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India's Terrorism Struggle

Prepared by: Eben Kaplan
July 31, 2006


The explosions (BBC) that rocked the Mumbai commuter rail on July 11, killing more than 180 people and injuring some 700, were just the latest episode in India's decades-long struggle with terrorism. According to the U.S. National Counterterrorism Center, last year India suffered more fatalities due to terrorism than any other nation but Iraq, and the U.S. State Department reports that India endures hundreds of terrorist attacks every year.

While Mumbai's spirit and resilience have been lauded (Bloomberg), some appear to be fed up (Times of India) with this congratulatory rhetoric. The train bombings have sparked a spirited debate over India's approach to counterterrorism, described in this new Backgrounder. Some in India have criticized the government (Asia Times) for letting politics stand in the way of necessary security measures and proper intelligence gathering. Others are calling on lawmakers to renew the Prevention of Terrorism Act, a controversial piece of legislation akin to the U.S. Patriot Act, which was repealed in 2004.

The slow pace of the investigation into the July 11 attack has also fueled frustration: After two weeks, Indian officials had only made four arrests (USA Today), the significance of which is unclear. Many Indians would like the government to address what they see as the root cause of much of the terrorism in their country: Pakistani support of militant groups in Kashmir. Three days after the Mumbai bombings, Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh accused Pakistan of instigating and inspiring terrorists (BBC). Pakistani officials swatted away these allegations (Times of India), cautioning India against allowing its investigation to unduly cross over into Pakistan.

Not long ago it seemed that Indo-Pakistani relations were on the mend, but it now seems any progress made in the last year has been wiped away (CSMonitor). The conflict between the two revolves around the disputed Kashmir region, which Sumit Ganguly, writing in the latest issue of Foreign Affairs, says could be a stumbling block as India emerges on the world stage.

Not all terrorism in India is the result of the Kashmir conflict. As an interactive map from the MIPT Terrorism Knowledge Base shows, terrorists carry out attacks throughout the country. The South Asia Terrorism Portal breaks down the casualties by region.

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