Terror attacks rose during pandemic year in India: US report
The data shows that there were 10,172 terror attacks across 98 countries in 2020, 1,300 more than the incidents reported in 2019
India faced more terror attacks in the first year of the Covid-19 pandemic, 2020, than the previous year, with 37% of these incidents being reported from Jammu and Kashmir, according to data compiled by the US state department.
The data shows that there were 10,172 terror attacks across 98 countries in 2020, 1,300 more than the incidents reported in 2019.
Overall, 679 terrorism-related incidents were reported in India last year, in which 567 people were killed (2% of global fatalities in terror attacks in 2020). In 2019, 655 terror attacks were recorded in the country, according to the US data.
Even though India was in the top 10 countries for most terrorism incidents last year, it was not in the top 10 for fatalities. Afghanistan reported 1,722 terror attacks followed by Syria (1,322) and DR Congo (999).
The US data reveals that the states in India that experienced the most terror incidents were Jammu and Kashmir with 257 incidents (37.8%), Chhattisgarh with 145 incidents (21.4%), and Jharkhand with 69 incidents (10.2%).
The Union home ministry’s data, however, shows that 244 terror attacks took place in J&K in 2020. The government shared this data in Parliament on March 23 this year.
The Centre has said that terror incidents have come down in J&K since the nullification of Article 370 on August 5 in 2019 and major terror networks in the Valley have been dismantled by security forces.
The home ministry did not respond to a query on the difference in data on terror incidents in 2020.
The US state department report said that “Indian security agencies are effective in disrupting terror threats, although gaps remain in interagency intelligence and information sharing”.
Among the perpetrators in India, according to the US data, CPI-Maoist continued to be the fourth most destructive group in the world in 2020, with 298 incidents and 202 fatalities. They were behind 44% of the total (679) terror attacks in the country, while Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) and Hizbul Mujahideen were responsible for 6% of all incidents. According to the records, 29% of the terror incidents were not attributable to any outfit in India.
The Taliban (including the Haqqani Network) were responsible for the most terror incidents (1,325) and fatalities (7,417) in 2020, followed by ISIS-Core (which comprises the ISIS elements in Iraq and Syria), al-Shabaab, CPI-Maoists and ISIS-DR Congo, the US analysis shows.
Mumbai-based national security analyst Sameer Patil said: “The pandemic provided the opportunity for many terrorist groups worldwide to regroup and strengthen their activities as much of the attention in the last one year was focused on containing the Covid outbreak and enforcing lockdowns. The same can also be said for the Left Wing Extremist groups in India.”
“With regard to the situation in the Kashmir Valley, the mainstream terrorist tanzeems regrouped under different front organisations to carry out random acts of violence targeting the security forces, minorities and other vulnerable sections of the society. For carrying out this violence, they relied on the Over Ground Workers, which also helped them to escape security forces’ dragnet. This kind of violence was sensational but also difficult to sustain, which is exactly what has happened,” he said.