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Vishal Kumar asked: What is the difference between terrorism and militancy?

Vivek Chadha replies: As per the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Amendment Act, 2012, a terrorist act is an "act with intent to threaten or likely to threaten the unity, integrity, security [economic security] or sovereignty of India or with intent to strike terror or likely to strike terror in the people or any section of the people in India or in any foreign country by..." and it goes on to describe a number of ways and means that can be employed for terrorism. However, the important aspect that defines terrorism is the use of or threat to use violence to strike terror amongst the people. Terrorism can be used as an instrument of an insurgency or extremist ideology. It can therefore be a stand alone option or integral to other forms of violent expression.

Militancy is a condition which experiences the use of violence, being combative or predisposed to fight. Militants can include any individual or group which takes to violence. This need not only include terrorists and insurgents, but also armed religious groups which take to violence to further their beliefs. Since resort to violence is a common factor here, often the term militancy and terrorism tend to be used interchangeably. However, since terrorism has greater acceptability as a term to describe extreme use of violence, both internationally and in India, it has largely replaced the term militancy. While it is difficult to ascribe a relative scale, a militant approach could however also imply a more moderate use of violence or expression of combative attributes, whereas terrorism clearly implies an extreme form of violence.

To understand the difference between insurgency, militancy and extremism, please refer to my earlier reply posted in this section.

Posted on August 19, 2016

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