Counterterrorism in India
An ad hoc response to an enduring and variable threat
in Non-Western responses to terrorism
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The unprecedented overlap between terrorism and insurgency in India represents a key challenge to formulating an understanding of terrorism and counterterrorism (CT) in this region. This chapter discusses the emergence and evolution of key terrorist threats in the country to illustrate how terrorism in the subcontinent falls into two distinct categories: ‘pure terrorism’ as practised by what are best described as ‘incorrigible terrorist groups’, and ‘hybrid threats’ that are a complex amalgamation of insurgency and terrorism utilized by what are essentially ‘corrigible’ groups. The chapter then discusses how India’s inability to distinguish between these two very different threats results in what tends towards a lethal, kinetic response characteristic of CT, even as its language remains within a population-centric ‘hearts and minds’ framework more obviously associated with traditional counterinsurgency (COIN). This tendency to ‘act CT but speak COIN’ is a key reason why both India’s CT and COIN strategies remain short-sighted, muddled and underdeveloped. However, newly emergent threats make it imperative that India urgently recalibrate and reconsider these responses.

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