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Backgrounder: Terror Groups in India

Council on Foreign Relations

Author: Carin Zissis

Updated: November 27, 2008


India has long suffered violence from extremist attacks based on separatist and secessionist movements, as well as ideological disagreements. In particular, the territorial dispute over India-controlled Kashmir is believed to have fueled large-scale terrorist attacks, such as the bombings of a Mumbai commuter railway in July 2006 as well as a deadly explosion on an India-Pakistan train line in February 2007. Kashmir-related terrorist violence draws international concerns about its possible link in a chain of transnational Islamist militarism. The terrorist assault on Mumbai's hotel district on November 26, claimed by a previously unknown group calling itself the Deccan Mujahideen, appears to confirm a disturbing new turn of events domestically. Recently, a group calling itself the Indian mujahideen ( TIME ) joined the roster of terror forces, claiming responsibility for a series of blasts in November 2007 in the state of Uttar Pradesh and 2008 attacks in the Indian cities of New Delhi, Jaipur and Ahmedabad. Their relationship with the new Deccan Mujahideen group remains unclear. India also faces another extremist threat: A Maoist insurgency by violent revolutionaries called "Naxalites" has emerged across a broad swathe of central India-nicknamed the "red corridor"-to claim a growing number of lives.

Does India face a serious threat from extremist groups?

Yes, experts say. The precise number of groups orchestrating attacks in India is hard to ascertain because of splintering movements, but the country faces possible violence perpetrated by dozens of extremist groups. More than 2,750 people across India died in terrorism-related violence in 2006, according to analysis by the South Asia Terrorism Portal, a project of the Institute for Conflict Management, an independent, New Delhi-based think tank.

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Copyright 2008 by the Council on Foreign Relations. This material is republished on with specific permission from the Reprint and republication queries for this article should be directed to

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