- Terrorism is the planned, organized and systematic use of violence as a means of coercion for political, religious or ideological purposes. It has become a global phenomenon posing major threat to international peace, security and stability.
- The menace of terrorism whether perpetrated by individuals, groups or state forces is a crime against humanity which has wounded societies all over the world.
- The terrorist has not only threatened the ideals of democracy and freedom but also caused a serious challenge to the existence, progress and development of mankind.
- International terrorism poses an increasingly dangerous and difficult threat to world. Today’s terrorists seek to inflict mass casualties, and they are attempting to do so across globe. They are less dependent on state sponsorship and are, instead, forming loose, transnational affiliations based on religious or ideological affinity and a common hatred. This makes terrorist attacks more difficult to detect and prevent.
- In the Global Terrorism Index 2020 (GTI), India has retained its rank as the eighth most highly impacted country from terrorism globally, it has improved significantly on several metrics. Between 2018-19, it was among the 10 countries that witnessed the largest decrease in deaths from terrorism. There has also been a 16 percent decrease in the overall economic impact of terrorism on India over the same period.
India subdivides terrorism in four major groups:
- Ethno-nationalist terrorism– This form of terror focuses either on creating a separate State within India or independent of India. Violent Tamil Nationalist groups from India to address the condition of Tamils in Sri Lanka, as well as insurgent tribal groups in North East India are examples of ethno-nationalist terrorist activities.
- Religious terrorism– This form of terror focuses on religious imperatives, a presumed duty for a specific religious group, against one or more religious groups. Mumbai 26/11 terror attack in 2008 from an Islamic group in Pakistan is an example of religious terrorism in India.
- Left-wing terrorism– This form of terror focuses on economic ideology, where all the existing socio-political structures are seen to be economically exploitative in character and a revolutionary change through violent means is essential. Maoist violence in Jharkhand and Chhattisgarh are examples of left-wing terrorism in India.
- Narcoterrorism– This form of terror focuses on creating illegal narcotics traffic zones. Drug violence in northwest India is an example of narco-terrorism in India.
Role of external state and non-state actors in creating challenges to internal security
- All the states in the north-eastern region are different from each other because of their ethnic diversity which comprises over 160 scheduled tribes and 400 other tribal or sub tribal communities and groups with predominantly a rural economy.
- This region has remained largely under-developed and there has been no policy like “Act East” which could focus on the extended neighbourhood in the Asia-Pacific region and simultaneously developed this region.
- Because of lack of socio-economic development, and central and regional divergence, this region still suffers from a multiplicity of deficits namely deficits related to basic needs, infrastructure, resource allocation and utilisation, governance and above all a deficit of understanding between the region and the rest of the nation. For these reasons, different insurgent groups are still active.
- Deadlock over peace-talks and cease-fire agreements with various warring tribes, nexus between many insurgent groups and organized crime syndicates, China’s linkages to some anti-India insurgent groups, demand scrapping the controversial Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act are some other key reasons for the survival of armed insurgency in the north-eastern region.
External vulnerabilities by state and non-state actors that pose challenges to India’s national security:
- ‘State actor’ is used in the context where one government supports an actor in the performance of an act or acts of terrorism against the other often deemed as a state sponsor.
- Increasing activities of Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) in Nepal changed the nature of the border completely. It has ties with the Taliban and other radical groups. These groups have been involved with the radicalization of the Rohingya refugees in Bangladesh. Groups such as the Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT), the Haqqani Network and the Taliban have repeatedly been used by Pakistan as instruments to help it achieve its foreign policy objectives in India and Afghanistan.
- China’s People’s Liberation Army continues to deploy construction equipment for road works. It uses spider excavators to build roads in the border area.
- China is setting up villages in uninhabited tri-junction stretches between India, Bhutan and China, which are intended to support Chinese military facilities.
- China not following resolution mechanism of maritime disputes in reference to the South China Sea where China is flexing its military muscle despite an international tribunal verdict (UNCLOS) going against it.
