Strike The Hand That Feeds Terrorism
It is now a corroborated fact that since the UPA government-I took reins of power in 2004, the country has witnessed several terror attacks. What is disheartening is the fact that in majority of these cases, culprits are still on the lam. The table depicting the chronology of terror attacks during the UPA government’s regime in our cover story reveals that as many as 27 terror attacks took place but culprits in very miniscule cases were nabbed. The question arises why the culprits behind these terror attacks have not yet been nailed. Are our intelligence agencies not up to scratch or the government lacks resolve, determination and orientation to nail the culprits? It is worth mentioning that when recurring terrorist attacks have struck a sense of insecurity into the heart of the common man, the Home Minister P Chidambaram, at a meeting of senior government officials the other day, said that Naxalism was a greater threat than terrorism. This statement would not only bolster terrorists it would degrade the morale of the common man. The question that stares in one’s face is as to how Naxalism is different from terrorism. The government’s Task Force on Criminal Justice, National Security and Centre-State Cooperation proposed that internal security can be defined as security against threats faced by the country within its national borders, either caused by inner political turmoil, provoked, prompted or proxied by an enemy country, perpetrated even by such groups that use a failed, failing or weak state, causing insurgency, terrorism or any other subversive acts that target innocent citizens, and attempt to destroy public and private establishment. Given this definition of internal security, a spate of audacious and deadly terrorist attacks on high-profile targets in India is unlikely to be stopped anytime soon because the response by the government has been half hearted and underfunded. For, the country is short of 1.8 million policemen, which is seriously hampering intelligence gathering. It is noteworthy that the US intelligence gathering capability improved dramatically after 9/11. And the result is—there is no terrorist attack. It’s an example India should emulate. But few security experts believe that such measures will be taken. Instead, the attacks will continue, as prevention remains minimal and perpetrators evade arrest. The truth is that terrorism, like corruption, is not an issue that wins or loses elections in the world’s largest democracy, where caste and religion are still used to woo voters.
Following the 26/11 attack in Mumbai, the government faced strong criticism for its failure to pre-empt ghastly terror attacks. The government then moved with alacrity to set up the National Investigation Agency supposedly on the model of US Federal Bureau of Investigation, but it is drastically underfunded. According to security experts, this year the budget is something like 560 million rupees, which works out to roughly $12 million, whereas the FBI’s budget is in the region of just under $8 billion, for a population that is one forth India’s population. Furthermore, it is shocking that 10 years after 9/11 and even after the major events like the Mumbai attacks, no security cameras were installed even at High Court entrances to identify the perpetrators. Even after two decades, India has utterly failed to devise any robust strategy to combat terrorism. While US hasn’t faced any attack after 9/11, India has seen at least three main blasts post-26/11. This is a failure of political leadership and the common man continues to suffer. Are we waiting for an Indian 9/11 to happen to jolt us, as if these continuous terror attacks are too puny to matter? Secular democracies are not equipped to deal with religion driven terrorism. While the other democracies in America and Europe equipped their security forces and law enforcing agencies with new legislations our Indian polity showed the audacity of repealing POTA and TADA. We could have made provisions to prevent their misuse but we decided to do away with them more at the behest of political considerations than any rational reason. We are still not sure whether Afzal Guru should or should not be hanged. Our politicians and bureaucrats are too happy to admit to their helplessness. We are just incapable of standing up to anything. We seem to have no policy at all. Bare minimum is done after each attack and we wait for yet another attack. Over and above our idealists, who include, intellectuals, secularists, human rights activists, writers and thinkers, seem to be living in a different world. India will perish that way. Also it is true that India’s key failure has been to eradicate its culture of exclusion, which privileges religious identity over citizenship. The religious identity of Indians is the fallout of Indian polity. Power-hungry politicos in order to cling on to power used the religious and minority card. Right from birth to death Indians are identified by religion and not as one community, namely the Indian. This culture is spoiling the people. This needs full transformation. Providing a secure environment may be tough for the government, but it has no alternative but to fulfil its responsibility.