The Other Side of Terror (An Anthology of Writings on Terrorism in South Asia)

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Item Code: IDL143
Author: NIvedita Manjumdar
Publisher: Oxford University Press, New Delhi
Edition: 2009
ISBN: 9780195696967
Pages: 323 (11 B/W Illustrations)
Cover: Hardcover
Other Details 9.0" X 5.8"
Book Description
From the Jacket

Post 9/11, ‘terrorism’ is perhaps the most prominent political on the world stage, making its presence felt in increasingly darker and starker forms. While the need to understand terrorism is urgently vocalized, the often inordinate focus on bare facts rather than on socio-political conditions defects the purpose of the whole exercise, literature, on the other hand y historicizing and humanizing the phenomenon helps in our understanding of terrorism.

The Other side Terror brings together writings based on terrorism from India, Nepal, and Sri Lanka. Including short stories essays poem and excerpts form novels, both original writings in English as well as translations, the volume addresses issues of wide interest. The Maoist insurgency in Nepal and the Tamil militancy in Sri Lanka, the Indian manifestations ranging from the militant wing of the independence movement to the various post independence terrorist movements such as separatism in Kashmir the insurgency in Assam, and the Naxalite movement in Bengal, Andhra Pradesh, Bihar, and Madhya Pradesh are all represented.

The range of authors-including Bankim Chandra Chattopadhyay, Rabindranath Tagore and Sarat Chandra Chattopadhyay to Bhagat Singh, Bal Gangadhar Tilak, Aurobindo Ghose, Khushwant Singh Pankaj Mishra, Mahashweta Devi, Anita Agnihotri, jean Arasanayagam and Tenzin Tsundue, represents a gamut of writing covering this terrain.

In a detailed introduction Nivedita Majumdar traces terrorism across south Asia explores important aspects of the phenomenon from its effects, and reflects and reflects on moral and ethical issues and counter-terrorism.

Timely and relevant this collection will interest general readers keen on learning more about the phenomenon of terrorism in all its forms. Students and researchers of cultural studies history and literature will also find this anthology appealing.

Nivedita Majumdar is Assistant professor of English at John collage, city University of New York.


I would like to express my gratitude to the people and institutions that have helped generously in the realization of this project. The grants form the professional staff congress of the City University of New York and the office for Advancement of research at John Jay collage have been immensely helpful. I owe a special word of thanks to Ira Raja for her interest in the project and for taking it to Oxford University press. I am grateful for the many conversations with friends as well as the occasional advice from strangers whom especially like to thank Amritji Singh, Saros Cowasjee, mini Krishnan, Uravashi Butalia, Joseph Mathai, Snehlata Gupta, Elliot Podwill and Avis Lang. my gratitude extents to Avis also for her invaluable editorial help with the introduction. My friends and collages in the English Department at John Jay collage provided an exceptionally warm and supportive work environment. The usually deadening process of me to get in touch with writers I admire. Samart Upadhyay, Pankaj Mishra, Jean Arasanayagam and A. Sivanandan were encouraging with the project and kindly extended the permission to reproduce their pieces. To A. Sivanandan I am indebted in a deeper way. His magnificent novel, when memory Dies with its profound experiential rendering of history, is the inspiration behind this book. I was fortunate to work with an editorial team at Oxford University press that was unfailingly prompt efficient and helpful, as always, I am grateful to my parents for their love and support: I dedicate this book to my mother who first instilled in me the love of literature and whose courage and grace in the face of adversity now strengthens me Finally, I thank Vivek for his love support and inspiration which give meaning to my endeavours love support and inspiration which meaning to my endeavours and my little Ananya for being there.


I do not regard killing or assassination or terrorism as good in ant circumstances whatsoever. I do believe that ideas ripen quickly when nourished by the blood of the martyrs, but a man dies slowly of jungle fever in service bleeds as certainly as one on the gallows. And of the one who dies that deserved to ripen.

-Mahatma Gandhi

At the level of individuals violence is cleansing force. It frees the native form his inferiority complex and form his despair and inaction; it make him fearless and restores his self-respect…illuminated by violence the consciousness of the people rebels against any pacification. The action which has thrown into a hand-to-hand struggle confers upon the masses a voracious taste for the concrete. The attempt at mystification becomes in the long run practically impossible.

-Frantz Fanon

Terror that most primitive of human emotions as well as its relative terrorizing a most ancient political strategy have undergone a strange a strange metamorphosis within the past decade. Decade up in modern garb, that have turned into ‘terrorism’, suddenly the single most prominent political phenomenon on the world stage.

