Time to act firmly against terrorism
Pakistan is the source
By Lt Gen K.K. Nanda (Retd.)
On October 29, 2005, terror returned to Delhi with three bomb blasts. The explosions marked the worst-ever terror attack in the Capital and were a chilling reminder of the 1993 serial blasts in Mumbai. This was to send a clear message to India that terrorism is not just confined to Kashmir and Lashkar-e-Toiba (LeT) is capable of inflicting such attacks in the rest of India including its Capital, Delhi.
Security agencies in Delhi had a specific tip-off that LeT members were out there to avenge the likely conviction of their comrades in the Red Fort shoot-out case and yet the terrorists were successful in carrying out the serial blasts. If the Delhi Police had cordoned off various markets and other important areas and taken other precautions, things would have been different. Either the blasts would not have taken place before Diwali or impact would have been much less. Unfortunately, we seem to be only reacting every time. It is high time we changed this mindset and became pro-active.
In Delhi everyone is familiar with the terror trails. On January 6, 2000, over 20 people were injured in an explosion at the Old Delhi Railway Station. Later on December 22, two Jawans and a civilian were killed in an attack at the Red Fort. Again on May 9, 2001, two bombs exploded near Sena Bhawan. In the blasts at the Liberty cinema and Satyam Multiplex on May 22, 2005, one man died and 40 others were injured. This happened just five months back and there was no earthly reason for the government and politicians to think that it would not happen again during the festival season this year. Without making much noise or declaring a red alert, etc., if all concerned had taken the necessary precautions and done what they undertook to do on October 30, 2005 after the blasts, Delhi would have been spared the fate of going through these blasts. In fact it should, in future, be a standing operating procedure (SOP) to take the necessary precautions before all-important festivals. The next attack could be during the New Year eve celebrations on December 31, 2005. If everyone ensures that the above SOP is in place, the terrorists would be deterred and may not find it worthwhile to go through their planned attacks.
If all concerned had taken the necessary precautions and done what they undertook to do on October 30, 2005 after the blasts, Delhi would have been spared the fate of going through these blasts.
In there is no doubt in anybody'smind, including the Central government, that the LeT and other terrorist groups are involved in such attacks. They all are based in Pakistan or POK and have full backing of Islamabad through its ISI. Indian government must send out a ?hard-hitting and unambiguous message? to Pakistan that such outrages will not be accepted in the future. If they still persist, we must have our responses ready and have the guts to implement the same. We need to shed our so-called, civilised behaviour and go for the terrorists within the country and their backers abroad. Under the present circumstances civilised behaviour would demand taking serious actions against those who perpetrate such actions of terror. We all owe this to those who lost their lives in the serial blasts on October 29 and if there is any lack of will on the part of the government, we all must get together and force it to act.
The Times of India in its issue of October 31 talked of ?involving citizens to combat terror? and then goes on to talk about ?fast response groups? in different parts of a city as in the US. It says: ?Such a group?an assemblage of blood donors, transporters, doctors and community leaders?is expected to spring into action immediately after an untoward incident takes place.? It is fine for them to act after the damage has been done! The effort should be to ensure that such terrorist acts are pre-empted and in my view the civilian population can also help in a big way. Before any terrorist attack, the people who are earmarked to undertake such acts will have to spend many days if not weeks in collecting the required intelligence and undertaking reconnaissance of the likely areas. This would involve their staying at some place, moving around in hired or otherwise acquired transport and contacting some people for finding out necessary information. For all these activities, they will need money, make calls on their mobiles to inform their bosses or get further directions and coordinate with other groups operating in the same area. All such activities will expose the terrorists in one manner or the other and bring them in contact with many civilians. If the State and the police lay down some guidelines and provide some resources to those who either report some untoward incidents or are earmarked to keep an eye on some people by the authorities concerned, it will go a long way to help. It is not possible to discuss these aspects in more detail here, for want of space, but it would suffice to say that if everyone remains alert in the city street, they will be in a position to pass on a fair amount of information to the police, etc., which would certainly help in pre-empting some of the terrorist activities.
We are indeed a soft state and our government at the Centre finds it very hard to take hard decisions. The terror in Delhi darkened the Diwali eve festivities and yet the response of our leaders have been fairly muted. I would recommend that our leaders express their outrage and show their determination in the face of the dreaded attacks in a similar fashion as the British Prime Minister, Tony Blair expressed after the 7/7 terrorist attacks in London. He said: ?When they try to intimidate us, we will not be intimidated. When they seek to change our country or our way of life by these methods, we shall not be changed. When they try to divide our people or weaken our people or weaken our resolve, we will not be divided and our resolve will hold firm.? He also said that he would go the whole hog for the terrorists and eliminate them every time they appear.
India has been fighting a proxy war in Kashmir since 1989 and has suffered many other terrorist attacks in other parts of the country and by now would have clinching evidence of Pakistan'scomplicity. New Delhi, therefore, must make a case against the unholy nexus of Pakistan'smilitary, ISI and terrorist organisations who kill and maim our people. Pakistan should also be warned in no uncertain terms to stop backing the terrorists. They should call off the ongoing peace process immediately. It is high time the Indian government stopped soft-pedalling the issue of terrorism and militancy.