By M. Burhanuddin Qasmi
Terrorism is a political virus. Greed for power, injustice and intolerance breed terrorism. No one in the world is immune from the direct or indirect affect of terrorism now.
History of Terrorism
According to sociologists and experts on terrorism the French Revolution provided the first uses of the words terrorist and terrorism. The use of the word terrorism began in 1795 in reference to the ‘Reign of Terror’ initiated by the Revolutionary government in France during the French Revolution. The agents of the Committee of Public Safety and the National Convention that enforced the policies of “The Terror” were referred to as ‘terrorists’.
The French Revolution provided an example to future states in oppressing their populations. It also inspired a reaction by royalists and other opponents of the Revolution who employed terrorist tactics such as assassination and intimidation in resistance to the revolutionary agents. Systematic use of terror as a policy is first recorded in England in 1798.
The words terrorism and terrorist were first used as political terms to describe atrocities of an occupying establishment – say colonial government.
Researches done on the history of terrorism reveal that ‘terrorist’ in the modern sense dates to 1947, especially in reference to Jewish tactics against the British in Palestine – while earlier it was used for extremist revolutionaries in Russia (1866). The tendency of one party’s terrorism said to be another’s guerilla war or fight for freedom was noted in reference to the anti-British actions in India (1857), Cyprus (1956) and the war in Rhodesia (1973). The word terrorist has been applied, at least retroactively, to the Marquis resistance in occupied France in World War II.
The Britain has first used the terms ‘terrorism and terrorist’ to describe anti -establishment forces or those who used hit-and-run practices against British colonialism.
It is relatively hard to define terrorism albeit it is not a new phenomenon for the world. A Western writer argues, ‘Terrorism has been described variously as both a tactic and strategy; a crime and a holy duty; a justified reaction to oppression and an inexcusable abomination.’ Obviously, a lot depends on whose point of view is being represented. Terrorism has often been an effective tactic for the weaker side in a conflict. As an asymmetric form of conflict, it confers coercive power with many of the advantages of military force at a fraction of the cost.
Definition of Terrorism
World’s popular online encyclopedia — Wikipedia, notes ‘The word “terrorism” is politically and emotionally charged, and this greatly compounds the difficulty of providing a precise definition. A 2003 study by Jeffrey Record for the US Army quoted a source (Schmid and Jongman 1988) that counted 109 definitions of terrorism that covered a total of 22 different definitional elements. Record continues “Terrorism expert Walter Laqueur also has counted over 100 definitions and concludes that the ‘only general characteristic generally agreed upon is that terrorism involves violence and the threat of violence.’ Yet terrorism is hardly the only enterprise involving violence and the threat of violence. So does war, coercive diplomacy, and barroom brawls.”
The lack of agreement on a definition of terrorism has been a major obstacle to meaningful international countermeasures.
Faces of Terrorism in India
The media and and law inforcement agencies’ onslaught with assumptions and deliberate repetitions of Muslim names after each terror attack in India made a penetration into common hearts and it ultimately implies that terrorism is a Muslim specialty in the country.
In India, the terrorists in Kashmir are Muslims. But they are one of several terrorist groups operating in the country. The Punjab terrorist are Sikhs. The United Liberation Front of Assam (ULFA) is a Hindu terrorist group. Tripura has a history of rise and fall of several terrorist groups, and so have Bodo terrorists groups, mostly Christians which killed hundreds of Muslims in 1993 for autonomy, some of them are now in Assam’s Tarun Gogoi’s cabinet as ministers. Christian Mizos mounted an insurrection for decades, and Christian Nagas and Manipuris are still heading militant groups. They have bombed trains, assassinated hundreds of innocents men, women and children. This year they called a boycott in at least five states out of seven northeastern states of India to disrupt 15th August (Independence day) celebrations of India.
But most important of all are the Maoist terrorist groups that now exist in no less than 150 out of India’s 600 districts, according to a report in a national English daily. They are attacking police stations, and killing and razing innocents villagers who oppose them,and there is nothing Muslim about these groups.
In September 2, 2006 another national English daily published from Mumbai reports elaborately about few dozen ‘Hindu Mujahideen’ working with Hizbul Mujahideen of Kashmir for years in Jammu and Kashmir. The newspaper publishes statistical information with real Hindu names, age and year of attachment with H M along with their native locations in Jammu region. Similarly in some other non-Muslim outfits such as ULFA in Assam, Muslim members are not barred from joining theedir resistance.
On 24th February 2008, bomb blasts occurred in the RSS office and the Bus Stand in Tenkasi, Tamil Nadu, one of India’s southern states. The media carried big stories about the blasts. The Sangh Parivar organised demonstrations in various parts of the state, demanding the arrest of Muslim ‘terrorists’, who according to them had committed the crime. However the Tamil Nadu police acted sensibly. A special team led by Mr. Kannappan, DIG, Tirunelveli range made a thorough investigation and arrested 3 persons S Ravi Pandian (42), a cable TV operator, S Kumar (28), an auto driver, both from Tenkasi, and V Narayana Sharma (26) of Sencottai, all Sangh Parivar activists. The last accused had assembled 14 pipe bombs in the office of Ravi Pandian, as excposed in press reports.
