Vantage point

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

About Terrorism

Reproduced here are some comments I made on Amit's post at Guardian Blogs.

In India, this terrorism is different than UK or USA. Terrorists here are helped by local Muslims not influenced by some catchy videos or propoganda, but driven by a desire for revenge. Most of the times, it has been seen that this revenge is of a personal nature. Several accused have lost someone in their family to riots, or have been personally insulted. I am not trying to justify their actions, but merely trying to point out the difference. These sort of guys are, however just the foot-soldiers. The masterminds are sitting in Pakistan, and are at the most placed under house-arrest. Even the key plotters are Pakistanis who cross over into India.

To minimise vindictive minds from being lured by the terrorists, what we need is firm and decisive action against any rampaging mob. Whether it is a Sena mob which goes on rampage detsroying buses, a mob of Muslims which go on a rampage to protest Bush's visit, a VHP mob which goes on a rampage killing muslims, a Jamaat mob on a rampage to protest Danish cartoons..... all such mobs need to be punished and made an example of. Regardless of their faith. An example needs to be made of them. A message needs to be sent loud and clear that if you murder innocents, you will pay. If you destroy property belonging to innocents, you will pay. If you force people to shut their shops because you are upset, you will pay.

A just and fair state.... just to both hindus and muslims, and other faiths, is what will minimise the spread of the terror network.

The problem right now is, that mobs or culprits are spared not on the basis of their religion, but on the basis of their political connections or utility. A Mulayam lets mobs go not because they are Muslims, but because it serves his interests. A Modi lets mobs go not because they are Hindu but because they serve his interests.

But the victims don't view it in that nuanced a way. They see that they have been targetted because they are of that faith. And they see their "enemies" are let off scot free. So Hindus feel the government appeases the muslims, while muslims feel the government is supporting the hindus. And recriminations follow.

Yes, the terror threat posed by Al Qaida brand of terror is very real and needs to be dealt with. But in India, the never ending game of revenge-ping-pong provides the fodder for these demons of terrorism.

If an example is made of mobs who get away with murder in the name of religion, terrorism will find it a lot harder to gain foothold in India.


A huge cesspool of terror exists in Pakistan. It gives rise to elements like Al Qaida. The state which actually helped such terrorists actively was pakistan. And for ages, the West did not care. The West still does not care. They feel just leaning on Musharraf is enough. Even if we assume Musharraf has suddenly been transplanted with the heart of a dove, how can the West ignore the fact that the Pakistan state for several years, was supporting and in fact nurturing Islamic terrorists? That due to this, policemen, armymen, and officials at various levels would still be sympathetic to the cause. That a more thorough operation is needed to completely exterminate the terror network right inside Pakistan. Not inside "evil" afghanistan or "evil" Iran or "evil" Iraq. But inside "buddy" Pakistan.

Terrorists like Dawood Ibrahim, Masood Azhar, syed Salahuddin are living in pakistan. Not hiding in. Living in. And yet the Americans do not feel even the slightest bit inclined to arm-twist the Pakistanis into handing them over to India. And of course, if India raises tempo to force Pakistan's hand, the bogey of nuclear war is raised, and attention is diverted.

Anyway, expecting the Pakistanis to hand them over is naive. Even a supposedly progressive and friendly Western nation like Portugal was reluctant to hand over to India Abu Salem, a terrorist involved in the 1993 bomb blasts which killed 260 people. Why? Because Portugal wanted an assurance that he would not be given the death penalty. WTF?? He is an Indian, and he killed 260 Indians. Let India decide what to do with him. Yet Portugal held on to him for years. I wonder if Portugal would do the same for perpetrators of 9/11 or 7/7.

Can you imagine the dust which would be kicked up if Portugal held on to someone who killed hundreds in USA or UK? The world would spit at them. But if it is Indian lives being lost, no one else seems to give a damn.

If Portugal can be so blind and get away with it without any international condemn, expecting Pakistan to give up the terrorists is like expecting pigs to be airborne.


Fact remains, that one man's terrorist is another man's hero. Who is to say who is right?

Of all the cliches I have heard in my life, this one probably irritates me the most. A terrorist is a man who knowingly kills innocent people. Innocent, unsuspecting people going about their lives peacefully.Such a man can not be thought of as a hero in any civilised society. Which is why even in Pakistan, they try their best to pretend that the attacks had nothing to do with them. They claim that the terror attacks have been carried out by someone else. In Pakistan, they consider soldiers who fought in wars as heroes. They think of the guys who attacked Kargil as heroes. That is at least something understandable. Those guys took on combat troops of the Indian army, not innocent civilians. I can understand that sort of canonization (pardon the pun). But I refuse to believe that any number of people in large numbers can claim that terrorists killing unsuspecting civilians are heroes.

Your soldier is your hero and my enemy. My soldier is my hero and your enemy (unless of course he's involved in My Lai, Haditha or Abu Ghraib). But a terrorist can be no one's hero.