January 07, 2011

Not terror?

For all those who regularly write condescendingly to me, or leave comments, saying I don't know the definition of terrorism and I mix things up when I refer to massacres like 1984 or 2002 as terrorism -- for all those folks, I have some questions.

In this report, a woman speaks of the murder of her father in 1984. (This is only one such: There must have been plenty of other incidents like this then).

So I wonder: As this father he was hunted down and set on fire, as he escaped the mob and ran for his life and was hunted down again, as he was tied up and set on fire again, as he was beaten with rods -- through all this as he died, did the man not feel terror? Did his family not feel terror?

By what convoluted logic or intricate definition does this not qualify as terrorism?


Jai_C said...

Or, just read your old posts like 2HOTQ.


Anonymous said...

By the same convoluted logic that you use to define terrorism. Let's, for argument's sake say the man did not feel terror, but merely worried. Does that make what happened to him Worryism, and not terrorism? And by the same awesome logic, I feel terror everytime I read one of your blog posts. Is that not terrorism?

Rahul Siddharthan said...

Anonymous: "Let's, for argument's sake say the man [who had been set on fire, escaped, ran, caught, tied up, set on fire again, beaten with rods...] did not feel terror, but merely worried."

Awesome logic. Awesome argument.

"by the same awesome logic, I feel terror everytime I read one of your blog posts."

Awesome analogy.

Poonam Singh said...

Hi, dilip i have been following your blog for quite some time now n i usually don't leave comments but this one's an exception for a lot of reasons...what you said is something that i discussed with my dad a few weeks ago, not that we reached anywhere inspite of both our BPs rising but i came around to believing in it with more intensity!
and anonymous you don't really make sense...most of your comments here n on other posts look like u made them just cause you have a compulsive urge to disagree...but yeah i have my laugh reading them so go on make my day!

Suresh said...


Your definition of "terrorism" is too broad. Terror would also be felt by anyone who sees a loved one killed, for example, during a robbery but that would hardly constitute terrorism.

I would define terrorism as cynical use of violence to further political ends. There is considerable evidence that many of the "riots" that continue to plague our country are deliberately manufactured. (See, for example, Paul Brass's The Production of Hindu-Muslim Violence in Contemporary India and note the use of the word "production.") I would thus agree with you that the violence in 1984, 2002 and many other "riots" are indeed instances of terrorism and we should call it as such instead of hiding behind the euphemism "riot." However, violence that is not motivated by political aims is not terrorism, in my opinion.

Whether we want to call it "riots" or "terrorism", the fact remains that we have not been able to address it. For many of us elite, "riots" are simply due to some "baddies." Presumably, once these "baddies" -- Hindutvavadis, Congresswadis, Secularists, Muslim Jehadis, whatever -- are gone, we will be free of the riots. In an interesting intervention, Pratap Bhanu Mehta suggests that the violence is endogenous, that is, it is inherent in the political system that we have adopted after Independence. I think that his thesis deserves more serious consideration given that it is now 63 years since Independence and we are still plagued by frequent riots. See this clip on YouTube, especially from somewhere around the 3:40 mark.

Saby said...

People are definitely terrorized during riots and can arguably be termed as terror but after everything said and done, I think there's one qualitative difference between the examples you mention. Terror'ism' is something that has been institutionalized ideologically and provides all the necessary infrastructure to promote a cause through mass killings, bombings, shootings and such and executed by a functional organizations like LeT, LTTE, SIMI, Babbar Khalsa International,etc.In the examples you mention especially 1984 and 2002, although it is heinous and equally deplorable in the sense that lives are lost, but can these be categorized with lets say, 26/11 train bombings in Mumbai.?
Was there a functional organization that provided necessary infrastructure and ideology for 1984 and 2002.? As per the news reports, both occurred instantly and were reactionary in nature. The only thing remotely resembling an organization was the complicit establishment and corrupt cops. I would rather categorize the Malegaon Bombing as terrorism as allegedly planned by Abhinav Bharat and 1993 Mumbai Riots and subsequent bombings. These were planned in advance with express purpose of killing certain groups of people.
Just my 2 cents, in this important debate.
As an aside note, I personally think riots in our nation have "excessively disastrous effects" because of a highly inept judicial component of the law enforcement system.

Saby said...

Correction: In the above comment I typed," lets say, 26/11 train bombings in Mumbai.?'... I meant, 26/11 AND train bombings (7/11)..

Nikhil said...

Wonderful to see how you have i exposed your own and indirectly, even Dilip's bigotry. See Dilip if I or your other hated persons had written Rahul's statement and exchanged Hindu with Muslim and changed the last statement with 1990 J & K and added some more tidbits, surely you would have slammed and condemned me and i would have been tarred and feathered - rightly so. But here one of your chamchas writes such a hateful piece against hindus and you sit silent - not even a rebuke. Such things expose your own hidden bigotry.
Jai - See these are the hypocrites who call others bigots and label themselves secular. So is Rahul the next winner of the secularism essay contest?

Jai_C said...


I dont like prefixing terrorism with terms like H. or M. but almost everybody is doing it including very secular ppl. I guess it has devolved to just an identifier or a shortform for something like the below:

X terrorism: "terrorism executed by ppl who profess or claim to profess belief X and perhaps believe their twisted interpretation of X allows or encourages their actions"

I dont disagree with any of the 3 points Rahul made. I dont know that he or Dilip speaks differently about Kashmiri militancy and their targeting KPs in 1990 or whenever.

In Dilip's case specifically I know he *has* written several times about Kashmiri Pandits. But so do you.


Anonymous said...

