It has happened,
and it goes on happening,
and will happen again.
These were opening lines of my book, My Frozen Turbulence in Kashmir, published in 1990-91. I had penned them because I had come to the conclusion that India had acquired political and administrative ethos which were terrorism-conducive and not terrorism-repelling. The state had become too soft and its institutions too soulless. Disruption and demagogy had penetrated too deep into the texture of its democracy. And narrow ends of personal and political power had attained total ascendancy.
Amidst these environment, I was left with no doubt in my mind, terrorism-related incidents would continue, be they in the form of kidnapping of Union Home Minister'sdaughter, Dr Rubaiya Sayeed, as it happened at Srinagar in December 1989, or in the form of bomb-blasts that subsequently occurred in the administrative capital of India, Delhi; financial capital, Mumbai; and technological capital, Bangalore. And if any further confirmation of my propoition was needed, the same was provided, on March 7, by the terrorist attack on Varanasi, the spiritual capital of the country, ?where the Trinity?the Ganges, Siva and Kashi?have ever been watchful?.
Having seen the past through the spectacle of history, I knew that no one could escape the tragic consequences of being blind to the negative forces that determined the mind and motivation of those who held the levers of power-structure of the state in their hands.
Contrast the terrorism related situation in India with that arising from the ?pro-democracy movement? centred around Tiananmen Square, in China. Once the Chinese state came to believe that what was happening would imperil the stability of the country, cause large scale public disorder and divert the attention and resources of the nation from development to internal conflicts, which could be further fanned by external forces, it moved, with great clarity and vision, keeping at bay the cacophony of the human-rights bodies and arm-chairs intellectuals and hand ringers. After a few days, China was wholly out of the woods. Today, it is a powerful and peaceful state, attaining unprecedented pace in economic development, earning applause and prestige all around the world. On the other hand, India remains engulfed not only in bloody terrorism but also in a number of its internal and external fall-outs. The inherent disinclination of the state and its governing machinery to take the bull by the horn and adopt a strong, sustained and focused approach, has cost the nation dearly.
What I am commending here, I must clarify, is not the Chinese methodology of dealing with the problem but the clarity and consistency of its approach and the overwhelming importance it accords to the need for maintaining national integrity and stability. Incidentally, even if figures of fatal casualties of demonstrators at Tiananmen Square, between 1000 and 5000, as given by Europa World Year Book, are accepted, they look insignificant when compared to about 100,000 killings that have occurred in India in the wake of terrorism that has been menacing the country since 1980s.
In fact, terrorism has been with us in one form or the other for the last five decades or so. Soon after our independence, Telangana became ?red hot?, and insurgency started showing its bloody fangs in the north-east. The Naxalite's?spring thunder? over West Bengal and Bihar was not far behind. In the late sixties, the horizon of these two states remained clouded by those who sought power through the ?barrel of the gun?. Assam, Punjab and Kashmir had also their long dates with one of the most savage and ruthless forms of terrorism. Its bullets and bombs consumed two of our Prime Ministers, a Chief Minister and a retired Chief of Army Staff. Even those leaders who were not occupying any position in the government, like Sant Harchand Singh Longowal were not spared. In Kashmir, about 44,000 persons fell victims to terrorism. A number of eminent leaders of Pandit community were gunned down in broad-day light. A dreadful atmosphere was created, forcing virtually the entire community to flee the Valley. Even Charar-e-Sharief, the famous 550-year old Dargah of Kashmir'spatron-saint, Sheikh Nuruddin Noorani, was burnt down. The Kashmir Legislative Assembly and the Indian Parliament, too were attacked. In the meanwhile, about 40 per cent of the geographical area, involving about 200 districts in 13 states, came to be menaced by Naxal-terrorism. On account of this brand of terrorism, 892 persons lost their lives in 2005.
Despite the spread of terrorism, in different hues and colours, over a large part of the country and also over a long span of time, the Bourbons of the political establishment are refusing to rise above petty considerations of politics and power. On the other hand, negative and nihilist forces are getting stronger. The recent happenings in connection with Danish cartoons issue provide a striking example of the extent to which exploitative attitudes could be adopted to secure petty political gains. The adverse effect of fanning the forces of fanaticism and fundamentalism were totally ignored. Similarly, those political elements who resorted to bellicosity in the wake of Varanasi bomb-blasts showed little understanding of the overriding need to move towards a national consensus and put up a united front against the forces of disruption.
It should be clear to all of us that for too long the nation has been bled by the terrorists; for too long the Indian state has exposed its soft under-belly to the saboteurs; for too long political parties have resorted to petty manipulation; and for too long the overall ethos of governance have been allowed to deteriorate.
It is the time that the leadership of the political parties scans the past with seriousness and sensitivity that is required, draws right kind of lessons from it and works out a unified strategy to reorient country'spolity, to revitalise its institutions, to invest its democracy with a new meaning and purpose and to combat subversion and terrorism with unwavering determination. Foreign hand is undoubtedly there; but it is our disjointed approach that helps it to extend its reach far and wide.
If correctives to body-politics are not applied immediately, terrorism would continue to bedevil us, and the country would soon be sucked into the cockpit of democratic anarchy, notwithstanding its current encouraging rate of economic growth, its strides in science and technology, its high status as a knowledge power and its recent nuclear deal with United States.
(The writer is former Governor of J&K and a former Union Minister.)