Whenever there is an aggressive protest and demonstration or violent activities leading to loss of lives and property, it is a threat to peace and security. But a number of such occurrences are law and order problems which are locally managed by the police. In a democracy like India such protests, demonstrations, strikes, bandhs and other agitations do take place to draw the attention of governments or concerned authorities towards specific demands and concerns.
However, India has been experiencing various types of violent activities under the garb of terrorism or insurgency or naxalite movement, which are more serious threats to peace and security.
Terrorism has been one of the greatest threats to peace and security in India. For example, terrorist attack in Mumbai on 26 November, 2008 symbolises one of the worst such incidences. Such activities have been happening since independence in various parts of the country. The terrorists who conduct violent activities are persons belonging to foreign countries or are Indian youth indoctrinated, supported and trained in neighbouring countries.
At times, there is confusion about defining terrorist activities. In fact, there is no consensus on the definition of terrorism. However, in general terms and in the context of India, terrorism is essentially a criminal act to inflict dramatic and deadly injury on civilians and to create an atmosphere of fear, generally for a political or ideological purpose.
Terrorism is a criminal act, but it is more than mere criminality. These acts are in any circumstance unjustifiable, whatever the considerations of a political, philosophical, ideological, racial, ethnic, religious or any other nature that may be invoked to justify them.
In 2004, United Nations Security Council Resolution 1566 condemned terrorist acts as:
"criminal acts, including against civilians, committed with the intent to cause death or serious bodily injury, or taking of hostages, with the purpose to provoke a state of terror in the general public or in a group of persons or particular persons, intimidate a population or compel a government or an international organisation to do or to abstain from doing any act, which constitute offences within the scope of and as defined in the international conventions and protocols relating to terrorism, are under no circumstances justifiable by considerations of a political, philosophical, ideological, racial, ethnic, religious or other similar nature."
The terrorists conduct bomb blasts or do indiscriminate firings at the crowded public places killing and injuring hundreds of innocent people. They also hijack planes and kill innocent passengers compelling the government to accept their demands like releasing other terrorists who were captured and kept in jails. These acts also destroy public and private properties. They commit these heinous acts to create an environment of terror to intimidate people and the governments.
An insurgency is an armed rebellion against a constituted authority, the government. Ever since independence, India has experienced violence related to insurgent movements. Broadly, these can be divided into movements with political motives and movements for social and economic justice. The most prominent militant groups are violent extremist separatists operating in Jammu and Kashmir and Assam, and different militant groups in India’s northeastern States of Arunachal Pradesh, Manipur, Mizoram, Nagaland and Tripura.
Although all the members of these groups are Indians, these groups receive support from neighbouring countries. Whereas, these militant movements are going on because the groups involved in it are dissatisfied with their present state of affairs, there are certain groups, especially in Jammu and Kashmir and Assam that have political agenda. They are fighting for secession from the country. These groups have active support from the neighbouring countries and even certain international terrorist groups.
3. Naxalite Movement
The Naxalite movement has been a cause of great concern because of different kinds of complexities. It began in a village of West Bengal, but has now spread over in about 12 States, influencing the lives of lakhs of people. The Naxalites quite often attack public property, the government officials, police and paramilitary forces and the people whom they consider their enemies.
The Naxals are also against any development inside the forest area. The government wants to build pucca roads inside the villages and forests but the Naxals discourage any development work in the area. They know that once the development takes place then perhaps they may loose support of the people. Therefore they have been misguiding the innocent people that the government wants to take away their mineral wealth and their forests.
Unfortunately, the basic cause of the emergence and spread of this movement has been the discontent among certain sections of the society. The youth who are engaged in violent activities of the movement belong to the sections of society, mostly the scheduled tribes, scheduled castes and dalits, that have been bearing the brunt of social discrimination and economic deprivation since ages.
Moreover, the fruits of development taking place in India are yet to reach these sections in full measure. Whatever may be the reason but the development has not been able to meet their hopes and aspirations.
The naxalite insurgency began in India in March 1967 when a group of revolutionaries led by Charu Mazumdar and Kanu Sanyal launched a peasants uprising at Naxalbari after a tribal youth, who had a judicial order to plough his land, was attacked by the goons of local landlords. The tribals retaliated and refused to part with the land owner’s share of their produce and lifted the entire stock from his granary. It ignited a fire that spread in the State.
This was brought down by use of force and simultaneously bringing in some land reforms by the State government. This was phase one of the movement. Later on, the phase two of the Naxal movement spread to 9 states that is, Bihar, Jharkhand, West Bengal, Orissa, Chattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh, Andhra Pradesh, Maharashtra and Uttar Pradesh; posing a challenge to the nation.
In the predominantly tribal areas, naxals hold Kangaroo courts; impose levis on contractors, mine owners, businessmen and even on government officials. The movement has thrown up leaders, a legion of workers and sympathisers who believe that guerrilla warfare tactic would liberate India.
4. Strategy of the Government
The Government of India has been employing strategies and methods to deal with terrorism, insurgency and naxalite movement. It has been supporting efforts of all nations to fight terrorism and seeking their support whenever any terrorist attack takes place. Diplomatically it is trying to put international pressure on Pakistan and other neighbouring countries to extend their active cooperation in ensuring that the support to such terrorist groups does not come from them.
As regards the insurgency activities aimed at political objectives, the Government of India is trying to tackle it diplomatically. India has entered into a treaty with Myanmar and very recently Bangladesh to restrain the help and support coming to insurgent movements from those countries. It is also trying to mount international pressure on Pakistan to do the same.
In respect of the Naxalite movement in the initial phase the State governments treated it as a law and order problem. But it was realised that it is a more serious issue, having deep socio-economic dimensions. Efforts are being made to accelerate the pace of development in those areas and to bring the youth in to the mainstream.