Late us provisionally accept the prevailing definition of terrorism as the use of violence to achieve political ends, taking note the fact that political ends are generally claimed and also acknowledge to be legitimate ends. As per this definition, Terrorism is certainly not a strictly recent phenomenon. For millennia terrorism has lurked within the heart of war itself an extreme and comprehensive form of politically motivated violence enacted both on land and at sea with the aim of gaining land, slaves, food, and opportunities. But beyond the armies, navies mercenaries and privateers that ruthlessly carried out the commands of kings for the sake of consolidating power and territory, there were very early on many small cohesive groups that acted as agents of terror-sects, pirate crews, parties to suicide pacts. Seafaring raiders from sects pirate crews parties to suicide the cities of the Levantine coast and terrorized the inhabitants of coastal Egypt late on the second millennium BC. The zealots arose in palatine in the first century AD, the Assassins arose in Persia and Syria in the eleventh century. As for tactics tyannicide was considered noble in ancient Greece. Poison, fire the Trojan horse and ither deadly or clever instrumentalities played their part in achieving the desired ends.

In recent history terrorism as a systematic strategy towards revolutionary aims were prominent indeed notorious under the brief rule of the Jacobins notably Maximilien Robespierre and the committee of public Safety, during the so-called Reign of terror pf 1793-4. The use if terror is seen in some of the writings of the Russian populists, socialists and revolutionaries of the mid-to late nineteenth century the same period saw the emergence of anarchists and Irish terrorists. Terrorism however has a special resonance in the twentieth century with its anti-colonial movements and state offensives across world including in Palestine South Africa Ireland and India. Even as terrorism has constituted an aspect of modern political consciousness, a times more visibly than at others, its contemporary pre-eminence is a novel phenomenon.

It was the attack on the world Trade Center In September 2001 that served to push terrorism to the centrestage of world politics. And yet what was unique about that attack? Surely not the destruction of property or even the loss of some 3000 lives. Ghastly and indefensible as the attacks were our weary world has ultimately become immune to destruction and loss of this scale. Was it, then the sheer spectacle of the planes, the flames the leaping bodies and the disintegrating buildings that attracted worldwide attention? All that was surely part of the reason for the sense, whether intuitive or manufactured or both that 9/11 seemed different from other attacks. But there was still more to it than that. The world Trade center in New York symbolized the success and glory of a unipolar capitalist world and yet it was not only attacked but swiftly destroyed by a few unarmed non-citizens. The morning of 9/11 showcased the vulnerability of power against the rage of the powerless.

Post 9/11 state polities has been a narrative of power re-asserting its legitimacy through force and ideology. Unarguably the show of force has been spectacular. After declaring a war on terror the mightiest country in the world has proceeded to destroy two of the poorest nations on the planet. Frighteningly in this so-called war on terror more than 16 times as many people have been killed than the 46986 people killed in all terrorist attacks worldwide since 1968. in Iraq alone a recant study shows more than 650000 people have died since march 2003 as a consequence of the invasion- and it must be remembered that this is a country with a population of less than 30 million, in march economic sanctions imposed in 1991 had already caused more than million to perish from preventable disease prior to the in invasion. To the death toll in both Iraq and Afghanistan, one must also add the severe toll taken by the devastation of civilian infrastructure sewage system electrical grids, roads bridges hospitals schools homes markets a bakery on one street a clinic on another.

The deadly war on terror has another face –reserved for its home population the one being protected form the terror. The people at home face an attack on their rights and liberties. While the wounded nation attacks other nations ostensibly in order to bring democracy to their people it steadily undermines democratic institutions at home. War and study claims Iraq’s “Express” death Toil has reached 655,000, David Brown, Washington post 11 October 2006, Page A12; Mortality After the 2003 Invasion of Iraq; A Cross-sectional cluster Sample Survey’, Gilbert Burnham, Riyadh Lafta, Shannon Doocy, les Roberts, the Lancet 11 October 2006.

Warlike situations offer one of the most effective ways of consolidating power: squelching dissent. The past century is replete with instances of ruling classes worldwide taking advantage of such opportunities. In the month after 9/11 the US government and passes the USA PATRIOT act (the acronym stands for Uniting and strengthening America by providing Appropriate tools Required to Internet and Obstruct Terrorism) providing sweeping powers to law enforcement authorities, and undermining basic principles of checks and balances. The act threatens fundamental freedoms by for instance, enabling government surveillance of and access to medical records, tax records telephone bills, credit card statements and library loans without informing the residents a manoeuvre known in legal circles as the ‘sneak and peek’ search warrant. Under the new regime, non-citizens have been rounded up and detained many for month or even years, without being charged with a crime or given the opportunity to meet a lawyer. In Guantanamo Bay, prisoners suspected to be terrorists are held as ‘unlawful’ combatants- a term that holds no meaning in international law. In order to obtain confessions these prisoners subjects to what the US government including its Department of Justice euphemistically calls enhanced interrogation techniques.

The state uses a tested strategy to legitimize its excesses: it counterposes security to liberties. The country is under attack therefore, extraordinary measures are called for. Security and safety are primal needs understood and valued by nearly everyone. To many people, in contrast civil liberties are an abstraction that can be relinquished with little or no sense of loss traded In for safety. The counterposition is of course deeply fallacious for civil liberties one a form of security- security against the state.

