June 15, 1991: Sikh terrorists massacre train passengers in India

On June 15, 1991 Sikh terrorists in the Punjab region of India launched coordinated attacks on trains killing 80 and wounding 110

LUDHIANA DISTRICT, INDIA – The number of occasions where terrorists subscribing to one faith decide to kill those of another are far too high to count.

Religion is a funny thing, isn’t it? In the best of times it is inspiring and has led many to perform acts of incredible selflessness. In the worst it has been equally inspiring but the acts it has engendered are horrific.

You see, the thing about faith is that it is largely exclusionary. Yes, many religions do allow, and even encourage new adherents, but the fundamental principle is that a given faith sets itself out as different than another. Or as Bernard Lewis once put it both simply and eloquently, “I’m right, you’re wrong, go to hell!

Oh yeah? Well my God is bigger than your God! (Photo: Joseph Shemuel on flickr, CC BY-NC-SA 2.0)

Most times, those who see their beliefs as inherently better will voice their views in an arrogant way, certain that their system is superior. On others, the result is violence, sometimes on a mass scale.

On this day in 1991

Sikh terrorists in the Punjab region of India launched coordinated attacks on trains leaving Ludhiana in two directions. Gunmen opened fire, killing 80 and wounding 110. Most of the victims were believed to be Indian Hindus.

Note that this act had BOTH political and religious undertones (two of the criteria usually associated with acts of terrorism). A certain segment of Sikhs in the Punjab want an independent Sikh homeland (political) and some of those are also violent from a faith perspective (religious). That most of the victims were Indian Hindus should not be lost on anyone.

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By Phil Gurski

Phil Gurski is the President and CEO of Borealis Threat and Risk Consulting Ltd. Phil is a 32-year veteran of CSE and CSIS and the author of six books on terrorism.

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