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Terrorism


mehtab
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waheguru ji ka khalsa waheguru ji ki fateh

This is an essay i wrote for my english class.

Terrorism : A study of its roots, aspects, and two-faced nature

September 11th, 2001! This day shall always be written in red letters in all the history books all over the world. It is the day not only when America was attacked by terrorists, but also when the world changed for everyone forever. All the nations all over the world were awakened and realized the potential threat they were facing as a whole. The US war on terror that has reached Afghanistan and Iraq is in fact just the beginning of an international response to the threat of terrorism. This paper focuses on the roots of terrorism, as in the reasons it raises its ugly head, on the various means by which it draws support, on how it ultimately affects a society and a country, and also about how certain governments and/or government organizations can at times be responsible for similar acts as well. Being a citizen of India, I am going to focus on terrorism as it affects India and the people there.

The images of terror that we see on TV or read in the newspapers make one feel that terrorists are individuals different from human beings and are nothing more than bloodthirsty monsters. Astonishingly, researches have discovered that they possess a perfectly sound mental condition as opposed to the well-accepted stereotype of them being insane killers (Long, 1990, p.16). Most of them are people unsatisfied with certain policies of their respective governments, and have taken to this extremely incorrect measure after running out of choices. Be it poor economic conditions, unpleasant social conditions, or political conditions judged as oppressive by them, the common goal of all these individuals is to gain the public and government’s attention towards the grievances which they want addressed. Being perpetrators of terror, violence is their chief weapon. It is usually in the form of bomb blasts, assassinations, hijackings etc. An increase in their activities generally triggers the government’s harsh response, bringing forth crackdowns, raids, arrests etc. Thus the cycle of violence kicks off in which the ones to lose and suffer are, as always, the common inhabitants of the country (Long, 1990, p.24).

In any case, a group of restless individuals bent on pressing the government come down on its’ knees can’t achieve much without a strong and reliable backing support. This support could be in terms of arms, finances, logistics, political or just mere moral and/or verbal support. Usually such supporters are other operating terror outfits, ethnic political groups, drug traffickers and sometimes even another country’s government in power (Long, 1990, p.105). The ones supporting such a cause may do so due to sharing similar grievances against the opponent government that they are targeting, or their goals are similar to the ones that the terrorists want to achieve. Individuals or organizations owing allegiance to similar nationalities, religious and/or ethnic backgrounds or even speaking the same language are usually the ones who act as supporters.

Sometimes though, there are instances where governments do give in to the demands of terrorists. Best example would be the release of a Kashmiri extremist Maulana Masood Azhar by the Indian government in December 1999 after Indian Airlines flight from Kathmandu, Nepal to New Delhi, India was hijacked by militants (Trehan, 2002). Such consequences cement the morale and resolve of terrorists, and justify to them that their method of struggling for a better future spotlessly true (Morris, Hoe & Potter, 1988, p. 51). Terrorist organizations also give some individuals a chance to “get back†at those who have treated them unfairly (Long, 1990, p.107). However, the success of such an organization depends on the leadership exhibited by the leader on the members, clever planning and the ability to organize activities (Morris, Hoe & Potter, 1988, p. 63). But what matters the most is the amount of fear that the group can strike within the minds and hearts of people and/or the government.

Here I would like to discuss a little bit about terrorism in my country: India. It must be noted here that the Kashmir dispute between India and Pakistan has been raging ever since the two nations gained independence from British rule in August 1947. A number of talks between the two countries have repeatedly failed as terror continues to rule the valleys of Kashmir. Although the Indian government blames Pakistan for sponsoring cross-border terrorism, the latter denies it completely, though it does not shy away from offering moral support to the cause of Kashmir’s independence from India. Not all terror groups functioning in Kashmir want to join Pakistan, as there are a few who want Kashmir to be an independent and sovereign nation with allegiance to neither India or Pakistan.

For the past fourteen years or so, terrorism in the northern Indian state of Kashmir has taken a heavy toll of life. Kidnappings and killings of foreign nationals, indiscriminate and merciless killings of people belonging to another faith, and sporadic attacks on the security forces is something that has been going on for quite some time. Reports indicate that as of now, there are around six principal terrorist groups operating in Kashmir, although others speculate it to be as high as one hundred and eighty two. Hizbul Mujahideen, Lashkar-e-Toiba, Al-Badr, Harkat-ul-Ansar, Harkat-ul-Jehadi Islam and Jaish-e-Mohammad are the six main groups (Trehan, 2002). The Jaish-e-Mohammad terror outfit was formed by Maulana Masood Azhar who has been mentioned earlier.