A Mumbai daily newspaper ‘Urdu Times’ reported (18 April 2008) about Malegaon police raid in a patho-laboratory which is situated in basement of a private hospital and recovered revolver, RDX and fake currency note of one thousand rupees. Police have arrested 3 terrorists, Nitish Ashire (20) Sahab Rao Sukhdev Dhevre (22) and Jitendar Kherna (25). The last one is the owner of Smith Pathology Laboratory which is situated at the basement of More Accident Hospital of Camp Area. One pistol, 5 live RDX bombs, 3 used RDX cases, four fake notes of one thousand rupee, laptop, scanner, 5 thousand cash rupees and 2 mobiles were recovered during the raid, detailed the newspaper report.
After the Jaipur serial blasts on 13th May the police were reportedly on the hunt for a woman who allegedly promised Rs.100,000 to a rickshaw puller to carry out the terror attacks.
“We are looking for a woman, identified as Meena, who tried to lure a rickshaw puller, Vijay, to carry out the attacks,” a police officer said on the condition of anonymity, according to a report in the press.
Vijay, allegedly a resident of Mumbai, said before Ajtak TV channel camera, “Stop the lady (Meena) or she would explode bombs at Katwali”. By that time a bomb was already exploded at Katwali area. Vijay was detained just hour after the Jaipur blasts who also told the police that Meena lives near one of the blast sites.
What happened to Meena and Vijay, and what the police later got from Vijay is still unreported – the Jaipur case is still unsolved.
The Maharashtra Police on 16th June arrested two people from Navi Mumbai in connection with a series of bomb blasts in the area in which seven people were injured. The Anti-Terrorist Squad (ATS) reportedly swooped down on the Sanatan Ashram and nabbed the two men, identified as Hanumant Gadkari (50) and Mahesh D. Nikam (35).
Mumbai ATS chief Hemant Karkare said the duo belonged to the Hindu Jan Jagriti Manch (HJJM) and between February and June were responsible for three bomb blasts in the Navi Mumbai area.
Two bombs exploded outside a theatre June 4 on the eve of T20 Indian Premiere League finals. Two others were exploded in Navi Mumbai May 31 and in Panvel February 20. The ATS also seized a motorcycle registered in Ashram’s name and the vehicle’s logbook entries enabled the investigators to zero in on the prime accused. The motorcycle had been extensively used in January-February for reconnaisance trips in Navi Mumbai and other areas for identifying sites to set off the explosions.
The HJJM, led by Jayant Athavale, had also protested in 2002 against celebrated artist M.F. Husain’s paintings of Hindu deities.
In July 2008 Mumbai High Court freed the accused in Nanded blast for insufficient evidence where two Bajrang Dal activists were killed in April 2006 while preparing bombs. Later, one of the survivors of the Nanded episode during narco-analysis asserted, “We Hindus should also do the acts of terror”. The same statement was publicly reconfirmed by Shiv Sena supremo Bal Thackery and his shivsainiks through his mouth-piece ‘Samna’ and posters in Mumbai appeared in June after the arrest of Hindu Jan Jagriti Manch activists for Navi Mumbai blasts.
In late July 2008, Bangalore, Ahmedabad and Surat were struck with exploded and unexploded serial bombs. The police investigating the case, which killed at least 42 and injured more than 200 people, traced an email claiming responsibility to a Mumbai apartment.
But at the address, rather than seizing terrorists from the ‘Islamist’ group which said it carried out the attack, they found an American — 48-year-old Kenneth Haywood– a Christian preecher in Mumbai high profile society.
The IP address for the email claiming responsibility for an obscure group called the Indian Mujahideen was traced by police to Haywood’s laptop. “He has never been detained, but we have called on him and questioned him as part of the investigation,” said Parambir Singh, a senior officer in the anti-terrorism squad. Now Haywwod has already flown from India even after a ‘No-go’ warnning from Mumbai’s ATS!
If the same laptop had been in possession of a Muslim, would the ATS officers demonstrate the same caution, a genuine question every conscious person should ask?
The hunt for those behind the blasts in Ahmedabad and Surat should be centred on Mumbai. Since some of Mumbai’s politicians have given a green signal to terrorism a month ago in June this year. And more so the police also believe the plot was hatched in the suburb of Navi Mumbai, from where four cars used in the attack were stolen.
Terrorism is a political virus. Greed for power, injustice and intolerance breed terrorism. No one in the world is immune from the direct or indirect affect of terrorism now. Terrorists have a common goal — attack and create fear — in whichever way that easily leads to their nefarious ends. Their religion is terrorism and nothing else. This one formula can at least lead Indians to a solid counter terrorism measure.
M. Burhanuddin Qasmi is editor of Eastern Crescent and director of Mumbai based Markazul Ma’arif Education and Research Centre.
– Asian Tribune –