India has been a victim of Terrorism

The focus of terrorism has shifted to non-state actors fully funded and supported by our adversary from across the borders.
Keywords: Terrorism, Non-State Actor, Humanity, War, Mechanism, UNSC, Capability, Conflict, Aspirations, Objective, Pakistan, 
Listen to article
Getting your Trinity Audio player ready...

India has been facing the brunt of terrorism long before the world took notice of this threat to humanity. For many decades, terrorism in different shapes and sizes has tried to cause injury to the soul of India, and our nation has lost many precious lives. However, we, the people of India, have put up a brave front and countered terrorism valiantly and successfully. For a country like India, which is searching for its soul after centuries of subjugation by foreigners, inclusive growth of its economy and people remains the top priority. For the development of India, peace and tranquillity are paramount. Therefore, the national approach to conflict resolution has to work toward discouragement of conflict and persuasion of peace. In case of a conflict is unavoidable, then the aim should be to resolve the conflict at the earliest with available mechanisms and bring down the risk of aggravation. The ‘Capability of War’ should circumscribe together with the capability and the resolve to fight the war. The requirement would be a well-trained and well-equipped defence force to fulfill national aspirations and objectives.

All nations are in a constant endeavour to fulfill or secure the goals of their national interests. It is generally accepted that it is the right of every nation to secure its national interests. The nation’s requisite interests would be the matters pertaining to safeguarding the territorial integrity, sovereignty, and security of its citizens. A nation at all times tries to validate its actions based on its national interests. Today, as far as India is concerned, all these national interests are potently confronted by non-state actors. Though most of these non-state actors are believed to have come up on homegrown descriptions, many of these inimical elements are being encouraged and reinforced by nation-states hostile to India. Thus, India has been the victim of internal conflict in the erstwhile state of Jammu and Kashmir (J&K), Punjab, parts of Northeast India and the hinterland where Left-Wing Extremism (LWE) related violence has fanned out in many areas.

The threat of terrorism to India: Couloumbis and Wolfe observed that the focus of International Relations changed from the ‘nation-state’ to ‘non-state actors’ after the middle of the twentieth century. These non-state actors include terrorist organisations, religious movements, ethnic groups and multi-nation corporations. Out of all these non-state actors, only terrorist organisations have assumed a violent role and become a severe threat to peace and the nation-state system worldwide. The activities of these terrorist organisations are conducted from one country against other countries or people of different faiths and beliefs.

India’s sovereignty, territorial integrity and security of its people were challenged severely when Pakistan attacked the erstwhile state of Jammu and Kashmir (J&K) in 1947. On 14/15 Aug 1947, India was partitioned into two parts based on the two nations theory. When Maharaja Hari Singh didn’t join India and Pakistan before 15 Aug 1947 as mandated to all the princely states as per the Indian Independence Act of 1947, Pakistan immediately planned to attack the erstwhile princely state of J&K. “On 20 Aug 1947, a courier arrived carrying a demi-official letter from Gen. Sir Frank Messervy at General Headquarters in Rawalpindi. Major Onkar Singh Kalat opened the letter. Attached to the letter was the appendix entitled, ‘Operation Gulmarg-The Plan to Capture Kashmir’ and the date of start of operation was 20 Oct 1947”.[1] Pakistan Army regulars and tribal raiders invaded Kashmir Valley on 22 Oct in 1947, two months after the Partition of India.[2] The strategies exhibited by the raiders indicated that they were trained in military tactics.

On 26 Oct 1947, Maharaja Hari Singh signed an instrument of accession with India, and on 27 Oct 1947, the first contingent of the Indian Army landed at Srinagar airport. More than one hundred civil aircrafts were pressed into service to carry men and material. Rarely in the history of military warfare was any operation launched without preparation to face the unknown enemy and many handicaps. Two significant difficulties were: a lack of intelligence of the enemy’s strength & dispositions and roads.[3]

The Indian Army pushed back the raiders and the Pakistan Army beyond the Line of Control (LoC). On 30 Dec 1947, the Indian Government, in good faith, referred the matter to UNO under articles 34 & 35, which permit member nations to bring any situation to the notice of UNO whose continuance could threaten the region’s peace and security. Pakistan denied its role in the tribals’ invasion of Jammu and Kashmir, but its lies were exposed when the UN commission visited Karachi in July 1948.[4]

