The Indian subcontinent, since its very inception on 15th August, 1947 has suffered severe pangs of terrorism from its neighboring countries; Pakistan, in particular. But till date, we are not in a position to tackle it properly and aggressively.
Take for example, The Nagaland and Mizoram insurgencies lasted 19 years before being brought under control and had required concerted counter-insurgency operations involving the Army at some stages. The Punjab insurgency, which too had external support, lasted 14 years. It was finally brought under control through effective use of state force. Left wing insurgency, currently in its most virulent phase, has dogged the country almost since independence. Call it the blasts in the Mumbai locals; the 26/11 attack on hotel Taj, the hijacking of the Indian Airlines flight 814, every instance throws light on the slacky attitude of the Indian Government who is responsible in one way or the other, for fueling terrorism.
Despite the fact that India is the one and only country in the world whose 2 neighboring enemy countries possess atomic power, Indian Government has never shown enough political willpower to tackle it on front foot.
While a superpower like the US has the capability and the freedom to strike at the source of terrorism; India finds itself in a position where it is well nigh impossible to resort to the principle of ‘hot pursuit’, considering its consequences – an escalation of the conflict to a flashpoint scenario.
It sounds more of ‘an abyss of reason’ than India’s policy for a fair trial and right to life that while the US performs an Osama raid and brings about an end to the Al Qaida mastermind, Osama Bin Laden; India spends thousands of crores on the upkeep of terrorist Ajmal Kasab when half its population dies of hunger and poverty.
Moreover, the State’s policy of dialogues, negotiations and financial incentives come as a cropper. The rebel groups take full advantage of these appeasement attempts and continue with their activities. Such moves are at best short-term and usually counter-productive. Nor is the use of excessive force of much use and can prove counter-productive, given the power of the media and its right to information in a democracy.
The fact that India has turned a helpless state when it comes to curbing terrorism is a serious issue to gauge at. Few recent cases are enough to tell the world about Indian tolerance for terrorism. On 2 May, 2011, OSAMA BIN LADEN was killed by the US navy seal commandos in Abbottabad, Pakistan. Taking a cue, our army Chief General V.K. Singh said that India is capable of performing the kind of Abbottabad Operation in Pakistan. Air Chief Marshal P.V. Naik supported it and repeated the warning to Pakistan. Moreover, main opposition party BJP leader and Defence Minister Mr.A.K. Antony also gave his consent. But the entire jubilance sublimed when our honourable Prime Minister Mr.Manmohan Singh denied all speculations of repeated Abbottabad operations and gave a statement in Kabul, Afghanistan on 12th May saying “India wants to fight terrorism but India is not America and we will never do this kind of operation.”
Another faux pas took place when, on 11th May, India gave a list of 50 “most wanted fugitives” to Pakistan hiding in their country. It included 21 members of Dawood Ibrahim gang, 6 accused of 26/11 and others from Lashkar-e-Taiba, Jaish-e-Mohammad, Hizbul Mujahidin group. But the entire nation became a subject of mockery when 2 fugitives Wazahul Qamar Khan and Feroz Abdul Rashid Khan were found in India only. Wazahul, who was accused in Mulund train blast 2003 and has been on the bail, was traced to his residence Thande. Similarly Rashid Khan, who was no.24 in the wanted list is in Arther Road jail in Mumbai for 1993 Mumbai bomb blast case.
In another case, CBI went to Copenhagen to arrest Kim Davy, prime convict of the 1995 Puruliya Arms Drop case on 16th may 2011, where Davy’s lawyer told the CBI that the warrant had expired in January 2011.
All these 3 cases show the negligence and casual attitude of our intelligence and government. When the 1st mistake in the list was brought in the light, our Home Minister tried to conceal it saying it was just a manual error. But the 2nd mistake proved beyond doubt the easygoing attitude of our ministers who stay mute spectators and inactive representatives to issues of national significance. It was evident that as all the inputs of CBI, IB, NIA & all other agencies were cross-checked by the Home Ministry; it is their fault. And talk about the action taken by the Government- the blame shifted over somebody else’s shoulders and the subsequent suspension of an inspector and the transfer of an SP & a DSP. In a democracy such as India, is this the way in which the responsibility of blunders will be fixed?
This brings us to the vital need to build the capacity to detect and preempt acts of terrorism – which means the creation of a first rate intelligence grid that combines both technical intelligence (TECHINT) and human intelligence (HUMINT) capabilities. In federal structures such as in India, where law and order is a state subject, it is imperative that there be coordination between the Centre and the states because the first intelligence information will emanate either from the state or would need to be developed and pursued by the central intelligence agencies.
We should be worried as both external as well as internal threat to our security has increased tremendously. China has reached POK. Several battalion of Red Army has been positioned in Gilgit and Siachin. Nepal and Bangladesh have become an easy way for infiltration in India. Indians have been targeted in Afghanistan by Pakistani militants. Kashmir Valley is still in a state of violence.
So, all in all, we cannot afford to be in the “Que sera sera” situation. We ought to take advantage of our economic position in the world to put our political issues in international platform. “Halla Bol” is the need of the hour after the bloodmath of 26/11 as also to tackle the source of much of the present terrorism that afflicts the globe.
By Arpit Gupta & Poornima Dey