Waking Up To Home Spun Extremism

Posted on August 31, 2011 in Specials

By Anjora Sarangi:

Any mishap, act of violence, terrorist activity, radical movement, schematic attack occurs in India and we instinctively turn our suspicious gaze towards our ill-fated neighbour, Pakistan. The transfer of responsibility is spontaneous, almost natural, before investigations, before any proof or evidence. But India is no holy shrine cleansed of all evil, no country ever is. The al-Qaeda may be a major global threat but our internal security is continually threatened by forces that are of domestic origin which is chronically beyond the ambit of the government’s control. We would be well advised to accept certain eternal facts about terrorism that history has taught us namely — terrorism is blind to geography, concepts of patriotism and fundamentals of reasonable behaviour.

One of the most potent groups, which has claimed responsibility for several attacks in 2008 such as the Jaipur bombings of May 13th, Ahmedabad blasts of July 26th, Delhi bombings of September 13th and the recent Mumbai blasts of July 13th is the Indian Mujahideen (IM). According to Indian intelligence, the IM is not a well-knit organization with a hierarchical structure but a loose network of Islamic organizations which includes the Students’ Islamic Movement of India (SIMI). The leadership of the IM is traced to a man named Abdul Subhan Usman Qureshi and ever so often, this group has been sending emails to the government to claim accountability to terror attacks, lest some other group may stake its claim. The IM wants to establish itself as an Indian based terror outfit.

There are several reasons why a particular ‘terrorist organisation’ may choose this label. One of the primary motives usually is excessive injustice or violence to a group developing in it a thirst for vengeance or to bring media and state attention to its concerns. Another may be a want for autonomy from the state due to differing interests. One of the most dangerous is religious affinity. Some groups misconstrue certain religious ideologies and perpetrate violence in its name such as in the case of ‘jihad’. Often, there are references to Islamic terrorism as being the most stark, common and perilous; however Islam does not preach violence nor does any other religion. In recent times, especially in India, a new term called Saffron Terrorism has come about alluding to right wing terror inspired by Hindu nationalism. It is a highly controversial and hushed up term first used by the home minister, P. Chidambaram. The incidents which have been linked to this form of terrorism are – 2006 Malegaon blasts, the Mecca Masjid bombing (Hyderabad), Samjhauta Express bombings and the Ajmer Sharif Dargah blast. Members of the Abhinav Bharat have been alleged with certain acts including the plot to kill the president of the Rashtriya Swayamsewak Sangh, Mohan Bhagwat and even the Vice President Hamid Ansari.

Widespread atrocities and carnages are being committed in several states in our country especially in Jammu & Kashmir, North Eastern states, Karnataka, Punjab, West Bengal, Orissa on a daily basis and sometimes state governments in the garb of counter terrorism and maintaining internal securities help in perpetuating these acts. There is a very fine line between counter terrorism and human rights violations and often governments knowingly or unknowingly cross this line. This is contentiously known as ‘State Sponsored Terrorism’ such as that seen during the bloodthirsty Godhra Riots in Gujarat widely covered by the media. Today several caveats, laws are in place and are revised regularly to halt the growth of terrorism such as the Terrorist and Disruptive Activities (Prevention) Act (TADA), the Prevention of Terrorism Act (POTA), the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA). However, Indian security establishments are not imaginatively organized and equipped to counter the tactics that terrorists have adopted with startling success.

Acts of gross violence continue unabated in this country rising with each passing year. Innocent men, women and children are brutally murdered, mutilated and assaulted and the government achieves negligible success in preventing such outrages. Until a few years back one could blame other countries, groups and organizations for wrongdoings in our country and indulge in pity but the time has now come to accept the fact that there are elements even within the hallowed walls of our nation that perpetrate terrorism and only when we have tackled our internal security dilemma can we switch our minds to other worldly concerns.