, A.B. Vajpayee announced a Rs. 10,271 crore development package for the seven North Eastern states and Sikkim on January 22, 2000.
In October, 1996 H.D. Deve Gowda the former PM announced a Rs. 6100 crore package and later I.K. Gujral also a former PM announced a Rs. 7000 crore package for North-East. The 28 year old North East Council (NEC) has been selected as the nodal agency for implementing the schemes. It is expected that once the NEC is given more powers it would be able to play a more effective role in the integrated development of the region. One of the notable features of the new agenda is an annual provision of Rs. 500 crore for the region from the Rural Infrastructure Development Fund (RIDF).
The new Rs. 10,271 crore package of Mr. Vajpayee (January 2000) lists two major hydroelectric projects the Rs. 578 crore Loktak Downstream (90 MW) in Manipur and Rs. 2000 crore Teesta V (510 MW) in Sikkim. Work on the Rs 3000 crore Subansiri Lower Side (660 MW) project in Arunachal Pradesh will begin in 2001.
7. Naxalite Terrorism
The Naxalite terrorism appeared in West Bengal in 1967. It got impetus in 1969 when CPI (ML) was born at the instigation from China which was interested in weakening India. The theoretical backing for Naxalite thought came from Ninth Congress of the Communist Party of China held in April 1969, when Mao’s thoughts were declared to be the highest stage of Marxism-Leninism.
Using these thoughts, the Naxalite leader Charu Mazumdar declared “China’s Chairman is our Chairman”. Fran West Bengal the Naxalite movement spread to Bihar to Tight for the landless labour.
However, Charu’s call for annihilation of class enemies did not get much response from the peasantry class and the educated middle- class, though many idealistic young Naxalite men and women enjoyed killing landlords, money lenders and police officers.
Between 1969 and 1972, about 2,000 person were killed and there were 700 cases of looting and 9,000 acts of other violence by the Naxalites. The police killed about 400 and arrested about 6,000 terrorists. The movement also got discredited because professional criminals joined the movement.
After 1972, the Naxalite movement spread from West Bengal and Bihar to Andhra Pradesh, Kerala, Orissa, Tamil Nadu and Tripura. The situation in Andhra Pradesh and Bihar between 1988 and 1999 has been worse. The exploited poor and tribals continue to follow Naxalite terrorism for protecting themselves from ex-zamindars, money-lenders and other exploiters.
The sixth meeting of the Co-ordination Centre of Left-Wing Extremism was held under the chairmanship of Home Secretary, Kamal Pande on March 6, 2000. It focussed on the rise of Naxalism in states of Andhra Pradesh, Bihar, Madhya Pradesh, Maharastra and Orissa. It was revealed that Pakistani intelligence agency ISI (Inter-Service Intelligence) is helping the Naxalite groups like PWG (People’e War Group), Maoist Communist Centre (MCC) and (CPI- ML).
The meeting was convened in the wake of killing of 23 policemen in a landmine blast in Bastar by the PWG on February 20, 2000.
8. Tamilnadu and LTTE
In the 19th century, the British had taken more than 10 lakh Tamil Labourers from different parts of Chennai to Sri Lanka promising alluring term of employment in tea and coffee gardens.
For over 100 years, these Tamils laboured for the prosperity of Sri Lanka but in 1948-49, the Sinhalese Government passed stringent citizenship laws which deprived them of the citizenship. Their representation was reduced to 8 seats in 75 members Sri Lankan Parliament.
On this issue, discussions continued between Tamils and the Sri Lankan government and an agreement was signed in 1964 by the Governments of India and Sri Lanka (known as Srimavo-Shastri Pact) which provided that 5,25,000 Tamil would be sent to India and Sri Lanka would confer citizenship on 3 lakh Tamils without citizenship during a period of 15 years.
Still there remained one and half lakh Tamils without citizenship. After some time, there was a further agreement between the two Governments that each of them would absorb 50,000 of the stateless Tamils. But since 1976, the Sri Lankan Government had been extending the time limit of 15 years provided in the pact. In 1982, India refused to grant any further extension.
Tamils have been claiming mass killings of the people of their community, burning of their factories, hotels and shops and atrocities committed by Sinhalese soldiers on them. When the atrocities being committed on the Tamils had reached a level demanding intervention by India, it signed an accord with Sri Lanka in 1987, when Rajiv Gandhi duly advised by his Chief of the Army Staff General Sunderji agreed to send IPKF to Sri Lanka.
When Rajiv Gandhi had a pro-LTTE stance, he was anti-Premadasa. This favoured stance evaporated at Thimpu in Bhutan when the talk between LTTE and the Rajiv Government broke down. The Indian High Commission in Colombo kept on sending favourable information to Rajiv Gandhi regarding the Premadasa Government. Thus Rajiv did a full about turned anti-LTTE and pro- Premadasa. The IPKF was withdrawn in 1990.
Finally Rajiv Gandhi was assassinated in May 1991 by the LTTE.
Every Sri Lankan Tamil group enjoyed the backing of one major political party or the other in the State. (The Tamil militants were even provided training during the 1980s, in Dehradun). Hie Tamil Eelam Liberation Organization (TELO) under Sri Sabaratnam had the patronage of M. Karunanidhi (DMK), while Tamil United Liberation Front (TULF) and the LTTE leaders were supported by former Chief Minister M.G. Ramachandran (AIADMK). But the LTTE, ruthlessly liquidated its political rivals, starting with Sri Sabaratnam in 1984, and arrogated to itself the role of sole champion of Sri Lanka, Tamils cause
Jaffna, or Yarlpaanam was the main theatre of conflict between Sri Lankan Army and LTTE in June, 2000. Technically LTTE is in Jaffna city after entering Colombo Thurai or Ariyalai. The LTTE offered for a ceasefire to enable the Sri Lankan government to evacuate the ‘beleaguered troops” from Palay airport and Kankesanthurai harbour through the good offices of the International Committee of the Red Cross and avoid further/escalation of violence and a bloodbath.
Sri Lanka hopes that the Indian concept of humanitarian aid would encompass the evacuation of Sri Lankan troops if the need arose.
Sri Lankan Deputy Foreign Minister Laksman Kirialla said in Chennai (20th May 2000) that Colombo and New Delhi had worked out the details of assistance India would give to his country’s troops. Sri Lankan, diplomatic sources, however confirmed that not even a single bullet has been received from India since the onslaught of Jaffna started. They said that Pakistan and China were among the first nations to step in. Israel also has been supplying arms.
The MDMK Chief Vaiko and PMK founder Dr. S. Ramadoss are against any form of support to Sri Lankan government and favour the lifting of the ban on the LTTE.
Jayalalitha (AIADMK Chief) was for providing humanitarian aid to Sri Lanka, but through the Red Cross. She is for continuing the ban on LTTE.
Welcoming India’s “clear stance” that ruled out recognition of “Tamil-Eelam” Tamil Manila Congress President G.K. Moopanaar said that Centre was on “right path”.
The Tamil Nadu Chief Minister M. Karunanidhi’s (DMK) stand is ambiguous.
CPI (M) is for providing autonomy to the Tamils within a united Sri Lanka but is against Tamil Eelam’ because it is not an answer to the ethnic conflict in Sri Lanka.