Organizations and individuals not connected with, directed by, or funded through the government are non-state actors. They can be corporations, NGOs, and even paramilitary and armed resistance groups.
- Pakistan has been a major exporter of terrorism to India. Non-state actors like terrorist groups for instance Lashkar-e-Taiba, Jaish-e-Mohammad are a continuous threat.
- Non state actor -sponsored terrorism, often motivated by fundamentalist ideologies, backed by secretive but efficient financial networks, use of IT, clandestine access to chemical-biological and nuclear materials, and illicit drug trafficking, has emerged as a major threat to international stability.
- These groups aim to not only create instability in states like J&K, they also have a larger aim of destabilising the country. This is done through sporadic terrorist strikes, which spreads terror and panic. This could also adversely affect the ability of the Indian state to pursue economic modernisation.
- Growing vulnerability of the coastline and also of the airspace, for example, Mumbai and Purulia incidents.
- Insurgency, illegal migration from Bangladesh and smuggling activities reflect the porosity (concern highlighted in Kargil Review Committee) of our borders.
- The deep-rooted nexus between drug mafias, arms dealers, and money launderers for financing terrorism.
- The north-eastern states have been facing many challenges such as
- organized Crime, the UWSA is the largest of the organized criminal groups in the region and operates freely along the China and Thailand borders,
- Ethnic Gangs
- Insurgent Groups which can encourage LWE, trans-border terrorism and separatist tendencies
- Opium poppy cultivation in Burma’s Shan state
- illegal immigrants having livelihood interest
- refugee crisis like 40,000 Rohingya live in India
- insurgent groups active in the Northeast, namely ULFA-I, NDFB-S, UNLF hide in Myanmar, together these could be a serious threat to internal security.
- Terrorism has been a threat not only to India’s democracy but countries worldwide affecting the enjoyment of rights of people. Terrorism has slammed and affected almost every sphere of human life, be it economic or political or social life.
- Broadly, terrorism is the antithesis of independence, development and human rights. The frontier regions of India, especially regions bordering Pakistan are the worst affected regions by terrorism.
- Terrorism, in all its form, is the greatest violator of human rights. The ruthless, barbaric, inhuman killing of innocent people is carried out by the terrorists with a view not only to challenge the authority of the Government, but also to put the security and sovereignty of the country in jeopardy.
- Terrorism in India is characterized by communist, Islamists and separatist groups. Communist terrorist groups are by far the most frequent perpetrators and the main cause of terrorism deaths in India.
- India continues to face a number of terror attacks from Islamic groups in Kashmir, Sikh separatists in Punjab, and secessionist groups in Assam.
- The most immediate and measurable impact of terrorism is physical destruction. Terrorists destroy existing plants, machines, transportation systems and other economic resources. On smaller scales, acts of terrorism may blow up different public places, markets or religious places. The impact of terrorism is always negative for the economy.
- Productive resources that might have generated valuable goods and services are destroyed, while other resources are almost invariably diverted from other productive uses to bolster the military and defense. None of these create wealth or adds to the standard of living.
- The best strategy to isolate and defeat terrorism is by respecting human rights, fostering social justice, enhancing democracy and upholding the primacy of the rule of law.
Trends in Terrorism:
- Terrorism financing is the provision of funds or providing financial support to individual terrorists or non-state actors.
- Terrorists and terrorist organizations often use any resource of money they can have access to in order to fund themselves. This can range from the distribution of narcotics and black market oil. ISIS is known to use black market oil distribution as a meTerror Fundingans of funding their terrorist activity.
- The internet is a growing modern form of terrorist finance as it is able to protect the anonymity that it can provide to the donor and recipient.
- Terrorist organizations use propaganda in order to rally up financial support from those who follow them. The funds may also come from an illegal source but appear to come from a legal source, through money laundering.
- Most countries have implemented measures to counter terrorism financing (CTF) often as part of their money laundering laws.
