Home Minister P.Chidambaram’s comment on “Saffron Terror” last week led to uproar in Lok Sabha. Spilling out into the streets and TV studios, discussions ranged from objection over use of the term “Saffron” with terrorist incidents, to its political impact, and the search for a politically correct term. While labeling under-investigation terrorist incidents as terrorism belonging to a certain community is a stretch, framing the debate around semantics would be missing the point entirely.
One could convincingly argue that the threat of Saffron terror is being exaggerated, especially in comparison to Islamist terror - based on number of incidents, intensity, geographical reach or lack of state support. However, terrorist movements often begin on a small scale, and denial of this extremism and its dangers act as a catalyst in the transformation of fringe organizations into destabilizing forces.