People's role in combating terrorism
Imagine the horror: 16 blasts in 70 minutes, leaving 49 dead and more than 150 injured in Ahmedabad on Sunday, it seems a hidden enemy has announced clandestine attack on the country. And we, the people, are both helpless and hapless, as counter measures are not only painfully inadequate, but are also dishearteningly disjointed. This is a sequel to the serial blasts in Bangalore just two days ago that rattled the electronic city. Varanasi, Hyderabad, Jaipur, Malegaon, Bangalore, Mumbai, Ahmedabad – you count on and the terror strikes are continue to take huge toll on innocent lives, and it seems human lives have never become so vulnerable to sudden, unexpected and devastating explosions by the unknown, hidden hands.
Is it intelligence failure? Is it weak law against terror? Is it soft approach of the UPA government? Is it poor policing along the borders that helps sneak terrorists into the hinterland? Or all? Only when we arrive at a consensus on identifying the problems, we devise a possible solution. Moreover, only when we leave politics aside we will be able to defeat the menace of terrorism.
Last May, when Jaipur was rocked by seven blasts in which 78 people perished and more than 150 injured, there was a war of words between the central government and Rajasthan CM, Vasundhara Raje over intelligence inputs when the latter retorted back saying “intelligence reports are like weather report”. And after every blast, the securities agencies swing into action only to pick up the trials of human losses, rather than nabbing the culprits or preventing such ghastly incidents with timely inputs. Now, the talk of establishing a National Security Department is well founded along with a Federal Police Agency, meant exclusively to handle the terrorism. This is one area that needs immediate action: a separate department at the centre as well as in the states is a must and intelligence has to be of global standards.
We have to learn from the US. After 9/11, there has not been a single terror attack on its soil. Why? Not only the country created stringent laws, but also revamped the security apparatuses at hand. And on the contrary, albeit India has been the prime target of terror attacks, the country is yet to come up with a feasible policy option to deal with the problem.
BJP has a point perhaps in attacking the government over scrapping of POTA. We needed to stop its misuse, not the law itself. Finally, there is a need to issue ID cards to every citizen. After all, we have spent crore so far, yet 180 million people are without ID cards. People in general have the onus to be alert, as no war can be won without them.
However, all measures, steps and mechanisms will not succeed unless people’s role is not taken into account. Since it is the common people that suffer the most, they have greater, proactive role to play in identifying, tracking and preventing terror strikes. Awareness is the key in this regard. Given that we have to be a little realistic about the issue, in a country as big as India, surveillance by the intelligence agencies may always work, as we have experienced so far. So, people have to be extra vigilant about surroundings, entities, peoples, places and things. Like we have committees as village level, street level, district level or even at the state level, the terror agenda needs to be on priority list. Instead of talking in rage or reaction (though natural to those who have suffered), time has come for citizens to be proactive – from the grassroots to the highest levels – to track any suspicious person or thing in the public places.
We need to change our attitude towards public property that we hardly think as ours. So, rather than a passive onlooker, people need to involve, engage and confront everyone or thing that gives the impression that it is suspicious in nature. Lack of social ethos in cities due to which people avoid meeting or talking or extending any sort of relation is one of the reasons that unknown persons come and go but the neighbours could hardly know or bother to know. Cities hide criminals that the citizens need to make aware of.
For this purpose, all communities need to work in close association, as everyone is affected by terrorism. In this regard, the governments – both at the centre and states –devise plan how to involve people as whistleblowers and how they could provide vital inputs to the investigating agencies or the police. Delhi Police comes up with advertisement from time to time but it does not take the help of the people on a well planned manner or involve people to provide information. Though helping the nation protect from terror menace is enough, rewards could boost up the people to work for the country. In democracy, people help to create or fall governments, they will be able to wipe away the scourge of terror. Laws, policies, mechanisms, and measures work only when people support in an active manner. And we should believe it.
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