India facing an uphill battle against threat of terrorism


NEW DELHI, AFP

Indian officials, hunting the perpetrators of the latest terror strike in high-tech hub Hyderabad, are fighting an uphill battle against a volatile mix of domestic and foreign threats, analysts say.

The dual blasts in Hyderabad, a key international investment center, that claimed 42 lives and injured 50 were the latest in a string of attacks in the past few years — none of which have been solved.

“The Indian state does not exude the will to tackle the terrorist in a firm manner, we need a system that is more nimble and determined,” security analyst Uday Bhaskar said.

Hyderabad, which is 40 percent Muslim, was hit in a mosque blast in May that killed 11 people.

In February, 68 people, mostly Muslims, burnt to death on the “Friendship Express” train travelling to Pakistan. And in July 2006, blasts ripped through financial center Mumbai’s rail network, killing 186.

The latest Hyderabad blast “is more of the same. We’re seeing a pattern of attacks every two to three months somewhere or other in the country on soft targets,” Ajai Sahni, head of India’s Institute for Conflict Management, said at the weekend.

Indian analysts blame Islamic terror groups seeking to stoke Hindu-Muslim tensions, derail the stagnating India-Pakistan peace process and damage the booming economy.

The Times of India published figures on Monday showing India had lost more lives to terror than anywhere else except Iraq.

Deaths in India from terror attacks totalled 3,674 between January 2004 and March 2007, second to Iraq with 29,070 but ahead of Afghanistan on 2,404, the daily said, citing figures from the US government’s National Counterterrorism Center.

Bhaskhar noted it had taken 14 years to sentence anyone in the country’s worst-ever terror strikes in Mumbai in 1993 that killed 256 people — and the main accused are still at large.

Analysts said embattled Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf’s political troubles made it more difficult for him to live up to his commitment to halt militant attacks from Pakistani soil aimed at targets in India.

They also said India’s struggle against terror has been vastly complicated by a political reluctance to alienate the important Muslim vote.