Over the past few months, militant activities have been more pronounced in various parts of India. At least they have been more prominently reported and counter strikes have gained much public attention. Indian Prime Minister, Narendra Modi and National Security Advisor, Ajit Doval have made their unyielding stance very clear. All threats to national security shall be dealt with swiftly and efficiently – with no bureaucratic lag. Here’s a look at the top 5 militant groups that pose a threat to peace and harmony in the country.
Most Active Militant Groups
• Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) – India is one of LeT’s key theaters of operations and this militant group is responsible for some of the most horrific terrorist strikes in the country (including the 2001 Indian Parliament attack and the 2008 Mumbai attacks). LeT is believed to have the protection of Pakistan’s intelligence agency, the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI). It is one of the most feared militant groups in India.
• Hizbul Mujahideen (HM) – The HM is one of the key terrorist groups that functions in the state of Jammu and Kashmir. This separatist organisation has been responsible for hundreds of deaths in the Kashmir valley over the past decades.
• United Liberation Front of Western South East Asia (ULFWSEA) – The newly formed ULFWSEA came into being in April 2015 when key militant outfits of North East India such as the NSCN (K) and eight others including the Ulfa (I), NDFB (Songbijit), and Kamatapur Liberation Organisation came together to form a united front. The group is responsible for a number of recent militant strikes.
• Babbar Khalsa International (BKI) – The main aim of the BKI is the creation of an independent Sikh state known as Khalistan. The BKI is believed to have links with many European terrorist organisations and the ISI.
• Communist Party of India-Maoist (CPI-Maoist) – Members of the CPI (Maoist), often referred to as Naxalites, were deemed “the single biggest internal security challenge” by PM Manmohan Singh in 2006. The group aims at destabilising the government of India by spreading its militant activities.
Terrorist Groups in India
Back in 2013, the UPA government informed the Lok Sabha that it had identified 66 terror groups which were active across India. Former Minister of State for Home, RPN Singh, had at the time informed the lower house of parliament that North East remained worst affected due to the activity of these militant groups. Of the 65 groups, 34 were based out of Manipur, 11 in Assam, 4 each in Meghalaya and Nagaland, and 2 each in Tripura and Mizoram. The report further says that the five militant outfits that have remained active in the northern state of Jammu and Kashmir are – Al Badr, Harkat-e-Mujahideen, Hizbul-Mujahideen, Jaish-e-Mohammad, and the dreaded Lashkar-e-Taiba. According to the government, Punjab has three active militant groups – Babbar Khalsa International, Khalistan Commando Force, and Khalistan Zindabad Force. Despite the concentration of these terror groups in a few states, their presence and activities are felt across the nation, national security agencies believe. Evidence of their activities have been found in states like Andhra Pradesh, Delhi, Gujarat, Karnataka, Kerala, Maharashtra, Rajasthan, and Uttar Pradesh. Some minor separatist groups were also found to be active in states such as Assam and Tamil Nadu.
Cross Border Militancy
Over the past few decades, Indian security agencies and the government have developed a firm conviction that most of the militant outfits in the nation receive both support and funding from other countries, notably from parent-outfits based in the neighbouring country of Pakistan. Jammu and Kashmir is undoubtedly the most significant theatre of terrorist activities in the country. Intelligence reports claim that most of the militant groups based in the state regularly receive training, shelter, funds, and arms from across the border. Pakistan’s government has, however, consistently denied these claims at the United Nations and all other international fora.
The other major militant organisation that is starting to look towards India is the Islamic State, better known as the ISIS. Early this year, Indian intelligence organisations reported that over 30 ISIS headhunters were active in major cities including Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata, Chennai, Bengaluru, and Hyderabad. These IS representatives have been luring young men to join the jihadist fight in Syria and other places. With more and more radical youth supporting militant activities on and off social networks, India’s Intelligence Bureau has warned of the possibility of terror strikes by the ISIS in all states and has put police forces on alert.
Focus North East
In over six decades of independence, India has directed much of its energy towards preservation of internal peace and harmony. Apart from Jammu and Kashmir which is partly under occupation by Pakistan, the North Eastern states have remained extremely vulnerable to militant and terrorist activity. It could be the difficult terrain, the lack of robust infrastructure, the proximity to troubled areas such as Tibet, and the historic separatist tendencies – whatever the reason, these parts have remained troubled for far too long. In the past few years much has been done to integrate the NE states into the country’s mainstream administration and yet there is much more that needs to be done if these militant organisations need to be kept at bay.
Casualties and Damage
Deaths related to militant strikes and terrorism and insurgency had been at a high by the turn of the millennium. In 2001, terrorism and militancy related deaths were pegged at about 5,839. By 2011, the decline to 1,073 brought much relief and in 2012 this went down to 804.
In the state of Jammu and Kashmir alone, about 43,439 militancy related fatalities have been recorded between 1988 and 2012. In 2014, 193 people were estimated to have been killed in incidents related to militancy. The northeast was witness to about 1,051 terror deaths in 2008, 246 in 2011, and 317 in 2012, and 413 in 2014. While the casualties have certainly been declining, India is more focused than ever on a comprehensive counter militancy stance.
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