Pakistan Army moved its regular army troops to Mirpur and Domel and never vacated India’s territory, which was illegally occupied until now. Pakistan has been in unlawful and forced occupation of approx 78,000 sq. km. of Indian Territory in Jammu and Kashmir. China occupies approximately 38,000 sq. km. illegally in the erstwhile state of Jammu and Kashmir. Furthermore, under the so-called Sino-Pakistan Boundary Agreement of 1963, Pakistan illegally ceded 5180 sq. km. of Indian territory in Pakistan Occupied Jammu &Kashmir (POJK) to China.[5]

In 1965, Pakistan, under its ambitious plan, launched ‘Operation Gibraltar’ to send infiltrators to Jammu and Kashmir. The aim was to infiltrate the LoC and foment uprisings against the Indian Government. To counter this move of Pakistan, India launched an all-out offensive action against Pakistan and almost reached Lahore and Sialkot. Pakistan was defeated badly. In 1971, East Pakistan was liberated and became Bangladesh. Pakistan declared against India. Its attacks were repulsed, and Pakistan got a humiliating defeat.

While addressing the UNSC, Zulfikar Ali Bhutto made a fiery speech, criticised India for aggression, and resolved that Pakistan is ready to  ‘fight for a thousand years war’ with India. Then Gen Zia-ul-Haq engineered an ‘evil design’ through a well-thought-out strategy to ‘bleed India through a thousand cuts’ drawn out of Bhutto’s policy against India. Based on these two statements, ‘Op-Topac’ was envisaged to make Jammu and Kashmir part of Pakistan and break India internally by spreading terrorism. Gen Musharaf took advantage of his leaders’ thought process, launched an ill-conceived adventure in 1999 in Kargil, and failed again.

The terrorism in  Jammu, Kashmir, and beyond could also be attributed to hybrid warfare by Pakistan. It has aspired for greater dependence on engaging in terrorism, subversion, cyber campaigns, and funding efforts, with limited direct involvement of the armed forces from across the LoC.

Keeping in view the threat imposed by our neighbouring countries such as Pakistan and China, the internal security situation could be ascribed as under:

  • Terrorism in the hinterland of India
  • Left Wing Extremism (LWE) 
  • Insurgency in the North Eastern States
  • Cross-Border terrorism in Jammu & Kashmir

Major terror attacks in India. Violence is the predominant means of all terrorist organisations, though different organisations use different methods of violent acts. They use every possible weapon, from sophisticated to primitive, to terrorise the targeted community. In some instances, the countries get involved directly or indirectly in supporting and promoting terrorism against other countries. In such cases, terrorists function as non-state actors, and India has been the victim of state-sponsored terrorism for the last seven decades.

From 1970 to 2018, India faced 12002 terrorist attacks, which left 19,866 deaths and 30,544 injured.[6] And from 2019 to date, the total number of terrorist incidents in India was 1208, which resulted in 466 deaths of civilians, 388 security forces personnel were martyred, and 1326 terrorists were eliminated as per the report of the South Asian Terrorism Portal.[7] The major terrorist incidents which took place in India and shook the nation could be summarised as under:

  1. Mumbai blast, 1993. The 1993 Mumbai terror attack was one of the first gruesome attacks of terrorism in the country. This shook the whole nation as its financial market was under attack. These blasts were engineered at 12 places in Mumbai. A total of 257 people died, and another 713 were injured; Yakub Menon, found guilty of these blasts, was given the death penalty.
  2. Chittisingpura massacre, 2000. On 20 Mar 2000, 35 villagers of the Sikh community in Kasmir were murdered coldblooded by the terrorists of the outfit called LeT based in Pakistan.
  3. Parliament attack in 2001. On 13 Dec 2001, terrorists attacked the temple of Indian Democracy. It is believed that Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) and Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM) terrorist organisations based in Pakistan were behind this attack. However, this attack was averted by the bravehearts of India.
  4. Terror attack on Akshardham, 2002. On 25 Sep 2002, terrorists attacked Akshardham in Gujrat and killed 33 people. National Security Guards (NSG) pressed into the service, and all terrorists were eliminated.
  5. Raghunath mandir bombings in 2002. The first terrorist attack occurred on 30 Mar 2002; eleven people were killed and twenty injured. This was a suicide attack. Again, on 24 Nov, a suicide attack by the terrorists killed fourteen devotees. These attacks were engineered and executed by LeT from across the border.
  6. Mumbai terrorist attacks in 2008. On November 26, 10 Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) terrorists entered Mumbai by sea and carried out brutal attacks at different places. A furious gun battle occurred at Hotel Taj, Hotel Oberoi, and Nariman House, and the security forces killed nine out of ten terrorists. One of the terrorists, Ajmal Kasab, was caught alive and was later hanged. This terrorists’ attack left 164 innocent people dead and 308 people injured.
  7. Uri attack in 2016. On 18 Sept 2016, terrorists attacked an army camp in the Uri sector of Jammu and Kashmir. Nineteen soldiers were martyred. The terrorists infiltrated the LoC, entered the Indian border, and attacked an army camp.
  8. Pulwama attack in 2019. Forty security personnel of the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) sacrificed their lives for the nation in Pulwama in Jammu and Kashmir. A Jaish-e-Mohammad suicide bomber had hit his vehicle loaded with explosives into a CRPF fleet. The nation was stunned in shock and antipathy.

