Members of the National Socialist Council of Nagaland (NSCN). Photo By Nanda Kirati Dewan
Barun Roy is the editor of
The Himalayan Beacon
, a monthly magazine based in Darjeeling that has a reputation for unswerving journalism and being more clued-up than anyone else. He explained how it’s not just Al-Qaeda wannabes kicking up trouble in India. Hindu, Muslim and Christian extremists are trapped in a long-running cycle of violence and retribution, followed by a bit more violence, with extra retribution for afters. Sounds fun, right?
Vice: People in the West mostly associate terrorism with Muslims these days. But India has a pretty spicy racial terrorism cocktail going on, doesn’t it?
The formation of the Muslim League led to the division of the nation into India and Pakistan. Millions were massacred by both Hindus in India and Muslims in Pakistan. Hindu fanaticism peaked on December 6, 1992, when a 150,000-strong Hindu mob demolished the first Mughal emperor Babur’s mosque. Despite the fact that Indian constitution guarantees secularism, the mosque was demolished in the presence of state police.
Hindu fanaticism plays a great role in Indian polity today. Some Hindu terror groups attack both the Muslims and the Christians. Muslims have been uprooted from villages, gathered together in sheds, raped, maimed and burnt alive. Thousands of Muslims are still missing in Gujarat.
What about the Christians?
Christians, especially poor tribals in Orissa, Andhra Pradesh, Bihar and Uttar Pradesh, have now found themselves targeted by Hindu extremist groups. The attacks on Christians have been similar to those unleashed in Gujarat—mob attacks on churches and villages, the raping, maiming and burning of women, children, nuns and pastors. It is not a surprise that minorities, be they Muslims, Christians, Sikhs or Buddhists, feel targeted and alienated.
The Muslims reacted by forming groups like the Students Islamic Movement in India, which, through their association with the Kashmiri militant groups and terrorist outfits in Pakistan, including Al-Qaeda, unleashed terror against Hindus and the entire population by bombing everything that could be bombed. This led to more attacks by Hindu terror groups and the same cycle continues with mindless carnage fuelled by hatred.
Sounds grim. Where do Christian terrorists come in?
Christian terrorism in the West involves a fight against what is believed to be anti-Christian such as homosexuality or abortion. But Christian terrorism in India works towards forceful propagation of Christianity and a retaliatory struggle for existence. The northeastern areas of India were mostly converted to Christianity by missionaries. The converted included the low-caste Hindus, tribals and the so-called untouchables. As India gained independence, missionaries and church workers were targeted. Many groups from these areas demanded independence from India. Groups like the National Liberation Front of Tripura, the National Socialist Council of Nagaland [NSCN] and Kanglei Yawol Kanna Lup among others. About 50 small splinter groups are now fighting for a Christian state and freedom from India. So far these groups have been engaged in a “holy crusade”, fighting the Indian army for almost 60 years.
Which religion is accountable for the most extensive terror networks in India?
In Kashmir, it is the Muslims. In Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Gujarat and Orissa, it is the Hindus. In the northeastern regions, it is the Christians. Government policy presently is to wipe groups such as NSCN and Tripura Resurrection Army out. They enjoy popular support, the status of “holy crusaders”, in some parts of their operational zones at least, but this is not a view shared by Christians in the rest of the nation.
Is there any evidence of external funding of these Christian terrorists?
The United States government and the CIA was—and if the Indian government is right— still is the major supplier of arms and ammunition to these Christian terror groups. Presently the terror groups are also known to have links with the Maoists in Nepal, Karens in Burma and the drug lords in Cambodia, Burma and Laos.
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