Terrorism can best be defined as the systematic use of terror in a variety of ways as a means of gaining the desired ends by force. In other words, we can say that the term Terrorism is attributed to violent extremism which creates fear and panic all-round so that even the high and mighty also sometimes lose their nerve in the face of it
Even a haughty and hot-headed dictator like Zia-ul-Hay of Pakistan had on one occasion to yield to the wholly unjustified and fantastic demands of some terrorists who had hijacked a plane.
In recent decades, life in this world has become precariously insecure because of global terrorism, which is assuming menacing proportions with each passing day. The law and order enforcing agencies throughout the world find themselves helpless in meeting the growing challenge posed by global terrorism. One is exposed to the danger of becoming a victim of the terrorist activity of someone or the other terrorist outfit the moment one steps out of one’s house.
As if that were not enough, sometimes terror menace comes to one’s drawing-room or even-bedroom uninvited and changes the course of life of its victim and his near and dear ones. Terrorists are sometimes compared to snakes, which may be hiding at the most unlikely places. One may suddenly meet one’s sad end in a plane crash like Zia-ul-Haq of Pakistan or while enthusiastically proceeding to the dais to address one’s voters and supporters like Rajiv Gandhi of India in Sriperumbudur.
Terrorists might have planted a bomb in a marriage party, below a chair in an eating shop, at a bus stand, or a railway station or train or any other place, which is likely to be crowded and is, therefore, considered to be a soft target from the point of view of the terrorists.
Today, the menace of global terrorism can be seen at work in a very large number of countries. Sometimes a single terrorist action brings disastrous consequences to millions of people. The murder of Arch Duke Ferdinand of Austria in 1914 by a Bosnian terrorist led to the breakout of the First World War.
The assassination of Indira Gandhi, by some terrorists among her own security guards, let loose a reign of terror for the whole peace-loving community of Sikhs. throughout the length and breadth of the land. The irony in this nationwide reign of terror was that it was engineered by those who swear by Mahatma Gandhi, truth, and non-violence all the twenty-four hours of the day.
The liquidation of the entire football team from Israel by Palestinian terrorists at the Munich Olympics is another example of global terrorism. During the post-World War II period, the ideological and strategic interests of the two superpowers aided and abetted global terrorist movements.
The bombing of the World Trade Centre at New York on September 11, 2001, by some terrorists, proved to the world that no country, rich or poor, was beyond the reach of international terrorist organisations. Mohajirs are the Muslims, who had actively supported the demand for the creation of Pakistan before Partition and migrated to the newly-carved Islamic State with great enthusiasm and high hopes.
Today terrorist groups of original Pakistani citizens and Mohajirs are busy shedding the blood of each other on the streets of Karachi. Within India, Jammu Kashmir, Punjab, Assam, Manipur, Tripura, and Maharashtra are some of the States, which are plagued by the monster of terrorism, almost invariably sponsored and sustained by Pakistan.
Serial bomb blasts in Mumbai in March 1993, were among the most nefarious acts of terrorism in India. The dropping of arms and ammunitions in Purulia in West Bengal is just one example to show how active the global terrorist groups are in India and elsewhere.
Terrorism, irrespective of its form or variety, is a brutal and obnoxious method of achieving one’s objective, which may not be necessarily justified and legitimate. It is necessary to identify its motives and manifestations in order to evolve a strategy to tackle this problem.
In the first place, terrorism arises out of political grievances or political ambitions. Some people or groups of people having political grievances or ambitions which they cannot get redressed or fulfilled through normal constitutional processes so that they resort to the terrorist method as a shortcut to success.
Indian terrorists, popularly known as revolutionaries were, quite active in the early years of this century. As they were fighting for the freedom of the country, they wrote a Golden Chapter in our freedom movement and have become immortal. The names of Aurobindo Ghosh, Vir Savarkar, Udham Singh, Ram Prasad Bismil, Chandra Shekhar Azad, Bhagat Singh, Raj Guru, and Sukhdev are household names in India.
