Terrorism Update
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Confront terrorism with full might of the state

It is amazing that it takes an attack on India’s Parliament for our leadership to understand that the terrorists are enemies of democracy. For decades terrorists have been murdering our people with impunity, but the unfortunate truth is that, when people die in distant provinces, Delhi remains unmoved. The Members of our Parliament failed to understand the reality of terror and its paralysing, corrosive, impact on the psyche of the people. I noticed one MP, after the attack on Parliament, confessing that he had not been able to understand what was happening when the firing started because he had never heard a gunshot in his life. These people do not have the understanding or the empathy that can allow them to deal effectively with the enormity of the threat. That is why debates in Parliament on terrorism have been so empty of reason, and so completely formed along party political lines. These people have not shown any real concern for fighting terrorism in a concerted manner; they have only been trying to exploit obviously emotive issues for partisan and electoral gains. Regrettably, no party has been free of such dishonesty.

It should be clear by now what our response to the terrorist challenge should be. India has defeated terrorism in the past, and can easily do so again. We have also seen the response of other nations – most recently the United States. The one principal that stands out clearly is that there can be no compromise with terrorists; all such compromises reward terrorism. The state’s response must send a clear and utterly unambiguous message: that terrorism will not and cannot pay. All this nonsense of negotiating with terrorists and with their front organisations only helps entrench these groups; such negotiations create an alternative sphere of a violent, murderous politics that is fundamentally a negation of democracy. Political solutions must, of course, be pursued. But only those political actors who are untainted by associations with terrorism should be party to such political solutions. As for those who practice or support terrorism – the response can only be that of confrontation with the fullest might of the state. This is not just a question of strategy – it is a basic requirement of Constitutional governance and rule of law. These groups cannot be offered any concessions that would allow them to capture the political space through the power of the gun. There must be a national consensus on how this threat is to be defeated, and a consistent policy must be pursued over an extended period of time till the desired results have been secured.

(Published in Times of India, December 16, 2001)





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