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Jihad, Hindutva, White Supremacy: Terrorism Comes In Different Ideologies

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Daily, hundreds and sometimes thousands are made target of terrorist activities around the globe. Armed attacks and bombings are the most common means through which terrorists impose their violent motives.

Deaths From Terrorist Activities From 2007 To 2017

According to the Global Terrorism Index report of 2017, Iraq, Afghanistan, Nigeria, Syria and Pakistan are the top five countries when it comes to terrorist activities. In the last decade, around 21,000 people have died annually due to terrorist activities, says a report by Our World in Data.

The Middle-East is the hub of terrorist activities in the world as it witnesses maximum attacks and deaths. Home to many Islamic countries, the Middle-East is often linked to the home of most terrorist activities in the world. Leading terrorist organisations viz ISIS and Hamas have come out of this region. The other primary region for terrorist activities is the Afghanistan-Pakistan region, which houses Taliban, Al-Qaeda, Lashkr-E-Taiba, etc.

According to a report by the United States Institute of Peace (USIP), there are three primary reasons for terrorism, viz. psychological, ideological and strategic. Among these three, the most destructive reason has been the ideological one.

Representational image of ISIS members. Image Courtesy: The New Indian Express

According to Mark Juergensmeyer, former president of the American Academy of Religion, there has been a global rise in religious nationalism after the Cold War due to the rise of globalisation and a post-colonial collapse of confidence in Western models of nationalism.


Various terrorist organisations rebel against the existing power either to enforce themselves or to spread their ideology. The history or motivation relating to this ideology goes back to the religious scriptures of Islam that mentions jihad as self-sacrifice for Islam.

According to the Global Terrorism Index of 2016, a staggering 74% of all deaths from Islamic terrorism was caused by the Islamic terrorist groups ISIS, Boko Haram, the Taliban and Al-Qaeda. The targets of these attacks are not only non-Muslims but also Muslims. The extremism in the name of religion (jihad) is both directly and indirectly taken into consideration from the Quran, Hadith and Sharia law.

The use of terms such as shaheed and qurbani has been extensively used to lure young and blind minds into practicing terrorism. Young Muslims as well as non-Muslims are enticed by the tactics and practice suicide bombings only to die for the sake of their religion. A common idea that revolves around their minds is that suicide bombers, as they would be called martyrs (shaheed) to the cause of jihad against the enemy, will receive the reward of paradise for their actions.

According to the International Business Times, in October 2014, the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL or ISIS) released a five-point justification of its right to take non-Muslims hostage, and decapitate, ransom or enslave them. According to the Clarion Project, British Muslim cleric Anjem Choudary says that kidnapping and beheading hostages is justified under Islam.


Terrorists who own up to their acts often interpret their actions sourced from the knowledge of various religious scriptures. Christian terrorist groups include paramilitary organisations, cults and loose groups of people who might come together to terrorise other groups.

Ku Klux Klan was formed after the Civil War in the USA as a social group. In their initial years, the group was only a club with social elements, but later, it took violent turns when members started lynching, causing murders, rapes, tar-and-feathering, whipping and voter intimidation.

The Klan wore white robes to symbolise “purity”, burned the cross to signify “the Light of Christ”, and picked selective scriptures from the Bible to preach white supremacy. According to Hate in God’s Name, a report published in 2017 says: “The members of Ku Klax Klan believe that white Christians are morally and spiritually superior to other races.”


The country with the largest population of Hindus (followers of Hinduism) in the world is India. Over the years, India has been a target of many religiously motivated violent attacks by the Saffron army.

Saffron Army is the phrase given to followers of Hindu nationalism who perform violent acts. Most of the army personnel belong to the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), which is a Hindu right-wing organisation. Citing its main motivation to make India a Hindu Rashtra (nation), members of the RSS have been involved in many acts of unjust violence.

Among the various acts of violence by the members of the RSS, the assassination of Mahatma Gandhi is the most impactful. Other violent acts by members of the RSS are:

  • The killing of Graham Staines in 1999
  • Gujarat riots, 2002
  • Samjhauta Express bombings, 2007
  • Ajmer Dargah attack, 2007
  • Malegaon blasts, 2008
  • Mecca Masjid bombing, 2007

The RSS runs and maintains many affiliated and student organisations viz.:

  • Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)
  • Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP)
  • Bajrang Dal
  • Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP)

Students organisations of the RSS play a vital role in forming a new breed of Hindu sevaks who work their hearts and soul to propagate Hinduism.


