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A Dangerous Trend

India has strongly opposed categorisation of terrorism on the basis of motive behind such activities. At the UN, India recently said that this particular trend is a dangerous one, making it clear that all sorts of terror attacks, whether motivated by Islamophobia, anti-Sikh, anti-Buddhist or anti-Hindu prejudices, should be condemned. On March 9, 2023, Ruchira Kamboj, the Permanent Representative of India to the UN, stressed that there could not be good or bad terrorists, adding that such an approach “will only take us back to the pre-9/11 era of labelling terrorists as Your Terrorists and My Terrorists, and erase the collective gains the international community has made over the last two decades”. She made the comment during the Eighth Review of the International Counter-Terrorism Strategy (GCTS) at the UN.

During the First Reading of the Draft Resolution on Eighth Review of the GCTS, Kamboj insisted: “The tendency of categorisation of terrorism based on the motivations behind terrorist acts is dangerous and goes against the accepted principles that ‘terrorism in all its forms and manifestations should be condemned and there cannot be any justification for any act of terrorism, whatsoever’.” She further urged the global community to stand guard against new terminologies and false priorities, which could dilute its focus on combatting the scourge of terrorism. “Moreover, some of the terminologies, such as Right or Right-Wing Extremism, or Far-Right or Far-Left Extremism, open the gate for misuse of these terms by vested interests. We, therefore, need to be wary of providing a variety of classifications, which may militate against the concept of democracy itself,” added the Indian official.

Kamboj recalled that the ICTS, adopted by the UN in 2006, had made it clear that no terrorism was acceptable. The World Body had also decided steps to be taken by different countries, both separately and jointly, to fight terrorism. The UN General Assembly (UNGA) reviews the GCTS document in every two years in order to maintain its acceptability. Kamboj told the participants in the Review Meeting that the Seventh Review of the strategy had taken into account attacks motivated by Islamophobia, Christianphobia and anti-Semitism only while failing to address the rest. “A more sagacious approach would be to keep this reference broad, abandoning thereby a list-based approach in the current Review,” she added.

The seasoned Indian diplomat also expressed serious concern over cyber terrorism. In an apparent reference to neighbouring Pakistan, Kamboj stressed that the technical update should have taken into account the activities and significant contributions of some international fora, like the Financial Action Task Force (FATF), because of which some UN member countries, known for their laxity on terror financing, were compelled to take preventive measures.

According to sources close to the Indian Ministry of External Affairs, the Khalistani activities recently increased in India and other countries. Members of the Khalistani Movement also targeted the Indian Embassy and Hindu temples in Australia and the UK. Hence, New Delhi has taken initiatives to include anti-Hindu and anti-Sikh attacks in the international strategy for tackling terrorism. It may be noted that the Khalistan Movement is a Sikh separatist movement, seeking to create a homeland for Sikhs by establishing a Sovereign State, called Khālistān (or Land of the Khalsa), in the Punjab region. The proposed state would consist of land that currently forms Punjab in India and Punjab in Pakistan, with Lahore as its capital. It is past geographical area of Punjab region, where once Khalsa Empire was established.

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