Terrorism: Force is no remedy, Mr. Modi

“They are not concerned about innocent people dying but are more concerned about innocents getting caught,” lamented Modi recently. Yes, Mr. Modi, that’s the priority and it’s certainly not misplaced. Innocents caught and punished howsoever mildly can only lead to more innocents getting killed. Perhaps, the saffron hues blind Mr. Modi to the unmistakable connection between the two. When innocents get killed, it’s sad, but when innocents are punished it’s not only far sadder but also casts a shadow on state’s ability to administer justice. This is not about catching hold of just anybody, but only those who are guilty. Simply going about grabbing people and sticking the cane down their throat irrespective of their innocence could only worsen the situation and supply further justification for terrorist acts. The innocents are like rocks and if your unjust sword tries to slice them, it could only blunt itself in the process with no gain worth the name. Therefore, your solution, Mr. Modi, is part of the problem.

Mr. Modi also said that he did not believe in sending out messages to the terrorists, and added, “Main eent ka jawaab patthar se deta hoon.” Well, we saw the ‘eent’ (Godhra), we saw your ‘patthar’ (Gujarat pogrom, 2002), and now we have the ‘mountain’ (blasts all over the country and Indian Mujahideen) to deal with. So, with your stone being answered with a mountain, you have no other option but to answer back with a bigger mountain, and eventually someone would pick this whole earth and thrown it on the other. Right? That should solve the problem. No killers, no victim; all dead in one go.

Stronger terror laws that Modi calls for is certainly not the solution, but it does make sense from his political perspective. Stronger terror laws can only mean more power to the state and watered down civil safeguards against arbitrary arrest and detention. It’s a tool of oppression in the hands of the state, which Modi would certainly want, given his glorious track record of humanitarian support to the minority community in Gujarat. He needs more muscle to oppress further, and if his wish is granted, we could just brace up for the worse.

So far as terrorism is concerned, Mr. Modi’s demand for stronger anti-terror laws has nothing to do with it. Anti-terror laws would promptly translate into anti-Muslim laws, particularly in Gujarat.

Force is not the solution here because it goes into the very roots of terrorism. The seeds of terrorism germinate in the conducive environment of state sponsored violence and its apathy, and the saplings and trees of terrorism continue to draw nutrition from it. So, the more force the state uses, the more luxurious the growth of terrorism would be. Thus, force is counterproductive.

However, this is not to say that no force is required. Terrorism operates on two levels – criminal and political. The criminal side of terrorism has to be taken care of by force, just like any other crime is dealt with. No more and no less. And that’s an important rider there. Its political side must necessarily be dealt with politically. We just cannot deal with terrorism the American way for various reasons. This is not to say that the American way was right or expeditious. But let’s assume it was. Even then it cannot be the Indian way simply because with Americans they are the outsides; with us, they are our own part. And no matter what we would not treat them as ‘others’. They are necessarily ‘us’, even if they are terrorists. I am not talking of the imported variety here but only about those who are our own children. These are the people who have played in the same backyard as the rest of us. Whatever divides us is essentially political and absolutely undesirable.

Yes, they have turned upon us in the way they should never have. Find why and address it. That would settle the political side of terrorism, which is the root of it. So, deal with the crime side quickly, effectively and in accordance with the law. No excesses. Address the political aspects long term. That’s the only way out. The fight will take our long term commitment, and will not be easy. But we have to fight it and losing is not an option.

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Modi’s I-told-you-so gets Advani’s ‘that’s-right’

The bomb blasts rocked Delhi and Mr. Modi came out with an earthshaking told-you-so disclosure that he had warned Prime Minister Manmohan Singh about the possibilty of blasts in Delhi. And of course, from his side there is no politics in fight against terror. Of course, there is none because fight against terror suit Modi’s politics like it was tailor-made for it.

Mr. Advani went ahead backing Modi’s claims insisting that “this time, the government can’t even tell that the Delhi blasts took
place due to intelligence failure. Our Gujarat chief minister had
already forewarned them.” That’s wonderful. So, simply being aware of the possibility of blasts in Delhi is enough intelligence to prevent them. In that case the government could never blame it on lack of intelligence, not today, not before, not ever after because the possibility of bomb blasts in Delhi has always been there ever since terrorists started targeting the nation with bomb blasts. By the same token, Gujarat blasts could well be prevented because after Gujarat pogrom, the possibility of such backlash was bang in our faces. So, why did Mr. Modi fail to prevent them?

Terrorism is a far more complex issue and to treat it as a criminal-justice problem would only aggravate the situation. It’s a disease that needs healing and not a thorn that could simply be pulled out with a swift jerk. Until we understand the distinction well and agree on it whole-heartedly, we’ll keep fighting elusive, dark shadows.

Save Maharashtra from Adolf Raj

Jaya Bachchan just wanted to say that she is proud of her roots and liked speaking Hindi (it’s not her mother tongue, by the way; Bengali is). Mr. Raj Thackeray, of course, doesn’t like anyone to be proud of anything but Maharashtra and his intellectual and political landscape does not stretch beyond his home state and ‘his’ people, whatever that means. I wouldn’t be surprise if tomorrow he calls for Maharashtra to be renamed as ‘Maratha Republic of Maharashtra’ with Marathi as the official language. He has quite forgiven Jaya Bachchan because the head of the family Mr. Amitacbh Bachchan tendered an unconditional public apology saying that he is regrets if anyone was hurt on account of Jaya’s utterance.

So, Jaya Bachchan or anyone else, for that matter, has no right to be proud of his language or culture. All he or she can be proud of is Maharashtra. Mr. Raj is out to impose restrictions not only on what one says but also on what one is proud of. Nothing in Jaya’s statement is innately offending. She expressed what she felt about something and certainly did not intend to make anyone feel in any particular way. Her right to freedom of speech and expression is an inviolable fundamental right. And the right simply cannot be taken away by the threat of violence held out by the likes of Raj. The state government of Maharshtra cannot allow the subversion of Constitution by such vested political interests. Raj simply has no business going around gagging people with a threat of violence. Isn’t that a terror tactic? No wonder, Raj is all praise for Hitler’s ‘organizational skills’.