Khalistan Movement (1970s to 1980s)

The Khalistan movement was a Sikh separatist movement to obtain freedom from Punjab and establish a sovereign state for Sikhs. The movement that began with no noise turned rebellious and violent, and resulted in many terrorist activities in Punjab from the late 1970s to the mid-1980s.

Jarnail Singh Bhindranwale, who was the leader of the militant Sikh organisation Damdami Taksal, led the Khalistan movement. The movement resulted in mass murders and violent acts over the years. The two primary political parties that were involved in the various whereabouts of Khalistan were the Indian National Congress and the Shiromani Akali Dal.

The movement destroyed property and lives, and was suppressed after the assassination of the then India’s Prime Minister Indira Gandhi.

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An ambassador and trained facilitator under Eco Femme (a social enterprise working towards menstrual health in south India), Sanjina is also an active member of the MHM Collective- India and Menstrual Health Alliance- India. She has conducted Menstrual Health sessions in multiple government schools adopted by Rotary District 3240 as part of their WinS project in rural Bengal. She has also delivered training of trainers on SRHR, gender, sexuality and Menstruation for Tomorrow’s Foundation, Vikramshila Education Resource Society, Nirdhan trust and Micro Finance, Tollygunj Women In Need, Paint It Red in Kolkata.

Now as an MH Fellow with YKA, she’s expanding her impressive scope of work further by launching a campaign to facilitate the process of ensuring better menstrual health and SRH services for women residing in correctional homes in West Bengal. The campaign will entail an independent study to take stalk of the present conditions of MHM in correctional homes across the state and use its findings to build public support and political will to take the necessary action.

Saurabh has been associated with YKA as a user and has consistently been writing on the issue MHM and its intersectionality with other issues in the society. Now as an MHM Fellow with YKA, he’s launched the Right to Period campaign, which aims to ensure proper execution of MHM guidelines in Delhi’s schools.

The long-term aim of the campaign is to develop an open culture where menstruation is not treated as a taboo. The campaign also seeks to hold the schools accountable for their responsibilities as an important component in the implementation of MHM policies by making adequate sanitation infrastructure and knowledge of MHM available in school premises.

Read more about his campaign.

Harshita is a psychologist and works to support people with mental health issues, particularly adolescents who are survivors of violence. Associated with the Azadi Foundation in UP, Harshita became an MHM Fellow with YKA, with the aim of promoting better menstrual health.

Her campaign #MeriMarzi aims to promote menstrual health and wellness, hygiene and facilities for female sex workers in UP. She says, “Knowledge about natural body processes is a very basic human right. And for individuals whose occupation is providing sexual services, it becomes even more important.”

Meri Marzi aims to ensure sensitised, non-discriminatory health workers for the needs of female sex workers in the Suraksha Clinics under the UPSACS (Uttar Pradesh State AIDS Control Society) program by creating more dialogues and garnering public support for the cause of sex workers’ menstrual rights. The campaign will also ensure interventions with sex workers to clear misconceptions around overall hygiene management to ensure that results flow both ways.

Read more about her campaign.

MH Fellow Sabna comes with significant experience working with a range of development issues. A co-founder of Project Sakhi Saheli, which aims to combat period poverty and break menstrual taboos, Sabna has, in the past, worked on the issue of menstruation in urban slums of Delhi with women and adolescent girls. She and her team also released MenstraBook, with menstrastories and organised Menstra Tlk in the Delhi School of Social Work to create more conversations on menstruation.

With YKA MHM Fellow Vineet, Sabna launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society. As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Read more about her campaign. 

A student from Delhi School of Social work, Vineet is a part of Project Sakhi Saheli, an initiative by the students of Delhi school of Social Work to create awareness on Menstrual Health and combat Period Poverty. Along with MHM Action Fellow Sabna, Vineet launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society.

As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Find out more about the campaign here.