- The Financial Action Task Force on Money Laundering (FATF) has made recommendations to members relating to CTF. It has created a Blacklist and Greylist of countries that have not taken adequate CTF action.
India has one of the longest and most varied of international borders. Historical and political reasons have left India with an artificial unnatural border. Border Management is an integral approach towards borders in which along with security enhancement, infrastructure & human development is undertaken. The challenge of coping with long-standing territorial and boundary disputes with China and Pakistan, combined with porous borders along some of the most difficult terrain in the world, has made effective and efficient border management a national priority.
Issues and threats posed by each neighboring country to India:
- Indo-Pakistan Border (3,323 Km) runs along the states of Gujarat, Rajasthan, Punjab and the UTs of J&K and Ladakh.
- Direct accessibility of the borders and some technological developments enabling quick passage of information and transfer of funds has changed the focus and tenor of border security.
- Cross-Border Terrorism from Pakistan has exacerbated due to non-recognition of boundaries by its terrorist groups and their success in acquiring legitimacy due to religious or ethnic identity.
- Inadequate Cooperation from Pakistan has made the management of border further difficult for India.
- The Indo-Bangladesh Border (4,096 Km) passes through West Bengal, Assam, Meghalaya, Tripura and Mizoram.
- The entire stretch consists of plains, riverine belts, hills & jungles which make illegal migration very easy.
- Illegal Migration across this border poses serious security threats and acts as a fertile ground for organisations like the Inter-Services Intelligence of Pakistan to penetrate and expand their activities.
- Also, poor law and order situation at the border, has led to smuggling of arms and drugs. Supply of arms help in sustaining any conflict.
- India shares a long land border with China (3,488 Km) in the Indian states of Himachal Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Sikkim and Arunachal Pradesh and UT of Ladakh.
- Although this border remains relatively aloof from illegal migrations, this border remains a cause of constant vigil for Indian forces. India has a longstanding border dispute with China running back to British era in Aksai Chin and Arunachal Pradesh.
- India-Nepal Border (1,751 Km) is an open border in the sense that people of both the countries can cross it from any point, despite the existence of border check posts at several locations.
- Anti-India organizations use this border to plant their people in the territory of India.
- Also, smuggling of gold, small arms, drugs and fake currency helps terrorists in executing an attack.
- This border (699 km) passes through states of Assam, Arunachal Pradesh, West Bengal and Sikkim.
- Illicit establishment of camps by militant outfits in the dense jungles of south-east Bhutan helps insurgents from India in executing anti-India activities.
- The northeast states of Arunachal Pradesh, Nagaland, Manipur and Mizoram share the border with Myanmar (1,643).
- Some of the insurgent groups like the National Socialist Council of Nagaland (NSCN) and ULFA operate from Myanmar, which threatens the security of India as well as Myanmar.
India has had to deal with numerous challenges with respect to border management such as:
- The present one has a high rate of degradation due to snow and has to be repaired after every season which costs about Rs. 50-60 crore every year.
- Over time infiltrators have devised ways to cross it.
- India’s internal security challenges are inextricably linked with border management. This is so because Indian insurgent groups have for long been provided shelter across the nation’s borders by inimical neighbours.
No real-time coordination:
- Due to the lack of understanding of military issues among the decision-making elite, India’s borders continue to be manned by a large number of military, paramilitary and police forces.
- Each of which has its own ethos and each of which reports to a different central ministry at New Delhi, with almost no real coordination in managing the borders.
- Border management is designed for a ‘firefighting’ approach rather than a ‘fire prevention’ or pro-active approach.
- It is based on a strategy of ‘reaction and retaliation’ rather than on a holistic response to the prevailing environment, resulting in stress and decision-making problems at the functional level.
- Perennial and Seasonal Rivers via which terrorists can infiltrate.
- Un-demarcated boundaries with overlapping claims cause constant friction along borders.
- Mountainous and Hilly terrain especially in North Indian borders which are snow clad and inhabitable during winter season.
