NEW DELHI, Aug. 29 (UPI) -- The Indian government told Parliament that as many as 66 terrorist groups are currently active in India.
These include 34 in Manipur alone, the other operating across the country from Tamil Nadu in the south to Assam in the northeast, although the major flashpoint remains Jammu and Kashmir, currently divided between India, Pakistan and China.
According to the government, many of the terrorist organizations operating in the contested region of Jammu and Kashmir are covertly supported by their Pakistan-based parent organizations, which provide shelter, training, weapons and funding.
The Times of India reported on Tuesday that the Minister of Home Affairs RPN Singh told Parliament that at least five terrorist outfits, including Lashkar-e-Toiba, Indian Mujahideen, Hizbul Mujahideen, Harkat ul Jihadi Islami and al Badr have a nationwide presence particularly in the capital New Delhi, Uttar Pradesh, Maharashtra, Gujarat, Karnataka, Kerala, Rajasthan and Andhra Pradesh. The government also noted anti-national and separatist activities from states like Tamil Nadu and Assam.
While five of the 66 terrorist/separatist groups listed by the Ministry of Home Affairs are currently active in Jammu and Kashmir, most notably Lashkar-e-Toiba and Hizbul Mujahideen, 10 insurgent groups are active in Assam, four each in Meghalaya and Nagaland, two each in Tripura and Mizoram, and three in Punjab. Interestingly, the Ministry of Home Affairs list does not include left-wing extremist outfits like the CPI (Maoist), currently banned under the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act. Further refining the data, while the Ministry of Home Affairs data listed 34 Manipuri insurgent outfits, MHA officials later stated that at least three of the militant groups have already surrendered.
According to Singh, the broad activities of these organizations included terrorism, secession, smuggling, counterfeiting Indian currency and terrorist financing.
Despite the grim news, overall the picture of terrorist incidents in India has improved. For the first time since 1994, the year 2012 registered a total number of terrorism and insurgency linked fatalities across India declined to triple digits - 804, as against 1,073 in 2011 and a peak of 5,839 in 2001. The trend of sustained decline in such fatalities has been near-unbroken since 2001, except for a brief reversal in 2008.
The most prominent theater of terrorist incidents remains Jammu and Kashmir, which since 1988 has seen 43,439 fatalities. But even there, fatalities have declined, as in 2012 Jammu and Kashmir suffered 117 deaths from terrorism, down from 183 in 2011 and a peak of 4,507 fatalities in 2001.
India's Maoist insurgency, which had surged after the unification of the erstwhile People's War Group and the Maoist Communist Center in September 2004, which had come to be regarded as the country's "gravest internal security threat," saw a similar decline in violence and fatalities. From a 2010 peak of 1,080 deaths, numbers fell to 602 in 2011 and further declined to 367 in 2012.
In India's northeast however, deaths rose to 317 in 2012, up from 246 in 2011. Still, the region recorded 1,051 fatalities in 2008 and has seen an overall decline in insurgency-related killings since. The decline is not however due to improved Indian counterinsurgency operations, but rather to an escalation in fratricidal killings between various insurgent formations, particularly in Nagaland and Manipur.