Fear over the city


Bomb culture is passe. We now live in a bomb civilisation. Three kilograms of explosives that had the potential to create an unplanned subway in the arterial Anna Salai, defused just on time but planted, apparently after the whole city, including the police, had gone to sleep the previous night. The discovery heralds the arrival of bombs to the city as was expected. The police top brass had, of course, promptly denied reports of the city being the next target a few days back. As usual they were wrong.

It is not that we are happy about some of these doomsday predictions coming true; it is just that we are appalled by the continuing indifference of the authorities to alarms from the press and other sources. It is understandable if the police remain tightlipped about their drive against the terrorists if only to prevent unnecessary panic among the people and secondly to avoid alerting the militants. But that does not seem to be the case here. It is quite evident that the authorities, despite being fully aware of the catastrophic portents of the situation, were and continue to be deliberately complacent. Consider this. There has not been any major seizure of explosives in the city after the raids on the premises of the two banned fundamentalist outfits in the aftermath of the Kovai blasts. Are we to believe that no such caches of bombs exist anywhere in the city? Then from where did this tiffin box bomb materialise?

Are the police sure that this is not the tip of an iceberg or say a hidden mountain of explosives? Ninety out of-hundred chances are that there is more than what is being confronted by the bomb disposal squads and one is inclined to trust the militants to strike again rather than believe the authorities to prevent it. And there is always the familiar maxim on terrorism to reckon with: The terrorist has to be lucky only once, but the authorities have to be lucky all the time, But the minimum that they could do is to remain awake and alert. Instead what do we hear? The Chief Minister of the land asks the people what would happen if someone were to demolish the Thanjavur Temple!

One cannot help getting back to the DMK government’s reluctance to act tough with the terrorists for the simple reason that these elements belonged to a minority community and any action against them would have meant loss of the vote bank. Every bomb blast, every bomb haul and even every bomb hoax is a grim reminder of that apathy and willful negligence that is now rendering the citizens of the State nervous wrecks. Even a tyre burst makes one leap skywards in panic.

A peep into the ruling party’s past would perhaps throw light on its present prevarications, besides portending what a future, under their dispensation is likely to be. The first Karunanidhi regime of the early seventies created a history of sorts by becoming the only elected government to fall for the Article 356 axe on charges of rampant corruption. These pioneers of pillage introduced the people of the State to the nuances of sleaze, which included in its sweep everything from rice to pesticides and wheat to water pipes. Justice Sarkaria was so impressed that he even patented their methods and christened it ‘scientific corruption’.

Their second stint at the Secretariat, though a short one, thanks to Art 356 again, was very eventful. Corruption no longer interested the top brass. It was like oil for the machine and the party co-borns could easily handle it. They had a larger vision that transcended national borders and interests. The LTTE militants from across the Palk Straits, who had to close shop in India owing to our government refusing to acknowledge their leader’s greatness, were again invited to renew their operations, this time under the watchful but acquiescent eyes of the DMK regime. The red carpet rolled out to them culminated in painting the State red with the blood of, first Padrnanabha and 14 others and then, Rajiv Gandhi and 13 others. Justice Sarkaria made way for Justice Jain, who embarked on a massive research and came out with his findings that have now necessitated the present elections.

The contribution of the present reign, the third episode of a sordid saga, is in no way inferior to the earlier ones. This time around, the people of the State were initially led to believe that the DMK would present them with a reformed and rejuvenated forest brigand, given the hype about his surrender. But lo and behold, what do we have now?–A full-grown bomb civilisation. The result of a conspiracy of silence at the highest political echelons aided by an equal dose of inaction and apathy at the level of the authorities. But then Al-Umma and Jihad committee were secular outfits and deserved protection. They were the DMK’s gifts to the people of Tamilnadu.

The ruling party’s track record is a veritable treat to those keen to study about the under sides of the world. From scientific corruption to a secular bomb civilisation, the State has indeed come a long way. So is the metamorphosis from cycle chains to gelatine sticks. You may call it Parinama valarchchi.

The people would only be kidding themselves if they think that the bomb-mania that has gripped the State could be simply washed away. And the delusion would be even more disastrous if they were to believe that the present regime would step up its vigil unmindful of political repercussions. On the contrary the government is more likely to down its defences once, and if, the current tensions show signs of abating, it would then become a political necessity for it as a gesture of atonement for the present ostracisation of a community. And we all know who will benefit if such misplaced minority concerns were to rear their head again. The chain is never going to end. And just as every poisonous weed planted by the regimes of the Thaanai Thalaivan, the bomb civilization would also grow into a giant tree…unless of course the people decide to act in their enlightened self interest and root them out.

Superstitious superstars may have faith in self-respecting leaders. But if we were to follow suit god cannot save….even Himself.

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Jawahar T R