With Islamist militancy, has India passed the tipping point?

July 29, 2008

Victims of the bombings in AhmedabadThe bombings that killed 45 people in the communally sensitive city of Ahmedabad have shaken India’s establishment. It is now sinking in that India faces homegrown Islamist militant groups operating with a scale and sophistication unheard of in
previous years.   

A group called “India Mujahideen” claimed responsibility for the attacks, the same group that said it carried out the bombings in Jaipur in May that killed 63 people.

For years, India had been seen as country that had largely rejected the attractions of global militancy spurred on by wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. U.S. President George W. Bush notably said there were no Indians in al Qaeda.

But mainly Hindu India is home to one of the world’s biggest Muslim populations, around 13 percent of its 1.1 billion people.

It only takes 0.0001 percent of India’s roughly 150 million Muslims to form a nucleus of 15,000 militants, as Uday Bhaskar, former director of New Delhi’s Institute for Defence Studies and Analyses, told me.    

And the attacks on Ahmedabad may have involved dozens of people.    

“We have crossed the tipping point,” he said.

Has India being ignoring a simmering revolt from disaffected Muslim youth? Over the last two years there have been a wave of bombings, nearly all blamed by the government on some local Islamist groups funded or backed by Pakistan and Bangladesh.

Reading the Indian newspapers, they are quick to blame Pakistan and Bangladesh. The home-grown front — perhaps the banned Students Islamic Movement of India — is seen as having its roots abroad.   

But there has been signs of growing dissatisfaction within the Muslim community, especially since the 2002 riots in Gujarat when around 2,500 people, mainly Muslims, were massacred by Hindu mobs.

Take the Gujarat riots. Hardly anyone has been brought to justice. The Hindu-nationalist chief minister at the time, Narenda Modi, was accused of turning a blind eye during the riots, is now a rising political star in India.

Data also shows that Muslims are one of the poorest segments of Indian society, and some of the most neglected people.   

The years since Gujarat has also coincided with a rise in global Islamist consciousness, with television and the Internet providing people in remote Indian villages with news of what is going on in Iraq and Guantanamo.

Some commentators point to the fact that ultra-conservative versions of Islam like Wahabism have been making inroads into India in recent years.

There has been a “well-funded effort to bring these ideas and these ideologies to Muslim communities across India,” said Ajai Sahni of the Institute for Conflict Management.

In May, the Indian Mujahideen threatened senior Muslim clerics including Khalid Rasheed, head of the oldest madrasa, or Islamic religious school, in Lucknow, over their pacifist stance.

Rasheed said his peace movement had received support from the influential ultra conservative Darool-Uloom Deoband madrasa in northern India, whose strict interpretation of Islamic law is said to have inspired the Taliban in Afghanistan.Victim of Ahmedabad bombings

But how many young Muslim youths are now ignoring these clerics? How will these bombings in India’s most entrenched Hindu-nationalist state be received among alientated and poor Muslim youth in other parts of the country?

Or will the Indian Mujahideen tactics of bombing hospitals as well as many in their own Muslim community backfire?


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Interesting article and reaction…. A few days back I read in TOI about Shiv Saniks performing puja at Taj Mahal. That piece was followed by comments from the readers. I noted that Hindus were divided about the actions of the Shiv Saniks but Muslim readers were unequivocally angry/against their actions. Mind you no one died in the puja.

Here, when score have died, I find that Hindus are unequivocally angry/against the blasts, but Muslims are cautiously against, with excuses and and potential reasoning for the blasts (example Memon on July 30)… Does it say more about the Hindus or about the Muslims is up for debate…!

Posted by Pankaj | Report as abusive

To DZ amoeba who takes upon his shoulders the task of educating everyone else except his own sorry self about the subtleties of Religion and Godhood:
Why don’t you be kind enough to give those ‘practical’ hints, which I am sure you yourself have a complete disregard for, to all those pyscho-lunatic jehadis, who roam the streets of India with the sole intention of wiping out the last Hindu who walks on this land?
You seem to me like the typical westerner – who knows nothing himself but wants to dictate three millions of laws to the whole wide world. On top of all this you agree to be biased,racist and sexist?!! Take my advice – GET A LIFE!

the reading is misleading. to prove a point – india is home to the second largest assembly of muslims. muslims enjoy equal rights in this great country just like a hindu, or christian or any other body. if muslims (certain of them) are backward it is because of their own doings. let them make use of the many concessions given to them (where on earth other than in india)by indian govt. as a reader said, kerala state has a high litracy rate and the muslims there are well educated and they dont complain. gujarath is a fast developing state and by bombing places in developing places these ultras are trying to instill fear and break the unity in india.
this willl not at all happen and terrorism whether in india or any other place will stand defeated. and there is saying which we follow … your belief (in any faith) shall protect you…..

