Terrorism is one of gravest problems that society faces today. It is an issue of global concern. The presence of terrorism can be felt all across the globe. It is, today, a much debated issue in all the countries of the world-developing or developed.
It is not a new phenomenon. Its presence can be traced back to the ancient society of the first century. But over the years ‘terrorism’ like other avenues of life, has undergone tremendous changes. It has now become more lethal, more widespread and more difficult to control. Today, it stands as a serious challenge before civil society.
Terrorism has its presence everywhere ranging from Indonesia, Malaysia to Sudan, Somalia, Egypt and Nigeria and Peru, Chile, America to Ireland. Almost all the countries are directly or indirectly facing the problem of terrorism. It has sprung up everywhere.
Terrorists are the greatest enemies of society because they undermine its stability by creating chaotic conditions leading to mass killing, damage and destruction. Generally, public places like airports, railway stations, etc. are their targets, but sometimes they shift their focus to some soft targets, like schools, hospitals, trains and buses where security is lax and security forces are not very vigilant.
Every country has defined terrorism in its own way as per its own suitability. Sometimes one man’s guerrilla is another man’s freedom fighter as we have seen during the freedom movements of India. We Indians regard Bhagat Singh, Raj Guru, Chandershekhar Azad and Sukhdev as freedom fighters, which fought for the cause of the country, but the British considered them terrorists and prosecuted them. Hence, there is no universally accepted definition of terrorism. In fact, terrorism is an unlawful use of violence or threat of violence aiming to inculcate fear among the masses.
It is a philosophy of violence which terrorists use to destabilise the economy of a country. In modern times terrorism is being used to deliberately create communal tensions, and disrupt the peaceful atmosphere of a targeted society or country.
Every action is carried on for some motives. Similarly, impact of terrorism has three motives-religious interests, ethnic minority interests and economic interests. In reality no terrorist groups are fighting for the above-noted cause. But the real issue is the land, the power to hold it and to get maximum benefit from it. Former UN Secretary General was of the view that fights over economic resources and political power is the main cause of terrorism. Fundamentalist groups are more active in developing than in developed countries.
Terrorists groups today are well-equipped with state-of-the- art technologies. In a technologically advanced world, they are well armed with small, potable and easy-to-operate weapons. The weaponry available for national defence is more or less also available to the terrorists’ groups.
Terrorists are increasingly making use of bombs and explosives. In addition, indiscriminate firing, bombarding and hijacking are also used by them as a tool to terrorise society. Bombarding is the most common method used by the terrorist all across the world. Sophisticated timers are also available to set off the explosives when the terrorists want to do this. Nuclear terrorism and bio-terrorism are the arms of modern terrorism.
Terrorists in their operation of activities are very brutal and cruel. They act cold-bloodedly without any consideration to kindness, ethics and morality. Their sole aim is damage and cause destruction. More than 50 per cent of attacks are directed against people rather than property.
Terrorist’s today work under global network. They have established contacts with groups in different countries and carry on their activities in quiet collaborations with them. They offer training and finances to other groups. Sometimes terrorists’ activities are sponsored by bigger terrorists’ organisation. Contacts were detected between the ULFA and the LTTE of Sri Lanka, the Lashkar-e-Taiyeba and the Al-Qaeda, etc.
Today the Al-Qaeda is dominating the world of terrorism. Pakistan’s direct or indirect involvement has been found with the militants in Kashmir. There was report of PWG’s links with the LTTE, which is said to have provided weapons and funds to the PWG. This networking on the one hand makes the operation of the terrorists easier and the task of combating difficult, on the other.
The causes of the emergence of terrorism can be found in socio-economic situations. Imbalance in growth and development, growing political unrest and dissatisfaction arising out of the government’s policies or some other reasons, ill-treatment at home, etc. are some of the factors responsible for the birth of terrorism. The frustration resulting from such situations erupts in the form of terrorist activities.
The prevalence of corruption adds to the woes. The Constitutions of most of the democracies provide for equal rights, but often these may be denied to one group. These discriminations give birth to a sense of alienation. Sometimes, terrorist groups are formed as a reaction to government’s any move or decision.
Furthermore, desires to bring about a change in existing social set-up in the larger interests of society, the terrorist groups seek political goals through the means of violence. Above all, a wish to improve one’s lot socially and economically derives an ordinary person to terrorism. In India, such cases are not far to seek.
The economic loss and damage that terrorism is capable of wreaking on a country today can be as appalling as that brought about by way of various segments of economy are badly affected by it, but tourism is the worst affected. It can be seen in Kashmir, which once famous as ‘heaven on earth’, is today lagging in tourism.
Terrorists today take to mafia tactics to extort money from businessmen to fund their activities. Sometimes ethno-political groups get succour from foreign governments which exploit the genuine or imaginary grievances of potential terrorists where they do not exist. However, hostile governments cannot permanently create the necessary grievances or potential terrorists where they do not exist.
Often the terrorists form alliance with the drug mafia to run their nefarious activities. The Shining Path in Peru presents a good example of terrorists-drug smuggling links. This alliance facilitates the task of the terrorist groups to use the same infrastructure set by the drug smugglers to serve their purpose.
It would not be out of place to mention that democratic system of governance adopted in almost all the countries of the world directly or indirectly contributes to the growth and expansion of terrorism. Since democracy offers freedom of speech and movements, more targets are exposed to terrorist attacks. The terrorists cynically exploit the rights and freedoms granted by it to them.
In this age of Information Revolution, it is easier for the terrorist groups to spread their tentacles anywhere and everywhere. India has a hotter experience of terrorism, dating back to the assassination of Rajiv Gandhi when its cruel face first appeared before the public.
Since then there have been many milestones in terror’s spread in India, the Hazratbal seize, the Mast Gul-led seizure of Charar-e-Sharif, the IC-814 hijacking and the Kandahar surrender, the Amarnath Yatra massacre, the attack on the Raghunath Temple, the blast at Sankat Mochan, Malegaon, Mumbai trains, the Sarojini Nagar and Paharganj blasts in Delhi and in Hyderabad.
The battle against terrorists cannot be won in isolation from the aberrations in the architecture of rule of law. Nor can this battle be won by government alone, even if it must be deemed to have the primary responsibility for marshalling the national resources and will. If we have to innoculate ourselves against the vendors of global terror, we will need to produce a new cohesion behind a national purpose.
A political system that produces only contentions, allegations and character assassinations cannot suddenly produce a moral authority to forgo new instruments to fight terrorists. The divided political leadership is unable even to infuse a sense of purpose in security agencies to move beyond their routine bureaucratic turf battles. Nor are our leaders prepared to recognise the imperative of pooling in a meaningful way the vast resources, national and state level in a centralised force dedicated to fighting terror.
Ultimately whatever measures are taken, the conditions that give rise to terrorism should tackle efficiently, and that can be done on political plane alone. Garnering public support to fight terrorism and creating awareness among people to be alert and vigilant about their surroundings is the key to thwarting the evil designs of terrorists.