India needs a JPC on terrorism
Without getting into the debate over the colour of homegrown terrorism, I want to make a bipartisan point: terrorism of any hue needs to be fought and eliminated. But that’s easier said than done without a socio-political milieu that unites all Indians against the threat.
The debate in Pakistan’s liberal circles — after Salman Taseer’s murder in cold blood to silence his campaign against the Blasphemy Law — has been whether it was a Muslim country or a country of Muslims alone? The controversial law isn’t as much about fighting blasphemy as about subjugating or terrorizing minorities and modernists among Muslims who speak up for them.
Pakistani liberals aren’t always supportive of India’s legitimate concerns over cross-border terrorism. But they can be broadly compared with secular Indians the rabid fringe tends to dismiss as pseudo-secularists or secular fundamentalists.
The forceful anti-Hindutva and anti-Mullah body of opinion in India also harbours doubts— and for good reasons — about the Pakistani establishment’s seriousness or ability to contain anti-India terror groups. Taseer’s murder buttressed that view, at once driving home the radicalization of the Pakistani middle class, sections of which celebrated his assassin as a hero.
Unlike Pakistan, the Indian State has no religion. So it isn’t a Hindu country. But are some forces at work to turn it into a country of Hindus alone? The situation might not be that bad— not yet. There is danger nevertheless of Indian middle-classes being drawn to militant nationalism. Such militancy is prone to violent expression that at times is reactive and at times provocative or proactive.
The bomb-for-a-bomb doctrine revealed by the Swami under probe for a series of attacks—-attributed initially to a group of Muslims—appears a case of retributive terror. It may not be a strand yet of a cross-India prism. But it will be a dangerous mistake to ignore it as an aberration. The disease could spread if it isn’t cured fast.
And how to do it? In my view, it’s a fit case for a parliamentary resolution laying down the dos and donts of a political regimen or culture to fight terrorism. With our without the force of a legislation, political parties and groupings, as part of a strategy built around national interest, should stand united or march in unison in the face of a terrorist attack. Suspected groups and individuals should be dealt irrespective of their religious or ideological leanings. They should be fought without any co-lateral damage by way of communal discord or persecution of any social group.
Be they SIMI, LeT, RSS or Abhinav Bharat, there should be no allusion to their faith in any public or media discourse. The idiom of Hindu, Saffron or Islamic terror is self-defeating. It spreads the fire of hatred, not douse or defeat its destructive flames.
A JPC on terrorism— that’s what we need to beat back the terrorists’ agenda of turning India into a mega-sized Beirut.