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India’s counterterrorism chronicle: Unveiling shifts from 2000 to 2024

India’s encounter with terrorism and violent extremism has roots partly in the religion-based partition of 1947, which divided the sub-continent into two nations: India and Pakistan. The sub-continent witnessed horrifying ethnic riots, marked by extreme violence and acts of terrorism, in the aftermath of the partition. Following the partition, after a brief period of neutrality, […]

India’s encounter with terrorism and violent extremism has roots partly in the religion-based partition of 1947, which divided the sub-continent into two nations: India and Pakistan.

The sub-continent witnessed horrifying ethnic riots, marked by extreme violence and acts of terrorism, in the aftermath of the partition.
Following the partition, after a brief period of neutrality, the then Maharaja of Jammu and Kashmir (J&K), Hari Singh, formally acceded to India. However, this act of accession has not been recognized by Pakistan, which claims the Muslim-majority region.
This territorial dispute is at the core of the longstanding conflict between the two nations, with both vehemently rejecting the other’s claims.
Moreover, India perceives Pakistan as perpetuating the ongoing cross-border conflict and sponsoring militant activity to destabilize the state of J&K and other parts of the country.

WHAT HAS CHANGED FROM 2000 TO 2024?
In the year 2000, the conflict in India witnessed a total of 1910 incidents, resulting in a tragic toll on various sectors of the population. Civilians bore the brunt with 1260 casualties, while security forces faced 573 incidents, and terrorists, insurgents, or extremists accounted for 2260 lives lost. An additional 28 casualties fell under the category of “Not Specified,” bringing the total number of lives lost to 4121.
The year 2001 marked a significant escalation in the conflict, with 2802 incidents recorded. Civilians, once again, experienced a devastating toll of 1508 casualties, while security forces faced 883 incidents. The opposing factions, classified as terrorists, insurgents, or extremists, accounted for 3005 casualties. There were 108 additional casualties labelled as “Not Specified,” resulting in a total of 5504 lives lost during that year.
In 2002, the conflict continued with 2329 incidents, showcasing the persistent challenges faced in the region. Civilians suffered 1255 casualties, security forces encountered 721 incidents, and the opposing factions contributed to 2454 casualties. An additional 181 casualties were classified as “Not Specified,” culminating in a total of 4611 lives lost during that period.

These successive years highlight the ongoing complexities of the conflict in India, underscoring the diverse and significant impacts on various segments of the population. The cumulative figures emphasize the urgent need for concerted efforts to address the root causes of the conflict and work towards sustainable peace in the country.
In the year 2023, the conflict in India persisted with 281 recorded incidents, signifying the enduring challenges faced in the nation. Civilians bore a significant brunt, accounting for 151 casualties, while security forces encountered 82 incidents in their efforts to maintain order. The opposing factions, classified as terrorists, insurgents, or extremists, contributed to 230 casualties. An additional 6 casualties were labelled as “Not Specified,” bringing the total number of lives lost to 469 during that year.

As the conflict progressed into 2024, there was a notable decrease in incidents, with only 36 recorded. Despite the reduction in overall incidents, civilians continued to be impacted, with 30 casualties recorded. Security forces faced 12 incidents, underscoring the ongoing challenges in maintaining stability. The opposing factions, in the form of terrorists, insurgents, or extremists, contributed to 15 casualties. Notably, there were no casualties classified as “Not Specified” during this period, resulting in a total of 57 lives lost in 2024.
These recent figures highlight the persistent nature of the conflict in India, with fluctuations in the intensity of incidents and their corresponding impacts on civilians, security forces, and opposing factions. The need for sustained efforts to address the root causes of the conflict and promote lasting peace remains a pressing concern in the region.
Over the span of the years 2000 to 2024, the prolonged conflict in India has resulted in a cumulative total of 24,073 recorded incidents. Civilians have borne a significant and tragic toll, accounting for 14,341 casualties during this period. Security forces, while working to maintain order, faced 7,513 incidents, reflecting the complex challenges they encountered. The opposing factions, identified as terrorists, insurgents, or extremists, contributed to a substantial loss of 23,903 lives. Additionally, there were 1,202 casualties classified as “Not Specified,” bringing the overall total number of lives lost to a staggering 46,959.

These cumulative figures underscore the enduring nature of the conflict, with a substantial impact on various segments of the population, including civilians, security forces, and the factions involved. The consistent challenges faced over the years highlight the urgent need for comprehensive efforts aimed at addressing the root causes of the conflict and fostering sustainable peace in the region.

HOW DOES INDIA COUNTER TERRORISM?
Several intelligence, military, and police organizations within the Indian government contribute to counterterrorism efforts.
These include state-run police forces, special security forces to guard airports and other high-profile targets, and paramilitary forces that patrol the borders and assist the police when necessary. These paramilitary groups, such as the 165,000-strong Central Reserve Police Force, have been accused of committing human rights violations, especially in Kashmir, where they are particularly active. The army usually participates in counterterrorism operations as a last resort, though in Jammu and Kashmir, they play a more consistent role. India’s closest structural equivalent to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security is the Ministry of Home Affairs, which oversees national police, paramilitaries, and domestic intelligence gathering.

India has several intelligence agencies that monitor terrorist activities. The Research and Analysis Wing (RAW) is the external intelligence agency and the Intelligence Bureau (IB), a division of the Home Affairs Ministry, collects intelligence inside India. A Joint Intelligence Committee analyzes intelligence data from RAW and IB as well as from a handful of military intelligence agencies, which usually provide tactical information gathered while carrying out counterterrorism operations.

The IB oversees an interagency counterterrorism centre similar to the CIA. The Ministry of External Affairs oversees its own counterterrorism body, much like the U.S. State Department, which oversees diplomatic counterterrorism functions such as briefing other nations on suspected Pakistani sponsorship of terrorism in India.

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