Monday, December 22, 2008


by Anand Patwardhan

this got rejected by times of india and hindustan times has sat on it
for 9 days. if u find it useful, do circulate. best, anand


Terror: The Aftermath

The attack on Mumbai is over. After the numbing sorrow comes the blame
game and the solutions. Loud voices amplified by saturation TV: Why
don't we amend our Constitution to create new anti-terror laws? Why
don't we arm our police with AK 47s? Why don't we do what Israel did
after Munich or the USA did after 9/11 and hot pursue the enemy?
Solutions that will lead us further into the abyss. For terror is a
self-fulfilling prophecy. It thrives on reaction, polarization,
militarization and the thirst for revenge.

The External Terror

Those who invoke America need only to analyze if its actions after
9/11 increased or decreased global terror. It invaded oil-rich Iraq
fully knowing that Iraq had nothing to do with 9/11, killing over
200,000 Iraqis citizens but allowing a cornered Bin Laden to escape
from Afghanistan. It recruited global support for Islamic militancy,
which began to be seen as a just resistance against American mass
murder. Which begs the question of who created Bin Laden in the first
place, armed the madarsas of Pakistan and rejuvenated the concept of
Islamic jehad? Israel played its own role in stoking the fires of
jehad. The very creation of Israel in 1948 robbed Palestinians of
their land, an act that Mahatma Gandhi to his credit deplored at the
time as an unjust way to redress the wrongs done to Jews during the
Holocaust. What followed has been a slow and continuing attack on the
Palestinian nation. At first Palestinian resistance was led by secular
forces represented by Yasser Arafat but as these were successfully
undermined, Islamic forces took over the mantle. The first, largely
non-violent Intifada was crushed, a second more violent one replaced
it and when all else failed, human bombs appeared.

Thirty years ago when I first went abroad there were two countries my
Indian passport forbade me to visit. One was racist South Africa. The
other was Israel. We were non-aligned and stood for disarmament and
world peace. Today Israel and America are our biggest military allies.
Is it surprising that we are on the jehadi hit list? Israel, America
and other prosperous countries can to an extent protect themselves
against the determined jehadi, but can India put an impenetrable
shield over itself? Remember that when attackers are on a suicide
mission, the strongest shields have crumbled. New York was laid low
not with nuclear weapons but with a pair of box cutters. India is for
many reasons a quintessentially soft target. Our huge population, vast
landmass and coastline are impossible to protect. The rich may build
new barricades. The Taj and the Oberoi can be made safer. So can our
airports and planes. Can our railway stations and trains, bus stops,
busses, markets and lanes do the same?

The Terror Within

The threat of terror in India does not come exclusively from the
outside. Apart from being hugely populated by the poor India is also a
country divided, not just between rich and poor, but by religion,
caste and language. This internal divide is as potent a breeding
ground for terror as jehadi camps abroad. Nor is jehad the copyright
of one religion alone. It can be argued that international causes
apart, India has jehadis that are fully home grown. Perhaps the
earliest famous one was Nathuram Godse who acting at the behest of his
mentor Vinayak Savarkar (still referred to as "Veer" or "brave"
although he refused to own up to his role in the conspiracy), murdered
Mahatma Gandhi for the crime of championing Muslims.

Jump forward to 6th December, 1992, the day Hindu fanatics demolished
the Babri Mosque setting into motion a chain of events that still
wreaks havoc today. From the Bombay riots of 1992 to the bomb blasts
of 1993, the Gujarat pogroms of 2002 and hundreds of smaller deadly
events, the last 16 years have been the bloodiest since Partition.
Action has been followed by reaction in an endless cycle of escalating
retribution. At the core on the Hindu side of terror are organizations
that openly admire Adolph Hitler, nursing the hate of historic wrongs
inflicted by Muslims. Ironically these votaries of Hitler remain
friends and admirers of Israel.

On the Muslim side of terror are scores of disaffected youth, many of
whom have seen their families tortured and killed in more recent
pogroms. Christians too have fallen victim to recent Hindutva terror
but as yet not formed the mechanisms for revenge. Dalits despite
centuries of caste oppression, have not yet retaliated in violence
although a small fraction is being drawn into an armed struggle waged
by Naxalites.

