A spark neglected keeps TN burning

If the Kovai blasts killed 60, the fear of blasts appears to be squeezing the life out of multitudes every day. The widespread sense of fear and apprehension that has gripped the people of TN ever since the serial blasts in Kovai shows no signs of abating and, on the contrary, appears only to escalate every passing day. Every bomb haul, major or minor, is a grim pointer to the extent to which the State has been infiltrated by the terrorists and the alarming levels to which they have built up their arsenal. It is certainly not a comfortable feeling to know that we are sitting on a veritable landmine, but then that is what the reality is.

Here is the latest bomb bulletin. The terrorists are estimated to have imported, sorry, smuggled in about 150 kilograms of explosives to Singara Chennai. At least this is what the police believes. The margin of error could be even 100%. About five kilograms were accidentally discovered on Anna Salai a few weeks ago and another 45 were providentially found yesterday in Kodambakkam. That leaves approximately another 100 kgs hidden somewhere in the myriad depths of the sprawling and buzzling metropolis, waiting to go off. No doubt a very disconcerting update but then there it is.

The State police are undoubtedly alert, now, but then it certainly is a classic case of locking the stables after the horses have bolted. They are as clueless to the designs of the terrorists as the man on the street. Their repeated requests and warnings to the public to report anything unusual is not only an exercise in caution but also an exhibition of their ignorance. The unfortunate part is that they did have a lot of opportunity for enlightenment on the whole issue of fundamentalist activities but they deliberately frittered away all such options. The leading lights of the unsavoury elements are, of course, in custody, but apparently the police is yet to get them to sing.

Whether it was a failure of intelligence or even a total lack of intelligence, the fact remains that, despite being in the possession of overwhelming evidence about the activities of the terrorist groups, especially in the last six months, the State police had done precious little to bring them to book. Some of those who are in custody now, it is learnt, are history sheeters and yet the police have miserably failed to monitor their activities, which should have been done in the normal course itself. Even elementary precautions had also not been taken and all indications point to a conspiracy of silence at the top political level which had percolated to the State police. There is every reason to believe that the political bosses had been averse to taking any kind of action against these known offenders for a variety of reasons, ranging from minority vote bank concerns to a genuine acquiescence in their activities.

The police is left holding the sack while their political bosses have coolly preferred to pass the buck on to them. The CM, who incidentally heads the police portfolio, has now changed tune completely. While he was keen on protecting his administration and downplaying the impact of the blasts in Kovai before the elections, he has in successive interviews slowly graduated to short of indicting himself. He has alleged police inaction, suspected intelligence failure and has even openly admitted to the role of Muslim fundamentalists. It is to be noted that he had done so only after the elections, while even before it was no secret who the perpetrators were. In fact his own government had banned two Muslim outfits within hours of the blasts, but for ‘obvious reasons’ the CM refrained from uttering those words. On the contrary, he even sought to include the ‘majority’ and ‘other religions’ in his suspects list. Now, of course, there is no such compulsion as the elections are over. The cat is also, anyway out of the bag. So to substantiate and establish his latest ‘conviction’ he has promptly transferred, as a disciplinary move, a few top officials including the Koval CoP and Intelligence Chief. Penalties would end there. Politicians, who are the real culprits, are rarely made to pay the price for their deliberate inaction and lapses.

Police circles, it appears, are already disturbed over the public ire being directed at them and the tendency of those in power to make scapegoats out of them. The removal of the contentious check posts in the Kottaimedu area of Kovai was purely a political decision, taken much against the better counsel of the police department. This act virtually opened the floodgates and the offenders were able to move about with gay abandon, somewhat reminiscent of the hey days of the LTTE.

Also, it is learnt that whenever the Kovai police managed to apprehend some of the Muslim fundamentalists, there had been immense pressure from two ruling party bigwigs to release them. It is common knowledge that these elements were roaming about scotfree and breaking law with impunity, cocking a snook and even mocking at the police to try and lay their hands on them. The near police mutiny that followed constable Selvaraj’s murder was a direct consequence of their indignation against the higher-ups, who had sided with the criminals for some strange reason. The riots that rocked the textile city then had an equal measure of participation from the law breakers and the law makers as both sides went on a rampage in a frenzy of retribution. It is said that it is difficult to wake up someone who feigns sleep.

The State Government’s attitude was a clear demonstration of such a situation. It was in such a state of stupor that it became insensitive to the rumblings in the police department. Its deliberate apathy to the activities of the militants was a sure and typical demonstration of the proverbial Nelson’s eye, rather eyes. The serial train blasts in December failed to ‘wake’ them up to the gravity of the threat faced by the State. The frequent explosives hauls could not arouse their senses and the blast in Thanjavur, even as the CM was camping there, was muffled by the loud snoring of the powers that be.

And all the bombs that keep popping up from every nook and corner of the city had made their way during that monumental slumber under the influence of the sedative called secularism which is only a synonym for minority appeasement. Each bomb haul of today is a sad commentary on a lapse of yesterday. The undiscovered 100 kgs represents the hours and hours of deep sleep clocked by this Government, as a consequence of which the entire city is today in a state of peril and panic. One cannot be blamed for wondering why a .Government, with so much love for slumber, should not be administered a permanent ‘knock-out’ dose, that can put it at rest for ever!

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Jawahar T R