Government Actions in the Demise of the Thugs (1829-1835) and Sikh Terrorists (1980-1993) and Lessons for the United States - Terrorism in India, Kali, Punjab, Gandhi, al-Qaeda Comparisons
The history of the successful counterterrorism campaigns against the Thugs [1829-1835] and Sikh terrorists [1980-1993] show a number of commonalities in the actions taken by the governments in power at that time. More
Faced with the very substantial threat of terrorist attack, the United States must ask the question, What actions were taken by other states in the past to successfully combat terrorism? Knowledge of those steps may lead to a greater understanding of what actions are desirable, necessary, or simply unavoidable in its counterterrorism efforts. Having such understanding is needed to plan policies, strategies, and tactics that are effective and acceptable to citizens as well as to the international community. The history of the successful counterterrorism campaigns against the Thugs [1829-1835] and Sikh terrorists [1980-1993] show a number of commonalities in the actions taken by the governments in power at that time. In both cases, abridgement of civil liberties, as per present day standards in the United States, played a major role in the governments' campaigns. These two cases, as well as other historic cases, lead to the conclusion that following successful terrorist attacks, civil liberties will be curtailed. The United States must expect this curtailment and should take actions to ensure these actions are temporary, warranted, effective, and do not transgress more than necessary on the nation's fundamental moral values.
This document reviews the histories of the successful counterterrorism efforts of two governments and attempts to draw lessons for the United States from their actions. In the belief that the lessons of history transcend the times in which the events occurred, the thesis investigates one group from the late twentieth century, the Sikh terrorists in Punjab, and one from the early nineteenth century, the Thugs in British colonial India. It examines the nature of these two groups, as well as the actions by their state adversaries to contribute to their defeat. The thesis emphasizes how measures to defeat terrorism affected civil liberties and human rights. It examines only one factor in the decline of terrorism - government response. The causes of terrorism in these cases will not be examined in detail.
When human rights and civil liberties are discussed here, they will be considered from an early twenty-first century, United States' perspective, since the purpose of the thesis is to draw lessons applicable to the United States. Obviously, such a perspective did not exist at the times and places of these events. Civil liberties are considered here to be those rights embodied in the first ten amendments to the United States Constitution, otherwise known as the Bill of Rights, and in particular freedom of speech, freedom of the press, freedom of assembly, free exercise of religion, the right to privacy and security of the home and personal property, protection from unreasonable searches and seizures which requires specific warrants based on probable cause, the right to due process of law, the right to a speedy and public trial by an impartial jury, the right to confront hostile witnesses and to call witnesses, the right to legal counsel, and protection from cruel and unusual punishments.