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Terrorism in India: Introspect before things go out of hand

Monday April 22, 2013 10:29:46 AM, Seema Sengupta

While watching in disgust the gruesome television footage of the Boston bombing that inflicted mass casualties and deriding those cowards responsible for the needless waste of human life, I realized that there is something more in American psyche than the normal concern for loved ones. An incipient hatred against Islam lay hidden, somewhere deep beneath the rich American cultural edifice which propagated the philosophy of liberalism for centuries.


But, is this paranoia confined to the American society only? I questioned myself over and over again, only to find that nothing but confusion is stewing in my mind. The mad rush to pin down Muslims after every terror attack and castigate them in a manner as if nobody else from other faiths can encourage such dastardly acts is an attribute visible in Indian society too. Hours after the bombings that transformed celebrations into grief in Boston on Patriot’s Day, Bangalore, India’s cyber city was rocked by a low intensity explosion.

The nation and its hyperactive media, on the prowl for breaking stories round the clock, wasted no time in apportioning blame. Indian Mujahideen (IM), a locally bred anti-national force, many of whose members are in the payroll of Indian intelligence, was cherry picked and accused of criminal conspiracy instantaneously. If the Indian state is to approve of the theory of IM hand in Bangalore blast, questions need to be asked about the efficacy of the nation’s intelligence set up. How is it that a radical organization with well entrenched Indian intelligence asset within its top hierarchy and whose founder was successfully eliminated in a targeted mission deep inside Pakistani territory, gets away planting bombs here and there so frequently?


Credible intelligence sources however indicated a much deeper conspiracy, that of a nasty political motive working overtime to polarize the Indian society on the basis of caste, creed and religion prior to the election season. Moreover, an undercurrent of unity prevailing in the political spectrum ensures that none in the investigative system is allowed to peep into the bitter factional feud in the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), whose leaders claim that the bomb in Bangalore was meant for them. How can one ignore the hard reality that influential Hindu terror module members operating on Indian soil and responsible for several high profile terror acts were found to be associated with some sister organizations of the BJP? Is it not intriguing that the major terror attacks with which the IM was linked initially later turned out to be handiwork of those professing the same invidious political ideology BJP propagates? The leadership of the party which used to take pride in calling themselves different from the rest of the hoard might be tempted to refute the facts by labeling them as insidious rumors. Perhaps, it is time for the BJP in particular and the political class in India as a whole to do some honest introspection before things go out of hand completely.

Exploiting the sensitivity of a pluralistic society endlessly for electoral mileage will at the end of the day create irreparable fissures within India’s unique multicultural democratic fabric and weaken the plinth of this behemoth which has become a model for the world. Let us for heaven’s sake not typify Indian Muslims and force upon them a strong sense of guilt for abiding by a religious belief that in no way condone violence perpetrated against innocent civilians.


Unlike their American counterparts, Muslims in India are yet to face that xenophobic retribution but they have started experiencing a subtle wave of religious intolerance whereby their community is being looked upon with suspicion every time a bomb blows up somewhere in the country. Aping the features of American anti-terror policy selectively will only stimulate the modus operandi of branding an entire community and tarnishing the religious belief it adheres to. It will be a disaster for India and the government will do well to keep itself away from aligning with American vengeance as Washington’s favorite justice delivery tools include torture, targeted killing, indiscriminate armed drone strikes and the black hole of Guantanamo Bay.

Going by conservative figures, US has so far taken 30 Muslim lives for every American lost. None of these instruments will help serve New Delhi’s purpose of reining in the multiple terror outfits operating in the region considering the fact that India does not enjoy America’s locational advantage. Additionally, India is home to 11 per cent of the global Muslim population, which is the second largest after Indonesia. Since hate could instantly devolve into violence, any racially directed anger needs to be contained by vigorously espousing the cause of secularism that this nation has preached over the years. The media has a gigantic role in helping the society achieve a minimalist agenda of decent human existence. Unfortunately, a sizable section of the Indian press ends up demonizing Muslims after deviating from course.

The Indian government it seems have also been swayed by the prejudice as the prime minister failed to mourn the loss of 55 precious lives from serial car bomb explosions in Iraq which coincided with the demise of three sporting enthusiasts in Boston even though he made it a point to express solidarity with President Barack Obama. May be, the Indian foreign office is resigned to the fact that Iraq is the kind of place where we can expect nothing apart from violence. On the other hand being in Washington’s good book attracts a lot of incentives — political, economic and strategic — even if it means buttressing the American way of delivering the full weight of justice.

Seema Sengupta is a Kolkata-based journalist and columnist.

The above article was first published by Saudia Arabia's leading English daily Arab News on April, 22, 2013.






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