The threat to India from Maoist terrorism may be as serious as Islamist extremism

Maplecroft provided the following analysis of terrorism risk in India.

The growth of Islamist terrorism in India was brought into sharp focus by the November 2008 Mumbai massacre. The scale of the attack, the targeting of Westerners and the delayed response of the security forces attracted huge media coverage and international condemnation. However, as shown by Maplecroft’s analysis of terrorism in India, Maoist violence actually affects a greater proportion of the country, representing an equally serious threat to internal security.

A Maoist insurgency, mostly affecting eastern India, has been ongoing since the 1960s. States including Orissa, Chhattisgarh, Bihar, Jharkhand, West Bengal, Andhra Pradesh and Uttar Pradesh are all seriously affected. Most violence tends to be concentrated in rural areas, though many companies’ operations, especially telecommunications companies, are affected by attacks as well as the extortion committed by the rebels.

“Media coverage can often skew perceptions of terrorism risk in a country.

Eva Molyneux, political risk analyst at Maplecroft

Meanwhile, Islamist terrorism tends to affect commercial centres, with repeated attacks in Mumbai and attacks in Hyderabad, Bangalore and New Delhi in recent years. The terrorists aim for maximum publicity as well as mass-casualties and their violence occurs against a background of serious fighting in Kashmir and allegations of Pakistani complicity.

For companies with operations in eastern India, however, the risks posed by Maoist terrorism are equally high. Those companies will need to identify risks as locally as possible, in order to manage and mitigate the threats to their employees and assets.

Eva Molyneux, political risk analyst at Maplecroft, said: ‘Media coverage can often skew perceptions of terrorism risk in a country. Terrorism works by generating publicity in order to spread fear, so mass-casualty attacks that target Westerners are bound to attract a huge amount of media coverage. For business, however, general perceptions are not adequate to determine accurate risks from terrorism to employees, assets and the local community. Smaller terrorist incidents often go un-reported – despite having potential to disrupt operations, supply chains and affect local communities. A responsible business will therefore benefit from an informed risk identification, assessment and mitigation strategy that determines risk as locally as possible.’