Roots of Terror


Kanti P Bajpi

To permit secession is rather like contemplating suicide. Few governments will commit suicide.

What is terrorism? We general think of terrorist violence as being organised by non-state actors of various kinds - nationalists, anarchists, rightists, leftists, secessionists et. Terrorist violence is also an instrument of states or governments, often to combat non-sate terrorists.

What is difference between terrorism and war?

War involves violence between states that is regulated by well-accepted codes of behaviour including avoiding violence against non-combatants. We are more comfortable with war because it has rules and regulations that have been codified over hundreds of years.

One mans terrorist is another mans freedom fighter.

Violence: People who perceive that they have suffered because of the governments acts of commission or commission and who nurse a sense of being wronged over a long period of time, may well turn to violence. Resentment of ethno-religious groups is the most important condition of terrorism. Conflict with governments desire to foster national identity.

Violence seems intimately bound up with national assertion.

Moment of turning to violence: Whether or not their assertions are true or warranted will, however, always remain controversial. The tracking of events is always difficult. Memories are fickle. Prejudice is rife. The past is rationalised to suit the present

Sessionist ideals:

Since treaty of Westphalia in Europe (1648) one group after another has used these kinds of cultural contexts to argue for their own separate political communities.

Terrorism in India: at the margins - North east, Punjab, Kashmir.

Deep feeling of estrangement and alienation from the heart land.

New Delhi chipping away at states power.
Migration of other races
Interference from outside foreign power.


1. Would independence of these borderlands give them greater control over their futures? The answer is probably no.
- Landlocked
- Big neighbours (China)

2. What about greater autonomy? On the face of it unclear why Indian government should resist calls for more autonomy. Fear that greater autonomy domino effect.

Controlling territory and populations are what governments do, what they are defined by. To give up any segment of land and people is to lose legitimacy and thus forfeit the fundamental attribute of a government, which is to protect the realm and keep it intact. In a strictly material sense this might not be a loss at all. Indeed, one could show that at least in some cases the loss of territory and rebellious populations would be beneficial economically and militarily. For instance, a government might have to spend less on defence and may also, by ceding territory, have borders that are actually easier to defend.

Yet few governments will give way to secessionism. Why? Defence specialists argue that any cession of territory would, in a domino effect, lead to bigger demands and collapse. These agreements are not easy to refute, but they could be refuted.

In the end though, it is not the fear of the domino effect that stops states from conceding secessionist demands. It is rather the fear that a government which fails at its most basic function as a government will lose its psychological and moral worth and will therefore die. To permit secession is rather like contemplating suicide. Few governments will commit suicide. They would rather fight. Thus a secessionist movement will sooner or later be confronted with violence












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