A native of Bhagalpur district – Bihar, Shalini Jha believes in equal rights for all genders and wants to work for a gender-equal and just society. In the past she’s had a year-long association as a community leader with Haiyya: Organise for Action’s Health Over Stigma campaign. She’s pursuing a Master’s in Literature with Ambedkar University, Delhi and as an MHM Fellow with YKA, recently launched ‘Project अल्हड़ (Alharh)’.

She says, “Bihar is ranked the lowest in India’s SDG Index 2019 for India. Hygienic and comfortable menstruation is a basic human right and sustainable development cannot be ensured if menstruators are deprived of their basic rights.” Project अल्हड़ (Alharh) aims to create a robust sensitised community in Bhagalpur to collectively spread awareness, break the taboo, debunk myths and initiate fearless conversations around menstruation. The campaign aims to reach at least 6000 adolescent girls from government and private schools in Baghalpur district in 2020.

Read more about the campaign here.

A psychologist and co-founder of a mental health NGO called Customize Cognition, Ritika forayed into the space of menstrual health and hygiene, sexual and reproductive healthcare and rights and gender equality as an MHM Fellow with YKA. She says, “The experience of working on MHM/SRHR and gender equality has been an enriching and eye-opening experience. I have learned what’s beneath the surface of the issue, be it awareness, lack of resources or disregard for trans men, who also menstruate.”

The Transmen-ses campaign aims to tackle the issue of silence and disregard for trans men’s menstruation needs, by mobilising gender sensitive health professionals and gender neutral restrooms in Lucknow.

Read more about the campaign here.

A Computer Science engineer by education, Nitisha started her career in the corporate sector, before realising she wanted to work in the development and social justice space. Since then, she has worked with Teach For India and Care India and is from the founding batch of Indian School of Development Management (ISDM), a one of its kind organisation creating leaders for the development sector through its experiential learning post graduate program.

As a Youth Ki Awaaz Menstrual Health Fellow, Nitisha has started Let’s Talk Period, a campaign to mobilise young people to switch to sustainable period products. She says, “80 lakh women in Delhi use non-biodegradable sanitary products, generate 3000 tonnes of menstrual waste, that takes 500-800 years to decompose; which in turn contributes to the health issues of all menstruators, increased burden of waste management on the city and harmful living environment for all citizens.

Let’s Talk Period aims to change this by

Find out more about her campaign here.

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A former Assistant Secretary with the Ministry of Women and Child Development in West Bengal for three months, Lakshmi Bhavya has been championing the cause of menstrual hygiene in her district. By associating herself with the Lalana Campaign, a holistic menstrual hygiene awareness campaign which is conducted by the Anahat NGO, Lakshmi has been slowly breaking taboos when it comes to periods and menstrual hygiene.

A Gender Rights Activist working with the tribal and marginalized communities in india, Srilekha is a PhD scholar working on understanding body and sexuality among tribal girls, to fill the gaps in research around indigenous women and their stories. Srilekha has worked extensively at the grassroots level with community based organisations, through several advocacy initiatives around Gender, Mental Health, Menstrual Hygiene and Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights (SRHR) for the indigenous in Jharkhand, over the last 6 years.

Srilekha has also contributed to sustainable livelihood projects and legal aid programs for survivors of sex trafficking. She has been conducting research based programs on maternal health, mental health, gender based violence, sex and sexuality. Her interest lies in conducting workshops for young people on life skills, feminism, gender and sexuality, trauma, resilience and interpersonal relationships.

A Guwahati-based college student pursuing her Masters in Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Bidisha started the #BleedwithDignity campaign on the technology platform, demanding that the Government of Assam install
biodegradable sanitary pad vending machines in all government schools across the state. Her petition on has already gathered support from over 90000 people and continues to grow.

Bidisha was selected in’s flagship program ‘She Creates Change’ having run successful online advocacy
campaigns, which were widely recognised. Through the #BleedwithDignity campaign; she organised and celebrated World Menstrual Hygiene Day, 2019 in Guwahati, Assam by hosting a wall mural by collaborating with local organisations. The initiative was widely covered by national and local media, and the mural was later inaugurated by the event’s chief guest Commissioner of Guwahati Municipal Corporation (GMC) Debeswar Malakar, IAS.

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