- Unilateral actions by some nations to change the status quo in their favour.
- Little or no support from counterparts of neighbouring nations and in some cases active support by cross border elements to illegal activities.
- Cultural, ethnic and linguistic affinity across borders and clan loyalties
- Multiple agencies are involved in border management, lack of Inter agency cooperation and coordination.
- Support of state and non-state actors to aid infiltration, smuggling, trafficking etc.
Solutions for addressing cross border terrorism:
- Infrastructure along with border has to be improved – rail connectivity along with road connectivity has to be provided for quick mobilization.
- Building of additional checkpoints and Border posts along major and minor trade routes connected with borders.
- Building of floating bridges, walls & electrical fences where there is high probability of infiltration.
- Taking up of joint Border management with Countries like Myanmar, Bhutan and Nepal.
- Improving healthcare, physical infrastructure and digital connectivity in villages around borders thus making them stakeholder in Border Management.
- Madhav Godbole task force recommendations on border management need to be implemented.
- It had recommended that the CRPF should be designated as the primary national level counterinsurgency force. This would enable the other central paramilitary forces like the BSF and Indo- Tibetan Border Police to return to their primary role of better border management.
- It had also recommended that all paramilitary forces managing unsettled borders should operate directly under the control of the army and that there should be lateral induction from the army to the paramilitary forces so as to enhance their operational effectiveness.
- The principle of ‘single point control’ must be followed if the borders are to be effectively
- The advances in surveillance technology, particularly satellite and aerial imagery, can help to maintain a constant vigil along the LAC and make it possible to reduce physical deployment.
Keeping a strong vigil on its border is very important for any nation to check any kind of illegal activities or intrusion through them. For India, the task becomes difficult where terrain and climate is very complex across some of its border areas. Focusing on improved technology will help in making the task easier for the security forces and make its borders more secure.
- Bioterrorism or Biological Attack is the intentional release of viruses, bacteria, or other germs that can sicken or kill people, livestock or crops. They use microorganisms and natural toxins to produce disease in humans, animals, or plants.
- The Covid-19 pandemic has exposed the vulnerability of several world powers in the event of use of biological weapons against them by rogue states and terrorist groups.
- Biological weapons can be derived from: bacteria, viruses, rickettsia, biological toxins and fungi.
- These agents can be deployed as biological weapons when paired with a delivery system such as a missile or aerosol
- Bacillus anthracis, the bacteria that causes anthrax, is one of the most likely agents to be used in a biological attack.
- The most destructive bioterrorism scenario is the airborne dispersion of pathogens over a majorpopulation region.
- Tropical agricultural pathogens or pests can be used as anticrop agents to hamper the food security worldwide.
- It is a substantial threat because small amounts of biotic agents can be effortlessly hidden, transported and discharged into vulnerable populations.
- It can impact and expose military and civilian susceptibilities to biological weapons and to the complexity of offering ample safeguards.
- Bioweapons experts believe that currently bioterrorists probably lack the biotechnological capability to produce-super pathogens or super pests.
Covid-19: Bioweapon or Not?
- Novel-coronavirus is alleged to have originated in bats.
- Some intelligence agencies claimed that the pandemic might have begun from the Wuhan lab in China after the researchers were probably able to figure out how bat coronaviruses could mutate to attack humans; but there is no proof that the pandemic virus was engineered or manipulated,
- In the Indian context, with the existence of hostile neighbours like Pakistan and China, the threat of biological warfare becomes important and cannot be ruled out entirely.
- The European Union (EU), Russia and China are finding ways to deter bioterrorism and biowarfare. The aim is to make it harder for terrorists to obtain the resources for designing biological weapons.
- Intelligence Sharing & Rapid Detection
- Global intelligence agencies should operate together and share credible intelligence.
- Combining human resources, laboratory resources and information supervision in novel, legal and satisfactory ways that allow for timely detection and categorization of hazards.