Posted by pa vijayakumar | Report as abusive

ok the story so far

1. russians invaded afganistan
2. US wanted russians out
3. US trained contra like rebels with pakistans help( the contras had been successful ) to fight against the russians. the new rebels were called mujahids
4. the russians got out of afganistan rather quickly after they started losing their choppers due to the US supplied stingers
5. the war over pakistan had a huge surplus of these fighters how obviously were not gonna go back and become farmers or tailors or what ever they used to be
6. pakistan started pushing them into kashmir .. why ?? because bangladesh is still a bitter memory
7. kashmir became a terror spot with the ethenic clensing started by the terrorists. most kashmiri hindus fled kashmir and moved to jammu and refugee camps in north india.. this started way back in 1989
8. now 20 years later and a whole generation of millitants/ separatists/ terrorists later pakistans realised that what goes around comes round. its homegrown pitbulls are biting pakistan in the ass
9. pakistans economy is down , the country has been under dictators and weak governments these past years after jia ul haq died.
10. the economy is virtually down. the stock markets are crashing and the paki rupee has bottomed.
11. pakistan still manages to push millitants into india , trys to fund madarsas , cry foul in international meets. its schizoid ministers talk about India trying to establish a hegemony over pakistan. Seriously is there any doubt ? bihar’s GDP is higher than pakistans and thats only the white money we are talking about.
12. US pays pak money for its fight against terror. Seriously paying pakistan to fight terrorism … thats like paying someone to commit suicide. the US keeps losing soldiers in afganistan and keeps praising pak and musharraf for being an ally. wake up and see the writing on the wall guys.
13. back in india .. pakis still like to get some traction in India . getting unemployed youths to make some noises over amdavad.

the way india has moved on is a sign of this country’s momentum. but the fact that we dont act tougher on these vocal minorities ( i am talking about the terrorists ) , shows that in being a liberal social country we have also become a soft state.

but the fact is that we are a nation that has survived worse and we will be up there at the top marching along while pakistan has disintegrated , self destructed by its acts of its own creation.

Posted by vikram | Report as abusive

I would like to state some facts first. Root cause theory is propagated by a lot of people for many otherwise unjustifiable things. These are not the acts of poor downtrodden Muslims avenging economic injustice meted out to them. These are the acts of fundamentalist or militant Muslims. They are the best of the lot. They have a different world view of Islam as the chief or the only religion of the world. .


During the partition it was clear that Muslims are not willing to live under majority Hindu Rule. So partition was inevitable. Population of Muslims was not mere than 14 per cent of undivided India. But by use of coercive methods like “direct action and riots” they secured almost 22 per cent of the land mass. Much larger than their proportion in the population of united India.

Muslims should have left the India for their forefathers had got much more than they were entitled to in terms of land and resources.

It was agreed between Indian and Pakistani leaders that transfer of population will take place in due course of time. However, after the bloody riots, in 1948 there was a pact between Prime Minister Nehru and Prime Minister Liaqat that the remaining population of Hindus in united Pakistan and Muslims in India may remain there. It was almost 6 per cent on both the countries i.e. 6% Hindus in Pakistan and almost similar number of Muslims in India.


Today Hindus just make 1.5 per cent of Pakistan (or West Pakistan’s Population). Whereas Muslims have grown to 14 per cent to total Indian population.

Unofficially their actual number is much larger and Muslim leaders claim with pride that now it is 25 per cent and they would not tolerate any thing. Government of India’s census workers do not have nerves to go inside the sensitive Muslim colonies and count the real numbers. They are fudged.

Pakistan purged itself of remaining Hindus systematically. Not only Hindus, but Christians and other sects of Muslims like Shias, Ahmadiays and Kadiyanis are also persecuted by majority Muslims in Pakistan. Indian Christian respondents should not forget the charges of blasphemy put on their community members in Pakistan some times back. Shias should bear in mind bombings of Shia mosques and killing of Shia leaders by Anjuman-A-Sipah Sahaba (A Sunni Extremist Org.) in Pakistan.

In India Muslims are backward. True. So are Hindus. May be Hindus are slightly better off economically. However they are highly vulnerable demographically. Muslims are growing in numbers and in aggressiveness.

