Thursday, December 4, 2008

Are the rcenent terrorist attacks different from the Punjab Insurgency or the 70s' Naxal Movement in Bengal?

by Debashish Sarkar

There are major differences between the elements behind the Mumbai attacks and the Naxalites, or for that matter the Sikh problem of the 80s. (1) The problems associated with the naxalites and the Sikhs were primarily internal problems local to certain areas of the country. This one has international roots. And, in some form, claims to speak on behalf of a religion that has the second largest number of world followers. (2) The earlier problems had some form of agenda, or grievance. With this one it is not clear what these people want except to create pandemonium. (3) The people associated with the Sikh or the Naxal movements were not so demented to be willing to give up their lives in spectacular ways for some quirky ideological cause and in the process take innocent civilians with them. Even seasoned guerrillas do not do so. These terrorist outfits, led by some extremely smart well educated leaders, will stoop to anything.

9/11 taught the world several things. Perhaps most importantly it taught that unilateral attacks are useless. You need a backing of allies in todays world. If India plans on attacking a rogue state like Pakistan verbally or by using the military, it will not just need allies supporting its plan, but assisting in the attacks as well, however justified the attacks may be. Also, it showed that targeting groups of people, or profiling them, is a pointless exercise. It is simply impossible to do so in a nationwide sense. In America, the hawkish group that rose to prominence after 9/11 have all gone --- Rumsfeld, Ashcroft, Wolfowitz, Bush, Rove and the list goes on and on.

With these terror outfits, we are dealing with perhaps the most significant threat to world peace, if there is any. An emotional passionate response will be woefully inadequate here. In most cases this kind of response will backfire. What is required here is deliberation, thinking, reading and engaging in a dialogue wherever possible that has more questions than answers to even begin chipping at the problem. And that begins not at the Government level, where I am sure the best minds are at work, but with citizens across the world like us.

1 comment:

Sudipto Das said...

Thanks for the article. Yes, discussions and debates are the
most important thing now so at least people feel the compulsion to come out and vote. At least we can make sure that we don't elect a rogue, even though we might not have much options with almost all contestants being crap. Still, if all the citizens are little more responsible we should be able to elimiate at least a few of the rogues.

Your points are very valid, though I'd contradict in some cases.

I don't agree that the problem of terrorism now is different from anything in the past. All acts of terrorism always have some strong ideology and are driven by the urge of avenging some human rights violation. That's why a terrorist is also somenone's martyr. We used to call them Swadeshis before independence. Khudiram killed an innocent English woman and has become a folk legend. Innumerable Indian poor police men were brutally murdered in the name of raising funds for Swadeshi movement by people like Surya Sen. Aurobindo Ghosh used to the master of making bombs used in such operations. Innocent policemen (all Indians) were burnt alive in Chauri Chaura, which compelled Mahatma Gandhi to call off the Non Cooperation
Movement abruptly. All these were no different from present acts of
terrorism. The armed Swadeshis were more dedicated because they didn't
kill innocent people just for money. But most of the terrorists now-a-days do a killing just for money. The leaders, who actually are driven by the ideologies never die. So I'd say it's much easier to contain the final killers now-a-days because they do it just for as less as 1 lakh Pakistani Rupees and don't share much of the ideology. I understand that containing the key persons might not be easy because they are better equipped than the terrorists of the past. But at least these petty killers can be always terrified the same way as was done in case of the Naxal or Punjab Movement.

Whether you accept or not, there was not a single act of terrorism in US soil after 9/11. Neither do you hear of any act of terrorism in Israeli soil. That's because they have terrified people to such extent that any killer would think million times even if he is paid heftily. Putting forward a very tough image does help.

Yes, I do accept that India has to take the cooperation of other countries to launch any strike, be it within or outside India. But the point is that, there has to be some tough and stringent action taken now.

Pakistan has denied even the fact that the terrorist caught alive is a Pakistani. There are news that several army and intelligence people had landed up in Faridkot, the place where the terrorist belong. It's not hard to eliminate all evidences of the existence of a person if they want. They don't even accept that Dawood resides in Karachi despite the fact that his
daughter got married to Miandad's son. Under this circumstance do you
think there's any point in just discussions?