What a global image! ?To be pitied rather than admired?
By R. Balashankar
The irony cannot have been more grotesque. On October 29, Saturday night within a few hours after scores of innocent citizens who went shopping in Paharganj and Sarojini Nagar on Deepavali eve were killed and hundreds injured in serial terrorist blasts, the Government of India was negotiating in Islamabad to open five LoC points in Kashmir. Any sensible government would have suspended the talks. For, Pakistan is the country that harbours these faceless enemies who committed the heinous crime. They have inflicted on India a deliberate injury. Such acts are not forgotten or forgiven.
But, the first response of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh after the Delhi blasts was that these attacks will not be allowed to undermine the peace process with Pakistan. And the usual refrain, the terrorists are desperate; they want to derail the peace initiatives; they have no religion.
The UPA government is a sham. It is fast becoming a national shame. No other Prime Minister worth the oath he took on assuming office could be so pusillanimous as Manmohan Singh when faced with such a targeted attack on crowded shopping centres in the national capital on a festival eve.
The entire effort of the official machinery after the Delhi blasts was to convince the nation that nothing much has really happened. And that we are not bothered about the wanton provocation.
Contrast this with the response of British Prime Minister Tony Blair after the London blasts on July 7, and American President George Bush after 9/11. Blair declared to his countrymen that he would not rest until his government systematically got to the bottom of the entire episode and dug out the origins, methodology and purpose of the perpetrators. Bush had declared that he would fight to the finish the terror in all its manifestations in any part of the globe. But the UPA government is too indulgent to the divisive segments to make such declarations.
This level of steely determination is needed to reassert the country? resilience. But this Prime Minister is weak, soft and indecisive. He has to consult all the time before taking any decision. The macabre national tragedy on Deepavali eve was hardly the time to assure the patrons of terror factory across the border that the country is not concerned. The entire effort of the official machinery after the Delhi blasts was to convince the nation that nothing much has really happened. And that we are not bothered about the wanton provocation. Perhaps we have got so used to this that it no more stirs our conscience. ?Life as usual, business as usual, shoppers crowding the very same market places within 12 hours of the gruesome incident??this was the official line. These were not helpful to create a national resolve to fight terror. This rather is a crude joke on the innocent victims. This only exposes the inertness of a woolly-headed political establishment, which is out of sync with national sentiments. The terrorists have gone too far. They have penetrated deep into our system. In the aftermath of the blasts, there were many articles that compared the Indian response with that of the UK, the US and Israel in such situations. The common strain of opinion of all these was that India is becoming a soft state under the UPA. The UPA government'sfirst act after assuming the office was to repeal POTA to reassure the terrorists. It was one of their poll promises. There is no effective legal framework to fight terror and the UPA claimed that POTA was being opposed by certain sections of the society, which had serious misgivings. This shows the dual face of terrorism in India. A minority public opinion creating a political atmosphere to make it convenient for the more fanatic elements to perpetuate terror to maim and silence the majority. The culprits often get away. They bleed the country, arrest its progress. It is this kind of political compromise that perhaps made Special Judge O.P. Saini, who delivered the Red Fort terror attack verdict, to note: ?People are being killed with impunity and people proudly claim responsibility. This needs to be curbed with a heavy hand.? The just-retired Chief Justice of India Justice R. C. Lahoti was more specific, ?There is no political will to fight terrorism.? Referring to the US, where no terrorist attack had taken place after 9/11 and Britain where there has been no bombings after the July incidents, he said, ?In our country, everyday dastardly acts of terrorism take place. Has anyone gone into the question??
The political leadership in India has largely ignored the public opinion. The man on the street is agitated, concerned and worried. A talk with any section indicates that the UPA'srelentless pursuit of ?peace? with Pakistan, at the cost of the nation'shonour and security, has made people angry. The government of India gave the impression of going on its bended knee to Pakistan to send aid to its quake victims. (See box)
With equal emphasis K.P.S. Gill, who successfully finished terrorism in Punjab, wrote, ?At the height of terrorism in Punjab, most political parties in the state were embracing groups of terrorists and this continues to be the case in theatres of terrorism across India. The tendency to make peace with terrorists and damn the people is rife among our leaders.? (The Indian Express, November 1, 2005).
No other government in India had this kind of terrorist friendly image. Despite the October 8 earthquake, the killings in the Kashmir Valley continued unabated. The Delhi bombings are not isolated incidents. However, two days later, when Manmohan Singh informed Musharraf about the external links to Delhi blasts, the latter'sresponse was to demand proof of such links so that he can help. He was so casual that his response sounded like a carbon copy of the routine statement that Pakistan was always issuing after every such incident anywhere in the world. For the General, October 29 was just another milestone in India'slong journey through terror.
Remember Musharraf had asked for proof on an earlier occasion when the NDA government passed on a list of 25 wanted criminals ensconced in Pakistan. Then Musharraf had claimed that there was no Indian in Pakistan. However, Musharraf who was not even in talking terms with the Indian Prime Minister only four years ago at the SAARC summit in Kathmandu is now playing a cat-and-mouse game with India.
Manmohan Singh is sincere, I can do business with him, said the General. He is in a hurry to settle Kashmir. He repeatedly talks of his desire to make LoC irrelevant but when India offered unconditional help for the quake victims across the LoC, Pakistan had taken the position that Indian aid was not exactly welcome. Pakistan was asking for aid from all other countries but the first Indian Air Force plane carrying aid was turned back and made to wait for 48 hours before it was given permission to cross the LoC. Similarly, when India suggested to set up relief camps along the LoC, the initial Pakistani response was negative. A day later, Musharraf offered cross-border relief operations. India wanted to open relief camps at three points along the LoC. Then Pakistan responded saying the modalities had to be worked out. India had to wait for another five days. Then Pakistan wanted relief camps at five points and this too was agreed upon by India on that fateful Saturday night.
