Terrorism in India By: RACHITA MATHUR


The term terrorism is derived from French word terrorisme which is based on Latin verb terrere which means to cause tremble. When a terrorist from one country goes to the soil of another country and operates in utter disregard of international borders, it is known as “international terrorism” or “cross-border terrorism”.


The term “terrorism” was initially coined to describe the Reign of Terror, the period of the French Revolution from 5 September 1793 to 27 July 1794, during which the Revolutionary Government directed violence and harsh measures against citizens suspected of being enemies of the Revolution.  There are several causes of terrorism:

  • Perceptions of deprivation and inequality, especially amongst culturally defined groups. This can lead to civil violence, of which terrorism may be a part. Terrorism represents social control from below, as attacks are directed upon targets symbolizing central government or a superior community.
  • A lack of political legitimacy and continuity, as well as a lack of integration for the political fringes, encourages ideological terrorism. The potential is exacerbated by ethnic diversity.
  • Terrorism in one country can spillover into neighbouring areas. Mass media can influence the patterns of terrorism by enhancing agenda setting, increasing lethality and expanding the transnational character.
  • A skewed gender balance and high proportion of unmarried males increases the association with intra-societal violence and instability. Political and criminally motivated violence is largely the work of young unmarried men.
  • Windows of opportunity when terrorist violence can serve to influence opinion and resource. In the case of peace agreements, radical members of coalition groups resume and escalate hostilities to undermine confidence and prevent compromise, thus regaining the initiative and avoiding marginalization.
  • Hegemony in the international system by one or two actors will cause a high level of transnational anti-systematic terrorism as a war by proxy develops. Therefore, terrorism can represent a backlash against globalization and modernization.

Terrorists may be deprived, uneducated, affluent and from both sexes. It can occur in developed and undeveloped countries, in a variety of regimes. It encompasses ideology and religion. Though what gives rise to terrorism may be different from what perpetuates terrorism over time. Societies that are more exposed tend to be:

  • Poor societies with weak state structures. These are more exposed to civil wars than wealthier countries, and therefore the risk of terrorism increases.
  • States engaged in democratic transition rather than democratic or authoritarian regimes. Levels of transnational terrorism are highest in semi-authoritarian states.
  • Undergoing societal changes brought through modernization. Thus creating the conditions for terrorism through mobility, communication, widespread targets and audiences.
  • Weak and collapsed states that contribute to international terrorism. Ongoing or past wars can have terrorism motivations rooted within. Armed conflicts also have facilitating influences on transnational terrorism.

 Laws in India:

Anti-terrorism laws in India have always been stand in the way of fundamental rights of citizens guaranteed by Part III of the Constitution. The anti-terrorist laws have been enacted before by the legislature and upheld by the judiciary though not without reluctance. The intention was to enact these statutes and bring them in force till the situation improves. The intention was not to make these drastic measures a permanent feature of law of the land. But because of continuing terrorist activities, the statutes have been reintroduced with requisite modifications. The Laws related to terrorism are as follows:

Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, 1967
The Act was designed to deal with associations and activities that questioned the territorial integrity of India. The ambit of the Act was strictly limited to meeting the challenge to the territorial integrity of India. The Act was a self-contained code of provisions for declaring secessionist associations as unlawful, adjudication by a tribunal, control of funds and places of work of unlawful associations, penalties for their members etc. The Act has all along been worked holistically as such and is completely within the purview of the central list in the 7th Schedule of the Constitution

The Maharashtra Control of Organized Crime Act, 1999 (MCOCA)
This law was specifically made to deal with rising organized crime in Maharashtra and especially in Mumbai due to the underworld. Under the Maharashtra law a person is presumed guilty unless he is able to prove his innocence. This Act does not stipulate prosecution of police officers found guilty of its misuse. .
Prevention of Terrorism Act, 2002
This Act clearly defines the terrorist act and the terrorist in Section 3 and grants special powers to the investigating authorities under the Act before a magistrate along with his confessional statement.

Case Law:

Kathula Somulu v. State of Andhra Pradesh

The police got some information regarding some illegal things in Goundlakota Village forest. So, on June 22, 1986, trusting the information, the Senior Inspector (SI) of Police, Chintur, with other police personnel went to the village in order to conduct raids in the forest. After doing the work, they were returning back to the Chintur. On their way back, they found some extremists going towards the hillock near Gonegutta of Kalathur village. The police followed them and they arrested the two appellants with one country-made pipe-gun (tapancha) and two country-made bombs and pellets. After arresting the appellants, a case was registered against them under the provisions of the Arms Act and Explosive Substances Act and also under the Section 3 and 4 of the ‘TADA’. And for the recovery of the weapons and explosives, panchanamas were prepared. The prosecution examined the prosecution witnesses 1 to 4. PW1 and prosecution witness was the SI of Police and PW 2 is the panch witness. The Supreme Court awarded the appellants a minimum sentence and no interference is called for. So, the appeal is dismissed.












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