Dialogue  October-December, 2008 , Volume 10 No. 2

Editorial Perspective


Malegaon !

And Now Mumbai !!


Malegaon, if whatever is revealed by Mumbai ATS (Anti-Terrorist Squad) is true, and not going on at the dictates of the political expediency, which may not be improbable, as the Indian politicians and political parties, being myopic and self-centred, are capable of any mischief for short term gains even if the nation loses heavily for their acts, and as the overt and covert publicity creates doubt, opens up a new chapter in our national and social life. The jehadi action has finally succeeded in generating a reaction. The Jehadi virus could ultimately produce the disease. The society’s immune system has weakened. Earlier, there were blasts in the temples. Now, it is in a mosque in Malegaon. The sufferer everywhere is the common man; it is immaterial whether he is a Hindu, Muslim or of any other religion. Anyway, Malegaon is a dangerous development. The vicious chain of action and reaction must be broken without further delay.

    And just when these lines are being written, India faced the most audacious terrorist attack in Mumbai. An unestimated number of Lashkar-e-Tayyeba (now Jamaat-ud-Dawa) terrorists, with automatic weapons and improvised explosive devices (IED), came through sea-route from Karachi ( Pakistan), divided themselves into small groups, took control of the important hotels –Taj and Trident – created the greatest hostage crisis of the country. They could simultaneously target railway stations, a hospital and many places of the city. Their swift action, spread, confidence and precision made them formidable and reminded us of the Vietcong action during Tet offensive,

      The jehadi terrorist offensive of November 26, 2008 was so effective that the Maharashtra police failed to control the same; three of its officers including head of the Mumbai ATS, Hemant Karkare were killed, Army and Rapid Action Force had to be deployed. With the death toll of 185 and 327 injured, the operation lasted for 60 hours. Twenty security personnel, nine terrorists and twenty foreigners lost their lives.                                         Initially we were to deal with terrorism in Kashmir. Now it has spread throughout the country. The frequency of Islamist terrorist attacks has increased. During the last 13 months, there were explosions in three towns of Uttar Pradesh outside local courts, followed by the same in Jaipur, Banglore, Ahmedabad, Surat, Delhi, Guwahati and other parts of Assam and now in Mumbai. And again, the problem is not restricted to the terrorists coming from Pakistan; we have home-grown terrorist outfits and terror modules. As stated above, Malegaon type of Hindu reaction adds new dimension to the problem and further complicates it. Furthermore, we have the ethnic insurgency in the North-East and the Maoist insurgency elsewhere. Yet further complication is created by the on-going anarchical protests erupting anywhere, any time on flimsy grounds. Such anarchical protests and bundhs – a protest mechanism of criminal nature, called frequently by our political parties and the pressure groups –often lead to destruction of public property, road blockades, etc., have the capacity to keep law and order machinery captive. Over all security scenario in the country is gloomy; it is that of a nation fighting against itself. Many of us sincerely feel that there is a grand conspiracy going on to destabilize and destroy this country and many of us are giving a helping hand due to ignorance, myopia or for short-term gains. Is it not the time now that we introspect, analyse and resolve to act in right direction?

     The Islamist terrorists turned Nariman House of Bombay, a peaceful home of Jews from around the world, into a battleground; killed Rabbi Gavriel Holtzberg and his wife Rivka leaving their two year old son Moishe an orphan. It is significant as the Jews, along with the Hindus and Christians are the declared enemies of the jehadi outfits, especially of the one involved in the present incident. It may not be out of place to mention here that Jew-Muslim enmity did not start only after the creation of Israel. The jews were on the receiving end from the very early days of Islam. It started with the banishment of 700 families of the Jews (Banu Kainuka) from Yathrib (old name of Madina) just after the battle of Badra.  made Prophet Muhammad and his three hundred followers opulent. They were goldsmiths and the richest people of the main centre of the  city, who left everything behind and went away only with their mounts to live miserable life elsewhere or just to be perished. They were brave and as the Quran suggests (Surah lix,14), there were serious internal dissensions in the Jewish colonies. The story was repeated Banu Nadir, Khabar, Banu Kuraizah and in several other Jewish settlements of Arabic Peninsula. Jews of Khaibar, the richest village became the first Dhimmis and were the first to pay jajiya. Later on, they were driven out by Omar.Banu Karaizah did not save themselves through the escape route as they did not agree to become Muslims. Anyway, Narman house episode was the first act of jehadi terrorism against the jews on Indian soil. We find the repeatation of early Islamic history in Bangladesh where systematic ethnic cleansing of the minorities is going on. Bangladesh has declared its own citizens enemies which has resulted in the loss of 26 lakh acres of the land of the Hindus, apart from various other kind of atrocities perpetuated on day.       

