Defining a Terrorist in India

By Dibyesh Anand

If you are an individual who belongs to marginalised communities and legitimise political violence, you are a terrorist or a terrorist supporter.

If you are someone from upper caste background (mostly Hindu but Muslim too) spreading hatred and legitimising violence, you are a community defender.

If you are an individual who belongs to powerful communities or have bought and fought your way up and use extensive violence for political power, you are not a terrorist but a rajaji, a don, a bhai, bhaiya, heroised and eroticised by Bollywood and bourgeois commentators (as new small town or violent village chic) and lapped up by the political parties.

And of course if you preside over massacres, spread hatred widely and justify ideologies of dehumanisation and capture the state, you are Bal Thackeray and Narendra Modi.

(I am talking of course of individual terrorism here and not collective systemic ones that go on in the name of nation-statism; that requires another reflection.)


(Dr Dibyesh Anand is an Associate Professor in International Relations at London’s University of Westminster with interests in politics of state, democracy and identity, especially in the Himalayan borderlands. He is almost always at

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