Hyderabad is the capital of the Telangana state. The city is an economic powerhouse, enabling it to become the fifth largest contributor to the national GDP. An epicentre of business and trade, substantial investment has made the city an iconic part of India’s rising economy.
The city of Hyderabad has expanded rapidly in recent years, and poverty is a major issue. Pockets of wealth are still only experienced by a small proportion of the region and the gap between rich and poor continues to grow. A recent estimation suggests that up to 18% of the national figure of those living in “slums” reside in the Telangana region. A knowledge of this economic disparity is essential for individual awareness and security.
The physical aspect of the rapid rate of economic growth in the city and across the state is important to note. The city is largely overcrowded and infrastructure continues to lag behind. Development has been unchecked by authorities, with many buildings repeatedly built upon without permission. This has led to the collapse of infrastructure causing deaths. In addition, far reaching abuses of health and safety have led to fatal accidents, such as gas explosions, fires and so on.
The Telangana state was officially formed in February 2014, after years of activism urging for the separation from the Andhra Pradesh region. This was strongly opposed by actors in Andhra Pradesh. Previously, the unified area had a diverse ethnic and religious make up, with a growing minority of those defining themselves as Muslim in contrast to the largely Hindu population. A myriad of languages were spoken in the region, predominately Telugu and Urdu. Previously, the state of Telangana was formed in 1965 due to these lingual boundaries, following a conflict in 1948 in which Indian forces claimed the territory. Previous unrest and protests against the lingual formations of the state marred its history and began the path of separatism. Political violence by Telangaga separatists occurred in 2010 as mass protests took place. The Telangana Joint Action Committee (TJAC) organised continual strikes and protests in order to further their political aims, and continue to be active to date in the new governance of the state. Counter protests also occurred in the neighbouring Andhre Pradesh. Violence has been associated with this unrest.
This lingual division is also manifested into a religious separation, in which extremists have manipulated. The separation of the Telangana led to the further isolation of some Indian Muslims, leading to a rise in radicalism. In 2013, large scale attacks occurred in Hyderabad in which 17 people were killed and 119 injured. The Indian Muhajideen claimed responsibility for the attack. This in turn favoured the TJAC in the formation of the state.
There remains a high potential for terrorism in the region, particularly targeted at Hyderabad due to its status as a metropolis. Some religious extremists (profiling of actors to follow) view the Hindu traditions of the Indian state as repressive and have engaged in militant attacks. In the winter of 2014 and into 2015, there has been a substantial increase in security personnel in the country following threats from both the Indian Mujahedeen and Students Islamic Movement of India. There has been threats received that have caused the US consulate to issue a travel alert in the area due to the threat of terrorist attack. The Indian police are on high alert due to a possible attack by actors affiliated to the Islamic State, searches have been conducted across the city and internet activity is being monitored by suspects.
However, the major threat of terrorism persists those to be based in Pakistan, sympathetic to the Kashmiri cause or those who follow a vision of the establishment of an Islamic State in India.
Gender violence is a large scale issue in India. In 2005, the “India’s Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act” was implemented nationally. Within the first few months of this law being drafted over 100,000 cases were filed. Every 60 minutes a woman dies in India due to domestic violence. Police incompetence, an environment of severe patriarchy and sheer impunity has allowed many crimes unpunished, these include instances of sexual violence. Caution should be exercised in light of this. Women only police stations have been established in Hyderabad and an extensive government ran awareness campaign has been launched, yet major normative breakthroughs are not yet reached.
Opportune crime is a significant problem in the city, and pickpockets are known to target foreigners due a perception of wealth. One should ensure that there is no public display of wealth, such as watches, jewellery, electrical devices etc.
Road traffic accidents are a significant issue for personnel in Hyderabad. On the 12th January 2015, 40 were killed as two passenger buses collided on a busy highway. The standard of driving and road safety is significantly lower across India. Extreme caution should be exercised if using public transport, and inexperienced driving is not advised.
Threat Actor Profiles:
1) The Indian Mujahideen (IM) is an extremist jihadist group operative across India. Many believe it is the Indian branch of Lashkar-e-Taiba, a group located in Pakistan. The group is viewed as a terrorist organisation by the Indian state, Australia, the US and the United Kingdom. However, conspiracy theorists speculate that the group was a creation of western interests in order to target and marginalise India’s Muslim population after 9/11. Indian police are cohesive in the persecution of those thought to be associated with IM, and membership to the organization is strictly forbidden.
2) The Students Islamic Movement of India (SIMI) is a proscribed organisation advocating the establishment of an Islamic State across India. In recent developments, they have utilised the call to “jihad” to authorise attacks on the Indian state. The group is categorised as a terrorist organisation by the Indian, Pakistani and most Western States, inclusive of the European Union. The group are known to be affiliated to other terrorist organisations across India and Pakistan and have linked with the Indian Mujahedeen. The group originated in peaceful protest but have been increasingly radicalised. The group produce propaganda for their cause and attempt to have prominence in the universities of India. The group are thought to be responsible for a number of attacks in 2014, the Chennai railway station blast in May, the explosion near Pune’s Dadguseth’s temple in July and, more recently, the blast at a Bijnore house in September.
3) Lashakar –e- Tayyiba (LT) is one of the largest and most feared militant groups fighting in Indian administered Kashmir. The group is also known as Jamaat-ud-Dawah (JUD) or Tehreek-e-Tahafuz Qibla Awal (TTQA). The group was formed in the early 1990’s and has been active in guerrilla style warfare centring on the Line of Control (LoC). The group is a proscribed terrorist organisation by most western states and is listed by the UN. The group have been continually targeted by the Indian military. The Pakistani Government banned LT and froze its assets in 2002.
4) Harakat – Ul – Jihad- Ul – Islami (HUJI) is an Islamic fundamentalist organisation active in Pakistan, Bangladesh and India. The group are responsible for a variety of terrorist attacks in India, Pakistan and Bangladesh. The group seeks for the secession of Jammu and Kashmir (J&K) a Muslim majority area of India. Israel, the UN, the EU, Bangladesh, New Zealand and the United States all categorise the group as a terrorist organisation. It is known to be split for Harakat-Ul-Mujahideen, a group also operative in the region.