“I welcome the decision of the General Assembly to establish an International Day of Remembrance of and Tribute to the Victims of Terrorism. We must lift up the voices of victims and survivors of terrorist attacks, who consistently call for accountability and results. When we respect the human rights of victims and provide them with support and information, we reduce the lasting damage done by terrorists to individuals, communities and societies.”
– UN Secretary-General, António Guterres.
Terrorism is an act which is commonly understood to refer violenence that target civilians in pursuance of political or ideological aims. Terrorism is one of the abysmal activities against humanity. Terrorism has had reverberation around the world and hence the fight against terrorism has become a global fight with a gear towards eradication of terrorism. The Declaration on Measures to Eliminate International Terrorism adopted by the General Assembly’s on 9th December, 1994, by its resolution of 49/60, provided that, “criminal acts intended or calculated to provoke a state of terror in the general public, a group of persons or particular persons for political purposes are in any circumstances unjustifiable, whatever the considerations of a political, philosophical, ideological, racial, ethnic religious or other nature that may be invoked to justify them;”[i] Terrorism is an international phenomena, a global involvement of nations and peopleand is not a natural activity. A terrorist may belong to any culture or country. The main causes of Terrorism includes, promotion of nationalism, alienation or discrimination, protection and promotion of religion, impact of globalization on social and economic factors, political issues and other allied causes. Terrorism has been promoted by political, ideological and ethnic factors that threaten to destroy the social fabric of the society. It is imperative for the government to keep a check on such activities so as to enable the citizens to enjoy their social, economic and political rights.
India, not being an exception, has faced many terrorist attacks in the past and present. The Amarnath Yatra attack in Jammu and Kashmir of 2017, the Uri Attack of 2016, the Mumbai attack of 2008, were some of the most violent and hazardous terrorist attacks perpetuated by the terrorist agencies to instill intimidation and fear in India. Terrorism in India, includes ethno-nationalist terrorism, religious terrorism, left-wing terrorism, narco-terrorism and cross border terrorism. The parts of India gravely impacted by terrorism includes Jammu and Kashmir, the northeastern Indian states, and parts of central India where the activism of the Maoists prevails.[ii]
2.Impact of Terrorism
1.Impact on Human Rights: The main aim of the terrorist is to disrupt peace, destruct as many human lives as they can and generate fear among the masses. Terrorism results in the total destruction of human rights, property, democracy and the peace thereby threatening the territorial integrity and security of States. Terrorism has a direct negative impact on the enjoyment of a number of human rights, in particular the rights to life, liberty and physical integrity, economic and social growth of the country. Terrorist acts can destabilize Governments, undermine civil society, jeopardize peace and security, threaten social and economic development, and may especially negatively affect certain groups. All of these have a direct impact on the enjoyment of fundamental rights of human beings.[iii] Terrorism violates the principles enshrined in the Charter of United Nations and other international covenants. It affects the the rule of law, security of civilians, peace of nation, etc. Terrorism also has a link with transnational crimes, money laundering, drug and human trafficking, illegal transfer of arms and ammunition, exchange of biological material, etc. The International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) adopted by United Nations General Assembly in the year 1966, recognizes right to life as an inherent right of every human being.[iv] It is considered as a ‘supreme right’ as all other rights would be meaningless without right to life. Further, the protection of the rights of the victims is essential. The need for victims of terrorism to be treated with humanity and respect is of paramount importance. Furthermore, proper measures should be taken to ensure their security, physically and psychologically and also their privacy including their families. Therefore the victims should:
- be treated with compassion and respect for their dignity;
- be informed about, and have their views and concerns presented at, legal proceedings;
- be entitled to proper assistance throughout the legal process;
- be protected against intimidation and retaliation;
- have their privacy protected;
- be offered the opportunity to participate in informal mechanisms for the resolution of disputes, including mediation;
- have the right to enjoy restitution and compensation, as appropriate; and
- be provided necessary medical, psychological and social assistance.
Terrorism drastically affects human rights and hence, it becomes pertinent to protect the most valuable right of human being. It is the responsibility of every State to set up a strong enforcement machinery and implement laws which can protect the rights of the human beings.
2.Psychological Impact: Terrorism has a negative impact on the physical and mental health of human beings. Terrorist attacks severely hamper the psychological state of mind each people. One of such instance was the impact of the “9/11” attack, due to which it was found that 52% of the Americans could not focus on their work because of such a horrified attack.[vi] Hence, this shows that terrorism can adversely affect human health. It affects the individual, community and society at various levels. The impact can also lead to acute and chronic symptoms of anxiety and depression, changes in health – related behavior, further. and it can lead to long –term stress and hyper tension.
3.Impact on Economy: The economy of any nation gets affected due to terror attacks. Terrorist attacks lead to billions of dollar of economic losses every year. The most direct effect is seen on the actual site of the attack. It affects the existing regulation, trade and fiscal policy. Terrorism further significantly affects the tourism industry. One of such instance was the “26/11” attack in Mumbai, that largely affected the tourism industry of this place, thereby decreasing the number of foreign visitors in Mumbai. This led to a slow growth rate in the economy of this city. It further leads to unemployment, homelessness and deflation and many other socio-economic issues. Further, the “9/11”attack affected the major industrial countries, thereby leading to a fall in demand generated by the loss in confidence about the economy and its impact on output.