Dilip I am in agreement with your views, however the differences or similarities with terrorism will emerge once you examine the effect on the person(s) in the INTERVALS between the acts of terror and not DURING the acts themselves, where fear may be more immediate. Rahul is definitely terrorised if he is afraid of attacks and therefore alters his day-to-day actions to mitigate the fear and reduce his risk. Do Sikh's do this? Do the Muslims in Gujarat do this? Do the Hindus in Kashmir do this? If so, they are terrorised and experience terrorism.

Anonymous said...

Dcubed - I think the definition of terrorism is very simple (I write condescendingly) viz.

When 'they' do to 'us', what 'we' have done/have been doing to 'them', it's terrorism.

Puppy Manohar said...

Dcubed - I think the definition of terrorism is very simple (I write condescendingly) viz.

When 'they' do to 'us', what 'we' have done/have been doing to 'them', it's terrorism.

what 'we' do to 'them' is anything from 'preemptive measures' to 'stick a la carrot and stick' to 'spare the rod and spoil the child' to 'end of appeasement' or 'retaliation'

For you, it seems 'we' means the entire humanity. That is why you seem to have only one standard and yardstick by which to measure and call it terrorism. For a lot of people, "we" is a bargain-able commodity.

In 'Soldier and State' - Samuel Huntington makes a (ludicrous) argument of hypocrisy in 'foreign' policy is justified if you want to have liberal democracy at 'home'. He was unanimously praised for it.


Chandru K said...

If the Hindu terror in India itself was a bigger threat to India, it would show in number, range, frequency and type. It wouldn't be merely reactive, or take place every 5-10 years. The Indian government and civil society would be constantly concerned about the problem, every day of the year.

Also, to repeat myself, if "Hindu terror" was a serious issue, it would have shown by now in countries that have a Hindu minority. There are presently large numbers of countries with Hindu minorities, including a few Moslem( and perhaps Christian) ones where Hindus are victims of blatant violence and discrimination.

Chandru K said...

Paul Brass, to repeat something I wrote a while back, has a sick, perverse obsession with violence in India. You'll never see him write/talk about Indian art, literature, science, history, music, film, theatre etc. Single point obsession, that there are riots in India, and they have a large degree of planning behind them. And dumb Indians have to be enlightened on this matter by the great American saviour Paul Brass.

Martha Nussbaum is almost as bad, in her obsession with communal violence. Though she does write about women's issues.

And neither of them say a word about their government's( both Democrat and Republican) support for anti-secular, anti-plural and mostly anti-democratic regimes in Saudi Arabia and Pakistan, among others.

K said...


Last I checked, J&K was part of India. Terror they felt there was on a grander scale than anything that has happened in India.

Cannot imagine, being asked to leave your home & state.

Pretty sure the muslims in Gujrat and Mumbai have stayed put and not left because of terror. If they have, then how much is population reduction by? do we have any numbers?

Is it comparable to the number if KPs that have left Kashmir and are in Refugee camps in their own country?

Why have the minority communities not left Guj/Mum if they feel terror everyday versus why have the KPs left?

So, I think it is subjective. You can find people scared of islamic terrorism and you can find people scared of Hindu Terrorism.

I am a regular reader of Dilip's blog and enjoy his thought provoking writing.

Chandru K said...

I must add, as usual, that the comments above are NOT by me, the real Chandru K. You can tell by the sarcastic tone of the writer. Surely you can tell the difference!

Jai_C said...

I agree with Rahul S Jan09 3:11 esp at the definition level. But since we're getting really technical here let me add the following caveats at "...they are meant to intimidate, and to coerce a minority community..."

1.) Minority as used above is a relative term. It is more accurate to specify that the majority-minority thing is a local spatial like in the Old City of Hyd or parts of BLR city. these examples came to mind since we're talking H & M but one can think of Vanniar or Vanzara or Gujjar or ....

2.) I think at least some of the orchestrated violence has been conducted by groups that are in absolute minorities in any area (no fortified strongholds) as long as they can "get away with it" by dissolving into the crowd.

3.) Majorities and minorities can be dynamic computation and different when split along different axes, eg. a Cauvery galaata will have a different majority-minority composition in the same geographic area and timeframe that witnessed a H-M clash.

Whether this conveys something about the nature or strength of the communities involvement in these affairs I leave to the more learned souls on this thread.


K said...

Let me just add that I am all for bringing the people instigating the riots to justice.

Its a shame they have run scot-free.

Anonymous said...


This is only one of the many things that go to make up the hideousness of Islamic jihadism, but I believe that it has received insufficient attention. Amid all our loose talk about Muslim "grievances," have we even noticed that no such bill of grievances has ever been published, let alone argued and defended? Every now and then an excuse is offered, but usually after the bomb has gone off in the crowded street or the "offending" person has been eliminated. Sérgio Vieira de Mello was murdered, and the U.N. offices in Baghdad leveled along with him, because he had helped oversee the independence of East Timor. Many Australian tourists in Bali were burned alive on the same retrospective pretext. Or it could be a cartoon. Or an unveiled woman. Or the practice of the "wrong" kind of Islam—Ahmadi, for example, or Shiism. Or the practice of Hinduism. Or the publication of a novel. But the sinister, hateful thing about all these discrepant "causes" is precisely the fact that they are improvised and to a large extent unpredictable. That, and the fact that no effort is ever made to say precisely why the resort to violence is so immediate and its practice so random and indiscriminate.

It is true that we have Osama Bin Laden's sermons and a few stray documents like the "charter" of Hamas. But none of these amounts to anything like a manifesto or an appeal to conscience or law or precedent. Aside from an obsessive and homicidal anti-Semitism (something that admittedly is a consistent and predictable theme), they appear to say little more than that unique privileges—including the right to immediate self-appointment as an executioner—attach to the followers of one version of one monotheistic religion.


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