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Punjab has lost nearly 12,000 civilians to terrorist attacks since 1981

By Madhura Karnik

The Indian state of Punjab was once synonymous with terrorism.

Since 1981, nearly 12,000 civilians have died due to militancy in the northern state, according to data from the South Asia Terrorism Portal. Punjab was the target of terrorist attacks largely orchestrated by Sikh militant groups who demanded an independent homeland, Khalistan.

In the same period, 8,098 terrorists were killed in the state, according to data from the same portal, which is run by the New Delhi-based Institute for Conflict Management, an autonomous, non-governmental, and non-profit society.

In 1983, the Indian government dismissed the state government and took direct control of Punjab, imposing president’s rule, which lasted for nearly two years.

The situation in Punjab returned to normalcy by 1994, but the preceding decades of terrorism had taken a toll on the state’s economy. Agriculture—the state’s staple source of income—was the worst affected with growth dropping to 2% from 6% between 1987 and 1992.

In the last two decades, there have been sporadic terror attacks in Punjab. In 1997, 56 civilians were killed in terrorist incidents. The death toll from Monday’s attack is not included in the data.

YearCivilian fatalities since 1994
199402
199756
200018
200101
200205
200707

Also read: A deadly gun battle with terrorists in India’s Punjab has ended after 12 hours