People's Democracy(Weekly Organ of the Communist Party of India (Marxist)
July 15, 2007
Fight The Environment That Breeds Terrorism
THE involvement of Bangalore-based medical doctors in the recent terrorist attacks in London and Glasgow has rudely shocked all of us. Until recently, the country was mistakenly led to believe that India does not harbour any Al Qaeda jehadis thanks to the famous so-called introduction of prime minister Manmohan Singh by US president George Bush to his wife saying that, “He is prime minister of a country of nearly 200 million Muslims and not one is with the Al Qaeda.”. Irrespective of the authenticity of this reported incident, prime minister Manmohan Singh himself told the CNN two years ago that no Indian had joined the Al Qaeda, “because India is a functioning democracy”.
However, to draw the conclusion, as it seems to have been done by many, that India is safe from terrorist attacks or is a place where there is no breeding ground for terrorists is not merely misplaced but goes against our own wretched experience of home grown terrorism that has claimed thousands of lives and continues to breed insecurity. India, probably, has the largest variety of terrorist groups (an ironic reflection of our vast social diversity) which defy any schematic classification.
There may be or may not be any members of the Al Qaeda in India but the fact remains that the news of Indians being involved in these attacks in England comes close to the first anniversary of the 7/11 Mumbai train blasts that killed 187 innocent people and maimed 817 others. Till date, no clinching evidence on the perpetrators has emerged.
The country lost the Father of the Nation to the bullets of a Hindu terrorist. One prime minister was assassinated by Sikh militants. Another (her son) was assassinated by the LTTE. Hundreds have lost their lives and thousands live in a continuous fear of insecurity due to militancy in Jammu & Kashmir; the ULFA and various other militant outfits continue to wreak havoc in the North East; all across the country, communal conflicts continue to consume the lives of innocents in a large measure as highlighted by the Gujarat carnage. Apart from the earlier terrorist attacks on the Parliament, Red Fort, Akshardham temple, Raghunath temple (twice) etc., this year itself has so far seen terrorist attacks on the Samjhauta Express, Mecca Masjid in Hyderabad, in Gorakhpur and elsewhere.
As we go to press, 24 security personnel were done to death by the Maoists in Chattisgarh. The need to recall all these is only to emphasise the fact that India is the home for a variety of terrorist groups and it gives no solace or relief to remain under the illusion that there are no members of the Al Qaeda. Even this has now come under question with the involvement of Indians in the recent terrorist attacks in England.
Such terrorist attacks not only need to be outrightly condemned and to bring the perpetrators to book, more important is to device the correct methods to tackle such terrorism and to ensure that it is not allowed to succeed. We have repeatedly in these columns in the past have shown that State terrorism and individual terrorism feed on each other. Tackling such individual terrorist attacks through an intensified degree of state terror is not merely counterproductive but keeps the clock of terrorism ticking. Such fears are more than confirmed by the developments in the world today. Even the London Economist has now to agree that US imperialism’s `global war on terror’ (GWOT) has left the world more vulnerable with many more terrorists targets and consequent deaths. It says, the GWOT, “conflated the military campaign against Al Qaeda and its Taliban sponsors in 2001 with the war two years later to overthrow Saddam Hussein, an old foe who almost certainly had nothing to do with September 11. That Iraq is a magnet for Al Qaeda is the result of the invasion of Iraq, not its cause”.
In fact, the motivated attempt to link terrorism to any particular religion or faith only makes the task of fighting terrorism all the more difficult. It needs to be repeated that terrorism is a crime that knows no religion or country. Imperialism’s ideological objectives and its quest for global economic hegemony dictating the contours of its GWOT had been repeatedly discussed in these columns earlier. The fact remains that US imperialism and its allies like Britain have created a world of greater vulnerability to the terrorist menace.
Many in India are aghast at the latest revelations regarding the London and Glasgow attacks. `Brand Bangalore’ is being undermined, some bemoan. How can upwardly mobile Indian middle class, expert techies, be terrorists, some others exclaim. How can doctors whose job is to save lives turn killers? The disbelief expresses itself in many other ways as well.
Scholarly work has shown that those credited with masterminding five major international terrorist attacks between 1993 and 2005 have all had university education and none of them attended a madarasa. It is, therefore, an uncharitable class bias to look for terrorists in backward areas or slums alone. In fact, modern western universities appear to have a greater correlation with terrorism than madarasas.
As far as technological experts taking recourse to terrorism is concerned, it should never come as a surprise. After all, remember that it was a doctor and a highly qualified surgeon who invented the Guillotine (naming it after himself)! Terror is a state of mind. Terrorism is the tactics employed to create such a state of mind. The more technologically advanced are the tactics, the greater is the impact on the state of the mind. Hence, to presume that higher technical education precludes any alliances with terrorism would be facetious.
So then, how do we counter and eventually eradicate terrorism? Yes, it is absolutely necessary that we cannot afford to lower the guard against terrorism and all required measures and intelligence must be beefed up to prevent the recurrence of such terrorist attacks. More important, of course, as the Indian prime minister said last week, is not to, “create an environment where terror can take root”.
And, this is precisely what we have repeatedly discussed in these columns that needs to be done. Only when actual oppression and associated perceptions of injustice are erased can in the final analysis, the basis for terrorism be removed.
Instead, the calls in Britain for greater control and check on immigrants or for that matter the domestic harassment of innocent people (now documented in mainstream Indian films like Fiza have shown how terrorism takes root) can only lead to worsening the situation rather than preventing future potential terrorists. For, the most stringent checks could not have stopped the Glasgow attack as those who executed this were recruited to terrorism within the UK.
As we go to press, the storming of the Lal Masjid in Islamabad, to flush out terrorists has resulted in 88 militants being killed. Pakistan’s proclivity to indulge in cross-border terrorism is common knowledge. The developments in India’s neighbourhood and the environment provided for terrorist outfits who are operating in India continue to buttress terrorist threats. In an international atmosphere where US imperialism’s GWOT has created great vulnerability, we in India, will need to both beef up our internal security as well as work for political solutions to longstanding problems that feed terrorism while working for an improvement in the overall environment that does not foster terrorism.
In the immediate, the Indian government must extend all cooperation to the British and International authorities in cracking down on terrorism while reiterating the Indian prime minister’s recent observations that entire communities cannot be tarnished due to the criminal acts of some terrorists.