Fundamentalists among them are audacious enough to respond to any thing that is perceived hegemonic aggression by them by way of riots and bombings. Majority population of Hindus, their domination of state Police, Paramilitary and Military do not deter Muslim Fundamentalists in carrying out their designs.

Hindus in Pakistan: A non existent entity. In Pakistan Hindus have just disappeared.


Had all the Muslims had been sent to Pakistan at the time of the partition, even in just and honorable manner. India would have been a better place to live in minus one forty million people.

THINK! About the problem of unemployment, hunger and other problems that arise out of population explosion.

This is not just terrorism and bomb blasts, Muslims are determined to change the demographic profile of this country. Unfortunately there is no power that seems to be able to stop it. It has acquired its own momentum, no amount of persuasion or even observation by India’s apex court can discipline them. Many of Indian cities are turned Muslim majority areas. You just need to see the visuals of Muslim festival, long and unending queues of Muslims offering prayers on festivals like Id and Bakara Id. Military is just protecting the border, but inside the whole country is slowly sliding towards a position where Muslims would make up majority. Muslims did not seek security from Indian state; they seek security, in a Hindu Majority India, by increasing their own numbers, by being aggressive and by being prepared for any eventuality. That is the reason you would find large number of illegal arms in their ghettos, they have just internalize it. That is why mad rush to increase population and to arm the community. And this mindset is detrimental for India as a whole.

The country is future Pakistan.


Strict observation of one or two children policy by all – Hindus and Muslims. If Hindus say that we would have any number of children but Muslims must stop at one…two or three then this is hegemony of Hindu majority. But this is just the opposite. Fundamentalist Muslims say that we will do what we want and you just can’t help it.


Perhaps, helpless Hindu majority India is the only country in the world that is faced with such grave internal and external threats. Total number of Muslims in Indian subcontinent is more than 450-500 million (Muslims in India combined with their brothers in Pakistan, Bangladesh). Hindus are just 850-900 millions in numbers and that too heavily divided in upper castes/backward and scheduled castes – no unity, no sharing and without any common thread of cohesiveness among them on the issues.

However, silent majority of Hindus, particularly young, educated urban generation is increasingly getting aware about the shape, size and nature of the threat before self.

And Mr. Scrutton, as a journalist you should be aware about the concept of EURABIA – Muslims make up more than 10-15 per cent of today’s Europe’s population. And very soon they will outnumber you people, too. Today’s more than 60 per cent Muslims live in non Muslim majority countries and fundamentalists among them pose the gravest threat to the societies they inhabit. Just try asking any security/intelligence chief or government official about the threat perception in the near or the long run. The answer would be an eye opener for you.

Being a journalist does not mean that you should provide half baked information. Journalism is also not meant for projecting artificial harmony in the name of preserving social fabric of the society. You must have courage to call a spade a spade. Introspection is a must for both Hindus and Muslims. And true introspection can not take place when journalists like you avoid discussing the real issues in the name of objectivity, fairness, obligation to some kind or policies or just don’t dig deeper. Or you just can’t comprehend the problem.


There is a need for free wheeling debate on television between two communities to settle the issues – WHAT THEY WANT FROM EACH OTHER. However, now Muslims have upper hand for they know that Hindus can’t catch up with them in increasing population because of various lifestyle or cultural reasons or reluctance to procreate beyond one or two children.

Posted by True Indian | Report as abusive

As a nation we can not ignore this movement of radical Islam in India. Our State Department must engage India and encourage them to not only strike at the criminal elements that are committing these heinous crimes, but must address the grievenances of the 150 million muslims. These muslims will lend an ear to the radical religious ideology if they know their government will not. The Hindu and Muslim differences are long and embittered but must be addressed. The government of India can be more aggressive in communicating how they are attacking these criminals and yet communicating with the Indian Muslim community. I am saying anything different? Yes. This strategy works. We see President Uribe in Colombia end decades of stalemate with the FARC through attacking the criminals and bringing the opposition into the political process. We see in Iraq, Matquah Al Sadr stand down his Mahdi militia to join the political process. And we even see in Rwanda the reconcilition that had to occur between the Hutus and Tutsies finally occur after incredible crimes against one another. But the question is, who is going to be the catlyst of change? Will it be the countries own government, gaining credibility, or will it be an outside source, i.e. the United States State Department, that can bring the voices of each interest into negotiations like we have done in Iraq. The people will decide. For the people will decide who has their best interest in mind and give to that leader the political power to act on their behalf. The people of India do not want the terror of bombings in their hospitals, but are they willing to negotiatite and reconcile with their Muslims neighbors? You can see now why terrorism is selected by the poorest and most out numbered populations, it forces more powerful elements to the table of negotiations. But to nip these actions in the bud is what our governments must do and recognize early. Does India give the Muslims responsible for this crime amnesty, no!, but they must quell the conditions that are creating Indian muslims to resort to these actions.

