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Millennium Post

Tackling terror effectively

The twin issue of terror and radicalisation need bipartisan support, but politics and public memory all seem to just move on. A few days ago, the nation was heatedly debating the twin blasts at Hyderabad, and now within a matter of few days, life has moved on. The national gaze quickly shifted to the budget, which did not address the basic issues and there can be no progress till the industrial base is built up. As the attention once again shifted to other issues, such as Choppergate, the brouhaha in BJP regarding Modi, behind the scene actions for Parliament debate, the serious and pressing question, that of how to address the spate of terror attacks which have been going on unabated, has been unfortunately left out for a future debate.

A terrorist is a person who has crossed the limits of civility and uses violence to spread terror, and thus gain control over society. In short, he wants to achieve political aims by terrorising society and holding its peace to ransom. Radicalisation is another extreme condition wherein a group of people do not wish to accept status quo, take an extreme position in political life, and thus are not ready to listen to another point of view. They are intolerant of others views, whether collective or individual. The cumulative effect is dangerous, as it leads to further fanning collective radicalisation in the name of religion. While terrorism affects national progress, radicalisation leads to splitting of the civil society. These twin dangerous conditions require the state to intervene and control this menace in a bipartisan manner.

In the Indian situation, a politician is a person who the society blindly and unflinchingly trusts with its destiny for a period of time. They occupy centerstage positions at every point in our daily life. With a colonial legacy, they are the rulers of modern India – the style, opulence, public conduct all point towards that. The trust of the people is so great on them that at all levels they are the opinion makers, be it at the panchayat, state or national level, in stark contrast with the intellectual class that has abdicated its responsibility. It is rare to find opinion makers who stand straight, as the political class controls everything.

Thus given the twin maladies of terrorism and radicalisation and the doctor being the political class, remedy for these societal problems will have to be found within the political landscape itself. The crisis comes from the fact that India suffers from cross border terrorism, which is spreading the same within Indian territory. Clearly, the Indian state has to tackle this problem at two levels – the international arena, where the nation has failed, and the national level, where politics overrides the will to fight this scourge. The nation now feels that the current political class is worth a hand shake before the elections, but will end up shaking the nation’s confidence after the elections, this being one of the many reasons for proliferation of regional parties that lack inner party democracy.

The recent statement and the retraction of the Home Minister from the same do show an insight into the mind of the political class. The Home Minister’s ‘Hindu terror’ remark drew sharp response from the BJP, but is terror really related to Hinduism or to those who are the custodians of religion, civil society or political parties? One of the cornerstones of being a secular state is that all religions are respected and seeking votes on the plank of religion is a retrograde step. We need to reflect if terror is a fall out of religious fanaticism or is the political class turning it into one and leading the people up the garden path for petty political gains. There is no denying that there are so called fringe elements referred to as terrorist in all sections of society and some have been radicalised enough to pick up arms against the state.

The official National Counterterrorism Center web of United States of America fails to identify Hindu terror in its annual report of 2011. It states that Hindus account for 18 per cent of the world population but are not involved in any international terrorist act, while other religions are involved in terrorist acts worldwide. In the wider context, Hindu terror is practically non-existent.

On the other hand, the BJP position on the proposed Indian version of National Counter Terrorism Centre (NCTC) is also confusing. The BJP is inclined to give more weightage to federalism at the cost of security of the whole of Indian state. This has led to NCTC not being established. Yet this petty politicking has overlooked the fact that terrorists may conspire in a state, support logistically from another state, and execute the task in another state.

In conclusion, an across the board authority to quickly deal with the anti-national elements is the need of the hour. The cancer of terror needs to be treated at the earliest across all party concerns. Those who live by fire and sword die by the same. This illness is too serious to fish for votes.

The case of Pakistan is in point. The state of Pakistan had treated terrorists as a strategic asset, but the chickens are now coming home to roost. Sectarian violence, cross border hostility, radicalisation of society are all hurting Pakistan and has given it the title of the world’s most dangerous place. Yet, it continues to be in denial mode, as do our political classes. However, the question of why the Indian society too is getting radicalised needs an urgent answer.

There is a need to keep religion away from terror as it hurts the sentiments of people. We must stop classifying people based on religion. This requires mature handling and not votes bank politics. Terror must be tackled at the central level, while radicalisation needs to be addressed by the Indian state. However, cross-border terrorism in its current mode needs inter-governmental coordination to send strong message, so that reforms are not stalled because of political grandstanding.

The author is a retired brigadier
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