The above-mentioned groups propagate terror by means of explosive blasts, indiscriminate firing at public places, targeting government VIPs and also security forces (Trehan, 2002). According to Trehan, from January 1990 until June 2000, about 45,586 incidents of terrorist violence have been reported. More than 20,000 people have been killed as a result of this. Trehan further puts the number of militants killed at 11,479, and also reports three thousand to have surrendered. Out of the 35,059 militants/suspects captured in the past decade, 15,726 have been arrested under TADA (Terrorist and Disruptive Activities (Prevention) Act of 1987) according to him. More than 20,000 Kalashnikov rifles and $ 2.7 million worth of ammunition for them have been seized. 37,000 hand grenades, 2,500 kilograms of RDX have also been seized in the last decade. This has devastated the tourism-based economy of Jammu and Kashmir which has suffered a damage at a figure as high as $417 million (Trehan, 2002).

Unfortunately though, the government fighting terrorism may not necessarily be of “saintly†nature either. There have been such governments in Iraq, Afghanistan and scores of other countries who have repeatedly mistreated their own people. In most cases, it is usually a particular ethnic section of society that bears the brunt of the ruling government. Mass massacres sponsored by the government, harsh treatment and discrimination in all possible fields are other modes by which these horrific crimes are committed by the ones in power. I am going to talk over here basically about the blunders committed by the Indian government.

The Golden Temple in the city of Amritsar, located in the northwestern Indian state of Punjab is the holiest shrine of Sikhs. In the early days of June 1984, the Indian army launched an attack on the Golden Temple, codenamed Operation Bluestar, in which an alarmingly large number of innocent worshippers were killed. The attack was said to be targeting “militants†hiding inside the premises of the Golden Temple, although certain foreign media reports have made it clear that minimal force could have been used to nab them (www.sikhreview.org). Eye witnesses put the number of dead somewhere around 7-8,000, while Mark Tully of the BBC puts the number at 4,000 (www.sikhreview.org). The Prime Minister of India at that point was Mrs Indira Gandhi who had ordered the attack, and who was assassinated by two of her Sikh bodyguards later the same year on October 31st .

What followed in the streets of the Indian capital New Delhi for the next few days was mass murder of thousands of innocent Sikhs, including young women and children. As surprising as it may sound to believe, the killer mobs were supplied with iron rods and an abundant supply of petrol and kerosene by members of Mrs Gandhi’s political party, the Congress-I, (www.sikhcybermuseum.org). Further shocking to believe is the fact that a number of eyewitnesses have testified seeing even policemen supply these to the bloodthirsty crowds (www.sikhcybermuseum.org). Educational institutions, houses, movable property, cash, jewellery, factories and business premises belonging to Sikhs were either destroyed, looted or burnt. The places of worship of Sikhs, called Gurudwara, were systematically attacked to prevent them from gathering there and saving their lives (www.sikhcybermuseum.org). Even after all these years, the miscreants have not been brought to justice. On the contrary, they have been honored with ministerial positions and also senior posts in certain political parties.

The years that followed saw a rise in militant activities in the state of Punjab. Law and order was enforced, and so was the abuse of human rights by the police in many cases. Mysterious disappearances and illegal cremations became common (www.indiatogether.org). I as a child remember visiting Punjab in the summer of 1989 when terrorism was said to be at its peak. People feared to venture out of their homes after it started getting dark in the evening. Also, bus travel became an ordeal as there always existed the fear of a bomb exploding on a bus full of passengers. The level of trust between people of different ethnic communities had visibly and considerably diminished. Although my stay in Punjab was relatively short, the experience that I had was definitely not.

Religious violence is nothing new to India. The country saw nationwide bloodshed in early 1993 after Hindu fanatics tore down a sixteenth century mosque (Muslim place of worship) in northern India in early December 1992, claiming it to be the birthplace of one of their deities. The number of people dead is said to be in the thousands, mostly Muslims. Yet again, the perpetrators continue to occupy important political positions and have walked away unpunished. Once again, in late February and early March of 2002, India witnessed yet another horrific carnage of Muslims. A train carrying fifty-eight political Hindus activists was set on fire and all of them succumbed to the burns. The response that followed was terrible and bloody. Once again, mosques were desecrated and this time it was Muslims homes and businesses that were targeted and destroyed. Amnesty International and Human Rights Commission have reported the most brutal gang rapes of Muslim women, as young as sixteen, that took place (Devraj, 2002). Some of the victims were even set on fire and burned to death to avoid the existence of any evidence.

Today there is a high level of distrust between the two communities. People saw their own neighbors rape their daughters and sisters (Devraj, 2002). One school teacher says he saw his neighbors, also his students, rape girls in his village (Larmer, 2002). History repeated itself when it came to light that even this time the local government and the police department aided the crowds in their bloodlust (Larmer, 2002). The neighbors who had celebrated festivals together, the friends that worked together, and even the people who had been part of their daily lives turned their backs on them and joined the ranks of the rapists and killers who were hounding for prey (Devraj, 2002).

