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Uniting in the face of terror
12/11/2008
By Ram Puniyani

The 26th November (2008) terror attack on Mumbai has been one of the severest and damaging attack on the social fabric of Mumbai. The loss of lives is beyond words, equally worse has been the loss of people's faith in the political leadership. While the faith in police and military agency stood redeemed to some extent the whole ire of people fell on the political leadership for the tragedy of monumental proportions. No doubt we do not have the best of leadership, but it is also true that people do need a scapegoat to vent their anger, frustration and helplessness. In the face of earlier attacks of terror there have been different targets of public ire.

Part of the problem regarding whom to blame for the terror attacks is due to the fact that many a non state terror groups survive in Pakistan, these were the groups which came in the wake of Russian occupation of Afghanistan and setting up the Madrassas for indoctrinating Muslim youth by the US through CIA, ISI etc. Once the Russian armies were defeated in Afghanistan, the left over of these fanatic terrorists groups survive on the soil of Pakistan. Here the identification is that these groups are due to the inspiration and promoting by Pakistan. It was a case for quite some time, but mostly it no longer is the case. The biggest manifestation of changed equations in this direction was the attack by military on Lal Masjid, one of the places for indoctrination, during Musharff regime. Similarly the formulation putting Islam as synonymous with violence and Muslims being the terrorists was created by the US propaganda in the wake of 9/11 and the media taking it forward, large section of Indian media picked it up. Today one must rethink the role of Pakistan Government and the terrorists originating from the soil of Pakistan. Interestingly some of these trained groups have also been targeting various sites within Pakistan itself.

Redressal of the damage done by such a colossal tragedy is a marathon task and one hears from most of the people that to deal with terrorism the people must unite as a single force. Well said. There is no substitute to this 'core aspect' of the solution, rallying around Indian nationalism. Unfortunately from last two decades in particular people are being divided along religious lines, by the communal forces. One recalls that with the ascendance of communal politics, spread of myths and stereotypes against the minorities the problem has been worsened. These myths and stereotypes have become part of social common sense and have provided a fertile ground for the rise of communal violence. This in turn has on one hand polarized the society along religious lines and on the other has strengthened the communal politics. This process is also enhancing the process of ghettoisation of minorities, more so in the post violence situations and more so in the BJP ruled states. The insecurity of minorities is on the rise.

When we talk of the core value of fraternity for Indian nation, the major obstacle is the communalization of the social common sense. It is true that people should stand united, what needs to be addressed is that core reason for the divisions which have been created due to politics in the name of religion. The doctored social thinking accompanying the rise of communalism is the major factor which is trying to fracture the well entrenched fraternity of India, fraternity which came to be cemented during the freedom movement.

At political level the two major political parties, Congress and BJP, do talk in separate languages even in the face of such a crisis of marathon proportions. Just to cite the recent events, while BJP leadership with forked tongue, on one hand called for the need for unity, at the same time issued large advertisements asking for votes to be saved from terror attacks. At the same time it went on to criticize the Prime Minister, who had called for unity. Political parties must criticize each others on their policies, while in this case it was a partisan, opportunist action.

The timing of the attack led to many questions in the mind of society. Just prior to this the Maharashtra Anti Terror Squad did succeed in collecting evidence leading to the arrest of Sadhvi Pragya Thakur, Lt Col. Prasad, Retd Major Upadhyay and others affiliated with RSS politics. Also the role of Bhonsla Military School came to the surface. More and more investigations led to the role of various RSS affiliates as being part of many blasts which took place in front of mosques or in dargah. RSS combine went hammer and tongs against the ATS and particularly its chief Hemant Karkare, accusing him of deliberately arresting Sadhvi and the likes. This attack on ATS went on to the extent that Karkare went to the legendary police office, Julio Reibero for advice and moral support to stand on the path of truth. Reibero in his piece in Times of India, November 28, Mumbai edition narrates the turmoil created in Karkare's mind due to the criticism heaped on him by Sangh Parivar. Reibero appreciated this officer for his upright stand and upheld his refusal to buckle under motivated criticism.

Is it a coincidence that attack has deflected the social attention from the black deeds of Sadhvi and Co.? Is it a coincidence that Karkare who was bravely doing his job was killed while doing his duty? Some of the answers to these questions will be permanently mired in the cloud of mystery. What happened after his death and what is known is that immediately after his death the same elements that were after him declared him a hero, a martyr. Politics can never be dirtier and murkier. The saddest part of this came when the self declared champion against terrorism, Modi, landed up in Mumbai to give interviews in front of TV cameras, when the people around were doing the work to control the situation. Not only that he went to the bereaved widow of Karkare and offer her money as relief. Mrs. Karkare with all her dignity and humility turned down the relief from one whose ilk had been criticizing her husband for doing his job honestly. It's a shame that Modi and Co. has not been condemned for such double standards and opportunism which they are indulging in.

Time alone will tell us, if at all and why we had to loose such a forthright and honest officer, time alone will tell us whether the legal proceeding started by him will go to their logical legal end and guilty of many blasts will be punished as per the law of the land.