4.Impact on Politics: The terrorist attack negatively affects the political system of the nation including the internal political system. It can lead to change in the policy of the government and affect the further implementation of policies. The decision of the government can also change due to public opinion. Terrorist attacks can generate skepticism on the security measures implemented by the government and can lead to internal disturbance in the politics.
5.Impact on Financial Sector: It is important to note that, the financial markets have been directly and indirectly the victims of terrorist attacks. Striking at the core of the world’s main financial center, the terrorist attacks of “9/11”,aimed at undermining the stability of the U.S. and international financial system. In the aftermath of the attacks, the financial markets were not only confronted with major activity disruptions caused by the massive damage to property and communication systems, but also with soaring levels of uncertainty and market volatility.[vii]
3.Major Terror attacks in India
Terrorism creates a fear among the masses. In the past few years, terrorism has drastically affected India. Following are major terror attacks that shuddered India:
- Pulwama Attack in 2019: On 14 February, 2019, one of the deadliest terror attack took place in Pulwama, Jammu and Kashmir that was witnessed in three decades of Kashmir’s insurgency, wherein, around 40 Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) paramilitary troopers were killed. . The heinous incident united political parties across the country while the leaders from all over the world have condemned the dastardly attack; the United States even went on to the extent of warning Pakistan to not harbour terrorism.[viii]
- Uri Attack in 2016: Four terrorist attacked 12th Brigade of the army in Uri sector on 18, September 2016. The terrorist attacked the administrative block of the army where the unarmed soldiers were refilling diesel in barrels from fuel tanks.[ix] The attack was reported as the deadliest attack on security forces in Kashmir in two decades. Further, it is important to note that, the Indian Army carried out surgical strike against terror launchpads on and along the Line of Control (LOC). The strike was carried out nearly 10 days after the Uri terror attacks where 18 soldiers were killed when four terrorist launched a barrage of grenades at the Army’s 12 Brigade headquarters in Uri, Jammu and Kashmir.[x] India had to initiate this step as there was an increase in terror activities and infiltration by them. This step gave a strong answer to the terrorist activities.
- “26/11” Mumbai Attack in 2008: This was one of the most horrifying terror attacks in the history of India. On the night of 26th November, 2008, ten Pakistan-based terrorists launched a coordinated shooting and bombing attacks in Mumbai at five major locations, killing 166 people and injuring over 300 people.[xi] The terrorist targeted five major locations of the financial capital. The attack by the terrorists was combated by the Indian army at the Taj Mahal Palace Hotel. The final operation at the Taj Mahal Palace hotel was completed by the National Security Guards at 08:00 on 29th November, 2020, killing three terrorists, thereby, ceasing the attacks. The security forces rescued 250 people from the hotel Oberoi, 300 from Taj Mahal Palace Hotel and 60 people from Nariman House.[xii] After the 2008 Mumbai attacks, there was a significant decline in the number of foreign tourists arriving in India; 3.3 per cent drop in foreign tourist arrival in the country in 2009 which has impacted the economy. [xiii]
- Delhi Bomb Blast in 2005: In October 2005, a serial bomb blast occurred in New Delhi, killing more than 60 people and injuring at least 210 others in three explosions.[xiv] The attacks took place just before three days of Diwali, when all the markets in Delhi were busy with shoppers. It was reported that the blasts of 2005 were linked with a terrorist group of Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT).
- Parliament attack in 2001: On 13th December, 2001, five heavily- armed terrorist, infiltrated the Parliament House in a car with Home Ministry and Parliament labels. More than 100 people, including major politicians were inside the parliament building at the time. The attack led to the deaths of five terrorists, six Delhi Police personnel, two Parliament Security Service personnel and a gardener, in total 14 and to increased tensions between India and Pakistan, resulting in the 2001–2002 India–Pakistan standoff.[xv]
- Bombay blasts in 1993: On 12th March 1993, India’s financial capital Mumbai was hit by 13 explosions in different parts of the city. About 260 people died and over 700 were injured in one of the largest coordinated terror attacks on Indian soil. The first blast took place at around 1:30 in the Bombay Stock Exchange building and after that a series of car and scooter bombs went off at regular intervals at many locations in the city over the next 2 hours.[xvi]
These attacks have affected many lives and created fear in the minds of the people.
4.Laws preventing Terrorism in India
India has time and again formulated laws to deal and combat terrorism. There are general and specific laws dealing with the terrorism and related activities. Following are few of the major anti – terrorism legislations in India:
- Armed Forces (Special Power) Act, 1958: This law has been enacted by Parliament to check insurgency in the North East by giving additional powers to the armed forces in areas declared ‘disturbed areas’. These provisions were extended to Jammu and Kashmir in 1990 through an enactment of the Armed Forces (Jammu and Kashmir) Special Powers Act.[xvii]
- Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, 1967: The act was enacted to provide more effective prevention of certain unlawful activities of individuals and association and for dealing with terrorist activities.[xviii] This act was primarily enacted concerning associations dealing with illegal activities and questioning the territorial integrity of the nation. Since the enactment, the act has been amended many times so as to make it more comprehensive and stringent.