I wrote my above comments as an officer in the US Army, MAJ Eric Carnahan, student, CGSC US Army, Combined Arms Center. “The views experessed in the message are those of the author and do not reflect the official policy or position of the Department of the Army or Department of Defense or the US Government.”

i think you should educate the people first, in the right way.
educate them about what’s good and what’s bad. for some its a very thin line.
teach them religion which practices peace.
teach them religious tolerance.
educate them about what’s going on in the world.
give them a positive perspective of things.
cultivate in them the habit of accepting a failure and be positive.

if something goes wrong against them,
teach them how find justice according to the law, not to take revenge.

the terroist organizations are doing the same but in the opposite direction
they are teaching people religion which hates other religions
they are teaching how to take revenge, how to cause terror for something that went wrong against them.
these organizations are cashing on people’s weaknesses (economic status, hunger, social standards etc)

i think education should be the weapon used to eradicate terrorism. (prevention is better than cure)

it’s not easy, but we have to remember that rome was not built in a day.

Posted by Niranjan | Report as abusive

Any suspects should be shot at sight, it shouldn’t matter if they are hindus or muslims, there is no smoke without fire. Besides, if a couple innocents are killed to save 100 other innocents the cops/government should do it. Any person remotely affiliated with the Indian Mujahideen or SIMI should be shot dead at sight. These people don’t deserve trials. Human rights are for people who know what it is and respect and uphold others’ right to the same.

Posted by anwar mirza | Report as abusive

Hindus have been a fairly tolerant community. The fact that we exist inspite of over 800 years of invasions and looting by muslim invaders and british occupation is the fact that we have the tenacity to stand by what we believe in a peaceful manner.. and fight for our rights without harming the sentiments of others.

The past 50 years has seen the rise of pseudo-secularism where the majority is disregarded to please minorities.

Imagine this..
> In the 40s .India provided pak with a partition fund which was diverted to invade india.
> The Civil Laws give special privileges to people on basis of religion
> the govt can annex Hindu temple at will.. and route the donation to fill their own pockets
> 300000 Kashmiri Pandits are looted, raped, tortured and made to migrate from their homeland.. and today u call it a Muslim state while the Ladakh is still a peaceful buddhist community

When 95% of all terror attacks are communally motivated by a group that belongs to a 150 million community. Give me a reason why shoudl we not target it.

Havnt we had enough??? people talk of Godhra.. what about the children, women and men who burnt alive in the train??

Let get this right.. we are a hindu nation and we respect every religion as long as you can live in peace.

Never level an allegation that we are Hindu Fanatics… not when Azim Premji runs one of the largest IT companies..Not when Abdul Kalam was made the president by the BJP Govt(Hindu centric)

Posted by Venkat | Report as abusive

The only grievance the Muslims have into India is, that they are not in charge,….Yet.

Posted by Melvin Leppla | Report as abusive

The first photograph shown does not seem to be from Ahmedabad. It seems to be from Sri Lanka.

Posted by Rajesh | Report as abusive

dear mr Alistair Scrutton

i quote

“Take the Gujarat riots. Hardly anyone has been brought to justice. The Hindu-nationalist chief minister at the time, Narenda Modi, was accused of turning a blind eye during the riots, is now a rising political star in India.

Data also shows that Muslims are one of the poorest segments of Indian society, and some of the most neglected people. ”

who is to blame for this,

i care for humanity, do not subscribe to any religion,

however, when we talk of terrorist attack, why the influential and respected muslims keep mum and do not come forward to educate fellow muslims to condemn the attack.

they know whois behind it, why they do not expose them in public.

as far education is concern -they themselves to blame unless they come out of ” medressa”


Posted by rashmi | Report as abusive

Lets be more analytical and less of stereotypes by blaming only a particular community and rather understand it from a macro level as to who is gaining from all these…

0.0001 % or whatever percentage of minority …nobody is going to gain whatsoever by bringing distrurbance at home …

Its time for us to be more tactical in approach and tackle this global problem of terrorism ..

as it has been said time and again that the perpetators of Terror dont cling to any community or religion but to their short term needs .

Jai Hind ….

Posted by sajjad | Report as abusive