Terror attacks mark new chapter in India's increasingly violent history

 

India is no stranger to deadly terrorist attacks but the deliberate targeting of foreigners in Mumbai this week and the prolonged hostage sieges in luxury hotels frequented by Westerners makes this particular attack markedly different from previous outbursts of violence.

Foreigners have largely been ignored during the often bitter periods of inter-communal religious violence which, in recent years, has become an increasingly common feature of India’s landscape. Terror attacks have also, until now, tended to target Indian civilians in much greater numbers than they have outsiders. Ever since the mass bloodletting of Partition gave birth to Indian state in 1947, the government has often struggled to accommodate the demands of numerous religious and political sectarian movements that have waged a variety of low level campaigns against the government in Delhi.

These insurgencies were usually internal affairs, either inspired by radical leftwing politics, like the ongoing Naxalite insurgencies in eastern states, or were localised secessionist insurgencies such as those waged by Sikh nationalists in the Punjab during the 1980s.

But in recent years inter-communal violence, fuelled by growing tensions between the country’s minority Muslim and majority Hindu communities, has become an increasingly common phenomenon that threatens to tear apart the fabric of India’s traditionally tolerant society.

Sporadic fighting between Hindus and Muslims turned into nationwide communal rioting in 1992 when a mob of 150,000 Hindu extremists destroyed a Mughal-era mosque at Ayodhya that they claimed had been built on the birthplace of the god Ram. More than 2,000 people were killed in subsequent rioting whilst many of those who were behind the mosque’s destruction went on to become prominent members of current Hindu nationalist opposition party.

A year later Muslim terrorists struck back in revenge for Ayodhya by detonating 13 bombs across Mumbai, killing 257 people in what was at the time the world’s worst terrorist atrocity.

Simmering tensions continued to blight relations between India’s Hindus and Muslims and often flared up during clashed in Indian-administered Kashmir where Muslim militants, supported by Pakistan, have been fighting for an independent state since Partition.

In 2002 the Indian state of Gujarat was gripped by another wave of inter-communal rioting which killed more than 1,000 people, most of whom were Muslims. The riots began after a train carrying 58 Hindu pilgrims from Ayodhya was set on fire by a Muslim mob.

Similarly, rising inter-communal violence has also been coupled with a marked increase in the number of Islamist terror attacks on Indian soil over the past 15 years. Traditionally India has been quick to point the finger of blame at Pakistan-based terror networks such as Lashkar-e Toiba, who have been responsible for a number of deadly and audacious attacks in recent years including a 2001 assault on the Indian parliament and a previous bombing of the Taj Palace hotel in Mumbai five years ago.

But in the past twelve months India has been faced with the growing possibility that “home grown” terror networks, inspired by international terror groups like al-Qa’ida but comprised of Indian nationals, have begun waging war on their own people. A string of deadly attacks over the past twelve months, including serial bomb blasts in Delhi in September that killed 20 people and an attack in Ahmadebad in July which killed 45, have been claimed by a little known group calling itself the “Indian Mujahideen.”

Another group calling itself the “Islamic Security Force – Indian Mujahideen” said it was behind an explosion last month in India’s north-eastern state of Assam that killed 80 people.

Analysts believe the current attacks in Mumbai, claimed by a group calling itself the “Deccan Mujahideen” could be the same as or an offshoot of the Indian Mujahideen.

But whilst the current attack in Mumbai has been claimed by an Islamist group, Indian police have also uncovered evidence recently that radical Hindu groups may be starting to adopt similar tactics to their Islamist foes.

In September a series of bomb blasts in the town of Malegaon in the western state of Maharashtra left six people dead and was initially blamed on Muslim militants. But last week security sources announced that a Hindu extremist terror cell appeared to be responsible for the explosions leading to speculation that radical Hindu groups might be turning to the same sort of tactics used by militant jihadists.

Nonetheless this week’s attack which deliberately singled out western targets as well as killing scores of locals has opened a new chapter in India’s increasingly violent history and will undoubtedly reverberate for many years to come.