- Rapid detection and surveillance are important for an efficient response to a bioterror strike.
- Pathogen Analysis
- Speedy, uniform techniques that allow for the discovery of an extensive range of pathogens used as biological weapons in a measurable fashion.
- Pathogens are a usual part of the environment and can complicate detection attempts.
- Strengthening the Biological and Toxin Weapons Convention
- The Biological and Toxin Weapons Convention (BTWC) of 1972 prohibits signatory nations to develop, produce, stockpile or otherwise, acquire or retain:
- Microbial or other biological agents or toxins whatever their origin or method of production, of
- types and in quantities that have no justification for prophylactic, protective or other peaceful purposes.
- There is no exact authentication method that can ensure compliance with the BTWC. Therefore, efforts must be made to strengthen the BTWC so that it helps to uncover and successfully prevent biological weapons programs.
- India ratified and pledged to abide by its obligations in 2015.
- The Biological and Toxin Weapons Convention (BTWC) of 1972 prohibits signatory nations to develop, produce, stockpile or otherwise, acquire or retain:
- Biodefense Systems
- Upgrading and installing biodefense systems in major urban conglomerates to protect against deadly disease outbreaks initiated by bioterrorism.
- During the Cold War, Soviet Union had set up several Biodefense systems across the country.
- Developing and stockpiling vaccines and antimicrobial medicines that can be used to defend the people against infections triggered by biological weapons.
- Coaching first responders on how to deal with a biological weapons attack.
- Refining diagnostic laboratory capability and epidemiological capabilities.
- The studies conducted to assess the actual efficiency of counter bioterrorism measures are insufficient which needs to be changed.
- It becomes important that engaged and methodical efforts in studying the efficiency of counter bioterrorism measures are applied in a meticulous way.
- It should be taken into account that the implementation of some specific counter bioterrorism
practices can possibly have consequences with respect to human rights, institutional liberties, fundamental democratic values and the Rule of Law.
- South Asia has been impacted by the activities of terrorist organizations such as Al‑Qaida and Lashkar-e-Taiba. The growing interlinkages between terrorist groups, cross-border operations, including financing networks, and the exploitation of modern technologies — means that no country can stay aloof from the effects of terrorism.
- Loss of civilian life and uncertainty on the security of life is a gross human rights violation.
- In 2017, terrorist attacks in conflict countries averaged 2.4 deaths, compared to 0.84 deaths in non-conflict countries. Terrorist attacks are more lethal on average in countries with a greater intensity of conflict. In 2017, countries in a state of war averaged 2.97 deaths per attack, compared to 1.36 in countries involved in a minor armed conflict.
- Global Counter‑Terrorism Strategy has witnessed little practical impact on the ground. A comprehensive convention will provide a strong legal basis for tackling terrorism.
- Non-agreement on counter-terror strategy is a collective failure of nations in the realm of human rights.
- There was no change in the five countries most impacted by terrorism, which include Iraq, Afghanistan, Nigeria, Syria and Pakistan. All of these countries have been ranked in the worst five every year since 2013.
- Conflict continued to be the primary driver of terrorist activity for the countries most impacted by terrorism in 2017.
- There are numerous possible reasons for this difference. Countries in conflict have a greater availability of more military-grade small arms and bomb-making capabilities.
- Countries that are not in conflict tend to be more economically-developed and spend more on intelligence gathering, policing and counter-terrorism. This shows the importance of human rights in governance.
- India has been consistently working towards fighting the menace of terrorism at both global and national front, thus adopting certain measures at policy level.
- At international level, India has proposed Comprehensive Convention on International Terrorism (CCIT) at United Nations General Assembly which is under negotiation. Upon its adoption, the convention would provide legal basis for criminalizing all terrorist activities.
- No international convention exists, that determines intelligence and evidence sharing, extradition of accused persons hiding outside national territory.
- This needs to be finalized at the earliest.
