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- Terrorism has been a threat not only to India's democracy but to countries worldwide affecting almost every sphere, every aspect of human life, be it economic, political or social.
- Combating terrorism is a continuous process, and India has been consistently working towards fighting this menace of terrorism at both the global and national levels.
- India has once again reiterated that there should be no double standards in dealing with terrorists at a recent meeting of the UN Security Council (UNSC), India's common representative to United Nations Ambassador Ruchira Kamboj said that the practice of placing holds and blocks on listing requests without giving any justification must come to an end.
- As the chair of the Counter-Terrorism Committee (CTC), India will soon be hosting a special session in Mumbai and Delhi on the 28th and 29th of October 2022.
- The nature of the stretcher Member States, capacity gaps and best practices and also exploring further ways and course of action to effectively deal with this particular threat.
What is terrorism?
- Although the term is not subject to a universally agreed definition, terrorism can be broadly understood as a method of coercion that utilizes or threatens to utilize violence to spread fear and thereby attain political or ideological goals.
- The Indian National Security Guard Act, 1986, defines a 'Terrorist' as "any person who with intent to overawe the Government as by law established or to strike terror in the people or any section of the people, does any act or thing by using the bomb, dynamite or other explosive substance or inflammable substances or firearms or other lethal weapons or poisons or noxious gases or other substances (whether biological or otherwise) of a hazardous nature, in such a manner as to cause or as is likely to cause, death or injuries to any person or persons or damage to or destruction of property, or disruption of any supplies or services essential to the life of the community."
Terrorism in India
- India’s tryst with terrorism and violent extremism can be traced back partly to the religion-based partition in 1947, which ripped the sub-continent into two nations: India and Pakistan.
- The sub-continent remained witness to the most horrifying ethnic riots in modern history, which were marked by extreme violence and acts of terrorism.
- Following the partition, after a brief period of neutrality, the then Maharaja of Jammu and Kashmir (J&K), Hari Singh formally acceded to India; however, this act of accession has not, and continues not to be recognised by Pakistan which lays claims to the Muslim majority region.
- This territorial dispute lies at the core of the long-standing conflict between the two nations with both nations each vehemently rejecting the other’s claims.
- Further, India views Pakistan as perpetuating the ongoing cross-border conflict and sponsoring militant activity in a bid to destabilise the state of J&K and other parts of the country.
- In addition, considering the number of ongoing insurgencies in India, terrorism and violent extremism is also a manifestation of:
- politico-religious violence
- ethnic-sub regional nationalism
- socio-economic conditions
- politics of identity
- The primary causes of terrorism and insurgency in India are based on political, religious, ethnic, ideological, identity-driven, linguistic or socio-economic grievances.
- Terrorism in India can be broadly categorised in three distinct parts:
- Cross border terrorism in J&K.
- Terrorism in the hinterland.
- Extreme violence and terrorism as an integral part of the ongoing insurgencies.
- India’s richly diverse society provides a fertile ground for terrorism to thrive in many areas:
- politics of communalism and criminalisation
- fanatic religious movements and irresponsible statements by political and religious leaders
- human rights excesses
- marginalised minority communities
- high levels of youth unemployment
- poor governance
- prolonged delays in criminal justice
About Counter-Terrorism Committee (CTC)
- The CTC is United Nations Security Council (UNSC) backed body which was established by Security Council resolution 1373 (2001), which was adopted unanimously on 28 September 2001 in the wake of the 11 September terrorist attacks in the United States.
- The Committee, comprising all 15 Security Council members, was tasked with monitoring the implementation of resolution 1373 (2001), which requested countries to implement several measures intended to enhance their legal and institutional ability to counter terrorist activities at home, in their regions and around the world, including taking steps to:
- Criminalize the financing of terrorism
- Freeze without delay any funds related to persons involved in acts of terrorism
- Deny all forms of financial support for terrorist groups
- Suppress the provision of safe haven, sustenance or support for terrorists
- Share information with other governments on any groups practising or planning terrorist acts
- Cooperate with other governments in the investigation, detection, arrest, extradition and prosecution of those involved in such acts; and
- Criminalize active and passive assistance for terrorism in domestic law and bring violators to justice.
- In September 2005, the Security Council adopted resolution 1624 (2005) on incitement to commit acts of terrorism, calling on the UN Member States to prohibit it by law, prevent such conduct and deny safe haven to anyone “concerning whom there is credible and relevant information giving serious reasons for considering that they have been guilty of such conduct.” The resolution also called on States to continue international efforts to enhance dialogue and broaden understanding among civilizations.
- At present the chair of CTC is E. Ms Ruchira Kamboj the Permanent Representative of India to the United Nations.
