Defence Minister Rajnath Singh said on Thursday, 2 September, that barring Jammu and Kashmir, there have been no 'major terrorist attacks' in the country since Prime Minister Narendra Modi assumed office in 2014.
Speaking at the Sardar Patel Statue of Unity in Kevadia, Singh stated that the steps taken by the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) government in the Centre had managed to scare the terrorists.
"Barring Jammu and Kashmir, since Narendra Modi has come to power, there has been no major terror attack in any part of the country. This is a big achievement of our government."Rajnath Singh, Defence Minister
While Singh stressed upon these 'major terror attacks,' the statement he made is misleading on the following counts:
The government doesn't clearly define any terror attack as 'major' or 'minor'. However, it has used the word 'major' in reference to the hinterland in the Parliament in 2018.
As per an answer given by former Union Minister of State for Home Affairs G Kishan Reddy in Parliament on 23 March 2021, there have been six terrorists attacks in India's hinterlands.
Government Data on Terrorist Attacks
The Indian Ministry of Defence classifies internal security issues into these four categories:
Cross-border terrorism in Jammu & Kashmir (J&K)
Insurgency in Northeast
Left Wing Extremism (LWE) in certain states
Terrorism in the hinterland (the rest of the country)
As per a response given by the former Union Minister of State for Home Affairs G Kishan Reddy in the Lok Sabha, there have been six incidents of terrorist activities between 2014 to 2021 in the country's hinterlands.
As per this data given by the government, 11 security personnel were killed in these attacks and 11 civilians lost their lives.
Although the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) or the Defence Ministry does not specify what constitutes a "major" attack, former Minister of State for Home Affairs of India, Hansraj Ahir, had informed the Parliament that there were two "major" terrorist attacks between 2014-17, one each in 2015 and 2016.
In fact, Singh, who was the union home minister in 2015, had himself issued a statement on the terror attack in Gurdaspur district of Punjab.
"In this terror attack, a total number of three civilians, three Home Guards and one Police Officer lost their lives. In addition, 10 civilians and 07 security force personnel were injured," Singh said.
We also found a response given by Reddy in March 2020, where the minister had said that "no major terror attack took place in the hinterland of the country during the last three years, except a grenade attack which took place on 18 November 2018 at a prayer hall in Adliwal Village, PS Rajasansi, Amritsar".
Other Reported Incidents of Attacks
Apart from the data provided by the government in the Parliament, a look at the news reports also shows the incidents of such attacks.
Communist Party of India (Maoist) Party – which is included in the Schedule of Terrorist Organisations along with all its formations and front organisations under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, 1967 – has been responsible for several attacks since 2014, especially in Chhattisgarh.
The most recent attack took place in April 2021 where 22 security personnel were killed. In April 2017, Maoists killed 25 Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) personnel and injured seven in Sukma district. In March 2018, nine CRPF personnel were killed in an ambush by Maoists in Sukma.
Some other terror attacks include the Pathankot attack of January 2016 by Jaish-e-Mohammad terrorists and the explosion in a Bhopal-Ujjain passenger train in 2017 carried out allegedly by ISIS terrorists.
What Does Data From Independent Bodies Say?
South Asian Terrorism Portal (SATP), a non-governmental group that tracks terror activities in the South Asian region, defines a major terror attack that involves the deaths of three or more people – civilian or military.
SATP's data is sourced from available ministry data as well as media reports.
As per SATP, 547 major incidents have happened since 2014 killing 660 security forces.
SATP also includes terror activities carried on by "Maoist Insurgency" groups. According to the data, Chhattisgarh alone witnessed 87 major terror incidents, a majority of which were carried out by CPI-Maoist group.
Singh's assertion of no 'major terror attack' doesn't seem to be backed by the government's own data, but yes, as per SATP data there has been a decrease in the number of terrorism related incidents since 2014.
The Quint has contacted the defence minister's office seeking clarifications on Singh's statements and is awaiting a response. This article will be updated as and when a response is received.
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