Effortless ingress to state-of-the-art weapons and the cyber world has helped terrorists mask their identities and have access to real-time information ranging from secured communication and flow of funds to making bombs and executing terror attacks. Due to these characteristics, terrorism has become a preferred means of waging war. The lethal assaults on India merit attention because it raises crucial questions about our plans to prevent, prepare for, and respond to terrorist attacks in other parts of India and the world. The accurate analysis of the tactics used, the targets chosen, and the effectiveness of the response will provide answers for preparing the counterterrorism strategy.

Conclusion: India has been fighting all types of terrorism for decades, somewhat since 1947 after partition. Initially, the focus was laid on tackling homegrown terrorism, but recently, there has been a shift in the strategy, and the focus is on tackling cross-border terrorism. The shift of the source of terrorism is quite visible in the policies the Government of India adopted to fight the menace of terrorism. In the past, many misguided people left the path of violence and joined the mainstream. However, now the focus of terrorism has shifted to non-state actors fully funded and supported by our adversary from across the borders. Terrorists’ attack on the Indian Parliament in 2001 revealed the foreign hands in the abetment of terrorism against India. And 26/11 terror attack on Mumbai confirmed the total involvement of our adversary in spreading terrorism against our country. After that, the policies were changed to counter this hybrid warfare.

Among the significant initiatives undertaken in the recent past. At the legal level, the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA) was reinforced, insulated, and equipped to tackle all types of terrorism. New NSG hubs were created at various places in addition to headquarters at Manesar to deal with terrorism swiftly and effectively. NATGRID was created to gather and share intelligence amongst various stakeholders. NCTC was established to integrate and enhance the operational capabilities of various agencies involved in counterterrorism operations. At the international level, issues regarding terrorism were raised with UNCTC and UNSC. Recently, the UNCTC conference was held in Mumbai and New Delhi. Terror funding is a significant issue because finance is the bloodline of terrorist organisations. UAPA and anti-money laundering laws have been further strengthened to increase their effectiveness. Certain sections of the people have been exposed for their misdeeds and open support of terrorism. They are being dealt with as per the law of the land.


[1] Iqbal Chand Malhotra & Maroof Raza, Kashmir’s Untold Story Declassified, BLOOMSBURY, 2019,  p.63

[2] On October 22, 1947, Pakistan invaded Kashmir. Here is what… › India › story › black-day-o. Accessed on 23 Nov 2022.

[3] Lt.Gen E A Va, PVSM Without Baggage-A personal account of Jammu and Kashmir operations 1947-49, Natraj Publishers Dehradun 1987, p-12.

[4] Ibid p-24

[5] Q. 27 Indian land occupied illegally by Pakistan and China › resources › parliament › Q27Indianland…. Accessed on 23 Nov, 2022.

[6] Wikkipedia, aceessed on 25 nov, 2022.

[7] South Asia Terrorism Portal .   Accessed on 25 Nov, 2022

Add comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Colonel B S Nagial

Col B S Nagial (Retd) is a third-generation Indian Army Officer who retired in 2019 after rendering three decades of service. He has spent about 15 years fighting terrorism mainly in J&K. He is also the Director of his own venture, Academy of Proficiency and Training, Tricity Chandigarh. Various articles and research papers have been published in his name in the Times of India, Times of Isreal, Daily Excelsior, CLAWS, SecurityLinkIndia, etc. His major areas of interest are National Security, Counter-terrorism and International Relations. Presently, He is pursuing MA-Political Science from IGNOU.

View all posts