Union Defence Minister Rajnath Singh, while addressing an executive meeting of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) workers in Gujarat's Kevadia on September 2, 2021, claimed that India has seen no major terror attack since Prime Minister Narendra Modi joined office in 2014.
"This government will never allow any terrorist intentions to be successful. Since Narendra Modi has come as the Prime Minister, forget Jammu and Kashmir, India's hinterland has not witnessed any major terror act," The Indian Express quoted him as saying.
Before verifying this statement, it should be noted that this is neither the first time a defence minister has made such a claim, nor is this Singh's first time making this claim. In February 2019, Former Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman said, excluding Jammu and Kashmir, there had been no terrorist/minor bomb attacks anywhere else in the country.
"All facts checked, it is true that between 2014 & today vis-a-vis 2004 & 2013, except for Kashmir, has there been any terrorist/minor bomb attack anywhere else in the country? Let's talk on facts," she had said. This was verified by FactChecker on February 26, 2019. Shortly after this, on April 13, 2019, PM Modi made a similar claim. While speaking at a BJP rally in Bengaluru, he said, "Did any major blast take place in the last five years of your chowkidaar's chowkidaari? It was the power of your one vote that made it possible." This too was verified by FactChecker on April 15, 2019.
In fact, while speaking in Lok Sabha in November 2019, Rajnath Singh too had said that except for J&K, no terror attack had occurred in the country in the last five years.
In September 2018, FactChecker had verified a similar claim from Sadhguru Jaggi Vasudev, founder of The Isha Foundation. "We must know and acknowledge and appreciate and enjoy one thing... that in the last four years there have been no bomb blasts in the country… Whatever is happening is only in the border area and unfortunately in Kashmir," he said.
Now, let's, one more time, fact-check this claim.
The defence minister's claim is false. The latest available annual report of the Ministry of Defence 2018-19, classifies internal security issues into four categories:
Terrorism in the hinterland
Cross border terrorism in Jammu & Kashmir (J&K)
Insurgency in North-eastern states
Left-wing extremism (LWE) in certain states
However, the meaning of a "major terrorist attack" is not clearly defined by the government of India. According to a Lok Sabha response by the Ministry of Home Affairs on March 23, 2021, there have been six incidents in "the hinterland of the country" (everywhere except J&K and North-eastern states and LWE areas) — three in 2014 and one each in 2015, 2016 and 2018. As many as 11 security force personnel and 11 civilians were killed in these attacks.
Further, J&K alone witnessed 2,546 terrorist incidents between 2014 and 2020, shows data presented in Lok Sabha. In these attacks, 481 security force personnel and 215 civilians were killed.
Notably, a previous Lok Sabha response by the Home Ministry on December 19, 2018 mentioned that there was "a major terrorist attack in the hinterland" in 2015 and 2016 each.
Opposition leaders too responded to Singh's claim. Here are the tweets from National Spokesperson of the Indian National Congress Jaiveer Shergill and Communist Party of India's (Marxist) General Secretary Sitaram Yechury.
FactChecker tried contacting Rajnath Singh's office and the Defence Secretary Dr. Ajay Kumar via phone calls and email for a clarification on Singh's comment but had not received a response by the time of publishing the article. The story will be updated as and when we receive a response.
Timeline of major terror incidents since 2014
December 5, 2014: Terrorists carried out an attack on the Mohra Army camp in Uri Tehsil, in which 10 Army personnel and six terrorists were killed.
December 28, 2014: Bengaluru's Church Street was bombed, killing one and injuring two. This happened nearly seven months after PM Modi assumed office.
June 4, 2015: A group of militants ambushed a military convoy in Manipur, killing 18 Indian Armed forces personnel and injuring 11. This was one of the worst attacks suffered by the Indian Army in a decade, The Indian Express reported.
January 2, 2016: The Pathankot Air Force base was attacked by terrorists killing one civilian and eight security personnel.
September 18, 2016: Four heavily armed terrorists attacked the administrative base of one of the army units in Uri, J&K, killing 19 security personnel.
October 3, 2016: A terror attack was carried out in J&K's Baramulla, in which one Border Security Force (BSF) personnel was killed.
November 29, 2016: Seven Army personnel were killed when militants dressed as policemen stormed into Nagrota military camp in J&K, triggering a gun battle which lasted for more than 12 hours.
March 7, 2017: A bomb blast was reported in a Bhopal-Ujjain passenger train, in which 11 persons were injured.
April 24, 2017: A Maoist attack was carried out in Sukma, Chhattisgarh, in which 25 Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) were killed and seven were injured. In retaliatory fire, 10-12 Maoists were also killed.
March 13, 2018: An improvised explosive device (IED) blast in Sukma, Chhattisgarh killed nine CRPF personnel.
February 14, 2019 - A car bomb attack was carried out near Pulwama in J&K by a suicide bomber, killing 40 paramilitary personnel.
November 20, 2020 - An Assistant Commandant of the Commando Battalion for Resolute Action (CoBRA) died while undergoing treatment for injuries he sustained in an IED blast in Sukma district.
Apart from official data and media reports, FactChecker also sourced data from South Asia Terrorism Portal (SATP). From January 1, 2014, up to August 30, 2021, there have been 1,223 explosions reported in India, data from the portal show. These have resulted in 513 deaths and 2,026 injuries. In 2021 alone, 75 explosions have been reported, killing 26 security forces and militants and injuring 99.