Country Report on Terrorism 2018 - Chapter 1 - India

Overview: The parts of India most seriously impacted by terrorism in 2018 included the state of Jammu and Kashmir, the northeast Indian states, and parts of central India in which Maoist terrorists remain active. India continued to apply sustained pressure to detect, disrupt, and degrade terrorist organizations’ operations within its borders. Indian leadership expressed resolve to prevent terrorist attacks domestically and to bring to justice the perpetrators of terrorism, in cooperation with the United States and other like-minded countries. In June, the Indian government designated the Islamic State’s Khorasan Province (ISIS-K) and al-Qa’ida in the Indian Subcontinent (AQIS) as terrorist organizations under domestic designation authorities.

Counterterrorism cooperation between the United States and India continued to expand in 2018. In March, the U.S.-India Counterterrorism Joint Working Group reviewed threats posed by terrorist groups worldwide. In September, during the first 2+2 (top U.S. and Indian diplomatic and military officials) Ministerial Dialogue, both sides announced their intent to increase information sharing on known or suspected terrorists and to enhance their ongoing cooperation on terrorism issues at the UN and FATF. Both sides also committed to implementing UNSCR 2396.

2018 Terrorist Incidents:

  • On February 10, Jaish-e-Mohammad (JeM) claimed responsibility for killing nine Indian officers at the Sunjuwan military station.
  • On March 13, Maoists killed nine and critically injured two paramilitary personnel of the Central Reserve Police Force in an IED attack on an armored personnel carrier in southern Chhattisgarh state.
  • On June 14, leading Kashmiri journalist Shujaat Bukhari was shot to death by terrorists in Jammu and Kashmir’s capital with his two police bodyguards. The prime suspect, Naveed Jatt, was killed in a firefight with Indian security forces in November.
  • On September 23, Maoists in the southern state of Andhra Pradesh killed a state lawmaker and a former state lawmaker in a tribal-dominated eastern part of the state.
  • On November 18, three persons were killed and 20 were injured when two Sikh extremists threw grenades into a building where Sikhs belonging to the Nirankari sect had gathered.

Legislation, Law Enforcement, and Border Security: There were no major changes to counterterrorism laws in 2018. The Indian government continued to address terrorism-related activities through existing statutes, including the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA) (1967), the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation 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 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.

Under India’s constitution, state governments are responsible for law and order. India’s state-level law enforcement agencies play a significant role detecting, deterring, and preventing acts of terrorism. These state agencies have varying degrees of capability. After the Mumbai attacks of 2008, state antiterrorism squads were created to handle rapid, first-responder duties. At the central government level, the National Investigation Agency (NIA) is the lead law enforcement investigation agency. The National Security Guard (NSG) retains the mandate for nationwide response. Despite its rigorous training, NSG’s rapid response capability is somewhat limited, due in part to its small staff relative to India’s large size and to the NSG’s limited independent logistics capacity. Continued weaknesses in intelligence and information sharing negatively impacted state and central law enforcement agencies. In 2016, India and the United States signed an arrangement to exchange terrorism screening information, and the Indian Multi-Agency Centre (MAC) continued work on implementation. Larger Indian states have established their own state-level MACs and are providing near-real-time information on terrorism to India’s various law enforcement agencies.

In an example of a significant counterterrorism law enforcement action, the NIA arrested Jamaat-ul-Mujahadeen Bangladesh senior leader Mohammad Jahidul Islam in Bangalore in August after he allegedly tried and failed to bomb shrines sacred to Buddhists in Bodhgaya in the Indian state of Bihar. Police suspect he was also involved in a series of cases in Bangladesh. In December, the NIA and several local law enforcement agencies carried out raids in Delhi and Uttar Pradesh and arrested 10 suspects who were reportedly part of an ISIS-inspired module planning terrorist attacks.

India participated in the Department of State’s Antiterrorism Assistance program and received training in internet, dark web, mobile device, and advanced digital forensics capabilities.

Countering the Financing of Terrorism: India is a member of the FATF, as well as two FATF-style regional bodies: the Eurasian Group on Combating Money Laundering and Financing of Terrorism (EAG) and the Asia/Pacific Group on Money Laundering (APG). India’s FIU is a member of the Egmont Group. India has formed an interagency committee to conduct its National Risk Assessment in accordance with FATF guidance. Under the chairmanship of the Additional Secretary for Revenue, the committee will form several working groups to examine specific topics, including financial institutions, financial inclusion, and anti-money laundering. Once complete, the committee will present the assessment to the Minister of Finance for approval.

Between July 2017 and June 2018, India initiated 2,524 AML/CFT investigations, filed 414 prosecution complaints, arrested 170 individuals, and secured 732 Provisional Attachment Orders for confiscations. In June, the Indian government also announced its domestic terrorist designations of ISIS-K and AQIS.

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

Countering Violent Extremism: In 2018, Indian CVE programs continued to target disaffected sectors of Indian society that were at the highest risk of vulnerability for terrorist recruitment. Indian government officials continued to be concerned over the use of the internet – including social media and messaging apps like WhatsApp – for terrorist recruitment and radicalization and the fomenting of inter-religious tensions. India’s Home Secretary and other senior government officers met representatives from global social media companies to review steps to prevent online terrorist recruitment and radicalization. Nevertheless, cases of online terrorist radicalization in southern India were reported throughout the year, including reports of some recruits being smuggled to ISIS pockets in Afghanistan.

The city of Mumbai is a founding member of the Strong Cities Network.

International and Regional Cooperation: India is a founding member of the GCTF and participated in GCTF, Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Regional Forum, and other UN fora on counterterrorism in 2018. India continued to use multilateral fora and bilateral visits to highlight terrorism concerns and their impacts. India also led efforts to condemn terrorism and took tangible steps against the threat in the various meetings of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) and ASEAN. Indian troops also participated in a SCO-wide antiterrorism exercise called SCO Peace Mission 2018 alongside Russian, Chinese, and Pakistani troops. This was the first time Indian and Pakistani troops conducted a counterterrorism exercise together. The United States and Indian Special Forces took part in an annual exercise in Rajasthan in which counterterrorism was one of the simulated scenarios.