In India’s Western state of Maharashtra State, police announced the arrest of a terrorist cell alleged to have successfully planned and carried out a September bombing in the small city of Malegaon where several died. For India, which has several active insurgencies, and is the victim of many high profile terrorist attacks, this news should not be unusual, except, perhaps that the suspected perpetrators were all Hindu.
In the Hindu majority country, religious strife between the various confessional groups is not new, however, the formation of Hindu nationalist terrorist cells is. Among those arrested was an officer in the Indian army, and a Hindu nun with links to India’s former governing party, and now major opposition party, the Bharatiya Janata Party. This incident comes on the heels of two previous terrorist incidents where individuals tied to right-wing Hindu groups died in what the police suspect were bomb making factories.
While India has been alert to Islamic and Sikh fanaticism for some time, the Hindu phenomenon is unexpected, and quite a new dynamic. Bal Thackeray, the leader of an extreme Hindu group, wrote in the group’s weekly newsletter in June, that, “Hindus should defend themselves from Islamist attacks by forming their own squads of suicide bombers.” And ended the the tract with a call for the long slumbering Hindu community to rise and form indigenous Hindu pseudo-Al-Qaeda cells (my term) tasked with striking the Muslim community.
India, no stranger to struggles amongst its different citizens, has been experiencing a rise in communal clashes recently, involving Christians, Muslims, and members of different castes. India is rising; becoming a rising regional and global power. However, if it wishes to maintain its position in the eyes of the world by its claim of being the world’s largest democracy, it will have to take a firm stance with the rise of this new extremism.