Suggested Topics
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
News
video
Life and Style
tech
Arts and Entertainment
Southern charm: Nicolas Cage and Tye Sheridan in ‘Joe’
filmReview: Actor delivers astonishing performance in low budget drama
Arts and Entertainment
While many films were released, few managed to match the success of James Bond blockbuster 'Skyfall'
film
Arts and Entertainment
Up my street: The residents of the elegant Moray Place in Edinburgh's Georgian New Town
tvBBC's The Secret History of Our Streets reveals a fascinating window into Britain's past
Extras
indybest
News
Albus Dumbledore, the headmaster of Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry has been the teaching profession's favourite teacher
education
Sport
Luis Suarez looks towards the crowd during the 2-1 victory over England
sport
Life and Style
Cheesecake frozen yoghurt by Constance and Mathilde Lorenzi
food + drinkThink outside the cool box for this summer’s frozen treats
News
John Barrowman kisses his male “bride” at a mock Gretna Green during the Commonwealth Games opening ceremony
peopleBarrowman's opening ceremony message to Commonwealth countries where he would be sent to prison for being gay
Sport
Sir Bradley Wiggins removes his silver medal after the podium ceremony for the men’s 4,000m team pursuit in Glasgow yesterday
Commonwealth games Disappointment for Sir Bradley in team pursuit final as England are forced to settle for silver
Sport
Alistair Brownlee (right) celebrates with his gold medal after winning the men’s triathlon alongside brother Jonny (left), who got silver
England's Jodie Stimpson won the women’s triathlon in the morning
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

SQL Report Analyst (SSRS, CA, SQL 2012)

£30000 - £38500 Per Annum + 25 days holiday, pension, subsidised restaurant: C...

Application Support Analyst (SQL, Incident Management, SLAs)

£34000 - £37000 Per Annum + excellent benefits: Clearwater People Solutions Lt...

Embedded Software / Firmware Engineer

£40000 - £45000 per annum + Pension, Holiday, Flexi-time: Progressive Recruitm...

Developer - WinForms, C#

£280 - £320 per day: Progressive Recruitment: C#, WinForms, Desktop Developmen...

Day In a Page

Backhanders, bribery and abuses of power have soared in China as economy surges

Bribery and abuses of power soar in China

The bribery is fuelled by the surge in China's economy but the rules of corruption are subtle and unspoken, finds Evan Osnos, as he learns the dark arts from a master
Commonwealth Games 2014: Highland terriers stole the show at the opening ceremony

Highland terriers steal the show at opening ceremony

Gillian Orr explores why a dog loved by film stars and presidents is finally having its day
German art world rocked as artists use renowned fat sculpture to distil schnapps

Brewing the fat from artwork angers widow of sculptor

Part of Joseph Beuys' 1982 sculpture 'Fettecke' used to distil schnapps
BBC's The Secret History of Our Streets reveals a fascinating window into Britain's past

BBC takes viewers back down memory lane

The Secret History of Our Streets, which returns with three films looking at Scottish streets, is the inverse of Benefits Street - delivering warmth instead of cynicism
Joe, film review: Nicolas Cage delivers an astonishing performance in low budget drama

Nicolas Cage shines in low-budget drama Joe

Cage plays an ex-con in David Gordon Green's independent drama, which has been adapted from a novel by Larry Brown
How to make your own gourmet ice lollies, granitas, slushy cocktails and frozen yoghurt

Make your own ice lollies and frozen yoghurt

Think outside the cool box for this summer's tempting frozen treats
Ford Fiesta is UK's most popular car of all-time, with sales topping 4.1 million since 1976

Fiesta is UK's most popular car of all-time

Sales have topped 4.1 million since 1976. To celebrate this milestone, four Independent writers recall their Fiestas with pride
10 best reed diffusers

Heaven scent: 10 best reed diffusers

Keep your rooms smelling summery and fresh with one of these subtle but distinctive home fragrances that’ll last you months
Commonwealth Games 2014: Female boxers set to compete for first time

Female boxers set to compete at Commonwealth Games for first time

There’s no favourites and with no headguards anything could happen
Five things we’ve learned so far about Manchester United under Louis van Gaal

Five things we’ve learned so far about United under Van Gaal

It’s impossible to avoid the impression that the Dutch manager is playing to the gallery a little
Screwing your way to the top? Good for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth

Screwing your way to the top?

Good for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth, says Grace Dent
Will the young Britons fighting in Syria be allowed to return home and resume their lives?

Will Britons fighting in Syria be able to resume their lives?

Tony Blair's Terrorism Act 2006 has made it an offence to take part in military action abroad with a "political, ideological, religious or racial motive"
Beyoncé poses as Rosie the Riveter, the wartime poster girl who became a feminist pin-up

Beyoncé poses as Rosie the Riveter

The wartime poster girl became the ultimate American symbol of female empowerment
The quest to find the perfect pair of earphones: Are custom, 3D printed earbuds the solution?

The quest to find the perfect pair of earphones

Earphones don't fit properly, offer mediocre audio quality and can even be painful. So the quest to design the perfect pair is music to Seth Stevenson's ears
US Army's shooting star: Lt-Col Steven Cole is the man Hollywood calls when it wants to borrow a tank or check a military uniform

Meet the US Army's shooting star

Lt-Col Steven Cole is the man Hollywood calls when it wants to borrow a tank or check a military uniform