- The National Security Guard Act, 1986: This act was enacted to provide for the constitution and regulation of an armed force of the Union for combating terrorist activities with a view to protecting States against internal disturbance.
- The National Investigation Agency Act, 2008: The act was enacted to constitute an investigation agency at the national level to investigate and prosecute offences affecting the sovereignty, security and integrity of India, security of State, friendly relations with foreign States and offences under Acts enacted to implement international treaties, agreements, conventions and resolutions of the United Nations, its agencies and other international organizations.[xix] The establishment of National Investigation Agency (NIA) is considered as a positive step in fighting against terrorism and related activities, however, the formulation of the act could not prevent the major attacks which took place after its enactment.
- Indian Penal Code, 1860: Indian Penal Code, is the general criminal law in India. Section 121 of IPC, deals with the offence of waging, or attempting to wage war or abetting waging of war, against the Government of India. Acts of terrorism has been captured under the ambit of offences of waging war or attempting to wage a war under Section 121, IPC[xx]. Further, the other relevant provisions pertaining to combat of terrorism has been provide under Section 109, 120A, 120B, 141-149, 153A, 153B and154-158.
Terrorism is the biggest threat to peace, which does not have any values or ethical principles. The main reason for terrorism is the enmity against mankind. Terrorist activities affect the most important human right – ‘right to life’. It is important to note that the aim of terrorist organizations is to gain supremacy in the world and promote their ideology. However, nothing can be gained at the cost of human beings. Human resource is the most precious resources available with the nations that help a nation to grow and develop. Hence, protection and prevention of human resource is the utmost responsibility of the state. The United Nations, an international organization promoting international peace and security, has established the UN Global Counter- Terrorism Strategy to counter terrorism. This is considered as a unique global instrument to enhance national, regional and international efforts to combat terrorism. It is important to note that, the world is already fighting with many issues and terrorism makes the situation worst. Hence, it is the responsibility of all the nations to come together and cooperate in order to fight the global crisis and make this world a better place.
[i] https://www.ohchr.org/documents/publications/factsheet32En.pdf last visited on 17th August 2020.
[ii] https://www.ohchr.org/Documents/HRBodies/HRCouncil/AdvisoryCom/Terrorism/NHRC_India_2.pdf last visited on 18th August, 2020.
[iv] Art. 6, ICCPR.
[v] http://184.108.40.206:8080/jspui/bitstream/10603/208975/10/10_chapter%206.pdf last visited on 17th August, 2020.
[vi] https://shodhganga.inflibnet.ac.in/bitstream/10603/208975/6/06_chapter%202.pdf last visited on 17th August, 2020.
[vii] https://www.imf.org/external/pubs/ft/wp/2005/wp0560.pdf last visited on 19th August, 2020.
[viii] https://www.indiatoday.in/india/story/pulwama-attack-2019-everything-about-jammu-and-kashmir-terror-attack-on-crpf-by-terrorist-adil-ahmed-dar-jaish-e-mohammad-1457530-2019-02-16. last visited on 17th August, 2020.
[ix] https://www.indiatoday.in/india/story/uri-attack-inside-story-pashtun-map-pakistani-ammunition-jash-e-mohammed-341761-2016-09-18 last visited on 18th August, 2020.
[x] https://www.indiatoday.in/india/story/3-yrs-of-surgical-strikes-when-army-sent-a-strong-message-avenged-uri-terror-attack-1604414-2019-09-29 last visited on 14th August, 2020.
[xi] https://economictimes.indiatimes.com/news/defence/revisiting-the-night-of-mumbai-terror-attack-when-10-pak-terrorists-attacked-indias-financial-capital/articleshow/72235424.cms last visited on 18th August, 2020.
[xii] https://academicjournals.org/journal/JMCS/article-full-text-pdf/0946F6610258 last visited on 18th August, 2020.
[xiv] https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/miscellaneous/delhi-bomb-blast/articleshow/57187438.cms last visited on 18th August, 2020.
[xv] https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/topic/2001-indian-parliament-attack last visited on 18th August, 2020.
[xvi] https://economictimes.indiatimes.com/news/defence/six-terror-attacks-that-shook-india/1993-bombay-blasts/slideshow/74146291.cms last visited on 18th August, 2020.
[xvii] https://www.ohchr.org/Documents/HRBodies/HRCouncil/AdvisoryCom/Terrorism/NHRC_India_2.pdf last visited on 18th August, 2020.
[xviii] https://www.mha.gov.in/sites/default/files/A1967-37_0.pdf last visited on 18th August, 2020.
[xix]https://www.mha.gov.in/sites/default/files/The%20National%20Investigation%20Agency%20Act%2C%202008_1.pdf last visited on 18th August, 2020.
[xx] State ( NCT) of Delhi v. Mohd. Afzal and Ors, 107 (2003) DLT 385.