The deadliest ideological poly in this alleged war on terror is the resurgence of rhetoric derived from and consonant with Samuel P. Huntington’s clash of civilization or cultural. The fault lines of civilizations, Huntington asserts, are the battle lines of the future. This

The clash of civilizations? Samuel P. Huntington, foreign Affairs, summer theory has been exploited to the full for the purpose of moulding the public response to terrorism. Following Huntington’s thesis terrorism can be viewed as the new mode of battle of one kind of civilization against another. Two months after the attack on the world Trade center president George W. Bush remarked :

Our nation faces a threat to freedoms and the stakes could not be higher. We are the target of enemies who boast they want to kill-kill all Americans, kill all Jews and kill all Christians. We’ve seen that type of hate before –and the only possible response is to confront it, and to defeat it. This new enemy seeks to destroy our freedom and impose its views. We value life; the terrorist ruthlessly destroy it. We value education the terrorists do not believe women should be educated or should have healthcare or should leave their homes. We value the right to speak our minds for the terrorists free expression can be grounds for execution.

The terrorist here is identified by his supposed cultural beliefs specific to his religion and his region-in others words, Huntington’s civilizational fault lines. Akin to faith In racial categories the theory of civilizational divide holds that cultures situated on different sides of these deeply incised boundary lines have characteristics which mark them as irrevocably different, alien, oppositional. In another twist the entire issue is cast in a millennial light as a struggle between good and evil speaking in the context of the 9/11 attacks the Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon declared:

This is a war between good and evil-between humanity and those who thirst for blood. The way of the wicked will the defeated, the way of those whor profess evil not prosper. The way of the righteous the humane and the free will be victorious.

The problem with civilizational perspective is not that it posits a difference in cultures. By definition, different cultures are different. It is the nature of the difference attributed to different cultures that is thoroughly objectionable. It is assumed for instance by proponents of a culturalist, Huntingtonesque perspective that values such as freedom.

In Address to the nation world congress center, Atlanta, Georgia, 11 August 2001.

PM Sharon Address the Knesset’s special session, Jerusalem 16 September 2001 and tolerance, or ideals of liberty and equality are intrinsic attributes of the western civilization. The civilizational perspective rejects the notion of the universality of certain values and is incapable of acknowledging that cultures may adopt several historical trajectories in their attempts to realize certain goals ideals.

In the discussion on terrorism the emphasis on cultural difference performs an insidious function. At the outset, it is claimed that the terrorist embodies an irreconcilably different set of values from those held by the targets of his attacks. Civilization rhetoric thereby denies the possibility that the terrorist could have political and economic grounds for his action. The idea that terrorism could be the outcome of specific socio-economic and political causes is simply not taken into account. The civilizations worldview is inimical to the recognition of political and economic grievances grounded in universal principles of fairness and equality. Thus, the culturalist perspective renders hollow terrorism of all political meaning.


Acknowledge xi
The many Sides of Terror –an Introduction xiii
1.-Frredom and Terror
from Anandamath
Bankim Chandra Chattopadhyay 3
Karmayogin Early political writings
Aurbindo Ghose10
Assembly Bomb case statements in the session court and statement before the Lahore high court Bench
Bhgat Singh 18
from the right of way
Sarat Chandra Chattopadhyay 29
from four chapters
Rabindranath Tag ore 40
The county’s Misfortune
Bal Gangadhar Tilak 46
Shri Ram Revolutionist
Edmund Candler 55
II. Revolution and Terror
from Mother of 108463
Mahashweta Devi
We never wanted 71
Tarit Kumar
The night of the Full Moon
Saroj Dutta
Form The Enemy Within
Bani Basu 74
Ashim Ray80
A Refugee
Samrat Upadhyay90
Dispatches from the people’s war Nepal
Li Onesto 112
Waiting for the war to end
Sushma Joshi122
The people’s war
Pankaj Mishra 123
I am a Terrorist
Tenzin Tsundue 142
III Inentity and Terror
Sri Lanka
In the garden Secretly 147
Jean Arasanayagam
Your Fate Too 158
Amma do not weep 159
When Memory Dies 161
A. Sivanadan
Begging For alms of Faith
Pash 174
Anita Agnihotri 176
Comb your Hair my dear
Mohan Bhandari 191
My bleesing Punjab
Khushwant Singh 123
Her Due of a Daughter
Kartar Singh Duggal218
The North East
A New Politics of race: India and its North-East
Sajib Baruah 223
Native Land
Robin S. Ngangom 236
when Debate has no room
Nirajan Chakma 238
Poetry in a time the news
Robin S. Ngangom 239
Go Give them the news
Sammer Tanti 249
The Sorrow of women
Manang Dai251
Basan’s grandmother
Bimal Singha 253
Kynphom Sing Nonkynrih 262
Mitra Phukan 265
Kynpham Sing Nongknrih 280
The Story of a woman’s collage in Kashmir
Neeraj Matoo 282
who are these Duryodhans?
Somnath Zutshi 290
The Burnt-out Sun
Anees Hamadoni294
Finding Face: Images of women from the Kashmir Valley
Sheba Chhachhi297
Notes on Contributors 315
Copyright statement 321
Sample Pages

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