Terrorism is generally defined and understood as the illegal and unlawful use of aggravated violence, with intent to advance a religious, political, or ideological cause, by inducing panic and fear among the general public or a select targeted community. Most common form of terrorism encountered across the globe is the religious-terrorism, targeted against Jews, Shias, Hindus and Christians, by those practicing hard-core radicalized brand of Sunni Islam.
In India, Kashmir State, has been experiencing decades of aggravated religious-terrorism, targeted against the docile Hindu Pandit community. They have been forcibly driven out of Kashmir, many killed mercilessly, their women folk abducted, raped and killed, properties looted and usurped, Hindu sacred Temples destroyed, all with the sole intention of forcibly amalgamating the State with Pakistan. Communal political families of Kashmir, gave tacit connivance and consent to the large-scale atrocities that went deliberately unregistered, uninvestigated, undetected and hence unpunished. Kashmir itself became a great ‘Terror University’, where budding terrorists were groomed to become professional terrorists, killers, narcotics traffickers and peddlers. The State became a hub of terror hideouts, to plan and execute terror killings routinely and ruthlessly. In fact, a great number of nationalists, intelligentsia, and even defence and enforcement officers had reconciled to the idea that Kashmir getting seized by terror gangs groomed in Pakistan, and breaking away from India was inevitable.
When Narendra Modi assumed office as the 14th Prime Minister of India, Indians were apprehensive as to how the Kashmir Gordian knot, would be resolved. But to his eternal credit, Kashmir the land of ‘Sharada desh’, has been wrested from the control of foreign terrorists, political families owing allegiance to Pakistan, and narco-traffickers. The nation has realized that a single decisive leader and stringent policies, can subvert any kind of terrorist designs. Hitherto, only dictatorships had proved partly effective against terrorism, but it was a real eye-opener to the world that a vibrant democracy can also blunt terrorism. It goes to the eternal credit of Shri. Narendra Modi that he redeemed Kashmir for India, resurrected the dream of the Kashmiri Pandits to return to their homeland and repulsed the Pakistani sponsored terrorists.
But the embers of terrorism still continue to smoulder, implying that the process of excoriation, is still not complete. Small groups of terrorists, still emerge from hide-outs, heavily armed and well trained, attacking the Police and Army units. Kashmir still continues to bear the burden of terror attacks, albeit much reduced, from domestic, regional, and international terror groups, than any other territory in the region.
Globally, the challenge of trying to eliminate terrorist groups using current strategies (interventions, targeted killings, and extrajudicial processes), have not been fully successful. Strong ethnic and clan bonds make it difficult for security forces to collect intelligence needed to eliminate terrorist groups. Instead, local communities choose not to cooperate with security agencies in reporting terrorists and their sympathizers out of perceived loyalty to blood groups and religious affiliation or due to fear that security forces will not be able to provide fool proof security, at all times to every household.
Terrorism, both ongoing and future, is being kept alive, solely on the plank of religious radicalization and fundamentalism, which continues to thrive as a result of international, regional and national constraints. Combating terrorism is not only a matter of national security but also a matter of economic security as the Kashmir valley strongly relies on tourism and persistent cases of terror attacks tend to scare potential visitors.
India is an active member of several international organizations within the United Nations (UN) framework and other global coalitions whose mandates are to eliminate the scourge of terrorism. India is thus, a key factor in coordinating counterterrorism initiatives in the region. The security forces, despite facing hostile local conditions, have been able to conduct terror investigations, prosecutions, and incident response measures which have disrupted terrorist activities such as planning of terror, recruitment, and free movement of jihadists internally as well as across the International Border (IB).
Faith-based terrorism, practised in Kashmir, or religiously motivated terrorism is based on radically different value systems, religious reasoning of legitimization and justification, that lethal terrorism is a fundamental duty executed in response to a theological compulsion. Terrorism thus assumes a transcendental dimension, for a particular religious’ denomination, and its perpetrators are not regulated by ethical behaviour or morals that applies to general citizens.
The inculcation of extreme beliefs in religious schools, enhanced by heavy indoctrination process, ultimately ends in the expression of horrific violence by the pupil, and ending in irrational martyrdom. The savageness of religious terrorism, witnessed not only in Kashmir, but also in Gaza, Yemen, and emerging in Europe and Canada, demands that governments across the world takeover all kinds of religious schools, to prevent induction and recruitment of fresh new terrorists. Hence, the next logical step in the fight to eradicate terrorism is to emphasise the government’s right to exercise superintendence over all religious schools and the syllabus and content of the teaching.
The National Commission for the Protection of Children’s Rights (NCPCR) has recommended that the Indian government bring the schools of religious minorities within the government education system- ‘Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan’, regulated by article 21 of the Indian Constitution. This move will also eliminate unregistered, illegally operating faith schools. Also, another distressing aspect is that, when the government funds religious education, it is often underwriting the very discrimination it has banned.
On the international level, UNESCO, which is the United Nations’ specialized agency for education, has been entrusted to lead and coordinate the Education 2030 Agenda, which is part of a global movement to eradicate poverty through 17 Sustainable Development Goals by 2030. Education, essential to achieve all of these goals, has its own dedicated Goal 4, which aims to “ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all”. This goal ensures that all girls and boys complete free primary and secondary schooling by 2030. It also aims to provide equal access to affordable vocational training, to eliminate gender and wealth disparities, and achieve universal access to a quality higher education. The UN should also have recommended making it mandatory to teach different philosophical systems to all students. Semitic religions are fiercely proprietary over their followers, and promote violence against followers of other faiths. The relentless killings in Kashmir are all perpetrated by illiterate people but who are hard-core religious zealots. Celebrated Scientist Abhijit Naskar opines “The world needs the kind of religion that sets humanity free, not the kind that binds it with textual fanaticism. The world needs the kind of religion that humanizes the society, not the kind that dehumanizes it.” This is possible only through the study of philosophy. In “Illusion of Religion”, Naskar tears apart the veil of fundamentalism that has befallen the human society masking as religion, and makes us recognize the true meaning of religion within our hearts, beyond the bounds of textual fanaticism. This is a treatise of biological sciences, that reveals the neuropsychological dynamics of fundamentalist beliefs that have most successfully managed to present themselves as divinity. Here Naskar unravels the path towards eradicating this medieval evil from our modern society. He shows us the path of building a truly civilized and wise society, where reasoning, love and conscience triumph over all primitiveness.
Counter-terrorism is not just about neutralizing terrorists; it has to successfully inhibit fresh recruitment of volunteers wanting to become terrorists and seeking martyrdom. Terrorists popping up in miniscule groups in the valley, killing security forces, will continue endlessly, unless the flow of fresh recruits is indicted, by philosophical education, and winds of change sweep not only in the valley but spreads across the border, into lands that host and preach religious fundamentalism, bankroll terrorism and drug trafficking.