Terrorist Attacks in a Democracy

By Erik Goepner

Terrorists executed nearly 690 attacks in India last year. For the second year in a row India ranked fourth in total number of terrorist attacks, behind only Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan. In fact, in each of the past six years, over 500 attacks per year have taken place in India.

Beyond the high volume of attacks, lies another story—the interesting hodgepodge of terrorist groups within India’s borders. To the north—where the world’s highest altitude conflict continues over Kashmir—Islamic extremist groups such as Lashkar-e-Taiba operate. As noted in the graphic below, these  groups have launched successful attacks in more populous and central areas of India, as well. To the west, Socialist and/or Communist groups like the United A’chik Liberation Army conduct attacks with the goal of seceding from India. Located more in the interior of the country, Communist organizations commit their atrocities in an effort to overthrow the Indian government.

Last year, seventeen of these terrorist events killed six or more people. As the graphic below shows, the Communist terrorists caused the most high-fatality events and also committed the two most destructive attacks, killing 17 and 15 people respectively.

India Picindia index




Perhaps even more disturbing than the terrorism numbers, the Center for Systemic Peace ranks India as the nation with the highest “interstate, societal, and communal warfare magnitude score” in the world. The score reflects the “total summed magnitude” of major episodes of political violence within a country’s borders and consists of civil violence and war, ethnic violence, and international violence and war. Based on the research conducted by the Center, India has had the highest magnitude score since 2002 (see Major Episodes of Political Violence, 1946-2013 dataset and accompanying Codebook at http://www.systemicpeace.org/inscrdata. html).


Map Credit; Image Credit

2 thoughts on “Terrorist Attacks in a Democracy

  1. Is this happening in spite of or because of India’s growing economy?
    Also, do these figures include violence against women or would that be considered crime rather than terrorism?


    1. These numbers only include acts of terrorism, which would not include violence against women as such. Great question re: the relationship between number of terrorist attacks and growth rate their economy. More research required!


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