Feb 22, 2010

Terror : From Within and Without

13 Feb 2010 : Bomb blast in Koregaon Park, Pune. 15 dead (at last count), 60 injured and counting.

14 Feb 2010 : A huge cache of explosives, including 200 kilograms of ammonium nitrate and 600 detonators, seized by Gujarat Police from Vapi in Valsad District.

15 Feb 2010 : Massacre of 24 security personnel of the Eastern Frontier Rifles at Silda, West Midnapore, WB.

17 Feb 2010 : 12 villagers including a child slaughtered and several abducted in Phulwari Karasi village in Jamui Distt, Bihar.

20 Feb 2010 : Jharkhand official Prashant Kumar Layek was released by the Maoists evening after being kept in captivity for nearly six days. The state government is said to have paid the Maoists Rs 30 lakh and promised to free 14 Maoist suspects from jail in exchange for the release of the BDO.

Threat to the country stems not only from across its borders, but also from within the country. Which of these two threats is more potent? Threat from within, or the one from without?

Maoist Threat. 26/11, probably being a one off case, fatalities due to terrorist strikes have been lesser in number than fatalities due to Maoist violence over the last few years. PM Manmohan Singh has termed this menace the gravest internal security threat. Data regarding Maoist violence can be accessed here. Assessments of the threat posed by Maoists in various States can be read here.

It appears that the Govt, particularly the state governments have either not fully comprehended the threat from Maoists or are turning a blind eye to them for vested interests. While Mr P Chidambaram(PC) has shown some seriousness, albeit not enough by a long measure, the same alacrity is hardly apparent from CMs of Jharkhand, Bihar and some other states. Some of them made it convenient to miss the meeting of CMs called by PC recently to review Maoist situation. Soren has agreed to free wanted Maoists from prison to secure the release of an abducted BDO, thus not only bolstering the morale of these thugs, but also setting a precedent, which will severely dent the tempo of anti-Maoist operations throughout the country. Cabinet Minister, Mamata Banerjee, is opposed to police action against Maoists in WB. The Trinamool Congress is long suspected of being backed by Maoists in rural West Bengal. The sheer helplessness of the state against Maoists, who are running a parallel govt in certain rural areas is simply appalling.

Danger signs are there for all but the blind to see (in blood Red). We are well past the stage of nipping this serious challenge in the bud. Time for action is now, or never. Criminal excesses against hapless citizens cannot be tolerated. The full weight of state's resources must be brought to bear against this Insurgency, before the entire country is engulfed in Maoist violence and the Army, rather than guarding against external aggression, gets sucked into battling its own countrymen. It is about time we stopped mollycoddling these rogues and started hunting them down. The theory propounded by some(including the Bihar CM) that Maoist violence can be controlled with development is most fallacious. Maoists themselves are a hindrance to development, as can be seen by the number of times they have blown up rail tracks, schools, cell phone towers etc. Tribal welfare is an issue that Maoists use only to woo simple, gullible and rustic unemployed youth to join their ranks. Once power and money corrupts them absolutely, welfare and development cease to be an issue. As Brian Tracy eloquently points out in his audio series 'Laws of Achievement', all humans are inherently selfish.

External Threat: The threat from Terror, sponsored by our so called (by some) Responsible neighbours is concerned, a lot has been said about it both in print and electronic media. Measures are at hand, though moving through bureaucratic quagmire at the speed of lumbering elephants. A lot needs to be done and hopefully is being done. But what is a matter of concern is that while acts of terror like the Pune blast hog a lot of limelight, the media seems to be shy of giving similar coverage to Maoist violence. One reason that comes to mind is that while Maoist violence takes place predominantly in rural areas as against terrorist acts which are almost always in urban areas. It is more difficult and riskier for media to reach some of these rural areas.

Our intelligence setup needs to be spruced up and our citizens need to be more vigilant. Take the case of Pune, 13/2. We had prior information of impending strike in the vicinity of Osho Ashram. So? What would you expect, gun toting security personnel standing guard outside German Bakery and frightening all customers away? For how long? The intelligence report was many months old. And if they did stand guard, another target could have been chosen. After all German bakery was not the only hangout being frequented by foreigners, there are scores of them in Koregaon Park. Yes, the Pakis, if it was them, (probably yes) chose their timing well. They attacked when the police were busy guarding multiplexes. But then, wasn't that required as well? Should we just let the Sena goons have free citizens dancing to their tune all the time? (Read earlier posts here and here)

My point is simple, a generic input about impending terror strike in a city is not enough to prevent terrorist strikes altogether. In Iraq, the Americnas are using Guns, tanks, heptrs, aircraft, UAVs and what have you............. and with the intelligence reports from CIA. Have they been able to prevent all attacks on US citizens? It is only a matter of time before Al Qaeda strikes again. They almost did, a few weeks back.

Our Govt is vigilant, so this is the first terror strike since 26/11. However there is always room for improvement. As they say, sky is the limit. Ordinary citizens have responsibility as well. Are we vigilant enough ourselves? How is it that an unclaimed bag kept lying under the table in a crowded Cafe, without arousing suspicion?

Verdict : I am not for a moment suggesting that external terrorist threats are less important or that anti terrorist measures taken by the Govt are adequate, but it does appear to me that the threat from the Red Brigade deserves much greater attention than being given currently.

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