Poltical Will required to curb terrorism

THE TERRORIST groups have waged a war against India. We have witnessed series of blasts in two cities of the country very recently. Our honourable home minister, Shivraj Patil took time from his busy schedule and went to see the victims in Ahmedabad. Thank you so much sir! Like his previous speeches he repeated the following lines when asked about the attack.

i. We condemn the dastardly attack on innocent people.
ii. We are determined to fight these terror groups and will not bow to their wishes of creating rift in the society.
iii. We appeal to maintain peace and calm.
iv. The government has announced the ex-gratia of Rs X to deceased and Rs Y to the injured.

I have heard these lines many times, but the fact remains that still we haven’t done anything significant to curb the menace of terrorism. Why have we failed to do so? The reasons lie with our politicians who have adopted a soft approach towards the terrorists. Shivraj Patil says that he and his government will not be soft on terror and the same man has made a statement in the Parliament — “The ones who have been killed are our brothers and ones who are killing are also our brothers.”

What indication does he want to give to the common man who has lost his loved one in these brutal attacks. The government is buying time in Afzal Guru case even after the verdict of Supreme Court. Why?

Terrorism

What makes the matter even worse is that we don’t have any law to deal with terror. As it is efficacy of our judicial system is questionable and with no stringent laws to counter terror we are trying to fool ourself only. If PreventionofTerrorismAct (POTA) was misused then the government could have amended it or introduced a new law. Doing away with the law was just stupid. Few leaders in the government say that despite having POTA, we had attacks in Akshardham temple, Raghunath temple, Parliament. They are not wrong, but then this logic should be applied everywhere. We have laws against thefts, rape and murder and yet they take place daily. Shouldn’t we done away with these laws and give culprits the freehand to rape, steal and kill?

Terrorists have no religion and to call them Muslims and dole out concessions under the duress of political equations will keep raising the morale of those walking free in the Indian backyard and indulging in barbaric acts under a notion that the government has only high sounding phrases and to crack the whip against them is not a realistic possibility at all. We have a serious problem with infiltration from the porous border with Bangladesh; and while much of the illegal migration mainly involves financial reasons — it is now established that those with nefarious intentions can cross over into India just as easily.

There is an urgency to understand that we need to overhaul the agencies monitoring the security of our country. India’s police to population ratio is one of the lowest in the world, barring the poorer African countries. There is a high deficit of personnel in intelligence gathering. The IB has barely 3,500 field officers. We need to address these shortcomings. There are over 3,000 posts lying vacant in IB for quite some time and yet we have recruited only 1,200. There is dearth of expertise in our security agencies, forensic department and police.

We do not believe in using science to tackle crime and terrorism, the most effective way worldwide. Investment in forensics would not just help get crucial leads in terror cases, but help solve other ordinary crimes. The people to police ratio in the country is 1:1000 and then we waste 70 per cent of the police to protect the VVVIP’s. If these politicians can’t make us secure then they should give up their Z+ security. The police force for some reason is not getting the priority it deserves.

The policy of appeasement should be done away with. The soft approach is not going to help anyway. People can sympathise with the governmernt if there had been any attempt towards the security of the people. Unfortunately, that hasn’t happened in our country yet. Post 9/11, 7/7, Madrid blasts, there hasn’t been a single instance of a terrorist attack on the countries that were victims of these terror bombings. And here as I look at my country, a proud Indian that I am, I am ashamed to admit that my country can not protect its own citizens in its own land. How long will this continue? We do not have the urgency, we do not have the intent and we do not have concern for our lost countrymen.

The one who entered our territory to kill innocent people should not expect any leniency from the government. Unless we apply bullet for bullet policy, it is impossible to thwart the terrorists. There should be only death punishment for them. As it is we are facing shortage of food in our country, hence, there is no need of keeping these terrorists in prison and feeding them. Identify them and shoot them down without mercy. An eye for eye and a tooth for tooth must be the response of the government to those rejoicing in death and destruction of India. When this policy is applied there will be human rights violation, but we must accept that in the larger interest of the nation.

As a common man I want some action not reaction from my government. The government is answerable to us. If not then it is our duty to revolt and make the government take some action. I just hope these dumb headed politicians do some good for the people and country.

Image Courtesy: freethoughts.org/archives/terrorism.jpg

Ceasefire violation by Pakistan Soldiers on LOC

In yet another violation of ceasefire at the border, fifteen Pakistan soldiers went on to cross the Line of Control and opened fire at the Indian jawaans. One Indian jawaan and four Pakistan soldiers lost their lives in the round of firing.

