Every channel worth its TRP has started a movement against terror in India. They declare during every alternate commercial break that, we the people won’t tolerate terror anymore; we will stop it. We won’t allow it to happen anymore. We will take to task any and every politician who is soft on terror. Nice and well meaning words, no doubt. But can we stop terrorism by candle light rallies?
No. we will only add to traffic chaos for the common man. If the politicians or trade unions affect traffic with their rallies, we will move the Supreme Court against them. If our candle rallies are denied permission, well we will still move the Supreme Court to allow them.
Will the channels organize parallel intelligence gathering agencies, will they start funding of commandos in every star hotel, will they run joint coordination committees for the three services… well, in short, will they take over the governance of the country from politicians to stop terrorism? Impossible. If they can first succeed in making the voters of south Mumbai (where Taj and Trident are located) cast their votes without fail in the next elections, it would be a formidable achievement by itself. The number of voters, who did not vote at all, was double the votes of the winning candidate there during last lok sabha elections.
Let us leave the syrupy sentiments and patriotic jingoisms out and get down to the real business of stopping terrorism. That is the task of the government and those who run it. All that the channels, media, print and otherwise, you and I can do is to only function as pressure groups to make the government and those who run it to do their jobs properly.
And to be a pressure group or a lobbyist is not all that easy either. It demands responsibility from us first to understand the system, secondly to assess how it works and thirdly to demand accountability from those running it and fourthly to know that questions to ask and fifthly to mobilize public opinion in favour of issues and not sentiments or rhetoric.
Do we first really understand what terrorism is all about.
Let me repeat- terrorism is not a mindless act of violence by non- thinking individuals or groups. It is also politics – politics by other means.
It is the politics of the disgruntled who are not or cannot be accomodated by the system which is disgruntled with them. The role of the state, as Karl Marx famously said, is to mediate between the various sections of the society at war with each other. When the state fails in that endeavour, the war is on. The state also enters into war with its citizens in the name of citizens.It becomes a bystander in wars between citizens. It also becomes a partisan with one section against the other. Terrorism , in short is, non-democratic politics.
And when the democratic politics is weakened by self serving and corrupt politicians and bureaucracy, terrorism is inevitable. The corrupt politician- bureaucrat alliance uses terrorism to further its selfish agenda of looting by perpetuating fear among its citizens and strengthening its military arm at huge costs to the public.
India is now in the brink of this danger. Mumbai terror attacks are being used by the state through the media to escalate the feeling of insecurity among people and thus cooerce their consent for spending huge amounts for expansion of specialised armed forces throughout the nation. The fauji worship has reached a nauseating peak, with no critical questions against their working methods.
But terrorism cannot be fought or prevented by mere expansion of our firepower. To attack it, we need to attack the tools of terrorism and roots of terrorism.
One of the primary tools of terrorism is corruption. The 1993 blasts in Mumbai were done with RDX smuggled from outside the country. The corrupt customs officer aided the smuggling. Issuing of identity cards to thousands of fishworkers may not be sufficient if only those ID cards could be obtained for anybody for an extra payment.
About a decade ago, the killers of Rajiv Gandhi and EPRLF leader Padhmanabha entered Tamilnadu only through the sea route. They could not have executed the murders without the support of a corrupt government machinery at every check post and a handful of local tamils who showed solidarity to the Tamil cause and abetted the crime without even being aware of it.
That takes us to the roots of terrorism. While changed circumstances now help us with USA threatening Pakistan to behave, We need to look internally within our own realm. Can terrorism survive without a local support? Punjab showed it cannot. And what brings local support to a terrorist act? What can we do to wean such support
Most of the terror attacks since independence can easily be classified into two categories – religious and secular. The secular attacks are by the various insurgent groups of the north east and the Maoists of the red corridor from east to south. Here the issues involved are socio economic.
The religious attacks relate geographically only to Kashmir and Punjab. (The Khalistan terrorism is now a thing of the past, thanks to the inclusive democratic practices that weaned popular support to terrorism.) And the terror acts in Kashmir in the name of jihad have their origin in two facts of history. The creation of Pakistan by the wily British and the self determination aspirations of Kashmiris. Though kashmiri self determination issue is overshadowed by the religious colour painted by Pakistan’s own aspirations to annexe it, the terror acts of jihad relating to Kashmir never spilled over the boundaries of Kashmir.
The phenomenon of bomb blasts in buses, trains and markets happening anywhere through length and breadth of India is of recent origin. To be precise just 15 years old.
