A terror update

26/11 undoubtedly is a significant albeit sad day when the nation mourns its martyrs and victims of an unprecedented amphibious, nocturnal terror strike that shook the world. The ephemeral TV screens that froze with the images of burning buildings for nearly 70 hours may have since moved on to burning issues of the day, but the memories of those fateful days will linger long in the public consciousness. That said, making 26/11 a kind of annual security ritual in the footsteps of many such ‘anniversaries’ is sheer nonsense.

Indeed, raising the security ante across the nation to ‘mark’ this day, spoofs at the terrorists as well as the terrorised. So, are the Jihadis expected to do something spectacular on this ‘appointed’ day? And are the ‘targets’ supposed to look over their shoulders for the next 72 hours and lower guard after the ‘dead’line passes? The cold fact is that that the terrorists are under no compulsion to honour such symbolic ‘schedules’ nor can the country escape from eternal vigilance. Given that, these mock drills seem like nothing more than quixotic sabre-rattling at an unseen enemy who however is not hard to identify. Really, aside of the remembrances of the dead and the nostalgia of the survivors, the first 26/11 after that bloody 26/11 should have been an occasion for stock taking on two counts: Punishing the perpetrators with vengeance and pursuing a permanant solution with vigour. The two are linked and alas, the nation has faltered on both the counts, as usual.

The terrorists not only invoke a religion but also claim a nationality: It is called Dar-ul-Islam. Their victims too have a religion, which obviously is not the religion of the jihadis, and also have a nomenclature and nationality: kafir and Dar-ul-Harb respectively. The sole goal of these medieval madcaps is to make the latter the former or just kill the latter, whichever is earlier and easier. This scheme for them is a divine ordainment and would be implemented even if the Babri Masjid had not been pulled down. No commission of inquiry, no court of law and no constitutional decree can stand in the way of the curse on kafirs, launched several centuries ago. Indeed, to be taking on these blood-thirsty monsters flaunting one-way ticket to paradise with the aforementioned blunt instruments is to imitate a goat at the Kasab shop trying to bleat its way out. It would actually make far more sense to imitate those butchers instead and pay them them back in the currency they trade in. Swift retribution would also incidentally send them to the destination they were in any case headed for. This 26/11 would have actually been a day of celebration had the sole surviving killer been hanged by now!

Aah, but this a land of tolerance and justice. Here, the reigning discourse is that the law will take its own course. Even those who killed live on primetime need to be tried with evidence and proven guilty beyond all reasonable doubt. And if indeed, by some divine miracle judicial guilt is established, the law’s course can easily be subverted too. Afzal Guru’s immortality proves that there can be many a slip between the neck and the noose. The wives of the slain cops of Mumbai should have known better before making a public demand this week for hanging Kasab: Their heroic husbands are unlikely to be avenged for this country has neither the will nor the nerve for such ‘unsecular’ methods. Hear the voice of Jyoti, the eldest daughter of Kamlesh Kumari, the CRPF jawan killed during the Parliament attack: ‘If Afzal Guru is granted amnesty by the President, we will return the Ashok Chakra awarded to our mother. There is no point in keeping the award if those responsible for her death are shown mercy …’. In India that is Bharath, death by terror is probably deemed as another way of mokshaa!

If prosecution is a sham, prevention is an even more elusive mirage. A H1N1 virus induces mass scare-mongering in the media and officialdom, but something as potent as jihad is strangely put beyond intense public scrutiny. Prevention presumes awareness. Now, how many of the prospective victims are familiar with the motive, mind and methods of the jihadis? Is not this info in public interest and precautions, in everyone’s self-interest? Well, the West thinks it is and so is quite update on jihadi ‘manuals’, but the wise Bharatavarsha prefers blissful secular ignorance. Small wonder, the country is no where near securing itself despite repeated terror attacks. That post-26/11 there has been none is small comfort; one should thank the jihadis for the respite than the rulers for their resourcefulness. For, the seeds of violence are everywhere and can sprout anytime. From Bangladesh in the east to Pak in the west and running through scores of Azamgarhs with in, it is green channels galore in and around Bharath. Funny we get worked up over Vande Mataram. The mataram itself is at stake thanks to the casual, cavalier security milieu. The nation is yet to see the promised coherent anti-terror strategy or a unified security agency as in the US. The existing ones continue to bicker over petty protocols and are grossly under funded and ill equipped. According to a media report, the Force One formed with much fanfare to fight terror is no where near fighting fit with jawans fainting at a parade. Another report shows how Kasab & Co had better boats and GPS than our coast guard! After one year of intense investigation, 26/11 continues to have several knots and loose ends. Surprises keep surfacing; like the revelations of the American FBI after it arrested two Islamists who were in the thick of the Mumbai terror plot. Indian investigators had never heard of them till then!

Pak’s role in the terror attacks on India is now a global ‘secret’ yet we need an NOC from all and sundry before we can even think of acting. That ‘action’ too will only be ‘peace talks’, not a military visit to PoK, which is the fountainhead of terror and a territory we claim as our own. Home Minister PC and the Army Chief have both warned that if ‘ there was a terror strike again, India would retaliate against Pak’. Why ‘again’? How much more kafir blood had to be shed before we press the button? How many more last straws? Post a single 9/11, the US crossed oceans and continents to take pre-emptive action against perceived threats. But the Hamlets here are hesitating to step across an imaginary LoC to tackle an enemy who has been unleashing real-time terror.

For all his clownish capers and moronic misdemeanors, Bush had his plus points. After the recent incident in Fort Hood, Texas, when a muslim major, in religious rage, turned his gun on his colleagues and killed thirteen of them, America has rewound to the Bush era and is in the grip of a fevered debate on Islamic terror. According to the latest Time: ‘The nature of terrorism is changing…the new strategy is to empower and motivate individuals, lone wolves, to commit acts of violence completely outside any terrorist chain of command …the new terrorist template fuses psychological damage with jihadist ideology …this is the wave of the future, it may be less lethal but harder to fight’. Obama is now under severe pressure to shed his ‘Extreme moderation’ and see sense a la Bush. For, be it 9/11 or 26/11, the moral of the story is the same:When it comes to taking on jihad, there is no point beating around the bush: one has to beat like Bush.

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Jawahar T R