Fifteen Pakistan soldiers crossed the line of control in the Nowgaon sector of Kupwara district on Monday. This ceasefire violation by the Pakistan soldiers is not the first of its kind with several violations being reported in the past few days. This time, in the exchange of bullets from the armies, one Indian soldier lost his life and there were about three to four casualties from the Pakistan army.

It was on Monday evening, that the group of Pakistan soldiers was moving from an observation post. They went on to cross the Line of Control and demanded from the Indian soldiers that the observation post be vacated. By now the Pakistan soldiers were inside the Indian territory and had opened fire at the Indian soldiers, the Indian soldiers retaliated and firing from both the armies continued for some time before four Pakistan soldiers lost their lives and an Indian jawan Sepoy Mahesh belonging to the 22 Rajput Battalion also lost his life. The body of one Pakistan soldier lies on the Indian soil.

This is not the first time that the Pakistan soldiers have breached the ceasefire and moved on to the Indian Territory. There have been incursions by the Pakistan soldiers on numerous occasions. Even in the past one month there have been at least six times that Pakistan soldiers have crossed the border. Some times there has been firing from the Pakistan side but the Indian soldiers have not retaliated. On the 11th of this month, the Pakistan soldiers had opened fire in the Kishna ghati area of Pooch but the Indian soldiers had not retaliated.

On July the 17th, there were as many as three violations from the Pakistan army. In the first of the Line of Control violations on that day, Pakistan soldiers had fired two rounds of bullets in the air from the Chakwali district. On the same day, there was also firing at the Pona post in Mendhar in which  Indian soldier suffered grave injuries and on the third instance on that day, the Pakistan soldiers went on to fire forty rounds on Peer Post in Rajouri. And just three days back, there was a major ceasefire violation when the Pakistan soldiers had started firing in the morning at the Kishnaghati sector of Jammu and Kashmir. This round of firing was totally uncalled for and the Indian Director- general of military operations had lodged a protest with his Pakistan counterpart but the Pakistan army had retaliated by saying that it was the Indian army that opened fire first.

The string of ceasefire violations have become too frequent for comfort and cases of army infiltration as well crossing of the Line of Control are being reported several times in the past few days. If the serial bomb blasts in Ahmedabad and Bangalore were not enough to keep the Indian Government busy, these ceasefire violations by the Pakistan soldiers will also have to be looked on very seriously by the Indian Army. The Indian soldiers have often not retaliated when there is firing from the other side of the Border, but such rounds of firing have become very common and are now a cause of concern for the Indian Army. The Army representatives from both the sides of the border, will have to discuss these violations at the earliest in order to maintain peace and calm at the border.

The Second Murder

Sometimes, a single event can tell us more about the times we live in than an entire library full of sociological treatises. The Aarushi murder case is one such event. The responses to the case reveal the flaws in the institutions that we depend on: the police, the government, the media and the great Indian middle class itself.

But, first, let’s clear up one thing: I’m not a detective and neither are you. One of the problems with the way in which we have approached this case is that we’ve all spent too long trying to solve the mystery of who the killer was. That’s a legitimate goal, but not one that we, in our living rooms or our OB vans, are qualified to pursue. Perhaps her father killed her; perhaps he didn’t. I don’t know. And nor do you.

Many of us forget that there are two separate issues at stake here. The murder mystery is only the first. The more important one is our response to the murder. How have we treated the reputation of a slain 14-year-old girl? What does the manner in which the police have behaved tell us about law and order in India? Should we have any faith in our political system? And is it time to regulate the media?

The Police: The Noida police appear to have the investigative abilities of the Keystone Cops and the sensitivity of the Gestapo. At almost every stage, the case has been bungled. There’s been the failure to properly search the house and, therefore, the inability to discover the corpse of their chief suspect. There’s the fiasco of the remand of the father with no evidence, no confession, no motive and no murder weapon.

More worrying is the way in which the police have deliberately set out to destroy the reputation of a murdered teenager. The IGP in charge of the case has called Aarushi “characterless”. Her emails have been leaked to the media. So have her texts to her friends, violating not just her privacy but that of her schoolmates.

Most worrying of all is the IGP’s obsession with sex. Every possible motive leads back to sex. First, there was the extraordinary statement that Rajesh Talwar found his daughter in an ‘objectionable’ position with Hemraj, the servant. As Aarushi and Hemraj are dead, and Rajesh Talwar denies the story, how could the IGP possibly have known about the incident? Then, there’s the suggestion that Rajesh Talwar was having an affair with a colleague and that his daughter objected; off the record, the police have painted the parents as orgy-goers and wife swappers. And now, the cops are claiming that the father was motivated by anger at Aarushi’s relations with various boyfriends.