- India has also voted in favour of Resolution 34/8 of the Human Rights Council on ‘Effects of terrorism on the enjoyment of all human rights’.
- At national level, India has formulated and implemented many laws. Some of them are Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, 1967 Prevention of Terrorism Act, 2002 etc.
- A Central Scheme titled Central Scheme for Assistance to Civilian Victims of Terrorist/ Communal/Left Wing Extremist (LWE), Cross Border Firing and Mine/IED blasts on Indian Territory has been formulated.
National Security Guard (NSG):
National Security Guard was raised in 1984, following Operation Blue Star and the assassination of Indira Gandhi, “for combating terrorist activities with a view to protect States against internal disturbances”. The primary role of this Force is to combat terrorism in whatever form it may assume in areas where activity of terrorists assumes serious proportions, and the State Police and other Central Police Forces cannot cope up with the situation.
Money laundering and terrorism financing are often linked. When law enforcement is able to detect and prevent money laundering activities, it may also be preventing those funds from being used to finance acts of terror.
Financial Action Task Force (FATF):
- Combating the Financing of Terrorism (CFT) policies largely originate and are modeled upon the report Forty Recommendations, which was published by the Financial Action Task Force (FATF).
- FATF works to combat money laundering and the financing of terrorism through creating standardized processes to stop threats to the international financial system. It seeks to increase acceptance of anti-money laundering regulations across the globe. Eg: Pakistan is on greylist for two years.
- Following the FATF, world organizations, international financial institutions, and many national governments have pursued CFT initiatives and policies.
- The FATF also collects and shares information about trends in money laundering and terrorism financing and works closely with the International Monetary Fund (IMF), the World Bank, and the United Nations.
Steps needed to curb terrorism:
- A comprehensive and multidimensional strategy for the “War on Terror” must involve an integrated view of the strategic military and economic domains, among others.
- Financial institutions play an important role in combating the financing of terrorism because terrorists often rely on them, especially banks, to transfer money. Laws that require banks to perform due diligence on their customers and to report suspicious transactions can help prevent terrorism.
- Intelligence sharing: As terrorism is taking global form, intelligence sharing among countries is critical in preventing or minimizing the terror attacks. Eg: Easter attack possibility was shared by India to Sri Lanka, though it was not acted upon.
- Global cooperation on extremist content: Christchurch Call of Action outlined voluntary commitments from governments, ISPs to address issue of violent extremist content online. India is a signatory to this plan
- Global sanctions against nations that are State sponsors of terrorism. Eg: UNSC must come up with stringent sanctions against nations.
- Addressing UN High-Level conference on Heads of Counter Terrorism, India extended a five-point formula –
- Exchange of timely and actionable intelligence.
- Prevention of misuse of modern communication through collaboration with the private sector.
- Building capacities for improved border controls.
- Sharing of info related to the movement of passengers.
- Designation of Counter-Terror focal points to fight global terror.
- In addition, there should be a concerted effort from the countries affected by the scourge of terrorism to pressurize countries who engage in state-sponsored terrorism.
- It is necessary for countries fighting terrorism to learn more closely from their differences, rather than try to generalise from experience.
- The success or failure of each of these approaches must be studied & applied to smaller countries suffering from global terrorism based on applicability.
- United Nations must become the global Centre to fight global terrorism.
- The complete implementation of UN Global Counter-Terrorism Coordination Compact that was agreed upon in 2018.
- Intelligence sharing between countries needs to be strengthened and countries currently not affected by global terrorism need to take the threat seriously.
- Terrorism is a complex, non-static phenomenon. Its associated motivations, financing and support mechanisms, methods of attack and choice of targets are often evolving, thereby compounding the challenges of ensuring the existence of an effective strategy to counter it. In this situation global cooperation is of paramount importance.
- India should play a proactive role to neutralize any threat of terrorism. There is a need for the world to join hands and take concrete multilateral initiatives to ensure that terror groups are dealt with a heavy hand. Accepting and ratifying the Comprehensive Convention on International Terrorism (CCIT) proposed by India would be good first step.
