Speaking to state police chiefs and intelligence officials on September 15, 2011, the Union Home Minister confessed frankly that the two recent bomb blasts in Mumbai and Delhi were a “blot” on the government’s record, with three Pakistan-based groups targeting India.
He added that apart from Lashkar-e-Taiba, Jaish-e-Mohammed and Hizbul Mujahideen, based in Pakistan… “There are Indian modules too. They seem to have the capacity to attract radicalised youth. Some modules are loosely knit under an organisation called Indian Mujahideen. Many old cadres of the banned SIMI have infiltrated into IM cadres.”
The Prime Minister in the same conference said: “There are reports of a large number of terrorists waiting in camps across the border and attempts to infiltrate into Jammu and Kashmir are increasing… Cross-border terrorist training centres are being reactivated… The national security situation continues to be uncertain. Recent terror attacks in Mumbai (July 13, 2011) and Delhi (September 7, 2011) are a grave reminder to great challenges posed by terrorists to our nation’s security.” He also observed that that left-wing extremism had also claimed lives of many innocent people and policemen.
One standard reaction of the Government of India is to call a conference of either officials or Chief Ministers or Home Ministers concerned, after every major terrorist incident. Then the leaders sermonise or lament or do the breast-beating,
Another stock response is to either offer negotiation or advise the police to stay vigilant. Never have any agencies been told to crush all such perpetrators, with all the might of the State.
People in our country, including the security forces, largely believe that we are a soft State, as we have failed to protect our people from the cross-border or home-grown terrorism or the one descending on people, in the form of Naxals and Maoists.
Thanks to vote-bank politics and indecisiveness of our leadership, absence of any law to crush terrorism or similar crimes, time and time again our security forces have been the victim of apathy of our leadership. All this is done under the false excuse that we are a secular country. It is not that countries like the US or the UK or other European countries are not secular.
But for them, the security of their country comes first. They have discarded all antique laws, which come against vanquishing terrorism. Government of India has been passive in its approach to fight our enemies. Otherwise, why should even the convicted terrorists be fed and kept alive at State cost? The leaders should ask themselves, to whom, they want to show such leniency and to whom they want to prove that they will deal with terrorism sternly.
It is worthwhile to recall what the then Governor of Bombay, Sir John Malcolm observed in 1830: “With the extension of the new laws, it had become very difficult to establish a system of good policing. The people for whom these laws were framed came from different backgrounds, character and habits and they did not easily adopt themselves to the new liberal laws… The task of seizing the most notorious criminal is easy compared to that of proving their guilt, according to the principles and the forms of our courts of justice. There is seldom that full evidence they require, and the consequence is the annual discharge of well known plunders to recommence their career of guilt and to take terrible vengeance on those whom they suspect of having aided in their apprehension.”
It is noteworthy that when he made those observations then terrorism or Maoism or Naxalism did not exist. He was referring to the crimes, such as dacoities, robberies and thefts.
In fact, so laidback is the approach of Government of India that it has been sitting for years together on the proposal of the Home Ministry, for setting up a National Counter Terrorism Centre. When the Union Home Minister had proposed an all-out effort to wipe out the Naxalism and Maoism by using all resources at the command of the government, including the Army and Air Force, he was given a “limited mandate”.
When the media asked him what he had by it, he replied that ask those who had decided it in the Cabinet.
The Prime Minister never loses an opportunity to plead that there should be no harassment of any minority in any police action. Questioning people in any terrorist-related incident is a part of investigation, not only in India, but all over the world. He has recently said almost apologetically: “There are reports of cross-border camps for terrorists being activated and fresh batches of terrorists being inducted into the valley.”
Obviously, he was talking only with the Muslims in mind, as most of the terrorists, attacking our country or even Western nations are Muslims. Prime Minister’s pronouncement cannot be totally unconnected with vote bank politics, as every action of the politicians, all over the world, is to garner maximum votes.
It is not that any investigating agency is targeting any particular community. It is because, whether we like it not, most terrorist incidents are the results of home-grown Jihadis. This has been admitted by the Union Home Minister himself, who has come out of the usual government denial mode.
The PM has forgotten his own sermon that a terrorist has no religion and on the score of being anti-nationals he deserves no mercy. Terrorism—be it Naxalites or Maoists or fundamentalist Jihadis—is the technique of demanding the impossible at the gunpoint.
Unfortunately, there seems to be no will or even a policy by the government in dealing with such elements. Standard response is off and on, for talks or use of force. Even when the Prime Minister made a number of trips to J&K, hardly anybody, who matters and least of all the terrorist supporters in the guise of separatists and fundamentalist came to see him. The same is true of Maoists, who have been making a gun fodder of the security forces and civilians, with no indication of any firm resolve to break their back.
America has brought about a Patriot Act, in which the first priority is to tackle terrorism. But forget about such a law in India, which has no law to deal with terrorism. The Government of India is keen to throw all onus on the states, on the grounds that law and order is their responsibility.
The usual response of the Government of India is to issue a condemnatory statement on all incidents, call a meeting of the state police chiefs, sermonise them on the need to be vigilant, set up a committee or committees and forget about terrorism till the next incident happens. This approach makes government the laughing stock, not only in the eyes of the terrorists but also the people of India. Our leaders have forgotten that brave speeches are no substitute for guns and use of force.
Between two parties, and especially one which is making devastating and inconsistent demands, of bullying the government established by law, there is no remedy except to use decisive force to solve this problem once and for all. The government should at least pay attention to the words of Mahatma Gandhi, who said: “In this age of the rule of brute force, it is almost impossible for anyone to believe that anyone else could possibly reject the law of the final supremacy of brute force.”
By Joginder Singh
(The author is former Director, CBI)