     The problem of terrorism shall have to be tackled at different levels. First of all, the nation, especially the political elite of the country, must speak the same language, echo the same sentiment; jointly endeavour to formulate the policy and action plan to eliminate terror. The issue of terrorism must be de-politicized and freed from the competitive politics of vote bank. Unfortunately, that is not happening even now. On the day of Delhi Legislative Assembly election, while National Security Guards were still fighting the jehadis, the Congress issued full page advertisement politicizing the issue. BJP was also not behind. It was a stupid and shameless action on the part of both the national political parties. The Congress, rather than informing the nation about what they have done and what should be done, and what they are planning to do to tackle the problem of terrorism; wanted to remind us about Kandhar and other such incidents, just to convey that such attacks have taken place during BJP’s time also. They forgot that the nation has already punished BJP for the failures and it is now their turn. After all a nation and the state live in perpetuity and only the managers change and they are supposed to learn from the past mistakes. The BJP, rather than politicizing the issue, should have come with policy formulation in constructive way, suggest the steps to be taken. Politicization of the issue is no answer to Congress’s inaction and BJP’s rhetoric. Similarly, the Government of India has to move further than removing the Home Minister, Shivraj Patil.

   The recent developments in the country show that the nation is becoming impatient and angry, and is in no mood to tolerate the lack of will to act, soft state syndrome and petty-politics on the issues related to national security. In a latest survey (Hindustan Times – C Fore Survey), it became clear that the nation is angry with its leaders. In the survey, 86% of the respondents were of the view that the terrorist strike in Mumbai was preventable; 84 % believed that the government is not doing enough to fight terrorism; 85 % favoured tougher people (politicians) to fight terrorism; 82% believed that politicians have no will or desire to fight terrorism; 77 % were for tougher laws and 87 % believed India to be a soft state. In a rally held outside Taj Hotel to remember those killed in the Mumbai terror attacks, a banner read:”Indians have woken up! When will Indian politicians wake up?  Indian political parties should gauge the public anger. It is a danger signal for them, and also for the nation, if it results into further weakening of the national political parties. Congress and BJP should examine whether BJP’s performance in 1984 parliamentary elections, a jump from just two to 84 MPs, was not due to negative voting against the Congress Party, as the people wanted to punish the Congress party for Rajiv Gandhi’s communal decision on Shah Bano’s case? Similarly, whether BJP was not punished in the last election due to its opportunistic politics?. Its talk of triple empowerment to the Muslims was in no way based on a citizen-centric policy formulation. BJP was so confused, so much mentally defeated, so much impatient for power and egger to get certificate of being secular from its adversaries that it abandoned its only secular demands of common civil code and abolition of Article 370 of the Constitution. 

     Prime-Minister Manmohan Singh often gives confusing signals. As for example, by equating India and Pakistan, both as victims of terrorism, he conveniently forgot the fact that ISI is a state machinery of Pakistan, Pakistan allows safe and comfortable living to terrorists like Lashkar chief and Doud Ibrahim, who are the root cause of terrorism in India, whereas that country sufferers due to internal intra-governmental conflict and dichotomy.

    For tackling the problem of terrorism of jehadi and other varieties, apart from well-equipped Federal Intelligence and Federal Police, the strategy and technique with desired new input is badly needed. We lack the expertise capable of judicious mix of defensive and offensive actions. The problem can not be solved unless terrorists are themselves terrorized. Otherwise, it is not possible to protect everything, all the sea and air-ports, all the railway-stations and tracks, all the homes, offices, markets and practically everything everywhere. Certain degree of inconvenience to the citizens in abnormal circumstances is unavoidable. But the same may be reduced if police works properly, transparently and judiciously.

    The war against terrorism should be simultaneously fought at the levels of the state, civil society and the intellectuals and their efforts should be complementary and supplementary of each other. The grievances of the communities should be met in overall citizen-centric policy frame-work and not community-centric-policy frame-work. The government should deliver and protect its citizens; it should restore citizen’s confidence in the system. It is essential to answer the genuine grievances of any community or individual by just action and imagined ones by answering the propaganda. As India has a Human Rights Commission, there is no need to have Minorities Commission. We have intellectuals, social and political activists and the mediamen who invent grievance theories and justify terrorist acts; there are others who inject fear and distrusts between different communities. Yet, many weaken the resolve of the nation by such stupid suggestions that India should handover Kashmir to Pakistan. There is need of dealing with them and countering their myths and propaganda. Foreign funding to the hate factories, Wahabi and other organizations like SIMI and terrorist outfits should be curbed illegal migrants should be sent across the border.                   It is essential to educate civil society about all kinds of terror ideologies. The self taboo on the flow of information and discussion has proved to be counter-productive. Trust the people; there nothing like “politically correct”.

     High percentage of voting in the recent Assembly elections are positive signals that people's faith in democracy is intact. The political leadership of the country may further strengthen it by its pragmatism and sincere striving to make the country safe and better

                                                                                                   —B.B. Kumar


Dialogue A quarterly journal of Astha Bharati

Astha Bharati