Perhaps the Pakistan establishment believes that the UPA is under tremendous pressure to make peace with it. And that Manmohan Singh, who has no political mandate and hence not accountable to anybody other than the remote, is desperate. In fact, this seems to be the view about the Indian Prime Minister across the globe. Or else, in a different context could The Economist (October 29, 2005) write: ?It is not fair to blame Mr. Singh for all of this though he might have tried harder. He is in office but not in power. Although he is prime minister, it is Sonia Gandhi, the president of the Congress party, who takes the big decisions? The fate of Mr. Singh increasingly these days [is] seen as someone to be pitied rather than admired??
It is pitiable indeed?for eight months he has been toying with the idea of a cabinet reshuffle but he has no clearance. The left parties don'teven bother to address their problems to him. They deal directly through the Congress chief. Left is accused of acting as Soviet stooges in the Mitrokhin book, his external affairs minister is accused of being involved in the surreptitious oil deal with Iraq in the UN report. But Dr. Singh says he does not have sufficient proof. He has a Jaiprakash Yadav as minister, who is facing non-bailable arrest warrant. He has Lalu with him, the RJD brand of notorious politicians, all accused in various criminal charges?from rape to murder. If all these are not shameful, what else can make one ashamed?
Swayamsevaks donate blood for blast victims
RSS, Delhi Prant, organised a blood donation camp in Delhi on October 30 after the bomb blasts. The blood donation camp was organised in Sarojini Nagar in association with the Sarojini Nagar Welfare Association. A total of 54 Swayamsevaks including their family members donated blood for the blast victims. The registration for donating blood had to be stopped at 150 when the doctors from AIIMS said they did not require more than 50 units. Swayamsevaks in Paharganj swung into action immediately after the blasts. Shri Yogesh Kathuria, Nagar Sampark Pramukh, and another Swayamsevak Shri Sunni, took about a dozen of the injured to the hospital and also helped with taking the dead bodies. Six other Swayamsevaks also donated blood in the Lady Harding Hospital when they were contacted by the family members of the victims. A control room was set up in the Jhandewala Sangh Karyalaya. The blood donation camp was followed by a condolence meeting in Sarojini Nagar in which vice president of VHP Acharya Giriraj Kishore and central secretary Shri Baikunth Lal Sharma ?Prem? were present.
Delhi Prant Sanghachalak Shri Satyanarayan Bansal has condemned the serial blast on the eve of Deepavali and termed the jehadi mentality responsible for the blasts. Shri Bansal said the Sangh Swayamsevaks visited the families of the victims to offer condolence and help.
Outrage, anger and anguish
From Anil Nair in Mumbai
The Manmohan Singh government might be putting its spin to test and might even find itself in a bind but what the people feel about last week'sserial bombings in Delhi is that of anger, humiliation and revenge. Most people Organiser talked to in Mumbai were aghast by the pusillanimity of the government to even talk tough with Pakistan when even the Union cabinet meeting discussed the issue of Pakistan'scomplicity in the bombings. ?This Prime Minister seems to be too soft spoken to deal with the rogues in our neighbourhood?, a student of Mithibai college in western Mumbai suburbs felt. Reminding General Musharraf about Pakistan'scommitment to war against terror ?is akin to telling a rapist the virtue of abstinence?, his friend added for good measure. The reaction amongst the youth in Mumbai reflects the anguish over what has come to be known as our inability to counter the brute terrorism emanating from Pakistan and India'sunreciprocated pursuit of peace.
The front-page photograph in the Indian Express of two teenage kids? grief at the cremation of their parents who died in the bomb blasts tells the world why it is necessary for India to make it abundantly clear to Pakistan that India can also show its might. ?After every such bomb blast the Indian government is seen trying to play down the event as if we want peace at the cost of our security and self-esteem?, an officer at Tata Power said while chatting with this correspondent in a local train. Why doesn'tit occur to our government that peace in the region is Pakistan'sresponsibility as the terror camps operate from that country? he argued. Which essentially means peace in the region is more important for Pakistan as the world is convinced about Pakistan'srole in global terror network. Even the United Nations issued a strong statement for all countries to co-operate with India in its fight against terrorism.
What people find it hard to believe is a reported statement by External Affairs Minister Natwar Singh that India'srelations with Iran have to be based on the opinion of the Muslim minority in India. Needless to say that logic also extends to relations with rogue states like Pakistan. Then how do you expect the UPA government to even match the temerity and insolence of the Pakistan president?
In a SMS poll conducted by the Times of India 60 per cent of the 876 people who took part said the peace talks with Pakistan should be discontinued. The sample of the poll may be small to reveal a national trend but random interviews with people on the street reflect their pent-up feeling after having been targeted by the jihadis for too long.
But the most humiliating of all our diplomatic moves, according to our respondents, has been the rejection of our earthquake relief material and assistance sent to Pakistan. Not once but twice. It looked as if Indian relief material for Pakistanis devastated in the earthquake was more important than meeting the needs of our own people in Kashmir. President Musharraf said he will accept Indian helicopters without pilots! Our relief material had Indian and Afghan flags which Pakistanis found unacceptable and that was cause enough for rejection. Ludicrous it might seem, but it is true. Just like Union Home Minister Shivraj Patil telling the press after the bomb blasts, ?I can only say it is not an accident?. What a revelation!