It is clear that no amount of spending on defense, no amount of
patrolling the high seas, no amount of increasing the military and
police and equipping them with the latest weaponry can end the cycle
of violence or place India under a bubble of safety. Just as nuclear
India did not lead to more safety, but only to a nuclear Pakistan, no
amount of homeland security can save us. And inviting Israel's Mossad
and America's CIA/FBI to the security table is like giving the
anti-virus contract to those who spread the virus in the first place.
It can only make us more of a target for the next determined jehadi

Policing, Justice and the Media

As for draconian anti-terror laws, they too only breed terror as for
the most part they are implemented by a State machinery that has
imbibed majoritarian values. So in Modi's Gujarat after the ethnic
cleansing of Muslims in 2002, despite scores of confessions to rape
and murder captured on hidden camera, virtually no Hindu extremists
were punished while thousands of Muslims rotted in jail under
draconian laws. The same happened in Bombay despite the Shiv Sena
being found guilty by the Justice Shrikrishna Commission. Under
pressure a few cases were finally brought to trial but all escaped
with the lightest of knuckle raps. In stark contrast many Muslims
accused in the 1993 bomb blasts were given death sentences.

The bulk of our media, policing and judicial systems swallows the
canard that Muslims are by nature violent. Removing democratic
safeguards guaranteed by the Constitution can only make this worse.
Every act of wrongful imprisonment and torture that then follows is
likely to turn innocents into material for future terrorists to draw
upon. Already the double standards are visible. While the Students
Islamic Movement of India is banned, Hindutva outfits like the RSS,
the VHP, the Bajrang Dal, and the Shiv Sena remain legal entities. The
leader of the MNS, Raj Thackeray recently openly spread such hatred
that several north Indians were killed by lynch mobs. Amongst these
were the Dube brothers, doctors from Kalyan who treated the poor for a
grand fee of Rs.10 per patient. Raj Thackeray like his uncle Bal
before him, remains free after issuing public threats that Bombay
would burn if anyone had the guts to arrest him. Modi remains free
despite the pogroms of Gujarat. Congress party murderers of Sikhs in
1984 remain free. Justice in India is clearly not there for all.
Increasing the powers of the police cannot solve this problem. Only
honest and unbiased implementation of laws that exist, can.

It is a tragedy of the highest proportions that one such honest
policeman, Anti-Terrorist Squad chief Hemant Karkare, who had begun to
unravel the thread of Hindutva terror was himself gunned down, perhaps
by Muslim terror. It is reported that Col. Purohit and fellow Hindutva
conspirators now in judicial custody, celebrated the news of Karkare's
death. Until Karkare took charge, the Malegaon bomb blasts in which
Muslims were killed and the Samjhauta Express blasts in which
Pakistani visitors to India were killed were being blamed on Muslims.
Karkare exposed a hitherto unknown Hindutva outfit as masterminding a
series of killer blasts across the country. For his pains Karkare came
under vicious attack not just from militant Hindutva but from the
mainstream BJP. He was under tremendous pressure to prove his
patriotism. Was it this that led this senior officer to don helmet and
ill-fitting bullet proof vest and rush into battle with a pistol? Or
was it just his natural instinct, the same courage that had led him
against all odds, to expose Hindutva terror?

Whatever it was, it only underlines the fact that jehadis of all kinds
are actually allies of each other. So Bin Laden served George Bush and
vice-versa. So Islamic and Hindutva jehadis have served each other for
years. Do they care who dies? Of the 200 people killed in the last few
days by Islamic jehadis, a high number were Muslims. Many were waiting
to board trains to celebrate Eid in their hometowns in UP and Bihar,
when their co-religionists gunned them down. Shockingly the media has
not commented on this, nor focused on the tragedy at the railway
station, choosing to concentrate on tragedies that befell the
well-to-do. And it is the media that is leading the charge to turn us
into a war-mongering police state where we may lead lives with an
illusion of safety, but with the certainty of joylessness.

I am not arguing that we do not need efficient security at public
places and at vulnerable sites. But real security will only come when
it is accompanied by real justice, when the principles of democracy
are implemented in every part of the country, when the legitimate
grievances of people are not crushed, when the arms race is replaced
by a race for decency and humanity, when our children grow up in an
atmosphere where religious faith is put to the test of reason. Until
such time we will remain at the mercy of "patriots" and zealots.

Anand Patwardhan
November 2008

source url : http://www.openspac MumbaiAnandPatwa rdhan

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