This is not a sex crime. So why are the Noida police going on and on about sex, ruining the reputations of the dead and the living without a shred of evidence?

My guess is that they are not just incompetent, they are also sex-starved. Perhaps the IGP needs professional help.

The Government: The media act as though the Noida police report to nobody. Some channels have even confused the IGP with his boss, the DGP of Uttar Pradesh. In fact, there is a chain of command. The DGP reports to a home secretary who reports to both a chief secretary and the home minister.

What is bizarre is that nobody in this chain of command has reprimanded the IGP or taken the investigation away from him. Instead, chief minister Mayawati has turned it into a political issue.

Imagine now that a joint commissioner of the Delhi or Bombay police had referred to a murdered child as “characterless”. The media uproar would have been enough to seal his fate. Why doesn’t the same happen in UP? In fact, why does this never happen in UP? Even during the Nithari killings, the Noida police got off scot-free, and Mulayam Singh’s brother dismissed the serial murders as being of little consequence.

I would argue that it’s the difference between national parties and regional parties. A BJP, CPM or Congress chief minister would have felt obliged to act, both because of an innate sense of right and wrong, and because of public pressure. But neither Mayawati nor Mulayam have any sense of right and wrong. As for the media uproar, they don’t give a damn: it doesn’t touch their vote-banks.

Now that regional parties threaten to take power at the Centre as part of a Third Front, it’s worth pondering the difference.

The Middle Class: As an educated Indian, I share the general outrage at the shredding of reputations, the sloppy investigation, the manhandling of a suspect against whom there is no solid evidence, and the denial of the presumption of innocence.But let’s consider another scenario. Suppose Hemraj had lived. The police were certain to have arrested him. Would anybody in the middle class have given a damn about how he was treated in custody? We, who are so angered by the manhandling of Rajesh Talwar, would have been unaffected by the third-degree methods that would almost certainly have been used on Hemraj. He would have been beaten up and tortured into signing a confession. He would have no right to privacy, no presumption of innocence and none of us would even have noticed.

I have always been suspicious of the manner in which every crime committed in a middle class home is blamed on the servant. Whether it’s a robbery or a murder, the cops never bother to draw up a list of suspects. They always arrest the servant and declare, a few days later, that he has confessed.

This has less to do with detective work and more with callous laziness. The motto of all Indian police forces is: we will hang the suspect and then find the evidence. It’s far easier to blame the servant than to launch an investigation. Rarely is any genuine evidence ever found. Instead the case rests on confessions and bogus ‘recoveries of stolen objects’.

Do we in the middle class mind? No, not at all. None of the outrage that has been expressed in this case ever extends to servants, to the poor and to anyone who is non-middle class.

The Media: Has there been any case where the media have behaved so badly? TV channels have carried MMSes purporting to show Aarushi’s loose ways. Even if these were genuine, there were privacy issues involved. But they were fakes. The channels carried them without verification. And now, they don’t even bother to apologise.The coverage of the Aarushi murder has been marked by lurid sensationalism. Anchors have appeared on the screen with their hands dipped in red paint. Fraudulent ‘re-enactments’, based on a dubious sense of what really happened, have been telecast. Even the English channels, which pride themselves on being more sensitive than their Hindi counterparts, have telecast the contents of private SMSes, sometimes, having them read out in theatrical re-enactments.

In their pursuit of ratings, television channels have acted as though no liberal value (presumption of innocence, privacy etc) matters and no journalistic rule (verification, attribution etc) is valid.

In their own way, the media have been as bad as — if not worse than — the Noida police. Journalists are too self-obsessed to sense the revulsion with which educated Indians have responded to media coverage of this case. Broadcasters sometimes believe that they can do anything they like as long as they get ratings, because there’s nobody to stop them.

But I think somebody will stop them. For the last five years, the government has been trying to regulate the media. All of us have fought this effort, arguing that self-regulation is the answer.

After all, we have asked our readers and viewers: who would you trust more — a civil servant or a journalist?

Ask that question today, and I suspect that we, in the media, would not like the answer. If the civil servant is an educated person, determined to impose liberal values and standards of accuracy, and the journalist is some sensation-hungry moron, metaphorically dancing on the grave of a murdered child, speculating breathlessly about her love life, and vulgarly suggesting that her parents were sex maniacs — well, then, my guess is that most educated Indians would pick the civil servant over the journalist.

The vagaries of Indian politics will ensure that the Noida police get away with murdering Aarushi all over again. But the media may not be so lucky. Any demand for regulation will now have widespread public support.

And can you really blame the public for feeling this way?

Vir Sanghvi in HT dated 01.0608