Thursday, August 30, 2007

A violent history

Tavleen Singh | Thursday, August 30, 2007 11:27:28 IST
It is no wonder that we never catch the main terrorists behind the attacks


The image that haunts me from last week’s terrorist attack in Hyderabad is that of the twelve year old boy from Gujarat who lies in a coma alone on a hospital bed. His father was killed in the bomb blast at Lumbini Park and his mother is too shattered to be by her son’s side so the only visitors he gets are television reporters who show us his swollen, little face and tell us that shrapnel from the bomb has lodged in his brain. He could be in a coma forever or if he wakes up he could be brain dead for the rest of his life. No amount of monetary compensation can make up for what has happened to him and the other 54 people who were injured in the blasts that killed 44 people on August 25. This is the second terrorist attack in Hyderabad this year. The last one was on May 18 in the Mecca Masjid and like this time the group suspected to be behind the attack was the Bangladeshi HUJI (Harkat-ul-Jamiat-Islami).

When are we going to realise that the reason why we are losing the war against the jehadis who target India with increasing frequency is because successive governments, both in Delhi and our state capitals, have done nothing to fight back. Nothing at all. After every terrorist attack we get the usual rubbish about how terrorism will not be tolerated and how the culprits will be ‘brought to book’ but what they do not tell us is that we do not even have enough policemen to fight the terrorists. In the words of Ajai Sahni of the Institute of Conflict Management and a leading expert on terrorism, ‘India has an average police to population ratio of 122 policemen per 100,000 population. Most Western countries have ratios ranging between 250 and 500 per 100,000 and the UN recommends a minimum norm of 1:450, or 222 per 100,000. Andhra Pradesh has a current ratio of just 98 per 100,000 and is also tackling (fairly effectively) a raging Maoist insurgency’.

Foiled plans

Is it any wonder that 47,371 Indians died in non-Naxalite terrorist violence between 1994 and 2005? Is it any wonder that we never catch the main terrorists behind the attacks?
The Times of India listed last week the number of incidents of terrorism in which our security forces have failed to catch the mastermind. From the Mumbai bomb blasts of 1993 we
have failed to catch the mastermind in every major act of terrorism that has occurred. This is a sickening record of failure and the failures will continue until our political leaders dare to admit that one of the reasons why they do nothing is because they are afraid of alienating Muslim voters. So even the limited number of policemen that we have are forced to fight with their hands tied behind their back. If they enter Muslim neighbourhoods in search of clues they are charged with racial profiling and for this we in the media are more to blame than the politicians. We make the loudest protests without realising that the result is that the jehadis are winning the war against India. If the media was doing its job we would by now have independent investigations into who the killers are, we would have names and faces. When an act of terrorism occurs in a Western city we know who is behind it in hours not just because the police are more efficient but because the media is too.

Target of evil plans
Having said that it needs to be emphasised that it is not the media’s job to catch the terrorists it is the job of government and we see no sign that either the Prime Minister or any of our Chief Ministers have understood the threat India faces. Al Qaeda’s evil spokesmen routinely identify India as a target and our political leaders respond with silence or by making statements that have long lost their meaning. After the Hyderabad attack the Chief Minister of Andhra Pradesh blamed Pakistan without giving us any proof of that country’s involvement. Instead of this kind of loose talk what we need is action.
We need not just twice the number of policemen on the ground as we currently have but
we need policemen specially trained in counterterrorism.
It is these specially trained forces that need to be deployed in sensitive cities like Hyderabad, Bangalore, Mumbai and Delhi. These cities are targeted because one of the aims of the jehad is to destroy India’s economic strength and they are succeeding because we are just lying down and taking it.
A battle of this kind cannot be won without putting in place the most sophisticated, modern intelligence gathering network and despite the major terrorist attacks that have occurred on this Prime Minister’s watch we see no signs of improved intelligence. We do not see any
sign either that the home ministry has woken up to the seriousness of the problem. Perhaps, the crux of the problem lies here. Maybe what we need is our equivalent of the Department
of Homeland Security that was set up after 9/11. Let it take charge of training, intelligence and deployment and let it take full responsibility for every future act of terrorism on Indian
soil. What we need is some sign that the prime minister is not just going to do nothing till
the next attack.

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