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July 31, 2011

Page: 4/44

Home > 2011 Issues > July 31, 2011

Lessons from Mumbai

By Arun Jaitley

The three serial blasts in Mumbai are a grim reminder to the Indian people that we are extremely high on the terrorists’ radar. We cannot afford to lower our guard nor take any satisfaction in reeling out statistics that Mumbai has been attacked by terrorists after a gap of thirty one months. Why is it that Mumbai is repeatedly chosen as a target of terrorist attacks? The reason is obvious. An attack on Mumbai hurts Indian economy.

It is globally highlighted. It stands in a chain of a large number of major attacks starting from the 1993 serial blasts, the train blasts and the attack on 26/11 amongst the major ones. The spirit of Mumbai is entrepreneurship. The spirit of Mumbai is pluralism, it is resilience. But the spirit of Mumbai cannot be soft towards terror. The spirit of Mumbai cannot be to suffer an attack and wait for the next one. These repeated attacks on Mumbai must necessarily convince the whole of India that we need a system ranging from intelligence, prevention and punishment where it is not possible to attack any place in India. If somebody succeeds in still attacking India thorough terror, we should ensure that he pays a heavy price. No body has dared to attack USA after 9/11 even once. Let this be the spirit of Mumbai that this will be the last attack.

India lives with a traumatic neighbourhood. Even though facts relating to the latest attack are still being investigated and it is only fair that one reaches no final conclusion. However, there appears to be little doubt that organisations like the LeT and JuD were created and inspired from across the border. They were intended to destabilise parts of India. The voluminous evidence available both in Kasab’s trial in Mumbai and in the Chicago trial conclusively establish this. Our neighbour on the western border has used terrorism as an instrument of State policy. There is hardly a major global terror attack where a Pakistani connection is not discovered. Pakistan has been correctly described as an epicenter of global terror. The world’s best known terrorist Osama Bin Laden logically could have found refuge only in Pakistan. The Indian Mujahidin was externally created and externally supported in order to pass off as an organisation of domestically home grown insurgents. A large number of attacks in recent years in India have been attributed to the Indian Mujahidin. It was lying low with the arrest of a large number of it’s cadres. It now appears to have regrouped.

How does India react to repeated incidents of terror? Obviously, we must go through the ritual of condemning them. We must mourn the dead and provide relief to the injured. But what kind of signal must the Indian society, particularly those in Government, give against terror.

TADA was brought in by Shri Rajiv Gandhi to investigate terror acts and punish the terrorists. Some States misused it against the farmers but it was not repealed. When it was correctly used against the terrorists responsible for the 1993 serial blasts in Mumbai, a campaign for it’s repeal was launched and TADA was repealed. POTA was repealed on the ground that we did not need a special law against terror. Those who opposed a special law against terror are now seeking to introduce a highly discriminatory special law to deal with communal violence wherein only one community can be punished. When the terrorists found refuge in Batla House, some senior politicians decided to question our security forces who participated in the Batla House encounter. Vote bank politics compelled some to visit the family members of the suspects of Azamgarh to show solidarity with them. One Congress Party politician prefers to visit the families of the accused rather than the victims of a terror attack. It is vote bank and vote bank politics alone which is responsible for delaying punitive action against the conspirator in the Parliament attack. The National Counter Terrorism Centre promised to be created by September 2009 has still not been created. Some mainstream political parties have succeeded in sending a clear political message that you can commit a terror attack and get away. Till such time that National Security considerations are not polluted by vote bank politics we will not be able to make sure that Mumbai Is not attacked again.

Maoist insurgency is yet another challenge to the national security. When the Home Minister attempted to take a strong position against it, his own Party wanted the Central Government to adopt an alternative approach. When Maoists attack India’s democracy you hear rationalisation of why people turn Maoist rather than a condemnation and resolve against them. Has national security ever been on the agenda of those who claim to be the repositories of the Civil Society or the National Advisoy Council? The spirit of Mumbai must lead to a national resolve that all steps, political, administrative and security related must be taken to eliminate terror. The spirit of Mumbai cannot be repeatedly attacked by terror and have no revulsion against it.

Those who favour engagement with Pakistan must necessarily remember that Pakistan today is in a turmoil. It is ostensibly a part of the war against terror. It is also in alliance with those who perpetuate terror. Unless Pakistan decides to become less radical, more transparent, more democratic and a nation de-linking itself from terror the success of any engagement with it would be doubtful. The dividing line between state and non-state players in the context of Pakistan has been obliterated. India’s foreign policy has to retreat the Indo- Pak Joint statement of January 2004 that talks will be conditioned on Pakistan’s territory not having used for terror against India.

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