On Terrorism ...
We all will recall all that we read, in less than a couple of months ago, about the police action in one of New Delhi’s neighbourhood and adjacent to the Jamia Milia Islamia University. Two men were killed in the police action. A police officer too lost his life in the gun fight. We also recall the BJP leaders, from L.K.Advani to the one lowest in the party’s hierarchy shouting from the rooftop that the nation must show zero tolerance on terror.
I also recall a ``discussion’’ held by one of those funded organisations in Chennai exclusively devoted to ``terrorism’’ where my loud voice that terrorism as such cannot be restricted to acts of violence attributed to the members from the Muslim community alone, drowned in the cacophony of Teflon patriots whose only aim was to legitimize the enactment of a law akin to TADA and POTA. The ``discussion’’ as I then realised was meant to be a monologue by pro-establishment zealots to whom democracy and rights make sense only when it involves their own self preservation.
Most of those present in that hall, that day, were retired officers from the army, retired bureaucrats and retired police officers. There were a few retired professors too and a couple of senior journalists. And the participants included Mr. Sukumaran Nambiar of the BJP. I do not know, to this day, as to why I was invited to present my views in that seminar because the organiser of that event knew that much that I was not one of their lots. Be that as it may. I made my observations there, got over with it and told myself not to accept an invitation from this ``friend’’ who organised the ``discussion’’ anytime after that. Let me also clarify that this ``frind’’ too has not bothered to invte me for another such programme.
Well. I only wish that my friend decides to hold a similar discussion anytime now and invite the same set of people who were present on the earlier occasion to discuss the same issue now. And in that event, I will certainly attend the discussion and even make a presentation there. I will insist that all those retired army officers, retired police officers and such others who are regulars in that circle to reflect on Pragnya Singh Thakur, Lieutenant Colonel Prasad Shrikant Purohit and the several others who, as it is now unraveling, are in no way different from those whom the Indian state defines as terrorists.
The only difference being that these blood-hounds do not belong to the Muslim community and hence the BJP chief Rajnath Singh, the Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi and the Uttaranchal Chief Minister B.C.Khanduri are shouing from the rooftop that there is something cynical about the investigation. The BJP leaders are also shouting that the arrest, investigation and interrogation of Lt. Colonel Purohit would have an adverse impact on the morale of the armed forces. They are now beginning to see that terrorism is not a value free category. And they are no longer adamant that we should show zero tolerance on terrorism.
As much as I say this, I should make one thing clear: That I do not hold violence as a means to set things right. The lesson we learn from history is that violence breeds further violence and the outcome of any violent campaign is that it furthers conflicts and does not resolve differences.
I am aware of the existence of a breed of political activists who do not want resolution of conflictual relationships between people whether it be on class, caste, religious or ethnic lines. The Praghnya Singh Thakur-Lt. Col. Purohit clan or such terror groups that plant bombs in public parks, cinema halls or places of worship belong to that breed of political activists. There are some others who believe in the annihilation of class enemies. They may be placed in a different category. But then, the outcome of any one of the actions by any of these breed of political activists is that it legitimizes terrorist means to be adopted by the police and the other agencies of the state.
As soon as bombs blast in any one of the cities or small towns, the police draws a list of suspects. In the times we live, such lists are invariably made up of Muslim youth. They are all picked up and detained for interrogation. And it turns out, after a few months, that most of those were innocent. The interrogation, meanwhile, leaves the hapless men who were detained into physical and mental wrecks because the police use all kinds of violent means during the interrogation. Anyone who has been through such detention will know that. In Hyderabad, for instance, it has now unraveled that more than 100 young men were detained on mere suspicion and tortured only to be released later and left to struggle to eke out a living.
It is in this context that we will now have to learn lessons from the reports on the Pragnya Singh Thakur-Lt. Col. Purohit nexus. The first lesson is that the myth that the Muslims are known to be behind every terror attack is a myth. Lesson No. 2 is that the investigations, in such cases must be carried out without political interference and any political leader who takes sides with such persons must be seen with suspicion by the society too. In this case, it is imperative that the BJP leaders are asked to explain why they speak the way they do in case of the saffron sanyasin.
And the most important lesson we must now draw is that those holding positions in the executive must be gagged from speaking out when there is an investigation into a terrorist and his or her actions. It is indeed unfortunate that two Chief Ministers Modi and Khanduri have gone around holding a brief for the Praghnya-Purohit nexus even while the state agencies are investigating the crime and their anti-national activities.