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Terrorism: A Political Cancer
By Ram Puniyani

The blasts in Jaipur (13th May 2008), have once again brought to fore the grim reality of global and local political scenario. In a short span of time close to hundred innocent lives were lost. What was heartwarming was the calm with which the society handled this grim tragedy. The amity with which the post blast situation was handled certainly needs million respectful salutes.

But political parties are what they are, taking advantage of such tragedies to bake their political breads. The BJP leadership was quick enough to say that the blasts are taking place as the central government is weak, the withdrawal of POTA has given rise to a situation where terrorists can make merry. Most such criticism is aimed at scoring brownie points, forgetting that during BJP led NDA regime with POTA in operation, the attacks on Parliament, Red fort and many other acts of terror were very much there. Despite Advani's lie that he did not know about foreign minister accompanying the terrorists to Kandhar, there were acts of terror a plenty when he was the Home/deputy prime minister and was trying to cultivate the image of an iron man. Also the argument that BJP ruled states with glorious strength are free from terrorist acts also comes to a naught with this tragedy.

Petty political thinking apart, the world today is gripped by this insane phenomenon, which like a cancer has spread over a period of last two decades. The analogy of cancer for terrorism is very apt as many features of this are matching with the behavior of cancer in human body. Cancer has multiple etiologies (causative factors) and same is true of terrorism. First, it is due to the indoctrination of minds, like Al Qaeda by CIA sponsored madrassas in Pakistan. The Al Qaeda was used as a proxy for American army to fight against Russian army in Afghanistan. Here the indoctrination of Muslim youth was done through the syllabus developed in Washington. The goal of course was control over oil wells in the region. They did these insane activities in the name of religion. Presumably for the glory of their religion! Similarly the indoctrinated Bajrang Dal workers, who died while making bombs in Nanded April 2006, also were indoctrinated in the RSS ideology prepared to lay down their life presumably for their religion.

The second major cause of terrorism is a spontaneous response to injustices done to a group of people, generally in places where the democratic norms are compromised. Recently (December 2007) the acts of terror done by Adivasi National Liberation front resulting in blast in the Guwahati Rajdhani express exemplifies this. This blast was in the wake of group of Adivasis being beaten and their female companion being molested. This was the triggering point for the acts of terror being done by that group. Similarly the Mumbai blasts in 1993 and in 2002 were in the aftermath of Mumbai riots and Gujarat carnage after which some Muslims played in the hands of elements out to do such acts as a revenge, in the name of their religion. They forget that no religion worth its spirituality teaches to kill the innocents. Here the feeling of frustration, the feeling of taking revenge is paramount in the minds of these terrorists.

The third major factor leading to acts of terror relate to the injustices done in the name of nationalism, the suppression of ethnic, regional aspirations, Khalisthani, Kashmir, North East (ULFA etc...) LTTE and Irish Republican army fall in this category.

Cancer in the human body spreads by multiple mechanisms, physical extension, and through blood vessels etc. The one spreading through blood and getting lodged at a site distant from the original one is called Secondary metastasis. Al Qaeda was the primary cancer and what we witness at many other places is either secondary metastasis of that or is being done by those who have ulterior political motives. In current times this is the major type of terrorism and is the one where the indoctrination designed by US administration and propagated by US media disguised its lust for oil resources. The indoctrinated mind is the most lethal weapon in the World. It then becomes supra national and is beyond the realm of usual controls. The goal of US was to politically control oil zones through concocted pretexts, leading to attacks on Afghanistan and Iraq. And these were projected as a part of clash of civilizations. Here the propaganda is that the backward Islamic civilization is the threat to the World so attack Afghanistan on the pretext of catching hold of Osama bin Laden or attack on Iraq on the pretext of saving the sovereignty of Sheikh of Kuwait, to defend the world from weapons of mass destruction hidden by Saddam Hussain. This surely is one of the biggest hoaxes of contemporary history.

Imperialism, the domination of poor countries by the more powerful ones', has assumed different languages during last several centuries. Initially when the Britain, Portugal and France etc. went on to colonies the World for their material gains, they projected this exploitation of colonies as the 'Whit man's burden to civilize the barbarians'. Then came the era when national liberation movements were being undertaken by different colonies, many of which were influenced by socialist ideas. This period of history was dominated by two superpowers, US and Russia. US led camp tried to retain its hegemony on colonies or as a continuation, adopted policies to exploit these colonies through other economic mechanisms. To prevent the colonies becoming economically autonomous, imperialists tried to hegemonies global politics and the language used by them was, 'defense of freedom and democracy'! With demise of socialist states the language being used is the one related to civilization, 'the threat of Islam'.

The difference in the current times is that since a religion and a religious community are demonized and targeted the impact becomes much more deep and retrogressive in the cultural arena. It starts polarizing the communities along religious lines. This clash of civilizations theory is operative worldwide. In India the problem is further compounded due to the rise of communal politics, politics around issues of religious identity, which has changed the language of social discourse and has worsened the situation further. So far, communal violence has been polarizing the nation along the lines of religious communities. Now due to this propaganda Islam and Muslims have been linked to this phenomenon, and the Muslims all over the world and more so in India have been uniformly demonized. The result is that the acts of terrorism are projected, investigated and propagated in a biased way, totally conforming to the global and local propaganda about Islam and Muslims. The attitude of semi-communalized state machinery and communal parties further polarizes the society.

While these acts of terror are acting as the divisive factor, in a way they are playing the same type of role which communal violence has played so far, polarizing the communities. Despite the fact that communities are responding with amity, somewhere deep down the demonization of minorities is worsening. The investigation pattern so far has been to link the acts of terror to the Pakistan based groups, now Bangla Desh based groups. The main pattern has been the arrest of huge number of innocent youth. The social hysteria against them has been so bad that sometimes lawyers, in violation of their professional ethic refuse to take up their cases. In such cases, the dictum that one is innocent till proved guilty, has been put upside down or it is asserted that if someone belongs to the wrong religious community he has to be a terrorist! In this scenario the fatwa of Deoband that violence against innocents is un Islamic has given a very powerful message to the society. The multiple seminars being held, to say that Islam and Muslims have nothing to do with terrorism are good but are restricted to the Muslim audience and not able to achieve the desired result. These messages have to be taken far and wide, involving all religious communities.

Some social groups and communal parties are subtly intensifying these misplaced perceptions and weakening the nation. It is time that while improving our investigation methods we need to desist from politicizing and communalizing these tragic events. The seeds of this cancer were sowed by the global super power so just being shortsighted to blame the neighboring country and the religious community is counter productive. There is a need to cultivate amity and trust and that's possible if we see that essentially it the secondary metastasis of the Al Qaeda clones, very difficult to control by superficial means. Better intelligence, better policing and a deeper understanding of the phenomenon will go a long way to overcome this suffering of the country.