According to data collated by the Global Terrorism Database , the North-East and Eastern regions have been the hub of terrorism related deaths in India for the last decade. Contrary to popular perception, deaths due to terrorism in these regions far outweigh the death toll in Jammu and Kashmir.

Maharashtra and Delhi witnessed horrific acts of terror over the past 10 years, which were rightly covered in the media. Some Maoist attacks have also been covered, but the North-East (especially the state of Assam) has had hardly any coverage. Instead, the national discourse has been largely focused on Islamic terrorism and organizations like Lashkar-e-Taiba.

However, it is the Maoists and terrorists in the North-East have been causing more trouble ( click here for cleaned data ). Maoists caused almost 2500 deaths from 2005-2009, in comparison to more than 600 deaths by Islamic groups and 800 deaths by North-Eastern insurgents. It must be noted, however, that almost a thousand deaths were caused by unknown groups. Amongst these cases, more than 300 were in Jammu and Kashmir, while close to 200 were in the North-East. In view of this, the numbers for Islamic groups and North-Eastern insurgents might be higher than reported.

According to this data, the chief terrorism threat that India faces is perhaps not from Islamic groups, but from separatists. The Maoists (or Naxalites, as the media generally refers to them) as well as those in the North-East have largely been contained to their home states. There goal is independence from India, and they primarily engage with the police forces instead of targeting civilians (although the certainly have targeted civilians at times in the past). On the contrary, Islamic groups generally tend to target civilians bystanders.

However, further radicalization of the Maoists and North-Eastern separatists might see them begin to attack the rest of India. The situation needs to be brought under control soon, and the government does need to address the issues that the Maoists and separatists are highlighting.

Poor governance, corruption, and a lack of development are rampant in the regions where these organizations are active. The Maoists want a communist society, where the proletariat completely owns the means of product, while the North-Eastern separatists want to drive away ‘foreigners’ (including Hindi/Bengali speaking Indians) and implement a socialist structure.

While India clearly cannot (and should not) respond to all of these demands, it should at the very least make economic development a priority in these regions. Jharkhand, Chhattisgarh and Assam have some of the lowest life expectancies in India , and also score extremely poorly in educational examinations . The separatists have accused the government of mining their regions for mineral wealth, but doing little in return.

Source: Wikimedia

Franklin Roosevelt had said that “True individual freedom cannot exist without economic security and independence. People who are hungry and out of a job are the stuff of which dictatorships are made.”. The government has recently appealed to the Maoists on similar lines. One would hope, for the sake of India, that talks of reconciliation are followed swiftly by tangible socio-economic progress.