September 25, 2002: Akshardham Temple attack

Two Jaish-e-Mohamed terrorists raided the Aksshardham temple in India’s Gujarat State in 2002, killing 30 and wounding 80.

We hear a lot about Hindu terrorists in modern-day India: there are still Islamist terrorists as well.

GUJARAT, INDIA — Students and followers of terrorism, and by that I mean true followers, not those who cast a cursory glance at the news once in a while and read only about the big attacks, know that there are multiple forms of this kind of violence.

If you were to limit your exposure to the headlines scrolling across your cellphone screen you would think that it is all about Islamist terrorism all the time. And while there is no question that there is indeed far too many attacks carried out by jihadis worldwide, more than by any other ideologically-motivated set of groups, they are not alone.

Take India for example. Over the past few decades there has been a worrying rise in Hindu terrorism. Not that this form of terrorism is new: after all, the great Indian independence leader Mahatma Gandhi was killed by a Hindu extremist in 1948 who did not like the former’s tolerance of Muslims.

Still, what the current Prime Minister Narendra Modi is fostering is not good. His BJP party is blatantly Hindu nationalist in a country with a sizable Muslim population and the RSS – Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh – is termed a ‘right-wing organisation’ (the RSS is seen as the power behind Modi and his version of the BJP).

These extremists have been killing Muslims of late (a phenomenon covered at great length in my latest book When Religion Kills). This does not mean, however, that there is no Islamist terrorist threat left. There are still attacks in India, and today’s feature is a good illustration of a past one.

On this day in 2002

On this day in 2002 two Jaish-e-Mohamed terrorists stormed the Akshardham Temple in the state of Gujarat, eventually killing 30 people and wounding another 80. Indian security forces ended the siege on the following day (September 25) and killed the two terrorists. Six accomplices were arrested and tried, but were acquitted in 2014.

From there the two terrorists entered and saw that the public was there. They threw a grenade inside. It exploded and they started firing on the public. Many people were injured. There were many casualties…. People were killed there also. One volunteer opened all the doors to let the people out. So they threw a grenade at the entrance part and did firing also. Maximum casualties were there…. The room was full of blood. People were badly injured.

Human Rights Watch interview with witness

Indian history is complicated. It was Hindu, then Muslim, and now back to Hindu. You would think that in a land of over one billion people there would be room for differences of faith.

Apparently not.

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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