- Societies saddled with conflicts often reproduce the differentiation and distancing between two broader collectives, thus sharpening the divide between ‘Us’ and ‘Them’. This is true in Kashmir. The violent secessionist outbreak in 1989, and since then, the government’s anti-militancy and counterinsurgency operations, have embedded strong ‘Us vs Them’ narratives amongst the Kashmiris and alienated them from the Indian polity.
- These state actions have included crackdowns, arrests, killings of local militants, and heavy enforcement of laws such as the Public Safety Act (PSA) and the Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA).
- Consequently, a negative perception of India and its policies has been nurtured; there is popular perception amongst the Kashmiri people of the Indian state being a “coloniser” or an “occupier”.
- The impacts of these perceptions have only been exacerbated in more recent years, amidst what analysts call “new militancy”—where the locals dominate the militant movement, and social media facilitates mass radicalisation and the spread of anti-India propaganda.
- It is in this context that India needs to exert greater effort in shaping its narratives to address the widespread negative perceptions and maintain its territorial integrity.
- Between 2014 and 2020, there was a significant increase in local militancy and stone-pelting incidents in the region. In 2017 the Indian armed forces launched ‘Operation All Out’ to eliminate the militant networks, their overground workers (OGW), and top militant commanders. However, as the militants’ ranks were dominated by the locals, these operations only reinforced the ‘us vs. them’ line.
- The abrogation of the special status of J&K on August 5, 2019 led many to speculate that there would be a substantial increase in terrorism-induced violence in the region following the decision. However, the security scenario has continued to improve from the preceding years to the extent that Doda was declared a terrorist-free district.
- As Jammu and Kashmir completes two years as a Union Territory (UT), militancy remains a major challenge to the security apparatus amid growing fears that the Taliban takeover of Afghanistan is likely to flip the striking capabilities of the militant outfits, especially the Jaish-e-Muhammad (JeM) and the Harkat-ul-Mujahideen (HuM).
- District Development Councils: After Jammu and Kashmir lost its statehood, the political focus in Kashmir shifted to District Development Councils (DDCs) and grassroots development. Kashmiris who have long had to deal with bureaucratic red-tape can find new hope with the elected local leaders who can ensure good governance and local development.
- Social media: Social media has become a pivotal source of information— as well as misinformation and propaganda—in the time of new militancy. Although the government has used reactive tactics such as blanket bans, monitoring, censoring and reporting extremist profiles and content, it has been unable to deter the spread of extremist content through social media.
- The state will still need to invest in artificial intelligence (AI) and other technology to discourage extremist content and should also find creative ways where Kashmiris can consume the narratives produced by the Indian state and army.
- Technology: India can invest more in technologies such as UAVs or drone technology and deploy them in relatively peaceful areas. These technological tools can be used to conduct surveillance, maintain law and order, and also deter the use of drones by militants and militant supporters.
- Education: In the long term, the state should start re-emphasising on education. A variety of historical distortions and unfamiliarity prevails in the educational curriculum of Kashmir and the rest of India. It is important to promote topics and themes that can be more relatable and applicable, such as constitutional remedies for people in conflict-affected regions.
- Narratives play a vital role in bridging the ‘Us vs Them’ divide. Such divide between Kashmir and India has widened in the recent years, with the advent of ‘new militancy’ in Kashmir, on one hand, and on the other, state policies such as Operation All Out and the revocation of Kashmir’s special status.
- The Indian state and the armed forces are therefore attempting to enhance their nation-building narrative by supplementing traditional missions that seek to win hearts and minds, with social-media initiatives.
- Although these policies are intended to remove the emotional and psychological barriers that Kashmiris have erected for the Indian state, there is plenty of work that remains.
- Kashmir continues to be alienated, and New Delhi must make use of the current absence of armed and violent conflict to strengthen its narrative-building efforts and bring the region closer to lasting peace