Reign of terror and rights activists’ role
The security of the country should be of the highest priority. However, despite overt and covert threats from Al Qaeda, which has announced its plans to advance towards India, the problem has not received adequate attention from the Government.
Unfortunately, previous Governments have removed tough laws dealing with terrorism from the statute books on the specious ground that they were being used against Indian Muslims. The laws were withdrawn even as terrorists attacked Parliament, the Jammu and Kashmir Assembly as well as just about every Indian State.
The key question here: What is terrorism? The term ‘terrorism’ comes from the French word terrorisme, which is based on the Latin verb terrere (to cause to tremble). It dates back to 1795 when the term was first used to describe the actions of the Jacobin Club in post-Revolutionary France.
The period that the Jacobin Club ruled France is called the Reign of Terror. Incidentally, the Jacobins are believed to have coined the term ‘terrorists’ to refer to themselves.
Terrorism refers to a strategy of using violence, social threats, or coordinated attacks, in order to generate fear, cause disruption, and ultimately, bring about compliance with specified political, religious, or ideological demands. The European Union includes in its 2002 definition of ‘terrorism’ the aim of “destabilising or destroying the fundamental political, constitutional, economic or social structures of a country.”
Terrorism is defined in the US by the Code of the Federal Bureau of Investigation as: “The unlawful use of force and violence against persons or property to intimidate or coerce a government, the civilian population, or any segment thereof, in furtherance of political or social objectives.” The FBI further describes terrorism as either domestic or international, depending on the origin, base, and objectives of the terrorists.
Agreed, that Indian Muslims by and large are want to live peacefully, but unfortunately, most of the terrorists belong to their community as well. The Constitution of India gives equal rights to the all citizens, irrespective of their religion or denomination. In the absence of specific laws against terrorism, it makes it difficult to take any drastic action against terrorists.
Due to the absence of laws against terrorism, and outdated laws in general, few give evidence against terrorists. Today’s laws, framed and passed by the British, are no longer relevant to. They must be buried. Almost all countries facing terrorism, including Pakistan, have changed their laws. India should do more in this regard as well.
As the conditions have changed, even genuine witnesses would not like to expose themselves to the wrath of criminals and terrorists. In fact, the policy of past Governments has been to let sleeping dogs lie. However, one cannot ignore the fact that religious fundamentalism or, more specifically, jihad in this case, is in fact a jihad against our fundamental rights and our multi-party democracy, universal adult suffrage and an accountable government.
Of course, condemning the Government or the police as brutal when either of them takes on the anti-national elements makes for a good story but it does nothing to secure our interests and indeed, our future as a modern nation.
The threat of Islamist terror is very real in India, and those whose do not believe this should take a look at the list of recent terror attacks in the country. At the turn of the millennium, the Parliament was attacked. On 13th December, 2001, terrorists, dressed in commando fatigues, entered Parliament in a car through the VIP gate of the building and launched a 45-minute gun battle in which nine policemen and Parliament staffers were killed. The five terrorists, later identified as Pakistani terrorists, were also killed by the security forces.
Delhi also witnessed bombings in 2005 and 2008. In the first case, more than 60 people were killed and at least 200 others injured, making it one of the deadliest attacks on the country. More recently, in 2011, there was a bombing outside the Delhi High Court, which killed 12 people and injured 76. In nearby Uttar Pradesh, the Ram Janmabhoomi was attacked in 2005. The holy city of Varanasi came under attack in 2010. While the Laskhkar-e-Tayyeba was responsible for the attack in Ayodhya, the Indian Mujahideen carried out the Varanasi attack which killed 20 persons including four foreigners and a toddler. Obviously, the terrorists were targeting Hindu holy places.
There have also been innumerable attacks on Mumbai including the carnage of 2008 when Pakistani terrorists held the city hostage for three days. That foreign terrorists have now established links with locals in India cannot be denied, even though it goes without saying that a majority of Indian Muslims have nothing to do with such elements.
After a terror attack, the situation in India has always gone back to business as usual. This can’t go on any longer. The first step towards fighting terror effectively is to bring in a tough law on terrorism. Such a law has to hold the accused responsible for prove his innocence.
Second, India has to deal with infiltrators on the border firmly. Such people should be attended to or disposed off at their port of entry itself. Third, anybody supporting terrorists or giving them shelter, weapons or monetary help, should be treated as guilty as the terrorists themselves.
Fourth, India should seriously consider taking away the constitutional rights that are currently available to terrorists and their supporters. Rights activists will surely kick up a huge fuss over this, but the state must prevail upon them. India must not be swayed by the busy bodies such as these human rights-wallahs, for whom national interests are clearly secondary.
Such worthies do not realise that how much damage their policies can do to India. Perhaps, the Government should consider sending these activists to the border areas or to Maoist-infested regions so that they can get a taste of reality. Perhaps the activists could also preach to the terorrists, instead of lecturing the Government.
These are just some of the ways and means by which one can neutralise the Al Qaeda threat. India must make it prohibitively expensive for the terrorists to carry out any nefarious activity in this country.