What is the kind of threat terrorism pose domestically as well as globally?
- Terrorism in modern times is the biggest security challenge and a threat to development, people and the global as a whole.
- State-backed terrorism is a major threat for the countries, particularly India. Unfortunately, South Asia is known to be the epicentre of terrorism where almost 85% of the terror acts originated in this region.
- What concerns India, is the China-backed Pakistan sponsoring terrorism in achieving their political ideology. Similarly, radical ideologies have also been witnessed in other South Asian countries like Indonesia, Maldives, Taliban-led Afghanistan, etc.
One of the underlining reasons for the lack of international cooperation is the absence of a universal definition
- Defining terrorism has been a contested topic for many decades. Therefore, there are two critical aspects in absence of a universal definition:
- One is the outlook which is attached to the issue of terrorism. When we talk about global terrorism, we need to talk about groups, countries they are associated with, the funding patterns, etc. All this depends upon how a country defines terrorism.
- The other is the method of combating terrorism. Combating terrorism is also closely linked with the definitional aspect of terrorism. That means, what system, which country and which government describes the act of terrorism in what manner?
- The definition was a contested issue and it seems it will be. But, the more important thing here to understand is that a global forum like United Nations (UN) is unable to generate a consensus on the technical aspects of terrorism.
- This particular thing is an issue for a country like India, which has been a victim of terrorism.
Why there is no universal definition?
- The idea of the Comprehensive Convention on Terrorism originated in 1994-95. At that time the declaration was the main stumbling block. Hence, defining terrorism is simple, what complicates here is that a person who is known as a terrorist in one country or a region may be known as a freedom fighter in another country or a region. This makes it complicated to define terrorism.
- Therefore, many countries have moved away or given up on defining terrorism because the common deceleration is not possible. Hence, the United Nations cannot be blamed completely for this.
- In place of definition, countries are now working on how to handle terrorism. As terrorism can be spread in two ways:
- First, is by the private parties who find it a cost-effective way of dealing with what they think are the injustices done to them by either private people or the State.
- Second, is the worst way when terrorism is used or supported by the States for their political objectives.
- There are several states or countries that in a covert manner use terrorists for their covert objectives. Therefore, the need of the hour is an international coordinated and effective action to deal with terrorism rather than getting into the area of how to define it.
Another important aspect here which India has been bringing up time and again in the UNSC is that there can be no double standards in dealing with terrorists
- The state-sponsored terrorism is the worst form of terrorism and with the increasing inclination towards hybrid warfare, there are chances that states may employ or exploit terrorism more.
- Hence, there is a need for coordinated effort and a country like India should protect its interest whether diplomatically or militarily. Coordinated effort should also be built to counter access to finance.
Among the countermeasures taken against the menace of terrorism, one very important aspect is dealing with financing part. This has become even more crucial in today’s globalized or interconnected or digitised world.
- Identifying the source of funding is the most critical aspect of combating terrorism. This has become more challenging in today’s globalized world. Therefore, it is important to find out the source or origin, the network and the operational strategies of terrorist networks.
- But the major challenge in modern times is, that terrorist groups are much more sophisticated, their network has been organised. Unlike before, they are started operating from cities and have developed a global network to conduct operations.
- A country like India needed a coordinated effort between international agencies, the national and state agencies, and also between different stakeholders, both public and private who could be part of combating terrorist networks.
What are the major stumbling blocks in building cooperation and what’s the way out?
- Most countries look at international terrorism from the prism of national security. That means, that all the terrorist organisations may not be a threat to a particular country.
- There is a general understanding that even at the level of countries, there are some which are either hubs or sponsor international terrorism. And, with the veto power of the P5 countries, it would be difficult to build an international consensus.
- Therefore, there has to be an understanding of dealing with international terrorism from a broader perspective.
- There is no universal government, hence, there should be effective cooperation and exchange of information between the intelligence apparatus of various countries.
Among all the blocks what is the road ahead?
- The concern here is the synergist effort to counter-terrorism. And to counter this menace a country concentrates on all domains, especially the intelligence wing.
- India has the required intelligence which has averted several terrorist attacks in the past. But there are international elements like Pakistan who are interested in cementing terrorism in India. Hence, India needs to keep a close watch on its neighbourhood concerning terrorism.
A multi-pronged strategy should be synergized by the international community. Everybody involved in tackling the threat of terrorism is what is required here and as India has been retreating from time to time there can be no double standards in dealing with the issue of terrorism.
Notwithstanding the absence of a globally agreed, legal definition of terrorism, an effective and prevention-focused international response to terrorism is highly desirable, particularly one guided by a normative legal framework and embedded in the core principles of the rule of law, due process and respect for human rights.