It is a post Babri Masjid demolition development.
And Babri Masjid demolition has been the first biggest terror act since independence. Our refusal to acknowledge it as terror act has led us down the treacherous path of terrorism upto Mumbai attacks. Various political parties and the media, print and electronic continue to condemn babri masjid demolition but have never categorised it as an act of terrorism. The post Godhra genocidal violence of Gujarat have been widely condemned but not categorised as acts of terrorism.
In both instances, leaders of a particular political formation have led from the front, inspiring and goading the emotionally charged followers to indulge in acts of arson, vandalism and killing. In both instances, police forces have been silent spectators. And remember, both instances did not require the help of specialised commandos to stop the acts of terror. Existing police forces were sufficient enough to stop the acts but they did not stop. And to this day, no politician or bureaucrat has been held accountable for these acts of terror.
Right from Babri masjid demolition, through Mumbai blasts, Gujarat carnage, bus and train blasts, attack on parliament, temple etc. the media has not vociferously
demanded resignations of politicians from ministries. Only for attack on Hotel Taj, the media cried from the burning rooftop and extracted three heads, two home ministers and one chief minister. As usual no bureaucrat gets such treatment.
While we are demanding (rightly) Pakistan to hand over the wanted terrorists hiding in its soil, we have done nothing about the terrorists living among us, walking around freely and participating in our democratic processes.
Let us remember, no jihadi terror can succeed in this country without the help of few locals. And until Babri masjid demolition, it was impossible to recruit Muslims fr
om any part of this country to fight Pakistan’s war in Kashmir.
With Babri Masjiddemolition, for the first time, the average Muslim Indian was baffled, confused, worried and afraid. A big political party participating in electoral democracy was openly against the community, demolishing its masjid in the name of Ram, justifying such vandalism. And the other big political party was an impotent accomplice to all this. The insecurity created in the mind of an average Muslim at this juncture can never be fully understood by anyone belonging to any majority religion, culture or language in any part of the world. The condition was ripe for hatemongers and extremists to recruit.
One should say it is a wonderful tribute to the belief and faith of average Muslim Indians in the democracy of India that despite the fear and insecurity created by Babri Masjid demolition and Gujarat carnage, only a few tens of them among several millions became recruits to the cause of terror. Their primary concerns continue to be roti, kapada aur makhaan.
But the average Muslim Indian continues to be under psychological pressure everyday watching the terrorists of Babri Masjid demolition and Gujarat carnage gaining in power in the democratic structure of India. Last year, evidence emerged from Tamilnadu about sangh parivar’s front organisation Hindu munnnai indulging in acts of vandalism of its own temples and blasting RSS offices to fix blame on rival religions and movements. This year Malegaon blasts have shown the true colours of saffron clad activists. But the BJP leaders and future prime ministers are openly defending them. What does this mean to the average Muslim Indian who is already plagued by poverty and illiteracy?
And Let us remember, that terrorism in India in the name of Jihad will never come to an end, unless we recognise and punish the terrorists of Babri masjid demolition.
To put it bluntly, the onus of stopping terrorism in India rests with L.K.Advani today. The buck stops there.
Advani must atleast now confess. He must tell the nation that demolition of Babri Masjid was an act of terror by his comrades in arms. He must acknowledge that the Gujarat carnage executed with the support of the chief Minister Narendra Modi and his police force was another act of terror by the sang parivar. He must declare that everyone responsible for killings and arson will be brought before law. He must apologise to the nation for practising the politics of terror in the name of democracy. He must come forward to announce that his party will rebuild the babri Masjid.
Such an act of remorse and self purification by Advani alone will convince the Muslim Indians of this country that the democracy here will never fail them. The majority moderates and peace lovers among Muslim Indians will find the job of convincing the angry and disturbed post- babri masjid- demolition generation that India is theirs.
And this is the only way Indian polity can emulate USA or UK in democratic practice of having a two party system of conservatives and liberals of the right. India has the added advantage of having a powerful pressure group of left.
It is time BJP dropped its religious communal agenda, reformed itself to emerge as the republican party of India. And to achieve this, Advani must apologise to this nation before facing the next elections.
And the electronic channels, I hope are listening, have a job cut out for them. In their resolve to stop terror and to take to task any and every politician abetting terror, they must first appeal to Advani to hand over Modis and Tokadias. Will they?
The author of this article is Gnani, tamil writer, journalist, theatre person, film maker.