Tuesday, January 1, 2008

The War on Terror: India Has Troubles, Too

I think that, globally, America is a focus of attention for groups like Al Qaeda. The United States of America is a serious obstacle for people who believe they have a duty to kill those who don't agree with them, and act on that belief. The lack of major attacks on American targets since 9/11 is, I believe, more a matter of very effective intelligence and law enforcement, than due to a lack of effort from fanatic Muslims.

Although America is a major target, it isn't the only place that has problems with terrorists. Visor, a reader of this blog said that he believed India and Pakistan to be the major victims of terrorism.

I don't have the statistics to confirm or deny Visor's claim: but either way, he's got a point. Pakistan and India have experienced many terrorist attacks. He also made a very good suggestion: that I talk about this matter.

This post is just a start: don't expect much detail at this point. I had a general impression that Muslims were killing Hindus who were killing Muslims in India, making both religions look bad in the process, but that's about as far as it went. I don't know details of Indian culture and politics, and India is a complicated place.


With a third the area of America, three times the population*, dozens of national and regional political parties, and 15 official languages, it's going to take me a while to learn what's going on in India.

Organizations that want to change India, but aren't (quite) political parties seemed like a place to start understanding terrorism in India. I found some major players, listed below. I don't have an opinion, yet, about how, or whether, they fit into the war on terror.

Some Active Groups
  • All Parties Hurriyat Conference in the Kashmir Valley
    They say they want self-determination for Kashmir, and want want to get it peacefully. They also say they want an Islamic Kashmir, but one that has rights for non-Muslims. (A somewhat opinionated discussion of this organization is "All Parties Hurriyat Conference" at South Asia Terrorism Portal.)
  • Bajrang Dal
    Their name gets translated as "Army of Hanuman" or "Monkey Brigade," and they're a youth group of Vishwa Hindu Parishad.
  • National Socialist Council of Nagaland (National Socialist Council of Nagalim (Khaplang-Kitovi), Isak-Muivah, NSCN, or KK)
    The NSCN wants self-determination for the "Naga peoples." The Khaplang-Kitovi claims that it isn't a separatist movement because, according to them, Nagaland was never part of India. India doesn't agree. The NSCN has had an on-again, off-again shooting relationship with the Indian military. A recent ceasefire extension made the news Aug 1, 2007: " NSCN (I-M), Centre agree on ceasefire" (The NSCN website is, www.nscnonline.org/.)
  • Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (or Sangh, or RSS)
    A Hindu organization whose name is translated as "National Volunteers' Organisation." They want to protect Hindu rights, and reform (at least) the caste system. They don't approve of Islamic terrorism. The RSS has a colorful history. The RSS:
    • Has been banned three times by the Indian government.
    • May have supported the killing of about 2,000 Muslims in Gujarat state in 2002.
    • Is linked to the 2006 explosions in Nanded
    • The Nandad blasts were at the house of Laxmanrao Rajkondwar. Two died and three were injured. The deceased were RSS activists, and may have been building a bomb.
    The RSS is involved with Indian politics through the Bharatiya Janata. (see Vishwa Hindu Parishad) (An onofficial discussion of the RSS is "RSS Story" at ourkarnataka.com. The article is in English, the site isn't.)
  • Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP)
    A Hindu organization with the slogan "Dharmo rakṣati rakṣitaḥ", or "Dharma protects those who protect Dharma." They want India to be, officially, a Hindu Rashtra, or Hindu Nation. If I understand it right, they think Sikhs, Buddhists and Jains are "Hindu," because their beliefs trace back to India. They also say that they're against terrorism, say that they won't push Muslims around, and are against the caste system. (Viśva Hindū Pariṣad is an alternate Latin-alphabet spelling) (see Bajrang Dal) (The VHP website is www.vhp.org.)

One of the resources I found today may be quite useful: the South Asia Terrorism Portal.
* India has three times as many people as America, and they're living in a country that's got a third as much land. It's crowded, but not as much as you might think. Most Americans live in the east half of the country, or a few areas the west coast, like California's Central Valley.

There's a reason why not many people live in places like western North Dakota and Montana: I love this country, but parts of America aren't pleasant places to live: except for the few, the proud, and the tough.

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Note! Although I believe that these websites and blogs are useful resources for understanding the War on Terror, I do not necessarily agree with their opinions. 1 1 Given a recent misunderstanding of the phrase "useful resources," a clarification: I do not limit my reading to resources which support my views, or even to those which appear to be accurate. Reading opinions contrary to what I believed has been very useful at times: sometimes verifying my previous assumptions, sometimes encouraging me to change them.

Even resources which, in my opinion, are simply inaccurate are sometimes useful: these can give valuable insights into why some people or groups believe what they do.

In short, It is my opinion that some of the resources in this blogroll are neither accurate, nor unbiased. I do, however, believe that they are useful in understanding the War on Terror, the many versions of Islam, terrorism, and related topics.