Country Report on Terrorism 2014 - Chapter 2 - India

Overview: According to the National Consortium for the Study of Terrorism and Responses to Terrorism at the University of Maryland, approximately 400 people were killed as a result of terrorist attacks in India in 2014. The number of fatalities from terrorist attacks did not change significantly from the previous year, demonstrating that India remains one of the most persistently targeted countries by insurgents and transnational and domestic terrorist groups. Included in the total number of fatalities were more than 160 deaths attributed to the Communist Party of India (Maoist) or other Maoist groups. To date, these groups have not specifically targeted U.S. or other international interests. In 2014, Indian sources continued to attribute attacks and fatalities in Jammu and Kashmir and against Indian facilities in Afghanistan, to transnational terrorist groups, such as Lashkar e-Tayyiba (LeT), which continued to operate, train, rally, propagandize, and fundraise in Pakistan.

U.S.-India counterterrorism cooperation continued to increase in 2014. Prime Minister Modi’s government has stated that it intends to prioritize its response to terrorism as a serious national security threat. During the September 30 Summit meeting, President Obama and Prime Minister Modi pledged to enhance U.S.-India “law enforcement, security, and military information exchanges, and strengthen cooperation on extradition and mutual legal assistance.” The President and Prime Minister stressed the need for joint and concerted efforts against networks such as al-Qa’ida, LeT, Jaish-e-Mohammed, and the Haqqani Network, and reiterated their call to bring the perpetrators of the November 2008 terrorist attacks in Mumbai to justice. The Prime Minister also joined President Obama in reaffirming “deep concern over the continued threat posed by terrorism, most recently highlighted by the dangers presented by Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL).”

In May, four individuals from India traveled to Iraq to support ISIL. Only one of them returned to India and at year’s end was in custody. In September, four students from Hyderabad attempted to travel to Iraq to support ISIL but were detained in West Bengal and returned to their places of residence. In October, Anees Ansari was detained by Mumbai police for allegedly planning ISIL-inspired attacks on westerners and western schools in Mumbai. On December 13, Mehdi Biswas, a 24-year-old office executive from Bangalore, was arrested in connection with pro-ISIL messaging on Twitter. Biswas’ Twitter account had approximately 17,000 followers. India also remains deeply concerned about Indian nationals taken hostage by ISIL in Iraq.

Indian officials have emphasized the government takes threats posed by ISIL seriously, even though only a small number of Indians are believed to have been recruited into the organization. Given India’s large Muslim population, potential socio-religious marginalization, and active ISIL online propaganda efforts, there remains a risk of increased ISIL recruitment of Indian nationals. On December 16, India banned ISIL under the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act.

2014 Terrorist Incidents: Representative incidents included:

  • On April 12, two bombs planted by suspected Maoist rebels killed approximately 12 people in the eastern Indian state of Chhattisgarh while voting was underway in India’s general election. The first blast targeted a bus carrying election officials in Bijapur district, killing at least seven. The second attack, which took place half-an-hour later, killed five police officers in an ambulance in the Bastar district.
  • On May 11, Maoist insurgents killed seven police commandos and injured two others in a landmine blast in the Gadricholi district of Chhattisgarh state.
  • On May 26, LeT carried out an attack against the Indian Consulate in Herat, Afghanistan. Security forces killed the attackers.
  • On October 2, an improvised explosive device (IED) explosion killed two men, alleged to be terrorist conspirators in the process of handling the device, in the town of Burdwan in West Bengal, about 70 miles northwest of Kolkata. Subsequent investigations by the Indian and Bangladeshi governments alleged the involvement in the blast of an interstate terrorist network believed to have been run by Jamaat-ul-Mujahideen Bangladesh (JMB). Police arrested two females and a male from the blast site who were found destroying evidence, and seized IED components and violent extremist literature.
  • On November 27, 10 people were killed when terrorists wearing army uniforms attacked an Indian army base in Kashmir.
  • On December 28, an IED exploded outside a busy restaurant in Bangalore on Sunday night, killing one woman and injuring one other in the central business district of Bengaluru.

Legislation, Law Enforcement, and Border Security: India continued to address terrorism-related activities through existing statutes, including the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA) (1967), the SAARC Convention on Suppression of Terrorism Act (1993), and various state-level laws. The UAPA presumes the accused to be guilty if the prosecution can produce certain incriminating evidence indicating the possession of arms or explosives or the presence of fingerprints at a crime scene, regardless of whether criminal intent is demonstrated. State governments held persons without bail for extended periods before filing formal charges under the UAPA. Other state-level counterterrorism laws reduce evidentiary standards for certain charges and increase police powers to detain a person and his or her associates without charges and without bail for extended periods.

