Where in India are ordinary civilians most vulnerable to terrorist violence? The name that automatically comes to mind is Jammu and Kashmir, where foreign-trained terrorists strike at will.
But here's a shocker. The figures tell a different story: more people die in terrorist violence in many other states than J&K. In 2007, 480 civilians have fallen to terrorist bullets and bomb blasts so far. Assam tops the list with 168 killings, mainly at the hands of the United Liberation Front of Asom, compared to 124 in J&K.
The figures have been compiled by the South Asia Terrorism Portal (SATP), an independent New Delhi-based thinktank that records all civilian and security personnel killed in terrorism, insurgency and other forms of political violence. The SATP is part of the Capital-based Institute for Conflict Management.
In Manipur, which has a population one-fifth of J&K and occupies one-tenth of the area, the death toll stands at 95. With a population of over a crore, J&K's 124 deaths translate into one death per 80,000 people while for Manipur, it is one death per 22,000 people.
At 120, the total number of civilians killed by various factions of the underground Maoists is almost as high as the Valley's death toll. According to SATP figures, even in 2006, Left wing extremists killed more civilians (266) than anti-nationals in J&K (346). However, the number of terrorists killed (599) in J&K is more than the number of Left wing extremists (348) killed.
However, if one were to club civilian, security force and terrorist casualties, then Jammu and Kashmir tops the list with 469 fatalities. In comparison, the number for Assam is 272 and for Manipur 218.
Last year, J&K registered 349 civilian deaths while the total number of fatalities stood at 1,116.