They laid down their lives for the freedom of the country and thus vindicated the honor of the motherland. But they also left the example of terrorism to settle scores with an established authority commanding brutal power. It is quite possible that some of the terrorists of the post-independence period might have tried to become Udham Singh and Bhagat Singh in their own way. In Assam, ULFA is active for the attainment of separate and independent Assam. Bodos are fighting for Bodoland. In Bihar, landlords are fighting to establish their one-upmanship.
Some people take to the gun because they feel they have been economically exploited. Naxal terrorism largely belongs to this category. In some cases, failure to get justice through lawful means pushes people into the lap of terrorist outfits.
Sometimes young persons become terrorists because they harbor a feeling of having been discriminated against and treated as second-class citizens. The appealing gaps between the rich and the poor, the privileged and the unprivileged, the high-caste and the low-caste also give rise to terrorist activities.
At other times it is the injured, psyche that turns peace-loving and law-abiding people into fire-spitting terrorists. When the law fails to dispense justice, people tend to take the law into their own hands and go out on a killing spree to quench the thirst for their revenge. In such cases’ terrorism becomes direct action, not for achieving some goal, but just to settle scores with the power-drunken brutal force.
Sometimes humble and meek persons take to terrorism against their powerful rulers because power goes to the head of the rulers and they lose sight of moral values and sound reason. Whatever may be the cause of growing terrorism in the world, it has made the life of all high and low- miserable. Mankind is now fed up with it. Enough is enough.
Terrorism must stop. When terrorists are in rage, they play havoc with society. Effective measures, therefore, need to be taken to root out terrorism, before it destroys humanity. In the first place, political terrorists like LTE of Sri Lanka need to be brought to the negotiating table and their genuine demands satisfied.
If the high and the mighty could only remain reasonable and humane, even while wielding power, there would be no terrorism. But power like alcohol deprives the wieldier of power of all reason. Power is not power if it does not go to the head of its wielder and the blood of the powerless is not blood if it does not boil on being humiliated and discriminated against.
Therefore, effective measures involve putting checks and balances on the powerful and the mighty and creating machinery to dispense quick justice to the aggrieved and the hurt. It is no wonder that there is no terrorism in Switzerland. Confrontational measures and ruthlessness are not going to solve this problem. Much needs to be done in the economic sphere. Every State should strive to remove economic disparities between different sections of its society. The exploitation of every type must now stop.
The Anti Terrorism Summit held in Paris in 1996 has recommended the adoption of international conventions on terrorist acts, training of anti-terrorist experts, tightening the grip of law against terrorism, control on production and sale of arms and explosives. Our entire educational system should be rationalized and overhauled to teach the students to value reason and moral values.
Modern terrorism thrives not only on its ability to hit where it hurts the most but also on support from certain international quarters. Since one country’s or group’s terrorist is another country’s or group’s freedom fighter, terrorists and terrorist organizations can be sure of their voice being heard in international forums. Amnesty International and some other human rights organizations generally have a soft corner for certain militant groups who allegedly fight for the cause of the oppressed sub-nationalities. Some countries, of course, sponsor terrorism to wage long proxy wars against their neighbors through hired terrorist groups.
India has, for many years, been a victim of terrorism sponsored from across the border. The Indian Prime Minister’s call to evolve a universal extradition treaty as a firm measure to combat crime and terrorism is evidently related to this problem. If some of the rogue states have waged a war on others, the Western countries to are adopting double standards on terrorism. No wonder, most of the terrorist organizations have established their offices in various European capitals and they direct their operations from there.
Terrorists’ motivation, strategy, and weapons have changed over the years. Criminals and drug lords now commit crimes with impunity and then take shelter in a third country that is either unfriendly or has no extradition, treaty with the affected country
It is equally important, however, to make a distinction between those who take refuge in a third country because of a genuine fear of persecution and hardened criminals who are fugitives of law The realities on the ground, however, do not inspire much optimism about the success of our campaign against terrorism, if only because universally acceptable, solutions will not be easy to find.