India’s War on Terrorism
Acts of terror need to be distinguished clearly from purely criminal activities, however heinous they be. In criminal activities, the targets are individuals or the society. In terrorist activities, even as individuals suffer, the primary target of the terrorist is the nation state and there is generally a clear political issue driving the act.
India has had insurgencies in the north-eastern states since 1954 and also the Naxalbari insurgent movement since 1967. However, terrorism, in its true sense started in India with the Khalistan movement in the early 1980s. Later, Kashmir was swept over by terrorist activities from 1988 and is still not free from it. Both were ostensibly secessionist movements supported clandestinely by Pakistan.
Terrorism without a secessionist content touched India with the March 1993 Mumbai bomb blasts. That marked the beginning of what many mistakenly call Islamic terrorism but which should more correctly be called terrorism by some Muslims. There are reasons to believe that the 1993 bomb blasts took place in retaliation to the demolition of the Babri Masjid and the January 1993 Mumbai communal riots.
The Indian state has responded to terror treating it basically as a police problem. Since the root cause has often been left unaddressed, we have been able to address the problem essentially only symptomatically.
Dr. N. C. Asthana, who holds a Phd in Nuclear Physics, retired from the Indian Police Service (1986 Kerala cadre) in 2019 at the rank of Director General of Police (Three-Star Officer), Kerala.
He worked for long in Intelligence, CRPF and BSF, besides the state police. He was involved in counterinsurgency and anti-terrorism in the country and had 23 years of experience in Kashmir, north-east, and Naxal-affected areas. He is the recipient of as many as 9 medals and 10 Commendation Discs.
He is the author of as many as four dozen research books on various subjects such as Defence and Strategic Studies; Terrorism and Counterinsurgency Operations; Police, Critical of; Internal Security, Civil Rights/Human Rights, etc. Also written technical research papers in peer-reviewed international journals and articles in various digital portals like The Wire, The Quint, and The FORCE etc.