Since the 2008 Mumbai terrorist attacks, India has attempted to enhance the counterterrorism capabilities of the Central Bureau of Investigation, the National Security Guard, and the National Investigation Agency. India’s efforts to counter terrorism were hampered by poor interagency coordination and information sharing, however. In addition, local police forces, led at the state level, have limited command and control capacity and suffer from poor training and equipment. India has launched initiatives to address some of these challenges, including through a Multi-Agency Centre for enhancing intelligence gathering and sharing. It also plans to implement the National Intelligence Grid, a system for linking databases in different government departments and ministries for use by intelligence agencies. The Indian government has proposed the creation of a National Counter Terrorism Centre, but state-level officials have opposed this initiative and it has not been implemented.

Indian officials participated in courses provided through the Department of State’s Antiterrorism Assistance (ATA) program and through other regional capacity building programs. In addition, the Department of Homeland Security, through the Immigration and Customs Enforcement Attaché office, and the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation, conducted training programs and exchanges with Indian law enforcement personnel.

Countering the Financing of Terrorism: India is a member of the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) and two FATF-style regional bodies, the Eurasian Group on Combating Money Laundering and Financing of Terrorism and the Asia/Pacific Group on Money Laundering. India’s Financial Intelligence Unit is also a member of the Egmont Group of Financial Intelligence Units. Indian officials monitor and regulate money transfers, require the collection of data for wire transfers, oblige non-profit organizations to file suspicious transaction reports, and regulate and monitor these entities to prevent misuse and terrorist financing.

In November 2012, the Government of India brought its domestic anti-money laundering/counterterrorist financing (AML/CFT) laws into alignment with international standards by passing amendments to the Prevention of Money Laundering Act. The Indian government has yet to implement the legislation effectively, however, especially with regard to criminal convictions. Law enforcement agencies typically open criminal investigations reactively and seldom initiate proactive analysis and long-term investigations. While the Indian government has taken action against certain hawala financing activities, prosecutions have generally focused on non-financial businesses that conduct hawala transactions as a secondary activity. Additionally, the government has not taken adequate steps to ensure all relevant industries are complying with AML/CFT regulations. The reporting of suspicious transactions relating specifically to terrorist financing is increasing significantly, however, especially with respect to transactions not involving sanctions lists.

The degree of training and expertise in financial investigations involving transnational crime or terrorist-affiliated groups varies widely among the federal, state, and local levels and depends on the financial resources and individual policies of differing jurisdictions. U.S. investigators have had limited success in coordinating the seizure of illicit proceeds with their Indian counterparts. While intelligence and investigative information supplied by U.S. law enforcement authorities have led to numerous seizures of terrorism-related funds, a lack of follow-through on investigational leads has prevented a more comprehensive approach.

The Government of India is taking steps to increase financial inclusion through expanding access to the banking sector and issuing biometric-enabled universal identification numbers.

For further information on money laundering and financial crimes, see the 2014 International Narcotics Control Strategy Report (INCSR), Volume 2, Money Laundering and Financial Crimes

Regional and International Cooperation: India is a founding member of the Global Counterterrorism Forum (GCTF) and participated in GCTF and other UN forums on counterterrorism in 2014. Events related to the October 2 blasts in the Burdwan district of West Bengal cast a spotlight on India’s counterterrorism cooperation with its neighbors. The blasts resulted in counterterrorism cooperation between India and Bangladesh, including visits by Indian officials to Dhaka, travel by a Bangladeshi intelligence team to West Bengal, and parallel raids along the Indo-Bangla border. During 2014, the Indian and Bangladeshi governments continued their cooperation under their bilateral Coordinated Border Management Plan to control illegal cross-border activities and announced the strengthening of bilateral cooperation in the field of security and border management through additional cooperation agreements. Also during 2014, India and Nepal continued cooperation along their shared border. India is a member of the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation.

On August 18, the Border Security Force (BSF) provided Bangladeshi counterparts a list of 66 camps located in Bangladesh used by insurgents to launch militant activities into northeast India.

Countering Radicalization to Violence and Violent Extremism: India’s efforts to counter radicalization and violent extremism were generally directed by state and local authorities. While there was no comprehensive national policy for countering radicalization or violent extremism, the government has implemented some initiatives to counter violent extremism such as initiatives to provide “quality and modern education” in madrassas. In addition, the government operates programs to rehabilitate and reintegrate former militants and insurgents into mainstream society. These programs target disaffected sectors of Indian society that have been sources of separatism and violent insurgency.

Indian government officials have raised concerns over the use of social media and the internet to recruit, radicalize, and foment inter-religious tensions. In particular, officials expressed concern about the ability of ISIL to recruit online, following prominent incidents in which Indians were attracted to join or support the group. On December 16, India banned ISIL under the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act, a step that may deter public declarations of support for ISIL and facilitate prosecutions of individuals who assist the group.