What then is the solution to terrorism? Is terror sponsored by a government justified? Or is it as bad as that committed by the ones outlawed? In my opinion, the countries of the world should get together to fight this menace of terrorism as a whole unit. What I would want to see as a possible solution to end terror is to punish the one advocating it, be it a group of individuals or the government for that matter. The governments of terror-stricken countries need to try modifying certain policies of theirs, thereby making an attempt to do justice where it may not have been served. In the US for example, cyber terrorism as a means to sabotage the infrastructure has not been ruled out. Associations like National Infrastructure Protection Center (NIPC), National Infrastructure Assurance Council (NIAC) and Joint Task-Force Computer Network Defense (JTF-CND) have been formed especially for this purpose (Manion & Goodrum, 2000). Also, countries on terror lists will have to be monitored. This would also mean that governments proved to be tormenting a certain section of their own society would also have to be disciplined. Leaders who have misused power should be the first ones to be tried as per the criminal laws of the country in question. Also, nations proved to be supporting terror activities in another country, no matter what way they do so, should be dealt with strictly. Given the situation that all these requirements are fulfilled we will we be able to breathe in a world free from terror, anguish and frustration.

References

Devraj, R. (2002, Apr. 17). Rights-India: Women targetted in Gujarat

Pogrom- Investigators. p.1. Retrieved from ProQuest Database.

indiatogether.org : Missing Justice. Retrieved from

http://www.indiatogether.org/2003/jun/hrt-missing.htm

Larmer, B. (2002, Apr.22). A Chilling Message; Religious violence in India is pushing the world’s second largest Muslim population deeper into the ghetto—and endangering the nation’s secular dream: [Atlantic Edition]. p.28

Long, D.E. (1990). The Anatomy of Terrorism. New York : The Free Press, A Division of Macmillan, Inc.

Manion, M., & Goodrum, A.(2000). Computers and Society. Mark Manyon. Speculations : An anthology for reading, writing, and research (pp. 225-237). Dubuque, IA : Kendall/Hunt Publishing Company.

Morris, E., Hoe, A., & Potter, J. (1988). Terrorism : Threat and Response. New York : St. Martin’s Press.

sikhcybermuseum.org : Delhi Riots- 1984. Retrieved from http://www.sikhcybermuseum.org/history/Dehliriots.htm

sikhreview.org : The Ghalughara : Operation Bluestar - A retrospect. Retrieved from http://www.sikhreview.org/june2000/chronicle.htm

sikhstudies.org : 1984 Massacre : Wounds That Do Not Heal. Retrieved from http://www.sikhstudies.org/Periodicals.asp?TtlCod=493

Trehan, J. (2002, Feb). Terrorism and the Funding of Terrorism in Kashmir. Journal of Financial Crime, 9, 201-211.

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yeah good article man, but i always thought the number of people killed during operation bluestar was much higer, like in the hundreds of thousands, could someone please clarify that for me (We had SMART visit our university, and they did a presentation on this, and they said that bodies from the Golden temple were being loaded into trucks and taken to mass cremations, also they said 37 gurudwaras were attacked). I have always been confused on this, so i would greatly appreciate anyone's help. Thanks in advance.

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waheguru ji ka khalsa waheguru ji ki fateh

brother monk jee,

The article by Ram Narayan Kumar ( http://www.sikhreview.org/june2000/chronicle.htm ) says 42 other Gurdwaras were attacked.

The army had isolated and stormed 42 other main Gurdwaras throughout Punjab. In the absence of a thorough investigation, it is difficult to estimate the casualties, but it is known that the operation against many Gurdwaras became bloody. The White Paper says that "terrorists at Moga and Muktsar offered a fair amount of resistance."

As for the number of deaths,

The soldiers were in a foul mood. According to the official White Paper, 83 army personnel had been killed and 249 wounded during the Operation. Private estimates give much higher figures of army casualties.238 After the destruction of the Akal Takht, they drank and smoked openly inside the Temple complex and indiscriminately killed those who were found inside. For them, every Sikh inside was a terrorist. According to the official White Paper, 493 terrorists were killed, 86 wounded and 1,592 apprehended during the Operation. These numbers add up to 2171, and fail to explain what happened to at least five thousand pilgrims who were trapped inside when the Operation began. The eye-witnesses claim that "7 to 8 thousand people were killed". Mark Tully estimates that approximately 4000 people may have died. Chand Joshi suggests 5000 civilian deaths.

hope that helped

plzz forgive and correct me for any mistakes

waheguru ji ka khalsa waheguru ji ki fateh

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