When I google the phrase “terrorism definition”, it throws up the following definition:
The unofficial or unauthorized use of violence and intimidation in the pursuit of political aims.
The above definition is applicable comprehensively within the territorial jurisdiction of well-recognized soveriegn entities like the US, Russia, the EU, etc. I have deliberately not included India, Pakistan and China in the above definition as these countries don’t have comprehensive control over the domestic politics over which they claim territorial jurisdiction. A state would always call any challenge to its soverign territorial claim as terrorism; however, the voice of a state can’t be taken as the final word by a neutral observor; therefore, all the lists released by the states or soveriegn bodies listing terrorist organizations are irrelevant as far as the general populace is concerned; these lists are relevant only to the public servants in discharge of their public duties and to the psychophants who accept formal and informal gifts and awards from the state.
The above definition is more or less functional except that I would not like to club intimidation with violence: violence per se is enough to qualify as terrorism. The only differentiating factor between terrorism and the state action is the officiality and the authorizedness of the state initiated violence; if the state voilence is unofficial and unauthorized, then it should also be called and would be called terrorism. An action may be unofficial if it has not been deliberated enough; for example, if the Indian Army Chief unilaterally enters his combative forces in the Naxalite areas, or the Indian Home Minister directly employs CRPF in the Naxalite areas without involvement of the State Government concerned or, for that matter, of the Union Cabinet. Similarily, if a state police force arrests a person using violence in a non-cognizable offence without an arrest warrant from the Magistrate concerned and keeps him arrested even after noting his personal details, it would be unauthorized. So, the possibility of terrorism by the state forces is enormous, and they can’t be exempted from the definition of terrorism just because the CrPC exempts them; the purposes are obviously political as the purpose of the criminal law per se is to maintain the peace of the state.
In light of the above, other than the state, there are many other forces ranging from the Bombay Mafia to the IM which would qualify as terrorists in India because their acts of violence are politically motivated and, obviously, unauthorized and unofficial. However, I want to make two exceptions: first, the Kashmir Valley is a disputed territory and is strongly claimed to be in occupation of India not only by many Kashmiris but also by Pakistan, and, if the disputes gets revived in the UN — as it looks like it very soon will — it would also be claimed so under the international law; secondly, the Naxalite areas, where the Indian Government has a meagre presence, thus it doesn’t exercise complete sovereign control over the Naxalite areas; the definition of unauthorized and unofficial might be subject to the international law in these two areas, and some of the actions of the Kashmiri “militants” and the Naxals may not be considered as the acts of terrorism by the international law, especially if they can prove their actions to be in accordance with the rules and constitution governing themselves — Hamas in Gaza falls in a similar category.
Now coming to Global Terrorism; I fail to recognize it; furthermore, the term itself is an oxymoron. When there is no global soveriegn power, how can there be any global terrorist: the two warring countries would always term each other as global terrorists, and the international law is not mature enough to arbitrate. Just because some forces operate across borders doesn’t mean they are global terrorists; they might get qualified as terrorists in two or more countries, but the qualification stops there and goes no further — if the pirates had any political motives, they would have certainly qualified as global terrorists under the International Maritime Law, and Captain Jack Sparrow would have been their undisputed brand ambassador; or, on second thoughts, proabably the MNCs do qualify as global terrorists; they do all that the pirates do albeit, pretty often, with a political motive too.
But, the terrorists who scare me the most are local politicians and other “micro” terrorists: they use violence unauthorizedly and unoffically with a clear political motive — the AAP, probably without realizing it, tried regularizing some of the terrorist acts of local politicians through the Nagar Swaraj Bill, but, thankfully, they failed, and I hope they have now matured before going for the Delhi re-elections. While talking of “micro” terrorists, the defintion of violence can’t be restricted to just physical violence; it should include all kinds of violence: psycological violence, emotional violence, sexual violence, verbal violence, and, of course, physical violence. Given this wide a definition, anybody in the position of power is a potential terrorist, and the most sucessful people in the society are also those who practice terrorism. Elsewhere too I opined that the terrorists rule this world, so Go Ahead and Join the Club.
©2014 Ankur Mutreja